Best & Worst: Friday the 13th Franchise
Welcome to the first installment of Cinephiliac's Best & Worst! The function of these articles is to assess franchises and how sequels stand up to their predecessors. Of course, when referring to franchises (and film in general, of course), there is a large amount of subjectivity. Simply, everyone has their own opinions and favorites. Best & Worst will also take into account box office draw, critical review, and fan base to provide the most cohesive and informative assessments possible.
As today is Friday the 13th (the last one until September 2013), it is only fitting that the first edition of Best & Worst covers the Friday the 13th franchise. So far, there have been twelve titles in the series including the crossover Freddy Vs. Jason and the 2009 reboot. The main antagonist of the series, Jason Voorhees, is one of the most iconic slashers to ever grace the silver screen and is beloved by fans all over the world. That's not to say that Jason hasn't had his mishaps though and, oh boy, is the first film on our list ever a mishap...
12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
This movie is abysmal. If you take away the fact that it is a Friday the 13th film, it is still bad. If you add in the fact that the movie does not even follow the simple formula of a Friday film, it is atrocious. The acting is poor. The storyline is poor. There is simply nothing good about it. It is, by far, the worst Friday movie there is and may also be one of the worst horror films ever made. Unfortunately, Sean S. Cunningham (the director of the original) returned to the series with this installment as a producer but even that could not save this train wreck of a film.
The plot sees Jason (looking rather terrifying) blown up in the opening minutes of the film. A coroner, played by Michael Gant, is "hypnotized" (for lack of a better word) by Jason's still beating heart and decides to eat it right there in the morgue. At this point, he becomes a host body for the murderous Jason and for Jason to be resurrected into his own body, he must continue to transfer to different hosts. The only way for Jason to be reborn is by taking over the body of another Voorhees. Wait a minute. Another Voorhees? As in Mrs. Voorhees? Well, no. See, this movie decided to add in a background for the rest of Jason's family. His father is mentioned and apparently he has a sister. Mrs. Voorhees actually is mentioned very little which makes absolutely no sense. The filmmakers even show the Voorhees family home and it is also the site of the climax of the movie. This storyline is mind boggling because of the fact that this was the ninth film in the series and they decide to change the mythos of Jason. They basically just invented their own interpretation, which would be fine, but this was supposed to be the last film, "The Final Friday." Not that the word "final" really means anything in the Friday universe but still. There is also a bounty hunger named Creighton Duke that does not really serve much of a purpose other than to tell the protagonist (I guess) how to find and kill Jason. Eventually, Jason is resurrected into his own body only to be defeated once again within minutes.
So, are there any good things about this film? Well, yes. There is one fantastic scene where the viewers are returned to Crystal Lake to see some promiscuous teenagers get murdered. Two teens are having sex in a tent when Jason impales the girl through the tent and splits her in half vertically. Epic.
US Box Office Gross: $15, 935, 068 (IMDb)
11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
The biggest issue with this film is the title. Jason barely takes Manhattan. The majority of the action takes place on a cruise ship that is going to Manhattan. When it finally gets to Manhattan, there are a bunch of scenes in a back alley, on a rooftop, and down in the sewers. The only real slice of Manhattan that is shown is a brief sequence in Times Square in which the characters are just running through it. Most of the deaths are uninspired. The protagonist, Rennie, is as bland as they come. There are no reasons as to why the viewers are supposed to sympathize with her other than she was supposedly attacked and pulled under the water by Jason at Camp Crystal Lake.
It is with this storyline that the film becomes full of plot holes. When Rennie was pushed into the lake by her demented uncle, Charles McCulloch, she was being pulled under the water by the young Jason. Now, Rennie is just graduating high school which makes her 17-18. By this time, Jason has already been slashing his way through a few sequels and, most certainly, a few years. How could there be a young Jason in the lake and an adult, zombie Jason attacking teens over the years? It has already been established that Jason escaped from the lake and lived in the woods around Crystal Lake. With Jason drowning back in the 1960s (as learned in the first film), there is no way that young Jason pulled Rennie down in the lake. The ending of this film is just laughable as mask-less, zombie Jason says in a child-like voice, "Mommy, don't let me drown! Mommy!" before vomiting all over himself and being eaten away by acid.
Jason Takes Manhattan is the lowest grossing Friday the 13th movie. Director Rob Heddon has expressed his disappointment with the film and its lack of scenes shot in New York City. On IMDb.com it is also the lowest rated title. While Jason Takes Manhattan is certainly not a good film by any means, it is definitely not worse than Jason Goes to Hell. At least the filmmakers had the decency to stick to the typical Friday formula and fill the movie with sex, drugs, and murder.
There is one death in this film that every fan seems to remember. Amateur boxer, Julius, tries to box Jason on a Manhattan rooftop. He loses.
US Box Office Gross: $14, 343, 976 (IMDb)
10. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
He most certainly does. This is the beginning of the undead Jason. In this film, Jason is resurrected after Tommy Jarvis (the protagonist in The Final Chapter) and his lackey dig up Jason's body and it is miraculously struck by lightning. Yep. Just like Frankenstein's monster. Whatever. I guess it can be considered an homage to the 1931 Universal classic but it is a little uninspired. From here, Jason goes on his murderous rampage through the revamped Crystal Lake (now named Forest Green). Unlike earlier installments, there are actually kids at this camp and not just sex-craved teenagers. Jason does not kill any of them however.
The plot... Well, that was it. Tommy made a crucial mistake in digging up Jason's corpse (who decided to bury him anyway?) and Jason came back to life. Now, Tommy has to put him back down. Unfortunately, the actor who plays Tommy, Thom Mathews, is terrible. There is something very wrong with him and he is extremely unlikable and bland. In fact, the only good things about this film are the kills and there are quite a few of them. Originally, the director, Tom McLoughlin, had 13 but the studio demanded more.
The biggest downfall of this film is that it's just boring. The viewer is able to pretty much tune out from kill to kill because everything else that is happening is just not entertaining. There is some dark humor, but it's not funny. Oddly enough, fans seem to generally like this installment of the Friday series especially after the lackluster Part V (don't worry, it's coming). While not being the worst, Jason Lives is nowhere near one of the best. For its few perks, by perks I mean deaths, it just falls flat due to a poor story and strange casting choice on the part of Tommy Jarvis, who is often cited as Jason's only true nemesis.
The best death in this one is definitely the back crack. There are other honorable mentions but the vision of Jason bending some poor, defenseless man in half backwards is just to brutal to not commend for best death. By the way... What's up with Jason's yellow work gloves?
US Box Office Gross: $19, 472, 057 (IMDb)
9. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
The only reason that A New Beginning is above Jason Lives is because of entertainment value. Where the latter had boring characters and storyline, the former excels (slightly) because the characters are much more entertaining. Whether the audience is watching the young kid, Reggie, hitting on Pam (the blonde who works at the halfway house), Tommy Jarvis hallucinating about Jason coming for him, or the freaky couple sneaking out into a cornfield to have sex, it's all somewhat entertaining. The story is practically non-existent but at least viewers don't have to feel bored whenever nobody is dying. Is this movie good? Certainly not. Is it a worthy predecessor of its superior predecessor? Not really. For all of its faults though, it's just not as boring as Jason Lives.
Tommy Jarvis is in a halfway house for troubled teenagers after his encounter with Jason Voorhees however many years prior.The house is full of other undesirables who are there for various reasons. After a misunderstanding over a candy bar, a hefty kid gets hacked to death with an axe by an angry, log chopping maniac resident. It is after this that Jason appears to kill the rest of the teens. The usual sex and drug use occurs and is punishable by violent deaths at the hands of the hockey masked psychopath.
Unfortunately, Tommy is not played by Corey Feldman (who played him in The Final Chapter) but by John Shepherd. Shepherd's performance as Tommy is pretty bad although not quite as bad as Mathews' from Jason Lives. Shepherd hardly talks, which is probably for the best, and he's just awkward and weird throughout the film. This is somewhat understandable due to his mental breakdown following the events of The Final Chapter. However, if Tommy Jarvis is supposed to be the main protagonist, he needs to have some likable qualities. In this film, he doesn't. The only people the audience is meant to care for are Pam and Reggie.
This film is amongst the most hated in the franchise for one major reason: Jason isn't even the real killer. The killer is an imposter who happens to be the father of the fat kid that got chopped to death. He was an EMT named Roy who was called to the halfway house to pick up the body. Now, you may be thinking, "How did he not know his son was in a halfway house and why didn't his son live with him?" If you're looking for an answer, there is none. Just take it for what it is. Many fans feel like this whole film is completely pointless as it doesn't add to the story of Jason Voorhees nor does it introduce any characters we should feel remorse for. It's just there. It's a madman killing teenagers. Strangely enough, horror fans want some story to add to the franchise along with their deaths and it is in this case that A New Beginning falls short. Even the box art is a cheap rip off.
As awesome as the fat kid hacking is, it is not a kill performed by Jason (well, technically none of them are). Aside from this, the best kill of the movie performed by (imposter) Jason is that of some local crazy on a minibike. As he is cruising through the woods cursing the teens at the halfway house, a machete emerges from behind a tree and lops his head off. He may not be the real Jason, but Roy is one brutal dude.
US Box Office Gross: $21, 930, 418 (IMDb)
8. Jason X (2003)
As many have learned the hard way, when a franchise takes its characters into space, it can only be a recipe for disaster. For Jason X, this is somewhat true. As a Friday the 13th film, it couldn't be farther away from being scary. As a fun popcorn flick, it gets the job done. Like the previous films on this list, this isn't to say that the movie is good. It's not. It's god awful. However, it is a lot of fun if you don't expect it to be good. The characters are stupid, the kills are insane, and the plot... I don't even know what to say about it. Jason and his final victim on earth are frozen and discovered 500 years later and thawed on a spaceship. From here, we all know what happens. Jason does what he does best and he kicks it off with a bang with the best kill of the film.
Basically, after Jason awakens, the entire ship is in danger and its inhabitants need to escape before Jason destroys everything. During the movie, a cyborg by the name of Kay-Em 14 destroys Jason. He is then recreated by a machine and emerges as Uber-Jason and is angrier than ever. He ends up beheading Kay-Em (who doesn't actually "die" from him) but is eventually trapped in a virtual reality room designed to look like Crystal Lake. Here, Jason is greeted by two promiscuous teenage girls. Jason uses one girl in a sleeping bag to beat the other until he "kills" them both. Of course, Jason is destroyed by the end as he's released out into space to die and, in the original series, that is the last of Jason in the Friday timeline.
As previously stated, this is not a good Friday the 13th film. It is, however, an entertaining and somewhat humorous take on the character of Jason and mocks itself. Even the title, Jason X, mocks the serious. Is it necessary that there are ten of these films? No. Should it be in space? No. All of these things show the self awareness of the filmmakers while making the movie with Uber-Jason being the punchline. The reason it scores so high on this list is that the entertainment value of the film is much higher than the previous installments. Where the other ones lack in fun, this one excels.
When Jason awakes after being frozen for 500 years, it is clear that he hasn't lost a step. Among fans, this has been voted on numerous lists as one of the best kills of the entire Friday the 13th franchise and with good reason. This is a beheading like no one has ever seen before.
US Box Office Gross: $16, 951, 798 (IMDb)
7. Friday the 13th (2009)
Being the possible start of a second series within the franchise, halfway through the list is a perfect spot to place this reboot. With as much anticipation for this film from fans of the franchise, it is unfortunate that it fell short of expectations when it completely met them for a Friday film. That's the downfall though. It just met expectations. It didn't exceed them. As a sequel in the original series, it would have been good. However, the filmmakers had a chance to completely revamp the formula that had become stale and mocked across the horror genre. Instead, they decided to play it safe and deliver another installment that was, spiritually, a sequel.
The film starts off pretty strong with a 20 minute introduction where Jason slices his way through a group of teenagers. In fact, a candidate for best kill happens early when Amanda is strung up in a tree while trapped in a sleeping bag and burned to death over a campfire. This was a good move on the part of filmmakers to show the brutality of the new Jason, played by Derek Mears. In the reboot, Jason is much more crafty and is basically a hunter. When he kills, he is hunting prey and using tactics to draw more victims to him. In another close contender for best kill, Jason chucks a full size axe overhead at one of his victims and hits him square in the back; leaving him out in the open behind the house to die and/or call his friends over to help him as he was still alive (so... not quite a kill but still brutal nonetheless).
The basic overview of the storyline is that a group of teenagers are going to one of the teen's summer cabins on Crystal Lake. Another teenager, Clay, is looking for his missing sister, Whitney (one of the people from the first group of victims). From here, the cabin host's girlfriend, Jenna, spends the day with Clay as he puts up posters around Crystal Lake. Trent, the cabin host, is one of the most unlikable characters ever in a Friday film. He treats people like garbage, cheats on Jenna out of anger, and whines about everything imaginable. He practically loses Jenna to Clay, who in turn loses Jenna to Jason after they discover his lair. Clay and Jenna are made out to be the protagonists, that is until they find Clay's sister still alive in which Jenna becomes expendable. As in typical Friday fashion, there is plenty of drinking and recreational drug use along with some sex on the side. Even with all of the familiar trademarks, this reboot just seems lacking. It wasn't enough to call to new fans and wasn't enough to satisfy old fans.
The highlight of the film was obviously Mears as Jason. He was just a monster. He had the intensity of Kane Hodder (Friday Part VII-Jason X) and the humanity of the Jasons from 2, 3, and The Final Chapter. He was the perfect mix and breathed new life into an aging character. One of the biggest highlights was the discovery of the hockey mask. Before the mask, Jason wore the potato sack as he had in Part 2 but it was designed to look much more menacing than its predecessor. When Jason discovers the mask and puts it on, all is right with the world and it feels like Friday the 13th.
Another fan favorite wins out in this category. An impromptu boating accident goes horribly wrong. As Nolan pulls a nude Chelsea on waterskis, Jason is in the trees hunting. An arrow flies through the back of Nolan's head after Chelsea wipes out. The fun doesn't stop here as the boat is aimed at Chelsea waiting to get picked up who ends up getting hit by the bow.
US Box Office Gross: $64, 997, 188 (IMDb)
6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
There is one reason that this film is as high up on this list as it is: Kane Hodder. Hodder played Jason more than anybody (four times) but this first time he donned the mask was his best. Hodder is so intense and hulking when playing Jason and he brought much more personality to the zombie that Jason had become. His signature heavy breathing and use of power reinvented the character completely. In many fans' opinions, Kane Hodder is the only true Jason due to his love of the character and his physicality.
In addition to being Kane Hodder's first appearance as Jason, this film was also supposed to be a crossover of Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason battling to the death. Though, as Paramount owned the rights to Friday the 13th and New Line Cinema owned A Nightmare on Elm Street, no deal was able to be made in time. Instead, what fans received was a decent sequel in which Jason met his match against a young girl with telekinesis. The threat was not quite as big as it would have been had Freddy Krueger been in the mix but this film ended up being a different kind of Friday. Someone was actually able to hurt Jason and not just evade him constantly.
The protagonist, Tina, moves into her family's cabin on Crystal Lake with her mother and psychiatrist. When Tina was a young girl, she made the dock collapse and kill her father at the cabin so, already there is tension with the return to Crystal Lake. When revisiting the dock, Tina accidentally awakens Jason Voorhees who was chained to the bottom of the lake at the end of Jason Lives. Of course, there is a group of teenagers in the cabin next door for cannon fodder as well. One of the guys next door, Nick, takes a liking to Tina even though another girl, Melissa, aggressively pursues him. Eventually, Melissa gets what she deserves with an axe to the head and a toss across the room. As is always the case with Friday, good triumphs over evil and Tina is able to defeat Jason using her telekinesis. She even causes his mask to split open and reveal his monstrous, decaying face before setting him on fire and blowing up the family house. This didn't keep Jason down of course and a visit from Tina's deceased father was enough to stop Jason for the time being.
This film was simply plagued by studio interference. The director John Carl Buechler was declined an R rating numerous times and much of his goriest footage had to be cut to acquire a lower rating. Despite the interference, The New Blood was a solid installment in the series. As previously mentioned, this was mainly because of Kane Hodder's performance and the presence of a threat to him. Another strength of the film was the look of Jason himself. Buechler, who B-movie master, Roger Corman, described as being "the best in the business," took great care in creating Jason's look (IMDb). Every injury Jason ever sustained in the films was presented in some way as well as added decay due to Jason's time being chained to the bottom of the lake. In a lackluster latter half of the series, this film stands out as one of the better installments.
Although Melissa's surprising death is fantastic and brutal, nothing shows brutality more than the legendary sleeping bag death. Originally, this scene was longer with Jason smashing the bag into the tree multiple times until it turned into a blood bag but the ratings board demanded it be cut down. It wouldn't take Jason more than one swing to kill someone anyway.
US Box Office Gross: $19, 170, 001 (IMDb)
5. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Ahhh, yes. 3D. I, personally, have never seen this film in 3D but I can't imagine the effects adding up to much. There are a few cheap instances of 3D used but if you're not watching in 3D, it's not too distracting. Though, you can definitely see where the effects are supposed to be. As a whole, Part 3 is a solid installment in the series. Oddly enough, this film probably has the most story out of any of the others and, unfortunately, that is its lone downfall. Sometimes the characters tend to talk at length about stuff that ultimately doesn't end up meaning anything in the film.
A group of friends head to Crystal Lake to spend the week at a cabin. They have not yet heard of the massacre that occurred at the nearby camp and that a murderer is on the loose. So, technically if Part 2 occurred on Friday the 13th, then Part 3 is occurring on Saturday the 14th. At any rate, it isn't long before things heat up. Although, not from Jason initially. A practical joker named Shelly (male) fakes his death to scare the other inhabitants of the house soon after arriving and this doesn't sit well with the girl he's trying to impress, Vera. Him and Vera go to a local convenience store to pick up some items when they get into a tussle with some local biker gang. This scene is pretty extensive and completely unnecessary. All it does is give Jason a few more people to kill when they try to get revenge for Shelly running over their motorcycles.
Meanwhile, the protagonist, Chris (female) is reconnecting with Rick, an old boyfriend of hers. Apparently, Chris was chased through the woods one time when she ran away from the cabin. Who was she chased by? None other than Jason himself looking... exactly like he does in the movie. The flashback is clearly supposed to be years prior yet Jason looks exactly the same in his blue jeans and green button-up even though he was wearing something completely different in Part 2. Anyway, the bodies pile up until a final showdown between Chris and Jason in which Jason is hung but to no avail. Following an axe shot to the head, Jason collapses and Chris is safe. Well, that is until a decaying Mrs. Voorhees jumps out of a small channel in the lake to pull her under. That's enough to make a fan shudder in disgust.
This film is crucial to the series because it is the first where Jason acquires his iconic hockey mask. Shelly uses it to scare Vera at one point and Jason takes notice. He murders Shelly for his mask and then murders Vera with an arrow to the eyeball just for good measure. It should also be noted that Friday the 13th 1-4 are almost universally looked at as a great string of sequels. Sure, there are inconsistencies but, overall, they keep the same tone and clearly define the character of Jason (before he turns into a zombie). Although there are some moments of slight boredom, the film holds up as a whole. The characters are decent and the deaths are fresh... even in 3D.
The best death in this installment is definitely Rick's. Vera's is pretty great but it is not as brutal or as graphic as Rick's. This is one scene that I would've liked to see in good 3D. What is it with Jason and head squashing/eye related deaths?
US Box Office Gross: $36, 690, 067 (IMDb)
4. Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
This one may be controversial for some people (I personally was surprised at my actual rank for it). Some people think that Freddy Vs. Jason is great and some thought it was bad. No matter what people think, though, it was a monumental horror film. For the first time ever, two of the most iconic slashers of all time collided in one epic bloodbath. Amongst the other Friday the 13th films, it definitely holds true to their style and make for a worthy installment in the series.
Before summing up the story, it should be noted that there was some minor fan backlash when it was discovered that Kane Hodder would not be reprising his role as Jason. Hodder had wanted to be in the film, but director, Ronny Yu, wanted a bigger, yet more sympathetic Jason. Hodder, who is much shorter than the man who played Jason in the film, Ken Kirzinger, was clearly the fan favorite and, as previously stated, had been referred to as the Jason. Kirzinger does a fine job as Jason but one can only imagine how much more intensity would've been brought to the character had Kane Hodder been the murderous Crystal Lake killer. Kirzinger apparently got the role because of his eyes (which are shown through the mask a few times in the film). In humanizing Jason, Yu really took away some of the parts which made him more terrifying during Hodder's time as the character. Personally, I've always loved the blacked out eyes in The New Blood and Jason Takes Manhattan the most in terms of look.
Freddy Vs. Jason is an interesting film in that it is about Freddy Krueger but Jason Voorhees is a character within it. The main storyline is that Freddy has been forgotten in the town of Springwood so he decides to release Jason from Hell (get it?) to spread fear through the town. In doing this, the children of Springwood would fear him again and he could come back to kill. The actors in FVJ are fairly good. They are all distinguishable from each other, unlike some of the other victims in the Friday series, and are generally likable. Jason's role in this film is fairly limited as he is not the main source of horror for his victims. Most of them are much more terrified of Freddy while Jason swoops in and murders them. In fact, Freddy only has one kill in the entire movie while Jason slaughters the majority of the teens as well as a bunch more at a rave party in the middle of a cornfield. However, the teens more closely resemble Friday characters than the colorful/strong minded characters of many of the Nightmare sequels.
The main character, Lori, had a boyfriend named Will, who was locked away at a psychiatric hospital called Westin Hills. After a murder in her house, Will and his friend, Mark, escape Westin Hills in order to get to Lori. To suppress their dreams, kids that had been exposed to Freddy at one point or another were sent to a mental hospital (Westin Hills) and prescribed Hypnocil. After fear of Freddy is spread through the town's youth, Lori and her friends embark on a mission to get more Hypnocil. This leads to the film's final climax at Crystal Lake. After Jason is sedated by Freddy in a host body (awesome death scene of the stoner character, Freeburg, getting chopped in half), Lori, Will, Linderman (nerdy character), and Kia (Kelly Rowland) bring Jason back to Crystal Lake. Lori is sedated as well and plans to pull Freddy out of her dream; doing so just in time for him and Jason to fight to the death.
The visuals in this film are pretty fantastic but Ronny Yu has a tendency to use a lot of "morphing" shots. There are a lot of things turning into other things and it is somewhat distracting if you catch onto it. For the final battle, Yu came up with the only logical way to shoot it. He basically took influence from old giant monster films but used techniques on a smaller scale. Both Freddy and Jason take tons of punishment from each other. Freddy is thrown around like a rag doll and Jason is hit with high pressured tanks that Freddy launches like "torpedoes." Meanwhile, the human characters play little roles other than Kia who meets her end by Jason's machete while taunting Freddy.
So who wins? Well, arguably no one does. Although both seem to meet their ends during a highly emotional gore-fest on the lake's lone dock as well as from a huge explosion brought about by Lori and Will, neither actually die. Jason emerges from the water holding the decapitated head of Freddy Krueger (thanks to Lori). During the final seconds of the movie though, we see Freddy break the fourth wall and wink at the audience. Although it is a bit hokey, it is actually a fitting end to both original series' (which were rebooted after this film). The reason fans continue coming back to see sequels is because of how beloved the two villains are. No one wants to see them both meet their permanent demise.
Although it is flawed, like most other entries in each respective series, Freddy Vs. Jason is still a lot of fun. It pays respects to both the cunning and witty side of things as devised by Freddy Krueger as well as the brutality and mindless rage of Jason Voorhees. Of course the movie is not perfect, but there is enough to acknowledge that will satisfy junkies for each film series.
There is no doubt that Trey's death in bed at the beginning of the film is the best. Not to mention the fact that Jason Voorhees is murdering someone in Freddy Krueger's old house. That's just a horror fantasy for Friday and Nightmare nerds the world over.
US Box Office Gross: $82, 163, 317 (IMDb)
3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
The first of the top three Friday the 13th films is The Final Chapter; the first time Jason was killed for good. This is an excellent sequel. Young Corey Feldman was actually a good choice for a protagonist although much of the focus is on the teenagers of course. Also, Ted White was fantastic as Jason. He was very intense and physical. There are some great scenes of White smashing through walls, windows, etc. that serve as some excellent jump scares. Even on set, it was said that White barely talked to the rest of the cast to maintain his aura as the homicidal maniac.
The plot... You know it by now. Some teenagers move to a cabin on Crystal Lake and get picked off one by one. Their neighbors are the Jarvis's: Tommy (Feldman), his sister, Trish, and their mother. In the film, both houses are pretty much separate from each other. The Jarvis's have their own things going on as do the teens. The teens are about 50/50 in memorability. Crispin Glover's character, Jimmy, along with his friend, Ted, and the twin sisters they meet are memorable. There is a quiet, shy girl that is not all that memorable as is her eventual lover, Paul. Paul does have a memorable death though as Jason crushes his face in the shower.
The things that make this one of the best is its freshness. As stated previously, the characters are pretty decent even if some aren't quite as memorable. Tommy and his sister make a solid team of protagonists and give Jason a fair challenge. Again, White as Jason is great. He is probably the second best Jason behind Kane Hodder. Another great thing about this film is the ending. Tommy shaves his head in a strange attempt to mimic the look of Jason. When Jason approaches him, Tommy chops him in the side of the head with a machete. Jason falls face down onto the machete in which his head slowly slides down the machete towards the floor. The special effects work of the master of effects, Tom Savini, is wonderful. The Final Chapter would have been a fitting end to the series due to the return of Savini and the impending death of the sub-human Jason. It's simply glorious.
Crispin Glover. 'Nuff said. Sorry for the poor video.
US Box Office Gross: $32, 980, 000 (IMDb)
2. Friday the 13th (1980)
This choice is probably the most controversial one made on this list. The original is always the best right? Not in this case. The original is, of course, classic. It is one of the greatest slasher movies ever made. However, there is one fatal flaw. The ending. The part where Betsy Palmer gets her head lopped off is amazing but it is the rest that brings the film down. The ridiculous chase between Mrs. Voorhees (Palmer) and Alice goes on for way too long and leaves a bad taste. Multiple times Alice "knocks out" Mrs. Voorhees only for her to walk away as if everything's fine. Finally push comes to shove and Alice takes her head on the shores of Crystal Lake.
The plot is simple. A tragic drowning of a young boy named Jason led to two camp counselors being murdered when they were about to make love in a cabin. The camp shut down and 20 years later is being reopened by Steve Christie. The counselors, including Alice, all arrive early to help set up before the children get there for the summer. That is, all of them arrive but Annie. Annie is picked up by an unknown assailant who proceeds to hunt her down in the woods and slice her throat (best death candidate). As we know by now, the rest of the film consists of the assailant murdering the counselors one by one throughout the day. The final minutes of the film see Alice floating on peaceful Crystal Lake while soothing music plays on the soundtrack. She sees the police officers arrive on shore and knows that her night of horror is over. Out of the blue, a young, decaying Jason bursts out of the water and pulls Alice down below with him. Although, it was revealed to be a dream (or a nightmare), little did the filmmakers know that Jason would dominate the franchise for its life span.
This film erupted into an enormous hit from a very low budget. This project was taken up to earn some quick cash for Sean S. Cunningham (director), Steve Miner (producer), and Victor Miller (writer) to embark on other projects. However, as time will tell, Friday the 13th became a juggernaut and helped mold the face of the horror genre. Jason Voorhees became a household name and he wasn't even the killer in the first film. From an independent, low budget horror picture emerged 9 sequels, a crossover film, and a reboot.
While there are many candidates since all the deaths in the original Friday the 13th are great, the most remembered is that of Kevin Bacon, or Jack in the film. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a good video of the theatrical death so this one has an additional shot added in of Jack at the end of where the normal one cut. This death is one of the best, if not the best in the entire franchise and in horror in general. Enjoy.
US Box Office Gross: $39, 754, 601 (IMDb)
1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
So how do you capitalize on the success of a surprise box office hit? Follow it up by introducing one of the most legendary villains of all time. Of course, the filmmakers did not know this at the time that they were breeding Jason to be the face of fear for decades. However, he is what gives this film the edge over its predecessor. This is the first true "Jason movie." This film has better kills than the first and more of them. The original is a landmark but this one defined the series for years to come.
Camp Crystal Lake was shut down once again after the massacre on Friday the 13th and a new neighboring camp is opening close to it. Unlike most other teenagers in the series, the ones in this film are told the story of Jason although it is more of a campfire story than anything. As per usual, the kids slowly start to disappear as half of them go to the bar on their final night before opening and the other half stay behind for various reasons. The acting is pretty solid all around and all of the characters are likable. Paul and Ginny are the main protagonists although the focus isn't shifted entirely to them until later in the film. Jason stabs/slices almost everyone in this film with either a knife or machete with a few exceptions such as Crazy Ralph from the first film (strangulation) and a police officer who receives the claw end of a hammer to the head.
This movie has Jason donning his potato sack mask. Amongst fans, the potato sack mask is classic. It's even important enough to fans that they included it in the reboot (as pictured). Although it is not as iconic as the hockey mask that most people are used to, the potato sack still has an appeal due to its history in the franchise. Also in this film, Jason wears overalls and a flannel shirt which is kind of strange and they are never seen again in the series.
The ending of this film is much better than the ending of the original. After chasing Ginny through the camp and back to his forest hut, Jason is deceived by Ginny who dons his mother's sweater. She speaks to Jason and tries to make him end his killing spree. As she is about to kill him, Jason sees his mother's severed head behind Ginny, revealing the fact that she is not really his mother. After wrestling with Paul, Ginny finally gets a shot at Jason with a machete to his shoulder/chest area. The heroes take off Jason's potato sack mask, share a look of disgust and leave the hut. Back at camp, they are in a cabin when they hear a strange noise. As Paul opens the door, Ginny lies in wait with a pitchfork to stab their attacker. One of the other teen's dog is at the door and a sigh of relief is breathed by the characters. That is, until Jason comes barreling through the window behind Ginny in a spiritual recreation of the scene in the lake from the first Friday.
Although this Friday the 13th may not be where everything started for the franchise, it is indeed the start of something bigger. The introduction of Jason Voorhees forever changed horror history and helped initiate a new wave of slashers. From a plot and entertainment standpoint, Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2 are pretty much on par with each other. However, in terms of the importance of each film, Part 2 takes the honor. The original paved the way for a franchise, but the franchise wouldn't have gone far without a face. That face is Jason Voorhees.
This one is a no brainer. Mark, the poor man confined to a wheelchair. Favorite death of the series.
US Box Office Gross: $21, 722, 776 (IMDb)
Whew! That was quite the undertaking. Hopefully everyone enjoyed this first edition of Best & Worst. If anyone has any questions, comments, suggestions, etc., please leave them below. I plan to do this semi-regularly but also do not want to get burned out on them because they take a while to do. Thank you for reading and have an excellent Friday the 13th!