Playing Favorites: Ranking the “Friday the 13th” Films

In honor of Jason’s special birthday tomorrow, the crew here at Slasher Studios have decided to put together a little treat for you slasher fans. The following are the original eight “Friday the 13th” films (if you ask us, Jason was killed in Manhattan..none of that body swapping or space shit). I know this ranking is going to piss off a LOT of people, especially with how low I ranked one of the “favorite” sequels. So, which “Friday the 13th” movie is your favorite? What is your official ranking? The following ranking is from best to worst…

“Friday the 13th Part 2”
“Friday the 13th Part 2” is the kind of sequel that takes a lot of chances and most of them work. The film is well paced, well acted (big props to Amy Steel who does an incredible job as Ginny), and the deaths are effectively gruesome. Also, for what its worth, I’ll take potato head Jason over hockey mask Jason any day. This is a fun sequel that doesn’t exactly advance the series (the godawful Part 3 actually does more to define Jason than this one does) but doesn’t destroy its legacy either. The characters aren’t particularly memorable but they aren’t particularly annoying either. This is really the last point in the series were you actually still feel some affection for the characters. They aren’t quite stereotypes…yet. Furthermore, it contains the two best “jump scares” of the series and the ending is pretty damn scary. Sure the middle act drags a bit but don’t let that stop you, “Part 2” is a fine slasher film that does the series proud.

“Friday the 13th”
Looking at Friday the 13th, it is not hard not to see why the criticisms were made. The film is poorly acted, poorly directed on a minimal budget with a core story that, at best, rips off the Halloween franchise frame by frame. However, this would be avoiding the very essence of why these horror films are so popular. People don’t go to Friday the 13th expecting a great, cinematic movie going experience; they are going to Friday the 13th to have fun. It can be argued that films like Friday the 13th are escapist entertainment at their very best. There is nothing fundamentally great about these films but that’s really the point. They are fun, they are scary (if, by today’s standards, cheesy and tame), and they are very entertaining.

“Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood”
“The New Blood” is everything that a “Friday the 13th” sequel should be. It has some creative deaths (gotta love that sleeping bag death) and a meaner than ever Jason played by the great Kane Hodder. The reason why it really works though? It’s fucking Jason meets Carrie with a tour-de-force performance by Lar Park Lincoln as Tina. This movie just works from beginning (a six movie montage narrated by Crazy Ralph, yes please!) to end (the final showdown between Tina and Jason is the most suspenseful the series has been since Part 2). It’s just a damn fun movie. I still wish it hadn’t been raped by the MPAA (all of the death scenes are cut) and if the final reveal (Tina’s dad) wasn’t as lame. Still a damn good sequel.

“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives”
“Jason Lives” is a very strange entry into the “Friday the 13th” saga. There is hardly any blood, no nudity “Friday the 13th” first?) and the film plays the deaths more for laughs than it does for scares. The film works because it realizes that Jason is no longer scary, so why not just make fun of the whole situation? It is the first Friday movie to even get a little “meta”. Example, before the caretaker is about to die he has a heart to heart with his liquor bottle, “Darling, you’re going to be the death of me. But what a lovely way to go, huh?” Of course, he tosses the bottle behind him and Jason catches it and stabs him with it. The humor doesn’t always work (the paintball scene is painful to watch) but effort is appreciated. As it stands, it’s definitely one of the better entries in the series.

“Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning”
Pseudo Jason isn’t usually one of the favorites among fans but I actually kind of like this installment. In fact there are two characters that save “A New Beginning” from being utter trash. Those two characters are the punk pop princess Violet who does a killer robot dance to “His Eyes” by Pseudo Echo that is pretty damn amazing. The other is a white trash princess named Ethel that spews out more profanity than any other character in Friday the 13th history. This film is almost worth watching for these two alone. As it stands, the film isn’t bad but not particularly good. It’s like the cheeseburger you eat after a long night of drinking. It fills your stomach and gets the job done but you might regret it in the morning….

“Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan”
Very little about “Jason Takes Manhattan” works. First of all, for a movie called “Jason Takes Manhattan”, very little of it actually takes place in New York. Three quarters of this damn movie takes place on a cruise ship. Cruise ships just are not that scary and they definitely aren’t scary here. Even Jason himself seems to be going through the motions. What’s equally depressing is how much this movie takes pains to rip off the more popular “Elm Street” series. Do we really need the supernatural Jason appearing in visions to Rennie? Or the “little boy” that Jason becomes at the end? It’s all rather silly. Also, at over 100 minutes, it’s grossly overlong. This is just a bland effort all around with little to recommend it. This used to be one of my favorite entries as a child but time has not served it well. Jason is finally killed by toxic waste. Yawn.

“Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”
I know that there is a lot of love out there for “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”. I have talked to many a horror fan that feel as though this sequel is the best sequel of the Friday series. They love the effects, the love the “killing” of Jason, and they love Crispin Glover. Well, I must be honest and say that this love is not at all shared by me. Marginally better than the 3rd film in the series, I just don’t understand the passion for this film. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me? I’d LOVE to know. Honestly.

let me just say that filmmakers, when in doubt, NEVER have a child to be your lead character/hero. It almost never works and the child in doubt is usually obnoxious and painfully annoying (case in point here). Adding insult to injury, there isn’t even a strong final girl here. Jason is killed by a little boy?!!? C’mon…this is just lame. If anything saves this film, it is the competent direction and stylish killings. Everything else is ho hum.

“Friday the 13th 3D”
I really can’t say how much I dislike this movie. The 3D effects are lame, the characters are painfully bland, and the movie drags on and on and on. After the opening kill it is seriously at least a half an hour until the next death. You have the annoying fat kid, a group of bikers?!?!, and one of the most annoying final girls in Friday history. Yet somehow I still find some charm with this film. Maybe it is the fact that this is the only Friday shot in 2.35:1 widescreen (effects aside, the film looks great) or maybe its just all the cheesy goodness. I cannot in good faith recommend this film but it still isn’t the worst of the series.


2 thoughts on “Playing Favorites: Ranking the “Friday the 13th” Films

  1. Jason Takes Manhattan is the ultimate guilty pleasure of mine. As a kid, it was actually my favorite of the series. It is really silly but not completely worthless.

  2. My three favorites are the original, Part 3 and Jason Takes Manhattan; two of which you have ranked at the bottom! Guess everyone has their own opinion bout these things. :)

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