“Friday the 13th” films ranked

WSS staffer Sam Westergaard ’22 ranks an iconic horror series.

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Image from Paramount Pictures

Halloween brings a wide variety of horror films to watch, with the “Friday the 13th” films being a popular choice. I decided to finally watch them this year. The films are quite interesting not only from a horror film perspective, but also from a film series perspective. For the first time viewers, here is a ranking of the “Friday the 13th” films. This list will not include “Jason Goes to Hell,” “Jason X,” or “Freddy vs. Jason” simply due to the fact that they do not have the “Friday the 13th” title attached. 

 

8. “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood”

Definitely the weakest in the series, the film has many rehashed and tired ideas spread throughout it. It’s really unfortunate because the story seems like it would be really cool. The story is basically Carrie vs Jason which sounds pretty epic. But, in execution, it’s really lame. The film never gets weird or fun enough so it’s quite boring. The killing scenes are also super mediocre. The film was censored, so much of the violence and gore is (sadly) lacking. There is simply not enough here to be enjoyable.

 

7. “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”

This film was such a let down. The main teenagers are boring as ever, and very forgettable. It does have three neat characters such as Tommy Jarvis (Cory Feldman). Feldman’s character would go on to appear in later films. The character of Rob (Enrich Anderson) is also cool, because he is like a Jason hunter which is a neat concept. But these two get overshadowed by the dull teenagers. The kills in this installment are also lame. The only memorable one is the final kill that gets Jason (Richard Brooker). All I can really say is that, besides Tommy and Rob, the film can be described in one word: forgettable. 

 

6. “Friday the 13th”

I feel bad for putting this so low on the list because I do find it enjoyable and fun. It has many memorable factors such as the final jump scare and the crazy old man, and most of the kills are cool. The final act with Mrs. Voorhees (Besty Palmer) is also quite epic, and is my favorite part of the film. However, a lot of the film feels like a rip off of “Halloween” (1978). The pacing is also quite slow, especially during the first half. For completists or fans of the horror genre it’s a must watch, but if you want Jason or an original film, skip it. You actually can skip it, they recap the film at the start of Part 2.

 

5. “Friday the 13 Part II”

This one feels like a retread of the first film. It doesn’t really try to be anything that’s different, which is unfortunate. Like previously stated it starts with a recap which is quite unnecessary, and goes on way too long. I do have to give the film credit because this was the first film to feature Jason as the main antagonist. Granted he doesn’t have the hockey mask but it is still cool to see him lumbering around in epic Jason style for the first time. This one also has many cool kills. I like the final 30 minutes quite a bit as well, one moment in particular is quite funny. Jason is chasing this girl, and she kicks him in the crotch. This one isn’t that bad, it’s quite enjoyable, but it just kind of copies the first film.

 

4. “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason takes Manhattan”

More like Jason takes a boat, he is barely in Manhattan. Despite that, this one is so much fun. It’s the most weird, which is definitely a good thing. I like the location change, as Crystal Lake can be a bit repetitive. The kills are great, this entry has quite possibly the best kill in the whole film series. Jason punches someone’s head off,  and I love this so much. It makes no sense, and is so over the top, but it’s so hilarious. The only memorable character besides Jason is this awful principal. He’s mean to the students even when there is a serial killer after them. He’s so mean, it’s almost funny how cruel they make him. The pacing is quite bad. It’s only 100 minutes, which isn’t long, but it feels like it goes on and on. This one is fun, and super strange, but be warned it really slow, and Jason is barley in Manhattan.

 

3. “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning”

This is the most over-the-top Friday the 13th film. Everything is so strangely extreme, which is a good change of pace. There is one scene where these two characters are arguing so one of them puts an axe in the others back. It really caught me off guard. The characters are also somewhat memorable which is always a good thing. This is the second appearance of Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd). Unfortunately, he is once again sidelined. However, when he does appear, he kicks butt. His final standoff with “Jason’’ is so cool. Sadly this film does not actually have Jason it’s just some faker, but that’s a minor problem. It’s the first to not take place at Camp Crystal Lake, which is neat. 

 

2. “Friday the 13th Part III”

This is where the series began to take shape, because of how different it feels. But it also reuses the formula: teens come to Crystal Lake, Jason kills teens, and it ends with a Jason chase. However, the formula is actually done well, due to the characters. Usually the characters are bland, one note teens. Granted this one has those boring teens, but it also has many more characters. There are some bikers, which are reminiscent of the bikers from “Dawn of the Dead” (1978). There are also these two stereotypical hippies, who are stoned all the time which is funny. This is also the first film to feature the iconic Hockey mask, which Jason would become famous for. The best kill in this one is actually the first appearance of Jason wearing said mask. He walks up to a dock and fires a harpoon right into a teens head. This one is so cool because it’s a P.O.V shot from the teens perspective. So he fires the harpoon at the camera, so epic. I also love the final chase: the wind is howling, everyone at the campsite is dead, and Jason pops up everywhere. It’s very dream-like and is definitely the best ending in the series. “Friday the 13th Part III” is simply stellar and comes recommended.

 

1. “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives”

My personal favorite Friday the 13th film. This one is the final appearance of Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), and surprise he’s sidelined, but it’s fine because the rest of the film is great. This one is also easily the best directed. Each scene is well shot and has mood, as well as atmosphere. The opening is iconic and probably my favorite part. Tommy goes to Jason’s grave to finish off his rotting corpse. However Jason’s body is struck by lighting, and he’s resurrected. This whole opening is very reminiscent of Frankenstein (1931). You can see the inspiration, From the grave robbing, to the lightning bringing him back. The opening ends with  Jason James Bond gun barrel, which is so bizarre, but I love it. This one also features many strange characters who are instantly killed off, like this disgruntled couple who run into Jason on their way home. There is a group of co-workers who are playing paintball, and they too are killed off as soon as we meet them. There is also this drunk grave digger who is funny. These characters serve only one purpose, to get killed by Jason. Jason is front and center here. This might be the most we see him, and the most we see him kill, which I am all for. In the previous installments we never truly see him until the final 30-40 minutes of the film. So it’s good that we just see Jason killing, from start to finish. Friday the 13th part VI is everything you come for in the series. Weird characters, kills the whole way through, and above all else plenty of Jason.