Top 10 Friday the 13th Movies (Ranked!)
AHHHH YAY-UHH! Today's the day, friends. The annual unofficial horror holiday...FRIDAY THE 13TH! Halloween notwithstanding, this has to be the best day of the year for horror fans, right? That is, unless you have a problem with my man Voorhees and his ruthless day of reckoning. If so, get the fuck out of here Jack, we don't need your kind. We're all about the hockey mask around here, and today we bow to the altar of Jason and his 35 year reign of hallowed horror hall of famousness! But before we proceed, let us open it up to you guys and gals. Off the dome, in what order would you rank the FRIDAY THE 13TH films? I don't mean in terms of quality or success, I mean in terms of personal preference? It's sure to vary from fan to fan, for instance, I know our very own Eric W. champions FRIDAY THE 13TH V: A NEW BEGINNING more than anyone I've ever met. I know, dude's glued off! Then there's The Arrow, who's on record as liking the '09 FRIDAY THE 13TH remake more than most. Like I said, different strokes. You know what though, I'm here to set the record straight. Here's the correct order...my Top 10 ranking of the FRIDAY THE 13TH films!
I forget who as an adult took me to see JASON GOES TO HELL when I was only 10, but even then I remember thinking...where the HELL IS JASON?!? Decades later, while slightly more appreciated, I still cannot forgive this misguided attempt at rebranding Tommy Jarvis as the next killer. Actually, in some ways I find the trivia behind this film more fascinating than its content. For instance, Tobe Hooper was initially considered to direct, doin g so under the original title of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IX: THE DARK HEART OF JASON VOORHEES. Jason's heart in the film was also used in FROM DUSK TILL DAWN as the heart of the big bouncer. The Freddy Krueger arm at the end was also performed by Kane Hodder, the legend. The crate in the basement was used as the same in THE GATE. And most stunning to me, did you know there was a connecting comic taking place between events in this film and JASON TAKES MANHATTAN? WTF?!?
I'm aware that this is well covered territory, but please indulge me once again. I will always remember the day that me and my two best friends went to see JASON X on my 19th birthday in 2002. The flick opened against Sam Raimi's gargantuan hit, SPIDER MAN, which fortuitously meant that my friends and I ended up with the theater all to ourselves. As a result, I think it's the best time I've ever had at the movies. The three of us had so much fun laughing, wailing and yelping at the screen - all in full support of Mr. Voorhees going bionically postal in outer-space (28 killed!!) - that I could never forget about the experience even if I tried to. Hell, I think my man Karl even lit up a cig and took a piss in the theater. It was a f*cking riot! That those two very friends of mine are no longer alive today makes this the single most cherished movie moment I can recall.
Recently featured in our So Bad They're Good Top 10, JASON TAKES MANHATTAN is slotted right about where it should be...in the 8 hole! Though only the last 20 minutes or so actually take place in the Big Apple, in a sequence that literally devolves Voorhees into a slime-covered toddler, his hideously deformed face exposed by the toxic waste sludge that washes over him in the bottom of the NYC sewer. Shit gets loony in a quick hurry! But before that, shit should have been called JASON ON A BOAT, or JASON TAKES A CRUISE...because he spends most of the time on a barge slaying a horde of teenage stowaways. My favorite is a nubile Kelly Hu in her awfully dated late 80s overalls, disco-dancing her way right into the throes of Jason's blood-coated paws. Just as memorable though, and this bears repeating, is the rooftop boxing match in which Voorhees literally knocks a dude's block off. That's a Top 10 series kill right there!
As the often neglected redheaded stepchild of the FRDAY THE 13TH series - the HALLOWEEN III of its brand - A NEW BEGINNING is actually a pretty tight little slasher joint. Sure, it features a Voorhees copycat instead of the Original Gangsta - but taken on its own merits, it hardly deserves the bum rap its carried around its neck for the last 30 years. I mean, how about that belt-welt-across-the-eyes? Gnarly right?!? How about Miguel Nunez' blistering Jheri curl mullet? No? Surely then you're enamored with Debbie Sue's huge knockers...revealed right before catching a giant pair of pruning shears to her pretty little grill. Shite rocks! Not for nothing, but the real Jason might have been wise to take notes from his acolyte. With 20 slain heads in a cool 92 minutes, A NEW BEGINNING marks the most efficient death-toll of all F-13 flicks (1 kill every 4.6 minutes)...a distinction that would hold true until 2002s JASON X (3.25 per minute).
Despite rocking two of the most riotously memorable death scenes in the entire franchise - the infamous sleeping bag whap against a tree, and the lesser known but equally droll dispatchment of Bernie Lomax via circular-saw-weed-wacker - THE NEW BLOOD is the most graphically neutered flick of the series. The MPAA had a fucking field day with this one, just ask director John Carl Buechler. Most of the death scenes are of the bloodless, quick-cutaway prior to penetration variety, a problem the series as a whole would have to battle as the Reagan era 80s persisted. Long gone were the hardcore days of 1984 and THE FINAL CHAPTER! Still, THE NEW BLOOD does a decent job of appropriating the psychokinetic CARRIE subtheme, as well as casting the aforementioned Terry Kiser in the slimy stepfather role. Dude gets it good, deservedly so!
Said it here before and I'll reverberate it now...JASON LIVES has to be the most underrated FRIDAY THE 13TH flick of all. Seriously, Voorhees kicks so much ass in this flick it's absurd. After being resurrected via lightning bolt to the chest, ridiculously so, my man wastes nary a moment before ripping the heart out of that yuppie asshole from GHOST...one handedly. Then he pumps a spear through a bitch's face, pinning her dome under a mud puddle to drown. Not good enough to start? How about the triple decollation he lands in one fell swoop on those idiotic paint-ballers? Dude's harsh! Later on he seems to take great delight in bending, twisting and contorting that creepily mustachioed sheriff in half like a goddamn pretzel. And what about that chick from CAN'T BUY ME LOVE? You know, the one blowing McDreamy in the back of that old station-wagon. Voorhees crams that lass' grill through the back of a mirror until it bends like rubber!
Not sure about you, but I love FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2! Even though it scales back the body-count of the original (from 13 to 9), a contrapuntal no-no for most horror sequels, it pretty much succeeds in every other way imaginable! The wildly successful handoff and intro of a new villain, the at the time unforeseen horror Mount Rushmore candidate in Jason Voorhees. The cycloptic-burlap-mask redolent of the serial killer in THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. The paraplegic stud catching a long-blade across his body, sending him rolling in the rain down a flight of stairs in his wheelchair! The BAY OF BLOOD inspired double-pitchfork-impalement (excised almost a minute to avoid a X-rating). But most, the psychologically horrific ending where Amy stumbles upon Jason's makeshift shack and the shrine to his beheaded mother. The bit where she throws on mama's sweater and tricks Jason into her trap is some slick shit that goes beyond mere slasher shite!
After testing and ultimately evolving away from the cyloptic burlap sack in Part 2, FRIDAY THE 13TH 3D marked quite the transition for our favorite maniacally murderous man-child. That's right y'all, the iconic hockey mask that's become synonymous with Jason Voorhees was first introduced in the series' third installment. Remember the scenario? Of course you do! When Shelly, the awkward nerd rocking a paunch and Jew fro, leaves prank-pulling mask behind...Voorhees picks that shite up, straps it across his lumpy dome, where it would stay for the next 30 odd years. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the kitschy 3D employed in the film, and the countless unnecessary jabs to the screen to accommodate such: a hot poker, the harpoon, an eye popping out, the snake charmer, on and on. Also, best theme song of the entire franchise goes to the disco-ditty in Part 3!
Nubile twin hotties. Corey Feldman's bald-headed-machete-rampage. Crispin Glover's spastic dance maneuvers. The kid from LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN maintaining his piteous namesake. And of course, director Joseph Zito, fresh off THE PROWLER, giving good old Voorhees a whole slew of slut-bags to slaughter! These are just a few reasons why THE FINAL CHAPTER has long been my favorite FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel. I absolutely adore this flick! Not only does it have some the best, most brutally baleful death scenes in the entire franchise, it's the rare sequel in the series that actually had a year in between releases to take the proper amount of time write, cast and find a suitable director. As a result, it's probably the most competently made F-13 sequel. Having the most nudity, the biggest body-count up until then (13), and actually being released on a Friday the 13th only bolster its silver-status!
It all starts with the mother. Literally! It should come as no surprise then that the gold medal goes to the progenitor of what's become arguably the most successful horror franchise in film history. Props goes out to Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller for creating something so iconic and enduring as the FRIDAY THE 13TH mythos, and having the eventual foresight to keep the legend alive through the original killer's son, Jason Voorhees. Of course, piercing an arrowhead plum through Kevin Bacon's trachea, twisting it around as he gurgles away his lifeblood, is always a winning formula. But really, the shocking pair of third-act revelations - momma Vorhees as killer and little Jason lunging from the lake - are surely the reasons why FRIDAY THE 13TH struck such a chord. Hell, Betsy Palmer as Ms. Voorhees still scares the piss out of me...those bulging eyes and maniacal grin are no joke!