Happy Friday the 13th everyone! The Friday the 13th movies are perhaps the king of the classic slasher movie. With a dozen titles in the series, it’s been the king of carving up stupid teenagers for decades. So in honor of this, and every, Friday the 13th, let’s break them down the movies from worst to best!
This list will contain spoilers, but it’s Friday the 13th. You’re not watching it for the dramatic plot twists (I hope). I’ve also included some sequences from the movies, watch at your own risk.
12. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Ugh. I wish they had let it end. A New Beginning teased the story they had set up at the end of Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, which would have seen Tommy Jarvis go on to become the new Jason Voorhees. The movie takes place at a halfway house near Crystal Lake and follows the now grown-up Tommy Jarvis.
The movie teases that he might be the killer, except anyone with a brain cell can figure out who the killer is in the beginning. Joey, a dim-witted compulsive eater tries to strike up a conversation with the short-tempered Vic, who happens to be chopping wood. I’ll give you one guess how that turns out for Joey. The two paramedics attending to Joey’s corpse debate whether it was a prank gone wrong or a murder, and Roy’s reaction basically tells you straight away that he’s the killer.
While the movie tries to tease that it might be Jason using dream sequences from Tommy, nothing about the plot or the movie holds up well. The only interesting part of the film is the very end, where we finally get an inkling that maybe Tommy actually will become the next Jason. More on that later.
11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
You have no idea how tempting it is to just write “this movie sucks” and leave it at that. The fundamental flaw of this movie is that it BARELY delivers on its promise of Jason taking Manhattan. Only about 25 minutes of the movie actually takes place in Manhattan. Even then, due to budget concerns, they could only film in New York for a couple of days. The rest of it was filmed in Vancouver as a stand-in.
Most of the movie takes place on a boat, which is taking a group of high school graduates from Crystal Lake to… New York City? Does Crystal Lake connect to New York City via water? Anyway, Jason sneaks on board and starts doing what he does best.
The climax of the movie takes place in the New York City sewers, which of course, flood with toxic waste every night at midnight. That’s a thing that happens in the big apple, right? Jason gets washed away in the toxic sludge and reverts back into a little boy. But right, it was Jason X that ruined the franchise. *eyeroll*
10. Jason Goes To Hell
I’m not sure whether to call spoilers or complain that once again the movie barely delivered on the premise. Most people say the series jumped the shark when Jason went into space, but I’d argue the body-stealing worm Jason from part 9 is what did the trick. I’m just going to go over some of the stupid moments of this movie.
- Half naked special forces girl strips down to lure Jason out into the open using his magical ‘naked teenager sensing powers.’
- After Jason is blown up, coroner eats his heart and becomes the new Jason.
- Jason turns out to be a worm monster that can possess people.
- Girl who is related to him materializes a magic dagger to kill him with.
But of course, nobody remembers any of that hot garbage. No, people just remember the awesome part at the end where Freddy’s glove springs up out of the ground and pulls Jason’s mask down to hell. And yes, that was the most important part of the movie because it sets up Freddy vs. Jason, a fight we all wanted to see. But more on that later. Also, can someone explain to me how they lost the right to call it Friday the 13th?
9. Friday the 13th Part 3D
Yes, like so many movies in that era, there had to be a 3D movie. While it’s downright painful today to watch them move stuff towards the screen for cheap novelty, that’s not the biggest problem with the movie. So much of it was left on the cutting room floor that what you’re left with is just boring and derivative.
Now don’t get me wrong, we do owe the signature hockey mask to part 3. It’s actually modeled after an old school Red Wings hockey mask, which is cool as a long time Red Wings fan. But the problem is that’s a far more interesting talking point than anything else in this bore-fest.
This is one of the less gory entries in the series, as most of the people die off-screen. I’m not a huge advocate for gore, but good lord it’s a Friday the 13th movie! On some level, I’m expecting to see someone get hit in the face with a machete.
8. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Starting to get nervous? We’re 4 entries in and I still haven’t complained about Jason X. Don’t worry, we’re getting there. However, I’m a strong believer that part 7 is even worse. More than that, it’s just plain forgettable. What’s the main character’s name? I’ll wait.
I think a lot of people think part 4 and part 7 are the same movie, and to be fair, they hit a lot of the same beats. The New Blood focuses on a young girl named Tina, who is thankfully not nearly as obnoxious as the Tina from Halloween 5. Why is Tina special? Because she has telekinesis. Again, this series was dumb long before they went to space.
Tina is under the care of a scummy psychologist studying her powers, and who needs to keep her in a highly emotional state. So he takes her to Crystal Lake, where her father died. There, she accidentally frees Jason, who was trapped at the bottom of the lake. A rampage ensues, more stupid teenagers die, and then we get possibly the dumbest ending ever. Tina uses her psychic powers to resurrect her dead father, who pulls Jason back down to the bottom of the lake. And scene.
7. Jason X
Alright, you knew I couldn’t go much longer. I need to make clear that I don’t hate this movie. It’s campy, shlocky, and stupid, but it was at least fun and didn’t take itself too seriously. It also plays host to one of the best kills in the series as Jason freezes a girl’s face in liquid nitrogen and then shatters it on the counter. Awesome.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my compliments end. The characters are idiots, and not one of them has a likable personality or a trait that you could remember. They make puns at completely inappropriate times, and you don’t feel bad when they get killed.
I will give some props to Uber Jason. While the premise of how he becomes Uber Jason is stupid, he still looks freaking bad-ass. If the series hadn’t ended here, they could have done some interesting things with him. Maybe. Probably. Ya know what? Nevermind. I’m glad it ended there.
6. Freddy Vs Jason
I struggled between this and Jason X for the six and seven spots on the list. Freddy Vs Jason was a movie that felt like it was in production hell for eternity. It was a clash we all wanted to see, and when we did…. it was okay?
Freddy is in hell, finding that he’s been forgotten and thus can’t invade people’s dreams anymore. So he uses the last of his power to resurrect Jason and sends him to Elm Street to start killing. The fear there then brings Freddy back and they start fighting over…. who gets to kill the people on Elm Street?
This movie struggles from the same thing that so many of the monster cross-over films do, the writers couldn’t decide who should win. As such, we get the stereotypical vague ending that shows that either side could be called the winner. I would have much preferred for them to show some spine and take a side. This movie actually would have ranked higher on the list except some of the effects are so god awful. Watch the special effects from Nightmare on Elm Street 3, and then this. It’ll make you weep.
5. Friday the 13th (2009)
I struggled with whether I should include the remake on the list at all. And if I had intended to put it near the bottom, I would have just left it off altogether. But the more I thought about it, the more I remember actually liking the remake quite a bit.
It’s far from a masterpiece, but it was a good idea to basically meld together parts 1-3 and cover it all in a single movie. The original three movies had a lot of redundancy in them, and the remake did a pretty good job of hitting all the major beats.
Loathe as I am to give credit to anything Michael Bay is attached to, the remake did a pretty good job. The characters were fine, the gore was good, the atmosphere was strong. The movie is all around adequate, which is weird to say in this franchise. You seldom get adequate, it’s either garbage or gold.
4. Friday the 13th Part 2
Now we’re starting to get into the real good stuff. Friday the 13th part 2 picks up about a couple of months after the conclusion of the first movie. After the first movie teased us with the legend of Jason Voorhees, the second movie didn’t waste any time in showing him to us. Most people are shocked when they don’t see the hockey mask, but that, of course, didn’t appear until part 3.
Five years later, a new group of camp counselors is going through a training session nearby Crystal Lake. Spoilers: It doesn’t go well for them. There are some dumb moments in this film as well, not the least of which is when Ginny puts on Pamela Voorhees’ sweater and pretends to be her. Not only is it dumb that she tries it, but it actually works! Until Jason spots his mom’s head and goes “oh right, duh.”
Part 2 captures a lot of the eeriness of the first film and did so before the idea had become played out. The effects are on point, the mood is right, and I’d re-watch it any day.
3. Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
This was a very different Friday the 13th. Writer/Director Tom Laughlin signed onto the film with the promise that he could create a more humorous Jason film. And he did so to pretty great effect. The film is more self-aware than entries in the series had been up until this point, and it definitely breathed new life into the franchise.
Remember way back at the beginning of this list when I said one of the only things Part 5 did well was teased Tommy Jarvis becoming Jason? Yea, forget about that. Part 6 abandons that story arc, instead deciding to resurrect the real Jason. Tommy and a soon-to-be-dead friend go to Jason’s grave where they accidentally revive the murderer due to an unfortunate lightning bolt.
Jason goes on an all-new killing spree, this time a bit more humorous than the others. In the end, Tommy drowns Jason in Crystal Lake and sets us up for Part 7. Props to this movie for having a kid say to another kid “so, what were you going to be when you grow up?”
2. Friday the 13th
I know. I know. How dare I not put the original on top of the list? Listen, Friday the 13th is an absolute classic. It was shot on a budget of 20 dollars and a big mac. It utilizes mood, atmosphere, and audio effects masterfully. It’s not second on the list because there’s anything wrong with it, although do you remember the lightning effects? It’s merely that I like another movie in the franchise more.
Where to start with this one? The cast is pretty stellar. They’re all likable and it’s got young Kevin Bacon in it! I don’t have to mention how great a performance Betsy Palmer gives because everyone else has. Even when working through a script she called quote “a piece of shit,” she’s still a highlight of the movie. The main character is relatable, and I genuinely believed her performance.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler in this day and age to say that Jason isn’t actually in this movie… well, kinda. And it does open some plot-holes when you go back and watch through the movie with the knowledge that the killer is Pamela Voorhees. Her arms must be 7 feet long and she must have the strength of a rhinoceros. Still, it’s an incredible movie that started a franchise.
1. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
I know a lot of people debate whether part 1 or 2 is the best in the series, but honestly, this is the one I remember liking the most. It was originally meant to close out the series if you’re an idiot. They blatantly set up the sequel at the end of the movie.
There are a few moments that I need to draw attention to. First, the opening sequence with the paramedics loading up the bodies after the conclusion of part 3. As the ambulances and helicopter fade into the distance, the shot lingers on Camp Crystal Lake. The bright lights and loud whirring of the helicopter blades fade away and we’re left in darkness. It’s an incredibly eerie shot that lingers with me to this day.
Second, we need to talk about the characters. They are the most likable bunch in any of the Friday the 13th movies. And not just Crispin Glover in all his glorious weirdness. Most of the characters are fun and easy to relate to in this movie. Some of them, you genuinely are bummed out when they have their unfortunate encounter with Jason. Of course, Glover’s performance and that strange dance are highlight moments.
The movie had a troubled production due to budget issues and poor working conditions. At the end of the movie, when Corey Feldman’s Tommy Jarvis is hacking away at Jason’s corpse, he was supposedly pretending it was director Joseph Zito. Jason actor Ted White threatened to quit multiple times to get better working conditions for the other actors and was so disgusted he demanded his name be removed from the credits.
Despite the difficulty, however, the product ended up being one of my favorites in the series. Maybe it was partially because of the poor conditions, but the emotion in each of the actors comes across as genuine. For all those reasons and more, this one holds my number one spot.
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