I’m a sucker for movie lists. I love to scribble down pointless lists of movies I’ve watched. I love to look up fan lists on the internet, and get mad at how wrong they are. With “Jason’s Jumble” I’m going to make my own lists, so you can get mad at me…starting with my favorite horror franchise of all time: Friday the 13th (from best to worst).
1. Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981)
Part 2 has everything I want in a Friday the 13th movie (minus the hockey mask, of course). It features my favorite cast of characters, including the best “final girl” of the series, and there’s something about Jason wearing that sack over his head that makes the whole thing creepier than the rest. Throw in Jason’s Mom’s head (spoiler alert?! We’ve all seen these, right?), and the camp setting (I’m a sucker for slashers that take place at camp! (MADMAN! SLEEPAWAY CAMP!) and you have my favorite of the bunch.
2. Friday the 13th: Part 4 – The Final Chapter (1984)
I go back and forth between part 4 and part 2 as my favorite of the franchise. They’re both so good! I’ll be totally real with you…there are only two reasons this one falls from the top spot: 1. It doesn’t take place at camp. We’ve established my feelings on the subject. And 2. Wait, no, that’s it.
If Friday the 13th were just a quadrilogy, this one might be on the top of the list. The ending (with all of those Savini effects) is so fun (Jason’s best demise for sure)! It features Crispin Glover AND Corey Feldman! And it has some of the most iconic death scenes. Damn, I’m almost convincing myself to move it up a spot. I will say that it’s a bit of a bummer that the beginning of the 5th one takes some of the air out of the bold ending of “The Final Chapter” – but that’s what 5th installments are for I guess (I’m looking at you Halloween 5).
3. Friday the 13th: Part 6 – Jason Lives (1986)
Part 6 was a childhood favorite of mine. It has the most humor. It has actual kids at the camp (the only entry with real live campers and not just counselors). I think it’s the most fun of the bunch. The Frankenstein style revival of Jason really resonated with me when I was a kid, and nearly every horror comic I made when I was little, began with the villain returning from the dead after lightening strikes their corpse. Inspiring stuff!
4. Friday the 13th (1980)
The original has got some great vibes, and some stand out kills. It takes a slight knock down the list because of the mystery killer element (which works better in the obvious Friday the 13th knock off – Sleepaway Camp in my opinion). What’s great about this one are those 1980 elements (the score, the setting, the clothes), a very young Kevin Bacon, and a whopper of a conclusion that sets up Jason for the rest of the franchise. The ending (on the lake) still packs a punch all these years later.
5. Friday the 13th: Part 3 – 3D (1982)
You gotta love classic 3D with the red and blue lenses. It was fun while it lasted. When it works – it’s amazing. The still lake toward the end of the movie really pops out, but when the camera moves sometimes you have to look away or a headache emerges (a feeling Jason Vorhees understands well toward the end of part 3).
Friday the 13th 3D is a good time. It’s the most simple of the franchise consisting of very little set up, and a whole lot of side characters walking into a shed, getting butchered only to have more characters follow, and get butchered (that biker gang didn’t know what was coming). The best elements are the hilarious 3D gags that are almost better viewing in 2D (it makes for a great drinking game just FYI). Also, this one features my favorite kill of the whole franchise – the crushed head/eye ball pop out! That watermelon smush sound effect makes me laugh every time.
6. Friday the 13th: Part 5 – A New Beginning (1985)
Even putting part 5 in the number 6 spot is controversial. I know a lot of fans put this one toward the bottom of their lists. BUT…here’s my defense of it: It’s the trashiest / sleaziest Friday the 13th of the franchise. I love that about it. It’s dirty and raunchy and why not? It also has that opening scene with a kill that comes out of nowhere and begs the question early on: “Is this even a Friday the 13th movie?” A question that lingers well after the Scooby Doo-style ending.
7. Freddy vs Jason (2003)
I’m not sure that I’ve ever been so excited to see a movie in the theater. Freddy and Jason finally in a movie together (delivered 10 years after being teased in “Jason Goes to Hell”). I watched it in a rowdy theater in Iowa City, Iowa and the crowd was standing up and cheering during the movie. There were chants for Freddy, and screams for Jason. It was like watching a sporting event. It was intense.
The movie itself is a little uneven with its pacing (starting with a monologue by Freddy that introduces the convoluted reason these to need to meet up and ending with a literal wink). The whole movie has its tongue firmly planted deep in cheek. Sometimes that humor really works and sometimes it falls a little flat. But I’ll always have a soft spot for that first time viewing in a theater full of screaming fans.
8. Friday the 13th (2009)
I know there’s some real haters of the Friday the 13th remake (and of horror remakes in general), but I enjoyed the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th. The opening action leading up to the title credit is so fun! The movie never truly gets back into that break neck horror pace of the first 15 minutes, but it does have a lot of fun playing with expectations, and paying homage to a slew of Friday the 13th movies. It isn’t perfect (I mean it is number 8 on a list of 12 movies) but for a remake it works for me.
I want to also add that this entry in the list separates the Friday the 13th movies I like from the ones I really don’t care for. So if you’re not mad at my list yet. You might be starting with…
9. Friday the 13th: Part 8 – Jason takes Manhattan (1989)
Part 8 is one big missed opportunity. Everyone knows by now that Jason barely steps foot in Manhattan, and the title should’ve been: Jason takes a boat trip. Yes, Jason mostly hangs out and kills teens on a boat, and eventually he ends up in Time Square for the ad campaign. The rumors are all true.
The real reason this one is the beginning of the Friday the 13th stinkers for me is that it indulges in the worst instincts of the later F13 movies. Jason is an unstoppable killing machine by now who breaks the space time continuum to pop up behind or in front of his victims (a trope that has been carried into the recent Friday the 13th video game as well). It just makes for a more boring suspense-less affair. By the time the movie picks up the pace and lands in Manhattan it’s too little too late.
10. Friday the 13th: Part 7 – The New Blood (1988)
“The New Blood” has a fun and simple concept: What if Jason fought Carrie (the one with the psychic powers who’s bathed in pigs blood). Sounds fun on paper, but this movie is a slog filled with boring family subplots – and featuring the dumbest ending of the entire franchise (zombie dad rising from the lake. You know you hate it, too). Also, Jason looks so silly once he’s unmasked. It’s hard to be scared when Jason just sort of looks like a frog. Moving on…
11. Jason X (2002)
Jason X is absolutely the silliest movie of the bunch. I really enjoyed it the first time I watched it with a group of friends in the theater, but it’s a hard re-watch with lots of bad decisions making their way onto the screen. The score is so bad that it’s distracting and sounds cheap. But just about everything feels cheap here (the sets, the effects, the acting) There’s some flourishes of fun ideas and humor (the sleeping bag throwback to part 7 still gets me), but they all get lost in yet another overstuffed “send the franchise to space” sequel. In my opinion this is the best ______ goes to space horror movie, and it’s number 11 out of 12, so let’s just call it a bad idea by now.
12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Man, I hate this movie. It’s the only one of the bunch I truly hate. Outside of an interesting opening the rest of this movie falls apart. First off, there’s barely any Jason in this movie, because the not so genius idea of part 9 is that Jason is actually a demonic worm that can travel from body to body (much like the superior horror/ sci-fi flick “The Hidden”). I suppose that explains part 5 of the franchise, but it certainly pokes holes in the rest of movies of the series.
Part 9 is also filled with nails on chalk board comedic relief, and a cast of boring leads. It also lacks the overall Friday the 13th atmosphere that I enjoy in these movies. By the time the Jason worm ends up back in his own body, the movie is nearly over, and thank God for that.
So that’s my list from best to worst of the Friday the 13th franchise. Don’t get too mad at it. I feel like movie lists change with the wind. I could watch all of these movies tomorrow and enjoy “Jason X” more than “Jason takes Manhattan” or maybe “The Final Chapter” more than “Part 2” and then “WALLA!” I have a new list.
Thanks for reading my first “Jason’s Jumble!” Coming up in the next jumble…the Halloween series! Where will your favorite Michael Myers movie end up? (hint: I’m not a fan of the Zombie flicks) See you soon!