Happy Friday the 13th! There’s no better day than today to take a look at each of the movies in one of my favorite film franchises. Without further ado here are my rankings of each of the Friday the 13th movies!
12. Jason Takes Manhattan (1989): Oof. This movie honestly pisses me off. It should be so much fun and on concept alone it should the best in the series. Spoiler alert: it fucking sucks and it’s an absolute chore. Mainly due to the fact that Jason never actually spends any real time in Manhattan before the movie ends. Generally, I am not one to get mad when the trailers show a different movie than the movie I see, sometimes surprises are nice. But this movie is literally called Jason Takes Manhattan. It stands to reason he might spend some actual time there. I mean that sounds like so much fun, Jason going to 1980s New York seems like it has the potential to be the best, most cult classicy entry in the entire series, and instead it’s far and away the worst. And none of this helped by the fact all of the protagonists are forgettable and boring, even by Friday the 13th standards. They built the entire marketing campaign around Jason going to New York, but he’s there for what amounts to about 10 minutes. From the sounds of it production was an absolute nightmare and the original ideas were way more in line with what people actually wanted to see. But it’s rarely a good sign when the story behind the production is so much more interesting than your actual movie, but that’s exactly what happens here. It’s just a shame that so much fun and potential got completely squandered because the studio didn’t want to shell out any money. They got what they paid for.
11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993): If I am being honest with you I almost forgot this one existed. It isn’t as offensively terrible as the film that precedes it, Jason Takes Manhattan ,or as bonkers and interesting as Jason X which comes immediately after. It just kind of happened. Nothing is particularly crazy happens, none of the kills are all that bonkers, and overall it’s just not that fun. Say what you want about the Friday the 13th series, but they’re very rarely boring, somehow Jason Goes to Hell is, and that’s a dubious achievement.
10. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985): The first of the really bad sequels, A New Beginning doesn’t even really feature Jason, even if his shadow looms large. The closest movie you could compare it to would be the Michael Myers absent Halloween III: Season of the Witch. But A New Beginning lacks any of the vision, ambition, or fun of the Season of the Witch instead you get a pretty lazy sequel that shouldn’t have been made. It does have some pretty fun kills though and it gets props for that!
9. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) : Honestly not really sure what this was. I have it higher than A New Beginning because if for nothing else at least this one has Jason, but that doesn’t mean its really any better. Apparently psychic powers are now a thing in the Friday the 13th universe? I don’t know this movie is sort of a mess. But if nothing else, I’ll give credit to them for again, trying to do something new with the characters and universe. I always appreciate when people do something different and take a risk, they did that here. Even if it doesn’t pay off for the most part.
8. Friday the 13th Part III (1983) The first movie where Jason wears his now iconic hockey mask, is a fun if not unremarkable entry into the Friday the 13th cannon. It’s certainly the weakest of the original four films, but it’s still damn fun time. From here on out I think numbers 4 through 8 could probably get reshuffled in any order depnding on my mood. Overall it’s a good time, but the tone can be all over the map. At times it feel like it takes itself a little too seriously, other times it really lays into how goofy this is, esspecially with the 3D. The original script had Amy Steel reprising her role as Ginny from Friday the 13th Part II in what overall just sounded like a more interesting movie than what we got with Part III. I could see arguments for having it higher, but overall I’ll praise the rewatchability and fun of some of the other sequels over this.
7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986): After the failure of A New Beginning, Jason is back! It’s fine, there are some really fun parts of this movie. Originally Tommy Jarvis was supposed to be the villain and essentially take up the mantle of Jason. The poor reception to A New Beginning killed (ha see what I did there!) any chance of that happening though and the producers just decided to bring the iconic slasher himself back. This movie definitely gets points though for not taking itself seriously at all. They break the fourth wall and inject some humor here in unexpected ways which you can tell had an effect on horror going into the 1990s when Wes Craven perfected the formula for meta horror with New Nightmare and later Scream.
6. Jason X (2002): This one gets a lot of props for creativity and for the cult like re-watchability. None of these movies are paragons of terrific film making, and thankfully when they are at their best they don’t take themselves that seriously. This movie is essentially Jason goes to space and it is 100% as ridiculous as it sounds. It’s a fun romp with some over the top kills and a ludicrous premise. This is not a well-made movie by any stretch of the imagination, but at least for me it exists as a great midnight watch with some friends, definitely enhanced by a beer or three.
5. Friday the 13th (2009): The first Friday the 13th I saw in the theaters actually holds up better than you’d think. It’s not any of the originals, that’s for sure. But it is pretty damn fun. Sure it plays off as a greatest hits of Jason kills for the first 15 minutes (down to the sleeping bag kill), but it’s great to watch Jason back on screen after not seeing him for seven years. Plus the protagonists here are likable and easy to root for. This isn’t the most original of Friday the 13th movies, but it still stands a very solid entry.
4. Freddy Vs. Jason (2004): I know this movie received pretty mixed reception from fans when it came out, but here me out it’s fucking bonkers. I mean for so long all horror fans ever wanted to see was Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees duke it out. In 2004 we finally got that wish and in a way that wasn’t completely incompetent which is no small feat when you consider some of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street sequels that preceded this movie. Its fun, sarcastic, and the kills are pretty over the top. What more can you ask for?
3. Friday the 13th Part II: (1981): Whereas the original tried to rip off Halloween, the sequel does it’s damndest to rip off the first Friday the 13th and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. With Friday the 13th Part II audiences get introduced to the iconic villain Jason Vorhees (still yet to wear the hockey mask though!). The only thing that really keeps this from being number one in my eyes is that for a movie that is only 87 minutes long it spends the first 10 just showing us exactly what happened at the end of Part I. It’s fun, campy, and an all-around good time with some of the best kills in the entire series.
2. Friday the 13th (1980): The one that started it all! This is an absolute classic of the genre and one of the original slasher flicks. A lot of the tropes that we see today in corny B-movie slasher flicks are in large part thanks to this movie. Is it partially a rip-off of Halloween? Absolutely! Does that mean it can’t be a good slasher movie in its own right? Of course not, this movie is great. Halloween is an indie masterpiece compared to Friday the 13th, but that doesn’t negate how influential and fun the original film was. Plus, it has one of the most effective jumps cares in all of horror. I’ve seen this movie a dozen times and when Jason pops out of the lake at the end, it still gets me.
1. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984): This is it. This is Friday the 13th at its absolute best. There’s no pre-tending to be something it’s not, it’s just complete and total chaos from start to finish. This kills are great, the characters are really likable and fun to be around. The story succeeds by not getting in the way and trying to be something it isn’t. This is just pure, campy, unadulterated dumb horror fun and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus it gives us the most iconic Friday the 13th protagonist of them all in Cory Feldman’s horror loving Tommy Jarvis.