Ranking the Entire Friday the 13th Series!

When it comes to horror villains, few are as iconic, and none can match his body count over a staggering 12 films!  With that said, the filmography of Jason Vorhees has quite literally been all over the place, both in tone and location (from Camp Crystal Lake to Manhattan to Elm Street to outer space).  So let’s take a closer look at Jason’s overall franchise and see which films are brilliant and still hold up today, and which ones are so cheesy that they’re unintentionally hilarious!

12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

One of the few scenes to actually feature Jason in the film.

In a strange way, this one doesn’t even feel like a Jason film.  He barely gets any screen time and does most of his kills while possessing other people.  There’s also this weird Vorhees bloodline subplot that seemingly comes out of nowhere.  This was the first film in the franchise to be produced by New Line after they took it over, and it really shows.  Clearly they weren’t sure what to do with the character.

11. Jason X

For all its ridiculous faults, Uber Jason does look pretty badass!

To be fair, Jason X is quite entertaining, if you treat the film as a straight up parody.  Still unsure with what do with the franchise, New Line decided to send Jason to space because that’s what you do when you run out of ideas (just ask Leprechaun).  All that being said, the film never tries to take itself seriously and it’s fun to laugh at, so there’s that.

10. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

A more accurate title would have been Jason Takes a Boat, and then Manhattan for About 10 Minutes

Cursed with the dumbest title of the series, Jason Takes Manhattan was the first time that the franchise really stopped caring.  We see Jason sarcastically taking off his mask to scare someone, as well as lots of 80’s teen comedy hijinks.  If you took out Jason, you would have a fully functioning Porky’s, but on a boat.

Perhaps the biggest sin this film commits however, is only giving us about 15 minutes of Jason actually in Manhattan.  Due to budge restrictions, they weren’t able to film scenes of him at the Statue of Liberty or other landmarks as planned.  This would have been legitimately interesting to see him outside of Camp Crystal Lake.  But unfortunately, it just turned out to be a hastily thrown together missed opportunity.

9. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

The opening scene with Corey Feldman is far more interesting than the rest of the entire film!

Following up such a brilliant sequel as Final Chapter, New Beginning certainly had a huge challenge, and proved to not be up to it.  We traded a vulnerable and interesting Tommy Jarvis for a boring, moody one that spends most of the film just staring silently.   Which wouldn’t be so bad, if the rest of the characters weren’t one-dimensional cartoons.  Plus, there’s the infuriating “twist” that it wasn’t really Jason at all.

This made sense in the first film because it was still his mother, and we hadn’t seen him as the killer yet.  But at this point in the series, it just felt like a slap in the face to fans to have the killer be just some random side character with a grudge.

8. Friday the 13th: Part III (3D)

To its credit, this one has by far the coolest opening credits and music!

Long before 3D became the norm for most blockbuster releases, it was simply a gimmick that films like this would use to spice things up.  And “gimmick” is the best way to refer to it as this films goes very far out of its way to awkwardly make characters and objects come close to the camera lens, all in the name of 3D.  Overall, some of this film works and some of it doesn’t.  For example, the gang members feel like what an 80’s after school special portrayal of gang members would be.

And they don’t really seem to serve a purpose other than to create tension for the main characters before Jason arrives.  However, this film deserves immense credit for giving Jason his signature look, both with the hockey mask, as well as his face underneath it.  This is the first time we see him as bald and with a distorted face, unlike the awkward long haired version of him in Part 2.  Plus, the final lake scare at the end is a nice callback to the original.

7. Friday the 13th (2009)

The remake even pays tribute to Part 2 by including the burlap sack over Jason’s head.

As far as remakes of classic slashers go, this one was actually pretty faithful and kept in spirit to its original.  Fans complained a great deal about seeing Michael Myers’ back story or seeing Freddy Krueger butchered by bad CGI.  But this remake does a semi-decent job of combining the plots of the first three films into a coherent story.

It has the blood, guts, and gore that fans have come to love.  It’s only major problem is that it’s characters are just as generic and dull as always, and while it does capture the spirit of the franchise, it doesn’t really do anything to set itself apart.

6. Freddy vs. Jason

Freddy vs. Jason does a great job of humanizing Jason. We see that deep down, he’s still just that scared little boy who drowned.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what drags this entry down is just how boring and generic our main characters really are (which is an overall symptom of slashers in general).  However, when this film is good, it’s amazing.  The actual 10 minutes of fighting between the two titular characters makes watching it more than worth it!

5. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Apparently Jason Vorhees and Frankenstein’s Monster have quite a bit in common…

Fortunately from here on out, there are more good things to say that bad about each film.  After grossly mishandling Tommy Jarvis in New Beginning, we get a much stronger character here, who rises to the occasion and becomes a worthy slasher nemesis, in the same league as Dr. Loomis.

Jason Lives is filled with amusing, self-aware 4th wall breaks, and some genuine danger and dread, as for the first time ever, there are actually children at Camp Crystal Lake.  It’s a solid and worthy sequel.  Honestly, the only issue with it is just how ridiculous the setup is for Jason to come back to life via lighting strike, but given his numerous deaths before, it made sense to take the series into a fully supernatural status.

4. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Jason Lives is also infamous for giving us Zombie Jason!!!

Long before Jason took on Freddy, Paramount decided to see what it would be like to have him take on Carrie White (or at least a character very similar to her).  Tina makes for a compelling protagonist as she’s already in the middle of her own story and character arc as she comes to terms with the trauma of her past and her powers.

Jason is up to the task of being the antagonist, as we get Kane Hodder in his first appearance of the franchise.  He brings a real menacing presence to his portrayal and the entire film just seems like an awesome showdown we didn’t even know we wanted.  This film also gives us the most creative of all Jason kills when he puts his victim in a sleeping bag and bashes it against a tree!

3. Friday the 13th Part 2

Part 2 also gave us the trope of the final girl from the previous film being killed off in the first few minutes of the sequel.

In a very strange way, this feels like both a sequel and remake to the original.  It follows many of the same beats, even bringing back Crazy Ralph from the first one.  In keeping true with the original, it still feels like a strong murder/mystery, as we’re still not sure if it’s actually Jason who’s the killer until the end.

The film does a great job of introducing him, and because he wasn’t a household name yet, they were more free to do whatever they wanted with him.  Sure his physical look doesn’t match the later sequels, but at this point, they were still figuring out the franchise.  In many ways, this portrayal of Jason is the most “human” that we ever see.  Plus, the method in which Ginny impersonates Pamela Vorhees to trick Jason is a pretty genius move and a kickass ending!

2. Friday the 13th (1980)

Still one of the best twists in horror history!

Who knew that a film that started as nothing more than a cheap knockoff of Halloween would become a horror franchise that rivals it?!  When it comes to these horror series with many, many sequels, there’s usually a beautiful simplicity to the original, and that’s very much the case here.

It’s a confined and tense murder/mystery with a cool twist and essentially started the “camp slasher” trend we would later see with The Burning, Sleepaway Camp, and so many others!  Plus who doesn’t love seeing a young Kevin Bacon get an arrow shoved through his throat?!

1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

By far the best Jason kill in the entire series!

Perhaps it’s sacrilege to not put the original in this spot.  But if we’re talking the very best of the series, it’s hard for any of these to top The Final Chapter, whose title was unfortunately proven wrong.  This entry gives us the very best of everything, including the return of Tom Savini (who hadn’t worked on the series since the original), the introduction of Tommy Jarvis, played brilliantly by a young Corey Feldman, as well as a strong supporting cast which included Crispin Glover.  Simply put, this film put the most effort into making even the side characters feel well developed.  It also gave us an epic showdown with Tommy and Jason at the end.  As this was intended to be the finale, it’s quite epic in scale and when it comes to Friday the 13th, no other films are quite as awesome and entertaining as this one!

So who agrees or disagrees with our rankings?  The beauty of film is that everyone has their own opinion and point of view. We would love to hear yours in the comments below!

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