Re-Ranking The Friday The 13th Films
Greetings, beautiful people.
Another Friday The 13th is upon us, and thus the longest standing tradition here at Str8 Gangster is going strong. The last time I ranked them was 8 years ago, so I thought we’d venture to Crystal Lake once more as I teach you find readers the proper order in which to adore these films. Also, for those who haven’t been following your pal Cal, I talk about how I fell in love with the franchise to begin with.
The following article is basically an excerpt from my book, My Summer Vacation At Camp Crystal Lake. Trust me, you need this.
To be honest, I can’t remember a time I didn’t know about Friday The 13th & Jason Voorhees. I was born in 1983, so when I really started to develop serious memories, it was 1988-1989, and although his major hey-day was behind him, Jason was still a house hold name.
For some reason, I’d always been into horror movies. I was never introduced to them by a cool older brother, or friend. Neither of my parents were very into movies, so I discovered this world from 2 angles:
1 – TV
2 – The Video Store
Now, for those who weren’t around when my generation was growing up, you sure as shit missed out. First of all, almost every Friday & Saturday you could find some kick-ass late-night host showing horror movies. Like Elvira, USA’s Saturday Night Up All Night, or the classic of classics, TNT’s MonsterVision. It was a treasure trove where you could always find some kick-ass movies. The best part for me was that they were censored, so my mom would allow me to watch them.
Back then, TV stations had respect. So when a Friday the 13th was coming around the bend on the calendar, there’d be a marathon on USA, or TNT. They’d start airing the promos for it a week or so in advanced and I’d get so excited that I’d lose sleep. I’d make a checklist of things to have, and at school I’d be drawing pictures of Jason, it was a blast.
The other form, as I mentioned, was the video store. Funny to think that my generation is the only one that got to grow up with the video store. You’d go on a Friday or Saturday afternoon/night, with the intention of getting a video game while your parents got a movie. After I’d grab Mortal Kombat II or Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the only two games I ever wanted, I’d make a B-line over to the Horror Section. It was there that my eyes would light up as countless covers stared back at me. Which ones would I look at this week? Would it be Halloween 2? Bad Taste? Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3? The possibilities were practically endless.
No matter what I ended up looking at, I’d always save a little time to check out a couple Friday The 13th boxes. Who could resist those awesome covers? Especially ones like The Final Chapter, or my favorite, Jason Takes Manhattan. I’d looked at them a hundred times, but who cares, they were too cool to ignore. When it got on in the series, I believe starting with Part 5: A New Beginning, the back only featured one picture, instead of multiple. I recall the shot on the back of Part 6: Jason Lives featured Tommy Jarvis in a boat, with Jason jumping on him while on fire. I had ZERO context for that image and thought it was the coolest goddamn thing I’d ever seen. Jason was fighting while on FIRE!
As I grew older, my love for the series only got stronger, and at 32 now [as of November 2nd, 2015] it shows no sign of slowing down.
I buy all the action features, t-shirts, and Special Edition releases. Hell, eventually all that wasn’t enough so I had to start talking about the series, and that’s how these articles, now book, came about. As you’ll see soon enough, I often poke fun at these movies. But let me be the first to tell you, it’s all out of love. As I said in my review of Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, the Friday series is like that friend of yours you always fuck around with. You can mess with him, but God help anyone who might try it.
With exceptions to the first one [and I’ll explain], I find merit in every single entry, and enjoy them all. But of course there are things to make fun of, which is half the fun of these movies. It’s a large part of why we fans love them so much, and why the franchise has been so beloved for this many years.
Now, as I stated, I don’t like the first one, and it’s for that reason an entry won’t be found for it here. I know, some of you guys may be upset about that, but I don’t think it’d work well as a review. For one, I’ve only seen it twice, where’s I’ve seen the others more times than I can count. It’s my love for the films that makes these reviews fun to read, and I just don’t have any love for the original. I don’t like any of the characters, I find most of the kills boring, and because of HD, the effects cheap. I mean, when the girl gets her throat slashed in the woods, you can see the skin on her throat and face don’t match tone at all. When Kevin Bacon has an arrow jabbed through his throat it looks like his neck is about 10 feet long. I know a lot of the fans love it, and will probably call me a heritic for thinking it’s not very good while I claim parts 5 & 9 to be, but hey, that’s what makes us Friday fans. You’d be be hard pressed to find two who think a like. There’s just too much damn variety in this franchise.
Number 11 – A New Beginning
It’s a fun entry that tried something new, unfortunately movie studios were unaware at the time that most of the movie going public just wants more of the same with a bit of a twist when it comes to their horror. Some fun characters & kills keep this far from being worth the thrashing it often gets.
Number 10 – Jason X
Again, they tried something new, and it cost them. However, I don’t think the backlash would have been so harsh if they didn’t make the film so damn colorful. Beyond that, we have Jason stomping around a brand new environment, getting to execute some awesome kills, and at one point becoming Uber-Jason, which is worth this film alone.
Number 9 – Part 3
Because they were so worried about the 3D aspect of the film, a lot of other things weren’t exactly cared for, which is why certain things like the characters in this film pretty much suck. There’s a few stand-outs, but not many. Plus, Jason just hangs out in a barn for a good chunk of the film. That said, it still has one of the best 3rd acts out of the entire franchise.
Number 8 – Jason Goes To Hell
Funny enough, I believe if they’d kept Jason in his own body for the entirety of the film, this would be one of the most beloved of the entire franchise. Because really, beyond that, everything else is nit-picking. OK, so they don’t explain how he got back to CCL, we never learn how The Duke knows all this stuff about Jason, and there’s no good reason for Jason having his pants tucked in. All that aside, this film has some incredible effects, kills, and action.
Number 7 – Jason Takes Manhattan
I find myself enjoying this film more and more each time I see it. From it’s water-logged soundtrack, to Jason’s slimy look, plus some pretty sweet kills, Jason Takes Manhattan has a lot going for it. Plus, it’s a blast to watch with your friends.
Number 6 – Freddy vs Jason
Funny enough, I don’t love this one as much as I did when it first came out, and there’s a couple reasons. The major being the lack of Kane Hodder. The way Jason is portrayed in this film flat out sucks. He’s emotionless, and does nothing but lumber around like an oaf. There’s zero spark, and zero energy in the performance. Also, there’s so much damn color. It’s such a bright film, and not nearly as dark & gritty as it needed to be. All of that said, it’s still a blast, and the fights between Freddy & Jason are very well done.
Number 5 – The 2009 Version
I love the hell outta this movie. Jason is a total bad-ass, there’s a ton of great kills, worthwhile characters, and a lot of great settings. How any of the fans of the franchise can say this film sucks is beyond me. It’s great.
Number 4 – The New Blood
What’s not to love here? Oh, right, the damn near absent on-screen kills. Yeah, if the MPAA hadn’t screwed us with this one, it could very well be my favorite. That said, there’s still so much greatness here. Hodder as Jason, the look of him, the cool kills that we do get to see, and the awesome battle between him and Tina.
Number 3 – Part 2
If there’s one thing I can say about this film, it’s that it has a lot of great shots. Such as seeing that fleeting glimpse of Jason as he runs into the woods, when he pops up out of the darkness when Ginny is searching the cabin, and when she’s in Jason’s house and sees him running towards it. Beyond all that we have some iconic kills, great atmosphere, and some respectable characters.
Number 2 – The Final Chapter
Catch me on a different day, and I could very well say this one is my favorite. You have what is easily the best cast out of the franchise, some fantastic kills, and a great and menacing performance by Ted White. There’s a reason why it’s often considered the best of the entire series, and something that pretty much no one is gonna argue with.
Number 1 – Jason Lives
From the fantastic opening, to the kills, great soundtrack, action sequences, well placed humor, and great cast of characters, there’s never a doubt in my mind which Friday film takes the top spot. This one just has simply too much going for it, and is the gold standard for all things slasher.