One of my favorite franchises is Friday the 13th. The original Friday the 13th film was released in May of 1980 and was a huge box office hit. 40 years later the franchise is still relevant with over 10 sequels, video games, and an insane amount of merchandise. With news that we are getting a Friday the 13th prequel series, I decided to look back and see which movie in the series reigns supreme. This is my ranking of the Friday the 13th films.
12. Friday the 13th (2009)
While this is not a remake I dislike, it is one that is disappointing. During the 2000s there were a ton of remakes. It seemed as if everyone was trying to make a darker, grittier film. Unfortunately, gritty doesn’t really work for a Friday the 13th film. Jason has always been a powerful force but quirky memorable characters surrounded him. The characters here are simply uninteresting. The kills are uninspired and nothing we haven’t seen before.
I will give credit to the opening of this movie though. It takes about 24 minutes until we get to the title screen. The opening sequence is exhilarating, full of tension, and a lot of fun. It’s just too bad everything that comes after is a letdown. Instead of making a gritty remake, we would have been better off with another fun sequel.
11. Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan
Jason roaming the city streets, murdering shoppers in the bright lights of New York City sounds like a great time, right? Well, it would have been if that was the movie we got. The trailer implied New York was in danger from Jason. Another letdown in the series because we spend no more than 15 minutes in the big apple. The rest of the movie takes place on a cruise ship heading from Jersey to Manhattan. I am not sure how that is even possible but I digress.
The characters aren’t as memorable as in other entries and the film is pretty slow-paced. Jason has some decent kills on the boat but it is not enough to make up for what could have been. A highlight is Jason having a really cool boxing match on top of a roof. It was originally supposed to take place in Madison Square Garden but there were plenty of budget issues. Overall I still like this entry but it is definitely one of the weaker ones.
10. Jason X
Jason in Space is as odd as it sounds. People were expecting a Freddy Vs Jason movie way before we actually got one. Instead, we got this. Panned by critics and audiences, I admit this is a silly fun movie. There are plenty of fun kills throughout and when Jason turns into Uber Jason it is a really excellent design.
The problem is the idea is bigger than the budget. The sets and most of the effects do tend to look cheap and it does take away from the film. As silly as Jason in space sounds, it still could have been a bigger film that took even more risks. If you can’t get past Jason not being in the woods, this movie might not be for you. Otherwise, leave your brain at the door and have a fun time.
9. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Believe it or not, this was not the final Friday but it definitely is the weirdest one. Jason gets blown to pieces at the beginning of this movie. He literally explodes into chunks. Whatever is left of him is taken to the morgue where a coroner eats Jason’s heart. Yes, you read that right. In doing this the coroner becomes possessed by Jason. The rest of the film is about Jason possessing random people until he can find a relative to help him be reborn.
As I said, this is a weird movie and it did not work for a lot of people. I think it’s insane but still so fun to watch. The movie does have a lot to enjoy. It has some of the best gore and creative kills out of the whole franchise plus some of the best creature designs and effects. The movie features easter eggs from Evil Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street as well as a memorable character named Creighton Duke. We even get an early performance from the late Leslie Jordan. It definitely is not your normal Friday the 13th but it is still a wild time.
8. Freddy Vs Jason
This was a movie people had been waiting for for a long time. Jason goes to hell came out in 1993 and in it, there was a hint that Freddy would soon be fighting Jason. People had to wait 10 years to see this matchup and for the most part, it does deliver.
There are plenty of people for Jason and Freddy to kill. The soundtrack is awesome. Freddy is full of quips and Jason is still a powerful force. We don’t get to see Freddy truly fight Jason until the last 20 minutes, but the movie is still an entertaining crowd-pleaser. The humor for the most part works. The kills are inventive and fun and overall I feel it was worth the wait.
7. Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood
This is a fun one where it basically is Jason vs Carrie. Tina is a girl who is being studied because of her psychic powers and this whole concept is so fun. This marked Kane Hodder’s first time as Jason and it shows why he is known as the definitive Jason. His movements and breathing have become iconic to the series.
This movie was unfortunately cut down tremendously by the MPAA. Originally the kills were more creative and included more gore and this is the only weak point of the movie. The kills are not the best because we do not really get to see them. Overall there is some great stuntwork here and the makeup of Jason here is arguably the best in the franchise.
6. Friday the 13th Part 2
This was the first movie that had Jason killing people. Jason kind of dresses like a farmer in this movie and has a sack on his head. I always appreciated how Jason looked different with every entry. Ginny is a great opponent for Jason. She uses her brain and tries to trick Jason into thinking she is his mother.
There are some great kills here including a fantastic wheelchair one as well as a great jump scare toward the end. The only thing that stops this movie from being higher on this list is its own simplicity. Jason tracks down counselors and kills them. Nothing wrong with that. We get what we came for. It’s just that there are other movies with more to offer.
5. Friday the 13th (1980)
The one that started it all. Our introduction to Jason and our introduction to Camp Crystal Lake. Jason Voorhees is so iconic today that it’s hard to believe that we were never supposed to get a Jason-led franchise. Before we even knew who Jason was, we got this nice little whodunnit movie.
Harry Manfredini created one of the best horror scores of all time that would continue throughout the series. We also get to see a young Kevin Bacon. The star of this movie though is for sure Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees. In a franchise that includes a lot of overacting, Betsy gives an excellent unhinged performance. Tom Savini’s makeup effects have to be mentioned because they are done so well. A truly great first entry.
4. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning.
I’m going to get a lot of flack for putting this entry so high on the list but I really do enjoy it. There are so much weird quirky things in this movie that for me it is impossible to hate. We have eccentric characters like Demon who has to use the bathroom very badly due to damn enchiladas. We have an odd subplot about a disgusting hillbilly mother and son. We have a great dance sequence to a song by Pseudo Echo. The kills are pretty good too.
The biggest reason so many people disliked this one is that (Spoiler Alert), Jason isn’t in it. We have a copycat killer doing all the work. Yeah, that is extremely disappointing but it kind of makes sense. At this point in the franchise, Jason was supposed to be dead and gone. I commend this sequel for sticking to its guns even if it was only for one movie. It’s one that definitely deserves a second look.
3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
This franchise lies a lot. No, this was not the final installment even though it seems they intended it to be. Jason has to deal with more teenagers as well as a little boy named Tommy Jarvis. Tommy is played by a young Corey Fieldman who does a pretty good job. He is an inspiring effects artist which is a nice nod to Tom Savini.
We get pretty well-done kills in this one. A young Crispin Glover has a great dance scene in this as well. What really sets this one apart is the inclusion of young Tommy Jarvis. We have seen Jason murder tons of teenagers but never a young kid. It adds a layer of fear and brings something new to the franchise. The makeup on Jason, especially in the end is great. It is an entertaining time throughout for sure and could have possibly been a satisfying conclusion.
2. Friday the 13th Part 3
This is a fun sequel that has a lot going for it. Once again a group of teens head to Camp Crystal Lake and get picked off one by one. This is one of the first times though that just about every cast member is interesting. Nerds, stoners, and biker gangs all unite to make up a diverse lineup of characters. The kills here are top notch and the ending chase scene is one of the best in the franchise.
The movie was promoted as being in 3D and even though it is gimmicky, it mostly comes off as fun. This is also the first time Jason finds and wears his iconic hockey mask. The movie works because of how real the characters feel. Of course, there is some hokey dialogue but we have characters who feel insecure and care about one another and it gives them an added layer of depth. Usually in slasher movies like this everyone is on one note. One of the best entries without a doubt.
1. Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
After the response to part 5, producers knew that they needed to put out a movie where just about everything is done right. For me, they succeed because part 6 is my favorite film of the franchise. You know you are in for a good time when Jason is resurrected with lightning similar to Frankenstein.
You can tell more effort was put into this movie. The script and dialogue are better. The humor is well-written and quick. Tommy Jarvis is back as an adult and he is now played by Thom Matthews. He gives a fun performance as a man hellbent on making sure Jason stays dead. The movie is also shot well with impressive kills.
This is the first movie where the camp is open. Tons of kids are staying there and it def adds some suspense to the film. The soundtrack is amazing and includes a catchy original song from Alice Cooper. This is the movie I can’t wait to get to because it literally has everything. With how smart, fun, and scary it is, to me, it is the definitive Friday the 13th film.
Are you excited about the prequel series? What is your favorite Friday the 13th film? Let us know in the comments below.