Chills and spills: The very best – and worst – ‘Friday the 13th’ movies
We have something really disturbing to share with you: Friday the 13th is almost 40 years old. The movie premiered on May 9, 1980 and changed the shape of horror and of slasher movies forever. The films are absolutely iconic and a true part of cultural iconography thanks to the distinctive killer look of tonked psycho killer Jason Voorhees – a man who just happened upon a hockey mask once and thought, “Yeah, that’s the look for me.”
As every true fan will tell you, there isn’t really a bad Friday the 13th movie – even at its very worst the franchise still offers up a shitacular load of fun and frolics that make for perfect watching over a few beers with good pals. So please, engage in some very unsavory hedonistic behavior (the likes of which Jason’s party radar will most certainly pick up on) as we rank all twelve of the Friday the 13th movies from worst to best.
12. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
This one stings. After fans waited almost two decades for a long teased crossover between A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, and Friday the 13th, this is the shitter they gave us. The plot line is weak, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is little more than a goofy walking punchline, and Jason seems like he’s hit a mid-life crisis and just doesn’t know what this killing thing is all about anymore.
That’s a shame, because the overall premise isn’t so terrible but the writing, acting (from stars like Kelly Rowland and Katharine Isabelle), and overall quality of the dumb thing definitely is.
11. Friday the 13th (2009)
Quite possibly the movie that inspired Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon to write The Cabin in the Woods as a commentary on how the stale, stereotypical, and occasionally sexist tropes of the horror genre are still being perpetuated today from movies of a different time, Friday the 13th was a fair effort but certainly felt outdated.
Starring teen TV faves like Jared Padalecki (Supernatural) & Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), Marcus Nispel’s reboot added a glossy veneer to the familiar story but it didn’t bring anything new or even half of the atmosphere of most of the original movies.
10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Oh christ, this one. Please imagine that we have a hand fully folded over our faces in shame as we recall how this movie involves a teenage telepath, a vague subplot involving a dead dad, and some regrettable special effects work involving Jason’s bare disfigured face. Still, the sleeping bag kill is pretty terrific so it’s not all bad.
9. Jason X (2001)
This film is an abomination! It’s absolutely horrendous, defies all logic, and is insane on every possible level (including a guest appearance from David Cronenberg) but we can’t lie – we still have a shady little soft spot for this spacebound turkey. How could you possibly hate a movie where Jason dunks a woman’s head in liquid nitrogen before smashing it against a table? You can’t!
8. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Bringing body horror to the franchise, Jason Goes to Hell went full throttle on horror gimmicks and is completely batshit as a result. There’s demonic worm creatures, the Necronomicon from The Evil Dead makes a guest appearance, and Jason inhabits various different bodies for much of the movie so you don’t even get to enjoy ya boy in costume! It’s a bit of a drag but hey, demon worms are pretty cool, huh?
7. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) is still haunted by Jason and begins to suspect the psycho killer is back and still butchering horny teenagers in his area. There’s an entire sequence in which a man is killed while enjoying an extended shit in a port-o-potty, which is kind of the perfect analogy for this overall stinker.
6. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Forget about how a disfigured, scrawny, and motherless adolescent somehow spawned into a hench psycho murderer while living alone in the woods and instead focus on Jason’s incredible ensemble – overalls and a cloth sack.
Pre-hockey mask Jason is one of our faves. The movie is energetic even if the murders are comparatively mild. Aside from Mark (Tom McBride) getting an axe to his face before getting pushed down an everlasting set of steps in his wheelchair, of course.
5. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Tom McLoughlin (The Unsaid) really pushed the dark humor element of the franchise in this movie, which is so cool, Alice Cooper even wrote and recorded a tie-in song for it called “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)”. It’s full of hilarious murders including one memorable scene involving the satisfying slaughter of a macho paintball commando.
4. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Stacked with some of the best supporting characters of the franchise including badass punk Fox (Gloria Charles) and lonely prankster Shelly (Larry Zerner), Part III is also full of craptastic scenes designed solely for 3D enjoyment. Including one particular murder scene in which Jason squeezes a guy’s head so hard his eyeball pops out towards the camera.
3. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Grossly underrated, Jason Takes Manhattan might be a hot mess of a movie but it’s also one of the most entertaining so long as you don’t take it seriously. Half of the movie takes place on a ship with a strange, sparsely populated party of high schoolers and the other half takes place in a depiction of New York so offensive, Jason just blends in with the rest of the maniacs and random buckets of toxic waste that casually line the streets.
The acting is deliciously dreadful, the murders are preposterous (including a boxer who has his head punched clean off his shoulders), and the ending (where the protagonist is mysteriously reunited with her dog) is more Wizard of Oz than Friday the 13th, but man is the whole thing a riot.
2. Friday the 13th (1980)
Sean S. Cunningham’s iconoclastic slasher introduced little baby Voorhees to the world and his murderous mom. The film has some great murders (Kevin Bacon’s throat spike is particularly gnarly) and a wonderful set of final surprises, and though it lacks some of the fun of the franchise, the film manages to pack a bigger punch of pacing and intrigue than many of the films that followed it.
1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Introducing Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) to the franchise, The Final Chapter is one of the most unexpectedly amazing horror films of any long standing series.
Full of compelling insights into Jason’s psychology, a vast range of low key and extravagant butcherings, and the single greatest dance performance ever captured on celluloid courtesy of Crispin Glover (Back to the Future), the movie is scary and smart without sacrificing any sense of fun.