Happy Friday the 13th everyone! To celebrate, we’ve decided to take another stab (sorry) at ranking all 12 films in the Friday the 13th franchise. What is so great about the Friday the 13th movies is that everyone has a different favorite film. With 12 films, there are 479,001,600 different rankings that are possible, so it is highly unlikely to find someone who will rank the films in the same order you do (check out our own Evan Dickson’s rankings right here). With that in mind, I thought I would share with you my rankings* of the films. Some may be cliché (like my choice for last place), but others may surprise you. Though if you read my comparison from earlier today of the original Friday the 13th with the remake, you may already have an idea of where this list is headed.
*To put my opinions in perspective, I was born in 1989, when seven Friday films had already been released. The first Friday the 13th film I ever saw was the first film, but it wasn’t until 2004, when I was in high school. By that point I had already seen a slew of other horror films, so I am not a person who grew up with the franchise. While my rankings may not go with popular opinion, I thought it might provide an interesting perspective.
12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Oy, Jason Goes to Hell. What is there to say about such a film? It’s terrible? It’s atrocious? It’s godawful? It’s actually all of those things, but it also makes or one of the more entertaining watches in the franchise, if only because it’s so bad, and makes absolutely zero sense (the amount of plot holes in the film is astounding). There is a scene of leather S&M shaving that seems to be taking a page out of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, and don’t even get me started on the fact that the lead character somehow happens to be Jason’s half-sister and is the only person capable of stopping him (seriously, that sounds like a short story I wrote when I was in first grade). Not only does that completely rip off Halloween II, but it’s just completely unnecessary. Creighton Duke is pretty fun, albeit out of place in the film. Acting is worse than usual for a Friday film, which is really saying something. The film’s saving grace is the final shot of Freddy’s glove dragging Jason’s mask to Hell, but even that can’t save this mess of a film.
11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Otherwise known as Jason Goes to Sea, Friday the 13th Part VII is the epitome of the bait-and-switch, with the majority of the film takin place on a boat, only to arrive in “Manhattan” (most of the climax was filmed in Vancouver for budgetary reasons) for the final 20 minutes. On top of that, it’s a sort of boring film. There is one creative kill in the entire film, and none of the cast members make any sort of impression. After a domestic box office gross of just over $14 million, it’s no wonder Paramount sold the franchise to New Line Cinema (even though they were the ones to botch it in the first place with their budgetary constraints).
10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
You have to give Part VII some credit for trying something different, it just doesn’t really work. Tina is a formidable opponent for Jason, but the climactic battle between the two is underwhelming, with the reemergence of Tina’s father coming across as more than hokey. The film was also a victim of severe cuts in an attempt to avoid an X rating. Reading about the alternate deaths on Wikipedia, one has to wonder what the film could have been. It’s not like more gore and better deaths would have made increased the quality of the film, but it would have at least made it more entertaining. While Terry Kiser’s Dr. Crewes is a fun little villain (and kind of a precursor to Dr. Channard in the following year’s Hellbound: Hellraiser II), the film ultimately feels like a bit of a slog. Still, it would have been interesting to see Tina return in Part VIII, but Lar-Park Lincoln wanted too much money.
9. Freddy Vs. Jason
Ronny Yu was all about 80s nostalgia in the late 90s and early 2000s. He is also extremely polarizing with horror fans. First, he gifted us with Bride of Chucky in 1998, a movie I am very fond of (yeah, I said it), and then he gave us Freddy Vs. Jason in 2003. Continuity issues aside (and there are plenty), Freddy Vs. Jason is still a helluva lot of fun. It’s definitely a better Friday film than it is a Nightmare film, with Jason getting the bulk of the kills. Like Bride of Chucky, it’s a goofy film that constantly pokes fun at the other films in the franchise. Unfortunately, it peaks early with the folding bed kill and Monica Keena’s Lori is an underwhelming (and fairly stupid) final girl. Also, it’s not really relevant to the quality of the film, but Kelly Rowland calling Freddy a faggot bothers me each and every time I watch Freddy Vs. Jason.
8. Friday the 13th (1980)
Okay, I know I’m going against the grain here, and I know the original Friday the 13th is a classic, but in all honesty, it’s not that good. I’m sure many of you are about to skip the rest of the article right now and just jump to the comments section to bash me, but I can accept that. As I mentioned in my original vs. remake post earlier today, Friday the 13th was made to capitalize on the craze of slashers started by Halloween in 1978, and it is a pale imitation of that film (just with more gore). It was the Urban Legend/Valentine/I Know What You Did Last Summer to Halloween’s Scream. It’s not like the film inspired a bunch of lesser films. Friday the 13th is the lesser film that was inspired by Halloween. This isn’t to say I dislike the film. On the contrary, I quite like it and upon re-watching it this week, I have found more things to admire in the film. The characters are actually all likable for the most part, and while they aren’t given many distinguishing characteristics before they die, they all feel like real people. The kills are good, but many are surprisingly off-screen. Mrs. Voorhees is an excellent villain, and I wish I was old enough to have seen it in a theater in 1980. I’m sure that reveal must have been fun for a first-time viewer. I maintain that Alice isn’t a great final girl. Sure, she decapitates Mrs. Voorhees, but she spends much of the first two acts off-screen (or playing strip Monopoly) and the final act screaming. Again, it’s not a popular sentiment, but the original Friday the 13th is overrated.
7. Friday the 13th (2009)
Yes, I’m saying it. The Friday the 13th remake is a better film than the original. The film has it’s problems, that’s for sure. It’s a little too long (especially if you watch the “Killer Cut” Blu-Ray), it’s a little too tame (for a film made in 2009, there really isn’t that much gore) Clay and Whitney aren’t the most interesting protagonists, it’s unrealistic that Jason would have kept Whitney alive for six weeks just because she sort of looked like his mother, many of the characters are unlikable, and reducing the entire original film to two minutes proves to be an unwise decision. More a remake of Friday the 13th 2-4 than the original 1980 film, the remake does a few things remarkably well. First, the stellar pre-title card sequence is the perfect Friday the 13th film condensed into 24 minutes. While the characters are all paper-thin, the acting is surprisingly solid, with solid turns from Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo and even Travis Van Winkle, who plays a great douchebag. Jason’s running abilities and his tunnel system never bothered me as much as they did other people either. Friday the 13th isn’t a great remake, but it’s better than many others that were released in the 2000s.
6. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
A New Beginning gets a bad rap for being the one Friday the 13th film without Jason. Truth be told, that’s not what hurts the film. It has a terrible final girl in Melanie Kinnaman’s Pam. I mean really, she’s just the worst. All she does is scream. There are at least ten 5-second shots in the film that are just her screaming. The teenagers in the film have absolutely no character development so when they die it’s hard to feel anything for them. Tommy is severely underused in the film (though the cameo appearance by Corey Feldman in the opening scene is nice). The setting for the film, at a recovery camp for traumatized teens, seems to be an inspiration for the much better A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which would use the setting to greater effect. Also, the film makes it fairly obvious that Roy the ambulance driver is the man behind the mask. Just watch the scene where he discover’s his son’s corpse. It’s there. Subtlety is not A New Beginning’s strength. Still, it’s an extremely entertaining film. There are some fun kills and it has a nice sense of humor about itself (Ethel calling her son a dildo will always make me laugh). It is full of boobs, if you’re into that sort of thing, and it doesn’t wear out its welcome, running at a brisk 92 minutes. You have to respect the film for taking a risk with not including Jason in the film. In hindsight, the gamble pays off, even if audiences didn’t see it that way in 1985. Seriously though, Pam sucks.
5. Jason X
A lot of you are probably wondering why I rank Jason X so high in the franchise, and all I can say is that it’s a lot of fun. The film is self-aware, which many people find annoying, especially in a franchise like Friday the 13th. It’s not as clever as, say, Scream is about it’s meta-ness. In fact, the whole thing is actually kind of dumb. But whether you look at David Cronenberg’s cameo in the first scene, to silly puns like “This sucks on so many levels,” or that awesome liquid nitrogen head smash kill, Jason X just has a great sense of humor about itself that gives it such a great personality. If Jason X were a person, I’d probably hang out with him. Plus, you really can’t beat that virtual reality sequence. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a scene in any of the Friday the 13th films.
4. Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 2 is many people’s favorite Friday the 13th film, and I can certainly see why. It introduces Jason, he’s wearing a burlap mask, Ginny is one of the strongest final girls in the franchise (if not the strongest) and there are some pretty great kills, with Mark’s machete to the face being a particular standout. It’s definitely one of the more brutal films in the franchise, which is saying something for 1981. The reason that it isn’t my personal favorite is that it is the poster child for “more of the same.” Yes, I know we get Jason as opposed to Mrs. Voorhees, but it just sort of feels like it’s going through the motions. The fact that the actual “Part 2” is only 75 minutes long (the first 10 minutes are just sequences from the climax of the first film) doesn’t help matters either. That being said, it’s still a lot of fun, and definitely one of the stronger entries in the franchise.
3. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
I do like Jason Lives a lot. It’s meta humor was a refreshing change of pace for the franchise, and it was nice to see the film poke fun at itself. It goes back and forth with being my favorite based on my mood, and right now I feel like I appreciate the seriousness of the next two entries more than the humor of this one. Still, there’s no denying that Jason Lives is the most fun installment. It marks the final outing for Tommy Jarvis (now played by Thom Mathews) and introduces a kickass final girl in Megan. If you didn’t know what kind of film you were getting into when you pop this one into your Blu-Ray player, the James Bond opening title card will probably help ease you into the new tone of the series. It also showcases Tommy’s best attempt at insulting someone: calling them a “maggot-head.”
2. Friday the 13th Part III
I’ve seen Friday the 13th Part III get a bad rap among many horror fans, but it’s clearly one of the best in the series. Ginny may get all the love, but Chris is a formidable Final Girl. It’s a shame she went crazy in the end of the film. Still, her chase scene and eventual fight with Jason is probably the best in the series. The moment where you know she’s in it to win it is when she wraps the rope around Jason’s neck and hangs him. Such a clever girl. Shelly seems to be a point of contention among fans, but I find him quite endearing. I root for the underdog. Sue me. Part III is the film where Jason gets his mask, which is what the film is famous for, but it’s so much more than that. Nearly all of the characters are likable, the script is well-written (for a Friday film), it has some fantastic kills (with the handstand bisection being the standout) and is just a lot of fun to watch. Plus, it gave us this hilarious visual of Jason looking out of a window along with Chris’ “over it” face:
1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is the ultimate Friday the 13th film. Since Paramount’s intention was to end the franchise after this installment, they went all out and made a fantastic film. Director Joseph Zito (The Prowler), brings his A-game to the film and he directs the Hell out of it. The Final Chapter (which of course turned out to be not so final) includes practically everything you could ever want from a Friday the 13th film: great kills, nudity (even male nudity this time!), sex, a kickass Final Girl (though not the series’ best) in Trish and Jason doing lots of shit. Corey Feldman’s Tommy Jarvis was a nice foil for Jason as well, giving Trish a partner in crime to fend off Jason. The one misstep with the film is bringing in Sandra’s (from Part 2) brother to hunt down Jason. It’s an interesting concept, but the film kills him off too quickly for it to really mean anything. Still, it’s a small misstep in what is the best film in the Friday the 13th franchise. Also, is it just me, or was anyone else bummed that Sarah never got to have sex before she died?
So there you have it! This is how I would rank the Friday the 13th films. How would you rank them? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me a Tweet!