“Did you know a young boy drowned the year before those two others were killed? The counselors weren't paying any attention... They were making love while that young boy drowned. His name was Jason. I was working the day that it happened, preparing meals... here. I was the cook. Jason should've been watched every minute. He was - he wasn't a very good swimmer.”
- Pamela Voorhees
“Die! Die! Die! Die!”
- Tommy Jarvis
Friday The Thirteenth
I had to think long and hard how I would handle movie series in this countdown. My initial plan was to just treat them as individual movies and had actually started writing my breakdown of my favorite Friday the 13th movie (Part 4) when I realized that wasn’t the way I needed to do this. When it comes to my favorite horror movies franchises the old adage is as true now as it ever was.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Once I came to that decision I knew what I needed to do. I scraped the run through I was doing on the fourth movie and started this one instead. Really, in the end, there was no choice.
Friday the 13th was the first horror movie franchise to scare the ever living shit out of me. The first time I saw one of the movies, it was the third one, was in the fall of 1987. Yes I am aware there is a storyline, sort of, to the series and beginning out of order is no my standard MO. All I can say is that in the end it didn’t matter that I started with three instead of one because I was an unwilling convert to the world of Camp Crystal Lake before the end of the first act.
I also didn’t sleep for more than 50 hours after that first viewing. I couldn’t close my eyes for more than thirty seconds before they snapped open and for a fraction of a second I was sure Jason Voorhees was standing in the bedroom doorway. We’d been staying at our aunts house being watched by our cousin Lenny and he said we could each rent a movie of our choice from the shithole little independent video store.
*Side note: Do you remember the little mom and pop video stores of the 1980’s and early 1990’s? As much as I love digital streaming (I may offer pagan sacrifice to Amazon and Netflix on a regular basis) I miss the little crappy video stores. They were usually attached to or inside of a shitty mom and pop convenience store/pizza place and smelled of leaking Freon. They always had the best movies, shitty titles you’d never find at Blockbuster (before they died). Good times…
My unnamed little brother choose the third Friday the 13th movie and I picked out what is still one of my favorite bad sci-fi movies My Science Project. I was supposed to pick part four so we could watch them back to back but in the end I pussied out and spent the weekend being good naturedly mocked by my family.
At that point in my life Friday the 13th had been built into a nearly mythical series of flicks in my mind. In the days before the internet information about pop culture was spread via word of mouth as opposed to social media. I’d spent the two years before actually viewing the movie being told the tales of Jason by friends with more permissive parents than I.
If you will take a second and recall what I said in a earlier essay in regards to my mother and her policy on horror movies. If it was something that she felt could happen in real life we were not allowed to watch it. Therefore no Jason movies were in the lineup for young Josh. But if it had an unbelievable aspect it was a all systems go. Hence little five year old Josh got to watch Carrie in all of its pig blood coated glory.
Mom has always been an odd but cool cat.
With all of that established I think it’s safe to say I was amped and ready to be terrified. Sometimes things don’t live you to the expectations you build up for them, actually that is almost always the case. My initial viewing of a Friday the 13th flick is one of those rare and amazing cases where the experience exceeded my expectations.
Since that weekend twenty seven years ago I’ve been obsessed with the Friday the 13th series. I’ve owned and consumed the movies on every platform available, except laser disk because that’d be silly.
As usual I’ve provided the Wikipedia rundown for the movies in case you’ve never seen them. I would suggest you stop reading here and watch the movies before finishing this essay but if that’s not the way you roll this “Cliff Notes” version will do for context. Once you’ve been brought up to snuff on the Friday series I’ll give you my final thoughts on each movie and the series as a whole.
Friday the 13th: The Franchise – (Wikipedia)
Friday the 13th is an American horror franchise that comprises twelve slasher films, a television show, novels, comic books, and tie‑in merchandise. The franchise mainly focuses on the fictional character Jason Voorhees, who drowned as a boy at Camp Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the camp staff. Decades later, the lake is rumored to be "cursed" and is the setting for a series of mass murders. Jason is featured in all of the films, as either the killer or the motivation for the killings. The original film was written by Victor Miller and was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham. However, neither returned to write or direct any of the sequels. The films have grossed over $465 million at the box-office worldwide.
The first film was created to cash in on the success of Halloween (1978), and its own success led Paramount Pictures to purchase the full licensing rights to Friday the 13th. Frank Mancuso, Jr., who produced the films, also developed the television show Friday the 13th: The Series after Paramount released Jason Lives. The television series was not connected to the franchise by any character or setting, but was created based on the idea of "bad luck and curses", which the film series symbolized. While the franchise was owned by Paramount, four films were adapted into novels, with Friday the 13th Part III adapted by two separate authors. When the franchise was sold to New Line Cinema, Cunningham returned as a producer to oversee two additional films, in addition to a crossover film with character Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. Under New Line Cinema, 13 novellas and various comic book series featuring Jason were published.
Although the films were not popular with critics, Friday the 13th is considered one of the most successful media franchises in America—not only for the success of the films, but also because of the extensive merchandising and repeated references to the series in popular culture. The franchise's popularity has generated a fan base who have created their own Friday the 13th films, fashioned replica Jason Voorhees costumes, and tattooed their bodies with Friday the 13th artwork. Jason's hockey mask has even become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.
In the original Friday the 13th (1980), Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) stalks and murders the teenagers who are preparing Camp Crystal Lake for re‑opening. She is determined to ensure that the camp does not reopen after her son Jason (Ari Lehman) drowned in the lake because two staff members who were supposed to be watching him were having sex. The last counselor, Alice (Adrienne King), fends off Mrs. Voorhees long enough to grab a machete and decapitate her. In Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Jason (Steve Daskewisz/Warrington Gillette) is revealed to be alive and fully grown. After killing Alice, Jason returns to Crystal Lake to guard it from all intruders. Five years later, a group of teenagers arrive at Crystal Lake to set up a new camp, but Jason murders them. Ginny Field (Amy Steel), the last counselor Jason attempts to kill, finds a cabin in the woods with a shrine built around the severed head of Mrs. Voorhees. Ginny fights back and slams a machete through Jason's shoulder. Jason is left for dead as Ginny is taken away in an ambulance. During the events of Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Jason (Richard Brooker) removes the machete from his shoulder and finds his way to Chris Higgins' (Dana Kimmell) local homestead. Chris returns to her property with some friends, and Jason kills anyone who wanders into the barn where he is hiding. Taking a hockey mask from a victim to hide his face, Jason leaves the barn to kill the rest of the group. Chris seemingly kills Jason with an axe to his head, but the night's events drive her into hysteria as the police take her away.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) continues where Part III leaves off, with Jason (Ted White) found by the police and taken to the local morgue after removing the axe. Upon arrival, Jason kills the coroner and a nurse before returning to Crystal Lake. A group of friends rent a house on Crystal Lake and fall victim to Jason's rampage. After killing the teens, Jason seeks out Trish (Kimberly Beck) and Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), who live next door. While distracted by Trish, Jason is attacked and killed by Tommy. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) follows Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd), who was committed to a mental health institution after the events of The Final Chapter and grew up constantly afraid that Jason (Tom Morga) will return. Roy Burns (Dick Wieand) uses Jason's persona to become a copycat killer at the halfway home to which Tommy has moved. Tommy, supervisor Pam (Melanie Kinnaman), and a young boy named Reggie (Shavar Ross) manage to defeat Roy. They eventually learn that Roy had a son who was murdered by one of the patients at the institution, triggering Roy to take on Jason's likeness and kill everyone there. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) begins with Tommy (Thom Mathews) visiting Jason's grave after being released from another mental institution. Tommy inadvertently resurrects Jason (C. J. Graham) with a piece of the fence surrounding the cemetery acting as a lightning rod. Jason immediately heads back to Crystal Lake and kills the people working at the new summer camp. Tommy eventually chains Jason to a boulder that he tosses into the lake, where he leaves Jason to die.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) begins an indeterminate length of time after Jason Lives. Jason (Kane Hodder) is resurrected again, this time by the telekinetic Tina Shepard (Lar Park Lincoln), who is trying to resurrect her father who drowned in the lake when Tina was a child. Jason once again begins killing those who occupy Crystal Lake and is returned to the bottom of the lake after a battle with Tina. Jason is resurrected again in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) by an underwater electrical cable. He follows a group of students on their senior class cruise to Manhattan, where he kills the ship's crew and the majority of the students. Upon reaching Manhattan, Jason chases Rennie (Jensen Daggett) and Sean (Scott Reeves), the two remaining students, into the sewers. Jason eventually melts away because the sewer is flooded with toxic waste. In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason, through an unexplained resurrection, is hunted by the FBI at Crystal Lake. The FBI sets up a sting that successfully kills Jason. Through possession, Jason manages to survive by passing his black heart from one being to the next. It is revealed that he has a sister and a niece, and that he needs them to get his body back. Jason resurrects himself, but his niece, Jessica Kimble (Kari Keegan), stabs him with a mystical dagger and he is dragged into Hell.
Jason X (2002) takes place in the future, when Jason has again been inexplicably resurrected. A scientist, Rowan Lafontaine (Lexa Doig), decides that cryonic suspension is the only method of stopping him, but Jason breaks free and kills the army personnel guarding him before he can be again imprisoned. Rowan manages to lure Jason into the cryo‑chamber, but he ruptures the tank and freezes both himself and Rowan. Over 400 years later, a team of students studying Earth discover Jason's body and take it into space. Upon being thawed by the team, he proceeds to murder everyone aboard the spacecraft. He is seemingly killed, but is then resurrected via nanotechnology as a cyborg version of himself. Finally, he is ejected into space and lands on the planet Earth 2. The next Friday the 13th film, Freddy vs. Jason (2003), was a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Set in the contemporary period, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) resurrects Jason (Ken Kirzinger) and sends him to Springwood hoping that he will create enough fear among the residents that Freddy will be strong enough to invade their dreams. Jason accomplishes this but refuses to stop killing. A battle ensues both in the dream-world and at Crystal Lake. The outcome is left ambiguous, as Jason surfaces from the lake holding Freddy's severed head, which winks and laughs.
In 2009, a new Friday the 13th film which restarted the film series continuity was released. In this film, after witnessing his mother being beheaded at a young age, an adult Jason (Derek Mears) follows in her footsteps and kills anyone who comes to Crystal Lake. Jason subsequently kidnaps a young woman, Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti), who reminds him of his mother. Six weeks after her disappearance, her brother, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki), comes to look for her. The pair reunite and work together to seemingly kill Jason.
Good, now we can talk a little bit about the individual installments and ultimately the series as a whole. Don’t worry, this won’t take too long.
*Side Note: I watched part’s one through five on video disks at my cousins house in Port Huron Michigan. Do any of you know what the fuck a video disk was? The damn things were massive two sided disks encased in a removable cartridge you loaded into the equally massive player. My great aunt and her family bought out the entire stock of video disks from a rental place closing out disk rental and moving to VHS. The collection was stuffed with some of the best and worst movies of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The first time I saw the first Friday the 13 movie was in the spring after I saw the third one. It was also during the same weekend I first saw the second, fourth, and fifth installments of the franchise.
It was an epic weekend.
Part one is an awesome horror movie. It’s fast paced, creepy, and clever. I loved the way the mystery of who the killer was expanded and the movie sprinted to the finish. My only complaint is the same one most fans have. Jason Voorhees was not the killer in the movie, his mother was and so few people remember it.
Betsy Palmer played Pamela Voorhees and did a tremendous job. Seriously she delivered creepy and crazy like a conductor working that symphony for all it’s worth. She was perfect in the roll and deserves more credit for making the series a hit. It was also the first screen appearance of a national treasure one Mr. Kevin Bacon.
Also, Jason at the end still makes me squeal like a bitch.
Much like Halloween 2, Friday the 13th Part 2 falls short of the mark set by the original but still qualifies as a good scary movie. I will say this in favor of Part 2 versus Part 1. I cared more about the victims in this movie than I did in the first one. To be fair to part 2 Jason with the potato sack over his head and one eye hole is a little disconcerting and creepy.
Ultimately it’s a fun movie with some good jump scares.
The first Friday movie I ever saw still remains one of my favorites. A lot of fans love this movie because while it’s genuinely scary it’s also pretty funny too. Look, if Shelly doesn’t make you laugh you have no soul.
I’m just saying.
Part 3 is also the introduction of Jason’s signature hockey mask. A lot of casual fans are surprised to find out it wasn’t until the third installment that the iconic bit of Jason regalia, up there with the machete, made its appearance. Part three hits all of the beats I look for in a slasher flick. It’s creepy, full of jump scares, a score that left me shaking, and a couple of hot naked people having sex. I love this flick… except for one thing.
Like so many genre movies of the early 1980’s, I’m looking at you Jaws 3, Friday the 13th Part 3 was filmed… sigh, in 3D. Yes you read that right. One of my favorite scary movies is the 3D crap fest. Unfortunately I can’t even critique the 3D aspect because I CAN’T SEE 3D on the screen. All that happens is my eyes are strained and I end up with a headache.
Fuck you William Friese-Greene!
Friday the 13th The Final Chapter (Part 4) is my favorite film in the entire series. The number one reason I love this film is the introduction of Tommy Jarvis the only true reoccurring character in the series, even if he is played by three different actors. Not much else to say about this one other than if you only watch one installment of the franchise this is the one.
Outside of a few hallucinations in Friday the 13th A New Beginning (Part 5) Jason Voorhees is not in the movie. This movie is the Tommy Jarvis show and I love every bloody sex fueled second of it.
Before I start getting angry messages from Jason fans who want to stone me and run me through for liking one of the least loved parts of the franchise allow me to explain. I watched this one back to back with the first four flicks and when viewed in that fashion there is a compelling through line of one young man overcoming his fears and standing up to the monsters we all hide from.
Good movie, no Jason but still a good movie.
Friday the 13th Jason Lives (Part 6) is the movie where the series officially jumped the shark and that is a good thing. The final installment of the Tommy Jarvis arc is a comic book of a movie. Action packed with romance, gratuitous sex, supernatural elements, and actual young campers who are terrified of Jason killing them. Those awesome kids made the movie for me. Well them and the final battle between Tommy and Jason in the middle of the lake.
Friday the 13th The New Blood (Part 7) would be an ultimately forgettable movie if not for two things. The first is the female lead Tina. Tina is not the scared and powerless female so typical in horror movies, yes she’s scared but she’s also telekinetic and has the single best battle with Jason ion the history of the series (with the exception of Freddy vs. Jason). The second is the introduction one Mr. Kane Hodder as Jason. Until this movie Jason had been played by different actors in every movie, with part 7 we are treated to a four picture streak of the best Jason ever. Kane Hodder IS Jason and I damn near boycotted the films without him… but I didn’t.
I hate the plot in Friday the 13th Jason Takes Manhattan (Part 8) but I love Kane Hodder. The plot is stupid, the acting is a joke, and the end makes me want to vomit. The single saving grace in this movie is the scene of Jason standing in the middle of Times Square.
In my opinion it’s the worst of the series… but still fun.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (Part 9) didn’t need to be a Jason movie. The movie has such a different tone from the ones preceding it that I had a hard time deciding whether I liked it or not. On one hand it had Erin Grey (meow) and Stephen Williams in it. On the other hand it was once more a nearly Jason free movie. Ultimately I’ve come down on the side of I really like this movie but felt the absence of Jason the entire time.
Also Freddy at the end… Boo-Yah!!!
Jason X (Part 10) is so far out there is the realm of “What The Fuck” movies that it comes all of the way back around to being awesome. The last movie to star Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees Jason X pulled out all of the stops and aimed for the fucking stars… literally.
People either love or hate this movie. Personally I love it. Jason X isn’t scary, it isn’t very gory, and it doesn’t have the atmosphere of the other flicks. But it’s still amazing. Despite the ridiculous setting and story the makers still managed to remain true to the spirit of the series.
Also, liquid nitrogen kill may be the single best of the franchise.
Freddy vs. Jason
Freddy vs. Jason (Part 11) was a love letter to the fans of both series. I love this movie but I also understand why some people feel strongly that it shouldn’t exist. Kane Hodder was fucked over and pitched off the side of the boat like Dexter getting rid of the evidence and that was why I almost didn’t see it.
Watch it, love it, but don’t take it too seriously.
Friday The 13th (2009) surprised me. I’m against remakes in general and am rarely disappointed or surprised when the end product sucks donkey balls. The 2009 remake of Friday the 13th was freaking awesome. It hit all of the right notes, it paid proper homage to the series, and it was actually well acted with a great story.
I still don’t understand why Paramount killed the sequel.
The Friday the 13th series can make a legitimate claim for being the best horror movie franchise of all time. I’m not saying it’s the best but it is a great string of films. If you like horror and have never experienced the entire thing you need to do it now. Even the awful installments have merit.