Growing up in the 1980’s, the Friday the 13th movies were my gateway into the world of R rated horror films. To this day, the Friday the 13th franchise is my favorite horror franchise of them all.
Today seemed like the perfect day to rank the first ten films in the franchise, let’s get to it…
#10 – Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason Goes Supernatural may have been a more fitting title for this one. A resurrected Jason Voorhees is obliterated by a barrage of bullets in an FBI ambush to kick off the movie. Afterwards the coroner (played by Richard Gant) who is examining Jason’s remains eats Jason’s still beating heart and becomes possessed by the evil soul of Jason Voorhees and starts killing people just like Jason would. From there the soul of Jason would hop from body to body upping the kill count along the way.
This is the only movie on the list I saw once and never had the desire to rewatch… I do remember Steven Williams’ Creighton Duke being entertaining and it was fun having John D. LeMay from the underrated Friday the 13th: The Series as the star. The real highlight was at the end of the film where Freddy Krueger makes a surprise appearance, but even that crossover was not enough to save this movie from itself.
#9 – Jason X (2001)
After the franchise went to hell in 1993, it was more than 8 years before Jason Voorhees would be seen on the big screen again and this time, Jason would go where no camp counselor slasher had gone before… outer space!
I would not categorize Jason X as a good movie, but I thought it was a fun movie. When Jason dunks Adrienne’s head into the liquid nitrogen and then smashes her frozen head on the counter… that ranks as one of Jason’s best kills. And Uber Jason was ridiculously appropriate for the ridiculousness of the film.
#8- Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Who knew telekinesis could resurrect Jason Voorhees? Certainly not Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln) because if she did, I think she would have left Jason at the bottom of Crystal Lake where he belongs!
Tina would end up being a worthy adversary for Jason Voorhees (who may have looked at his creepy best in this one with the exposed spine). But Tina also found herself at odds with the doctor who was trying to exploit Tina’s abilities… Dr. Crews, played in smarmy fashion by Terry Kiser.
The worst part of The New Blood was the totally 80’s and totally distracting hair on Tina’s mother.
#7 – Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
There was a point in time where Friday the 13th Part V was among my most reviled horror films. I am not sure if it was the fact that there was an imposter Jason doing the killings or that the imposter wasn’t a mentally unstable Tommy Jarvis becoming the very thing he hated. But I do know that after seeing this movie back in the day, that I swore off the entire franchise for a few years.
Revisiting A New Beginning as an adult, the hate I once had for Part V is gone and I can now appreciate the twist they put on the Jason Voorhees saga and how the movie set up Jason Lives.
#6 – Friday the 13th (1980)
This is the movie that started it all for the franchise and along with John Carpenter’s Halloween, changed the horror genre for years to come.
The 1980 film gave us the backstory of Jason Voorhees, a boy who drowned while attending summer camp thanks to two Camp Crystal Lake counselors who chose fornicating over their lifeguard duties. It also gave us an unsuspecting killer in the form of Jason’s mother (played by Betsy Palmer).
As the years went on, the original was overshadowed by the steady flow of sequels, but of all the movies on this list, 1980’s Friday the 13th still delivered the biggest bang at the box office.
#5 – Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
It felt like Friday the 13th Part 2 was on the USA Network every weekend when I first got cable and trust me when I say, I was not complaining.
This was Jason Voorhees’ coming out party as he was carrying on the work of his mother from the first film… a woman he obviously loved and admired. Which explains the shrine Jason built for her featuring her severed head.
Ginny (Amy Steel) is probably my favorite of the Friday the 13th survivors. I always admired her resourcefulness and the fact that she used her brain to overcome Jason’s brawn.
#4 – Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
A disco style theme song, the forced 3D scenes and the iconic hockey mask… these are the things I immediately think of when I think about Friday the 13th Part III.
And while we have Shelly (Larry Zerner) to thank for the hockey mask (Jason would not have become the horror icon he is if he was running around with a sack on his head forever), Shelly is still the character I was probably happiest to see get his. In a franchise filled with annoying characters, Shelly took the cake.
#3 – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
After Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning had separated me from the Friday the 13th franchise, the thought of Jason Voorhees being taken out of the woods and into the streets of New York City pulled me back in. Who can ever forget seeing Jason Voorhees in the middle of Times Square!?!
This one is a sentimental favorite for me, even if the whole toxic waste turns Jason back into a boy makes no sense. And why did Rennie and Sean leave a scared young boy in the sewer? Not exactly the best way for Jason to start his second chance at life.
#2- Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Confession time… Jason Takes Manhattan did break my Friday the 13th ban, but I foolishly never went back and caught up on the two Friday the 13th movies I missed out on until 20 years after the fact. That really doesn’t bother me where The New Blood is concerned, but I hate that I deprived myself of Jason Lives for all those years.
Friday the 13th Part VI is damn near perfect and a lot of the credit goes to Thom Mathews, who was excellent as Tommy Jarvis. Tommy has to right a wrong he inadvertently caused and the movie’s big finale gives Tommy some much needed closure.
#1- Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
When the commercials started airing for Friday the 13th Part IV I was hyped, even though at the tender age of 10 I knew I would have to wait to see it until it hit video stores and I was cynical that it was really going to be the end of Jason.
The movie lived up to the hype for me… it had everything I’d come to expect from a Friday the 13th movie (naked Judie Aronson was definitely appreciated, but the wild card in all of it was Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), who ends up being the hero of the movie… that was something you couldn’t have predicted and made the Tommy Jarvis character an important figure in Friday the 13th lore.