For nearly 40 years, the Voorhees dynasty has been terrorizing teens from Camp Blood to beyond (Space. I mean in Space). The franchise has spawned over 12 films, a TV series, comic books – and one of the most iconic menaces in Horror. Today, on the day of his birth – we honor Jason Voorhees in the TOP 13 Friday the 13th films!
Wait!? Didn’t I just say 13 films? Why yes, Dear Reader I did. We’ve also included a few surprises along the way…
#13 – Nick Antosca’s Friday the 13th (TBD)
Nick Antosca (Channel Zero, Hannibal) was orignally commission to write a draft of the new Friday the 13th before Paramount brought in Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners, Contraband). The project was ultimately scrapped but fans can still read the Friday the 13th that could have been! Nick Antosca’s screenplay plants you right back in the late eighties, on the last day of summer camp. An absolute brilliant approach to a character who’s story has been told (and re-told) many times over, Antosca’s script is everything a lifelong Friday fan has been looking for…including a quick hint to a possible winter-set sequel. You can find a link to the un-produced script and a full summary of the entire screenplay HERE.
#12 – Jason Goes to Hell (1993)
I’m sure this is someone’s favorite, but I’ve always found it very hard to like to this movie. Jason Goes to Hell is the biggest tease at the prom, and it’s expansion of Jason as an evil entity that come travel from person to person is absurd. A product of it’s time, The Final Friday was born from a period in the 90s when everything had a sci-fi bend with mysterious, Lovecraftian qualities. And yes, this film did lay the groundwork for Freddy vs Jason but ultimately, that’s all anyone remembers about the entire 88 minutes of Jason Goes to Hell. That said, the character design for Jason with his bulbous head growing into his mask is a highlight, and well worth the price of admission.
#11 – Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988)
Psychic Powers. That’s really all you have to know about Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Oh, and Terry Kiser (Weekend at Bernie’s) makes an appearance as Dr. Christopher Crews alongside Kane Hodder in his first of four credits as Jason Voorhees. And that’s pretty much it…
#10 – Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning (1985)
A clever take on a franchise that someone, somewhere thought needed a thorough refresh, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was an…interesting twist on the story-line. We spend a good majority of the film questioning Tommy Jarvis’s sanity and his possible murderous tendencies only to discover that a Jason is in fact, plain old Roy. A New Beginning is proof that a Jason by any other name is still a Jason but it fails to deliver. Still, the film did teach us the importance of controlling our temper, sharing chocolate bars, and how to chop wood.
#9 – Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D (1982)
While Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D have have taken 9th place on our list, it’s killer synth theme is 1st in our hearts. The film that gave Jason his iconic mask, Part 3 brought us a new dimension of terror. The 3rd Dimension!! Set mostly inside the Higgin’s barn, Jason finds time to pitchfork a few local ruffians and chop some unsuspecting co-eds in half. While perhaps the singularly most important film in the longevity the franchise has enjoyed, Part 3‘s is less menacing than he is oafish.
#8 – Friday the 13th (2009)
I have a bone to pick with everyone that hates this fantastic remake. Not only does this movie contain the most psychologically researched Jason portrayal since Kane Hodder’s brilliant run, Friday the 13th (2009) contains one of the greatest cold opens of the entire series! Arguably, the first 15 minutes of the film, is another film all on it’s own. Jason is not messing about this time around. The kids has trespassed and they must die- well, everyone except the cute girl that remind me of my mother. Sure, everyone in the cast is gorgeous but don’t forget, Friday the 13th (1980) had Kevin “Freaking” Bacon.
#7 – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
I’m of the opinion that you owe Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan a proper re-watch before condemning it forever. Yes, this chapter takes Jason out of Crystal Lake and New Jersey proper. Yes, we spend the first half of the movie on a boat, but I’m telling you, this movie is so much more fun than you remember. They threw everything they had at this flick, including the most entertaining fist fight since They Live (1988) and an incredible interview with Arsenio Hall.
#6 – Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
Marking his first appearance as an adult, Friday The 13th Part II helped to build the mythos and Legend that is Jason Voorhees. As it is written in 1st Cunningham, Chapter 2, Verse 13: “When I was a child, I spoke as child, went to camp as a child, and drowned as a child; but when I become a man, I put away childish things.” There comes a time when we all realize it’s time to take up the pick-axe and blaze our own path. Had Pamela lived long enough to see the man her little boy came back from the grave to be, I’m sure she would have been very proud.
#5 – Friday the 13th (1980)
The films that started it all. To not include the original Friday the 13th in your countdown is a transgression no horror fan (or crazed-killer) could forgive. Complete with groundbreaking special effects from Tom Savini, Friday the 13th (1980) was the film that changed the landscape of horror forever. Influencing practically all horror films that followed, Sean S. Cunningham’s cult classic belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Horror alongside John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), and Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees brought a fresh take on the revenge-driven killer, surprising and terrifying audiences. While some (including screenwriter Victor Miller) scoff at Jason upheaval of the franchise, nothing changes the brilliance of the original Friday the 13th.
#4 – Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
Four Words: Crispin Glover Dance Number. The Final Chapter is (count it) the 2nd attempt to close the book on Jason Voorhees. Believe it or not, there was a time when studios actively tried to end there franchises, once and for all. Originally intended as a trilogy, Part IV was a clever attempt to axe Jason and introduce another villain: Tommy Jarvis. We would eventually see this play out in future installments but Part IV laid the groundwork for a story-line that would be abandoned only 1 film later. Fully graduated into his Hockey Mask attire, Jason spends no time hiding in barns, or poking fresh eye holes in his head-bag. Don’t stand too close to windows, and don’t bother asking where to corkscrews are, Jason is coming for you, and you’d better make the best of the time you have left.
#3 – Jason X (2001)
Alright, alright, alright- please stop yelling at your phone. Widely considered a low point in the franchise, Jason X took Friday the 13th to places it had never gone before: Space! You’ll find that if you try and laugh at the insanity of the “Lower Register” Friday films, you’ll find you enjoy Jason X quite a lot more than you ever thought possible. And honestly, what’s not to love?! You need one-liners? Oh we’ve got oneliners. You’re looking for off-the-wall lunacy and buckets of blood? You better get ready for a wild ride. There is literally a scene where a space soldier is impaled on a space drill, only to have his space comrades report, “He’s screwed”
#2 – Freddy vs Jason (2003)
Sure, not technically a Friday the 13th film, but it’s still very much a Jason Voorhees story, and that’s good enough for us! Also, bonus points for the Freddy feature because if there’s one thing every movie needs more of, it’s Freddy Krueger. Fans are still debating who really won this fight but regardless of the outcome, it was an epic battle 30 years in the making. Say what you will about Freddy vs Jason this movie completely delivered.
#1 – Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
A perfect blend of horror and humor, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a favorite of many horror fans, as well as the hosts of the Nightmare on Film Street Podcast. With a soundtrack that consists almost entirely of Alice Cooper, Jason Lives is a brilliant example of the franchise tipping it’s hat to the audience. The film is aware of itself and leans hard into the absurdity and ridiculousness of it’s premise. Part VI also contains some of the most outlandish kills of the entire franchise, including the Smiley Face Tree Smash, and the RV Death Mask. In many ways Part VI is a modern retelling of the Frankenstein story but for the most part, it’s just one hell of a good time.