Being born in 1988, I sadly did not get to experience many of the films in the Friday the 13th franchise during their theatrical run, that is, until my dad took me to see Freddy vs. Jason in 2003 (I could not convince him to take me to see Jason X. It’s ok, dad. I understand now). By that time, I was already very well-versed in the series and had seen each film several times. Before the greatest Christmas ever, when my grandma bought me the entire set on VHS (at the time, 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell was the most recent in the franchise), I used to go to Blockbuster each weekend and rent whichever entry came after the one I had rented the previous week. My feelings about this franchise are a lot like a human relationship. In the beginning, it was love; everything was fun and exciting. Sometimes you want to try new things to keep that excitement alive; it doesn’t always work but you still appreciate the effort. In some instances, your partner has a midlife crisis that there is just no turning back from and you can only stand there and watch them unravel. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s life. Let me start at the beginning.
Friday the 13th (1980)
After the massive and unexpected success of 1978’s Halloween, filmmakers were eager to contribute to what would be an onslaught of holiday-based horror films. When Sean Cunningham directed and produced Victor Miller’s script, ‘A Long Night at Camp Blood’, he would also be introducing another subgenre: summer camps gone murderously wrong. Eventually changing the title to Friday the 13th, the film was released in May 1980 to massive success, managing to make back its $550,000 budget ten times over on its opening weekend alone. After being adjusted for inflation, the original Friday the 13th is the highest-grossing film in the franchise. A catchy score by Harry Manfredini and an ending jump scare that set a standard for the horror genre helped the film become an instant classic that would spawn one of the most popular franchises in history as well as a horror icon… that we don’t even meet until the sequel.
The film takes place at Camp Crystal Lake; a place referred to by locals as Camp Blood due to its history of horrible occurrences that have happened there in years past. As would-be camp counselor Annie hitchhikes her way to a summer job at the newly-opened camp, she learns from truck driver Enis (who is elaborating on the ramblings of local Crazy Ralph who we meet in the previous scene) that a young boy drowned there in 1957 and the summer after that two counselors were murdered. Despite his urging her to quit, and Crazy Ralph’s insistence that the camp has a “death curse”, Annie laughs off Enis’ superstitions and continues on her vehicular panhandling quest because she clearly needs money to buy a car. On the last leg of her journey to the camp, Annie hitches a ride with an unseen driver who we soon realize doesn’t have any intention of dropping her off at camp at all. Annie succumbs to a predictable death at the hands of the driver and that is where the story begins.
It’s probably safe to assume that anyone reading this has already seen these movies but for my peace of mind, I’ll give you a brief run-through. Shortly after Annie is killed, we meet her would-be co-counselors: Alice (our final girl), Marcie, Jack (played by a relatively unknown Kevin Bacon), Ned, Bill, Brenda, and Steve Christy (his family owns the camp). Here’s the rest of the movie in a nutshell: Alice has personal problems that may cause her to leave camp but its never elaborated on further, Steve convinces her to stay a little longer because he’s creeping on her and this camp clearly doesn’t have an HR department, Ned runs around wearing an Indian headpiece and tries to hit on Brenda by almost killing her at the archery range, Kevin Bacon wears a Speedo that left quite an impression on me, Ned tries hitting on Brenda again by pretending to drown, a storm is approaching which causes everyone to seek shelter in the cabins. The rainstorm signals the beginning of the bloodbath until the only one left at the end of the night is Alice.
Just as she thinks all hope is lost, a nice older lady who introduces herself as Mrs. Voorhees arrives in a Jeep that looks pretty similar to the one driven by Annie’s unknown assailant. You see, Mrs. Voorhees is an old friend of the family who owns the camp and she ain’t afraid of no ghosts, even after Alice tells her that everyone is dead. Mrs. Voorhees says that the Christy family should never have opened the camp again; too many awful things have happened there. She tells Alice about the little boy named Jason, who drowned there years ago when the counselors weren’t paying attention. As it turns out, Jason was her son and today is his birthday! It becomes apparent that in the eyes of Mrs. Voorhees, all camp counselors are the same, and they all must die for what happened to her son. Alice high tails it out of there when it becomes evident that this nice old lady in the chunky sweater is the one who’s been killing everyone. Their cat-and-mouse game ends on the shore of the lake where Alice manages to take possession of Mrs. Voorhees’ machete and chops off her head in a serious display of badassery. The night of terror has finally come to an end so Alice does what anyone would do; get in a canoe and float around the lake instead of finding a way to get to the police. Alice awakes in the canoe the next morning to see the police waiting for her on the shore. Finally, the nightmare is over…. UNTIL… the little boy who drowned in the lake years earlier jumps out of the water and pulls Alice back under with him. Alice awakes in a hospital bed, a police officer explaining that they pulled her out of the lake, thinking she was dead like the rest of the counselors. Alice asks about the boy who pulled her into the water but the police say they didn’t find any boy. “Then he’s still there…” Yes, Alice, he is.
Melanie’s Ranking: 5/12
Reason for ranking: I love horror movies that take place at summer camps and this is the movie that started it all. It’s a little slow compared to some of it’s more fun sequels which is why it’s not my favorite or most-watched of the series. Still a classic though. I think the ending would have been more terrifying if Jason had made Alice go to a First Jason concert (look it up, hate me later).
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Less than a year after the massive success of its predecessor, Friday the 13th Part II was released to eager audiences who couldn’t wait to see how the legend of the drowned Jason Voorhees would continue. Not to worry—if you’ve already forgotten what happened in the first film, you’ll get to watch a 10-minute recap via a nightmare of the previous film’s final girl, Alice. I mean, the total run time of the film is an hour and 27 minutes, so that’s cool, I guess. It’s only been a couple of months since the events of the first film so the girl is still pretty shaken up, understandably. Alice wakes from her nightmare and finds the decapitated head of Mrs. Voorhees in her fridge! Gross! How old is that thing? Just then, someone comes up from behind and shoves a screwdriver (or an ice pick? Who cares?) in her head. Alice is a final girl no more.
Five years later, a group of would-be camp counselor’s gather at a counselor training center (because I guess that’s a thing) run by the foxy Paul, who is frustrated that his assistant, Ginny, is late for orientation. When she finally arrives in her beat-up car (because apparently, no one in these movies has a reliable vehicle), we learn that Paul and Ginny are totally getting it on. I can dig it. The rest of the core group of counselors consists of Jeff and Sandra (they are the carbon copy of Jack and Marcie from the first film, goofball Ted (the new Ned but not as creepy), Vicky, Terri, Muffin (Terri’s dog), Scott (major creeper), and super hunky wheelchair-user Mark. On the first night of camp, Paul gathers everyone around the fire and tells them to the legend of Jason Voorhees, the young boy who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake but somehow still managed to see his mom get her head chopped off, allegedly.
We find out that Camp Crystal Lake is about five miles from where they are now but has been shut down and is off-limits to anyone who was planning to go exploring. Screw that, the old camp is the first place I would have gone! All kinds of fun stuff happens in this movie. We realize that Jason is very much alive (so I don’t know what exactly his mom was so upset about) and runs around with a burlap sack on his head and we get to see the shack he lives in in the middle of the woods. Ginny, Paul, Ted, and some extras go out to the local casino for one last night of debauchery before the hardcore counselor training begins (really?). Jeff and Sandra are forced to stay behind at the camp since they were caught trespassing at the old camp earlier that day (since when did five miles become such a short walk?). Vicky stays behind with Mark because she wants to find out what it’s like to bone in a wheelchair, and Scott wants to spy on Teri while she skinny dips in the lake, because who brings a bathing suit when you’re staying on lakefront property? Spoiler alert: they all die. Ginny and Paul return to the camp to discover the bodies of everyone who stayed behind.
Everyone ends up back at Jason’s shack where Ginny discovers a shrine to Mrs. Voorhees comprised of her five-year-old decapitated head and her sweater. Ginny puts on the nasty sweater in hopes of tricking Jason into thinking she is his mom. It works! Geez, psychology is easy. She strikes Jason with a machete and Paul shows up to rescue her. The two of them retreat to a nearby cabin where they are joined by Muffin (!) who disappeared earlier in the script. Just as things seem to be settling down, we get another great jump scare when Jason, bagless head and all, comes crashing through the window of the cabin and grabs Ginny. The scene fades out and we fade back in the next morning with Ginny being wheeled out on a stretcher, asking where Paul is. We never did find out what happened to Paul, or Muffin, for that matter. Rumors have it that Ginny was supposed to return for the franchise’s third installment but that did not happen. We never see Ginny again. We also never see Ted or the other counselors who went out the night before again because they just, like, never came back. Good for them.
Melanie’s Ranking: 2/12
Reason for Ranking: This was essentially a carbon copy of the first film but with faster pacing, good chase scenes, and likable leads. I’ve also always loved the Connecticut filming locations for this one.
Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D (1982)
The third installment of the franchise takes place only days after the events of the previous film and has everything that its two predecessors do, with the addition of a confusing story arc for the main character, Chris Higgins, who takes a group of her friends to her family’s cabin for a weekend of weed smoking and sex having. Also, it’s in 3D, and we get a super badass opening theme from Harry Manfredini to accompany the 3D opening title sequence. The installment has some particularly subpar acting but holds a special place in the franchise as it’s the first time we see Jason with his iconic hockey mask. This movie really tried to change it up, but don’t worry; we have a much-loved recap of the previous film that takes up the first 10 minutes of this movie, in case you forgot about all the details of Part 2’s super intricate plot.
Among Chris’s friends are Debbie (she’s pregnant! No way she’s gonna get killed!), Andy (Debbie’s baby daddy and handstand champion), Vera, Chuck, and Chili (the seemingly much older couple that just smokes weed and has relatively no interaction with the other characters), and… Shelly! Shelly is this film’s goofball and he just loves to make people think he’s dead. Don’t worry, Shell; you can be dead for real very shortly. We also meet Rick, who I guess is sort of Chris’s boyfriend. Oh, and there’s a group of bikers that follow Shelly and Vera back to the cabin after instigating a turf war while getting supplies from the liquor store. Spoiler alert: they all die, except for Chris, who we learn hasn’t been to the cabin in years because of a prior incident which presumably involved her being sexually assaulted in the woods by Jason! We get a totally Oscar-worthy (at least according to someone on the old Friday the 13th message board I used to frequent) monologue from Chris explaining to Rick what happened to her and why she’s been gone from the cabin for so long.
It still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but they were trying to add some more substance and I appreciate the effort, even if it ended up being kind of silly. The film ends with a jump scare of what is presumably the corpse of Mrs. Voorhees jumping out of the water while Chris floats around in a boat after defeating Jason because that’s what you do after defeating a psychotic killer, apparently. In reality, Chris is being taken away by the police in what appears to be an unhinged state. It’s said that in the original ending, Chris gets her head cut off by Jason. We never see Chris again anyway, so I guess it wouldn’t have mattered much.
Melanie’s Ranking: 3/12
Reason for Ranking: Points to Jason for killing the guy in the beginning who didn’t wipe his ass after taking a crap. Also, Jason really runs in this one which makes the chase scenes at the end that much scarier.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
That’s right. The Final Chapter of the Jason Voorhees saga. Over. Done. Laid to rest.
Luckily for us, this movie would make so much damn money that it would be far from being the last entry in the series. Taking place only days after the events of the previous two films a group of teens (spoiler alert: they all die) rents out a vacation home in Crystal Lake just across the way from the Jarvis home where final girl Trish lives with her younger brother Tommy (played by future 80’s pop culture icon Corey Feldman) and their mom (she dies too!), whose name is just Mrs. Jarvis, I think. Oh, and they have a dog named Gordon who just, like, peaces out near the end of the movie.
Living in such close proximity to the group of attractive friends promises Tommy the chance to see lots of “patootsies”, and he happily indulges in this group’s inability to close the blinds. Those would be the first of many patootsies in Corey Feldman’s life. When Trish and Tommy’s car breaks down, because of course it does, they run into drifter Rob who thankfully knows how to fix a car with a knife. They take Rob back to the house with them for some reason and Tommy tells Rob he has something “real neat” to show Rob up in his bedroom. Actually, it is pretty neat. It turns out Tommy is a master mask maker who has a great future ahead of him as the general manager at a “Spirit of Halloween” store. Trish later finds out that Rob is wandering the woods in search of redemption for his dead sister, Sandra, who was killed literally three days ago at that Counselor Training Center. I guess revenge is a dish best served real quick. At the house across the way, the group of friends has also managed to add two sexy twin sisters that they met in the woods to their group. After a day of skinny dipping at Crystal Point, they’re having a big party, and we get to experience the legendary dance moves of Crispin Glover, whose character manages to get laid by one of the hot twins, despite being branded a “dead fuck” by wannabee casanova, Ted (he is the token character who can’t get laid but tells everyone else how to get laid).
Once everyone is dead—including Rob who has failed to deliver swift justice for his sister who died like three days ago (their parents are gonna be bummed!)—it’s up to Trish and Tommy to take down Jason. Luckily for everyone, Tommy takes a cue from the child psychology textbook that Ginny used in Part 2 and quickly shaves his head in an attempt to make himself look like Jason as a child (thank God all of those newspaper clippings had some great shots of Jason when he was younger because he just happens to have a still photographer with him at all times) and manages to distract Jason long enough for Trish to make a move. Jason has a machete plunged into his skull in a death that would be impossible to come back from. Still showing signs of life, Tommy gives Jason a few more good whacks in a fit of temporary insanity. The final shot of the film makes us think that Tommy could quite possibly be turning into the very thing he just killed. Perhaps this was only Jason’s final chapter?
Melanie’s Ranking: 1/12
Reason for Ranking: This has always been my favorite film in the franchise for several reasons, most of all, because the characters are so much more than a body count. Sure, their purpose may have initially been for body count, but they actually ended up being likable and I was genuinely sad to see those characters lose their lives. Secondly, the movie didn’t begin with a 10-minute recap of the previous film. The opening of this movie, besides the brief opening montage of the three previous films, takes place at the scene of Part 3. We get to see the aftermath of the massacre that happened the previous evenings. In one of my favorite shots, we get to see the ambulances leave and Higgins Haven go dark, returning to its non-threatening exterior. The shot is eerie and does something that horror films rarely do, takes us back to the scene of the crime once that scene has returned to its original self, the bloodbath of the previous night now just a memory. It really sets the mood for the rest of the film. I find myself going back to this film more than any other in the franchise.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
It’s been approximately eight-ish years since the events of the last film and Tommy Jarvis is now grown and being transferred to a halfway house known as Pinehurst. He is almost a mute, still traumatized by the events of the previous film. We will come to learn that Tommy is still pretty unhinged by the whole thing and, honestly, a few of the people here should still be institutionalized.
We meet Dr. Matt and his super-smoking assistant, Pam, who explain that Pinehurst runs on an honor system and is focused on transitioning its patients back into society. We also meet Reggie, a young boy who is visiting his grandpa, who is the cook at Pinehurst. Nothing better than “take your grandkid to work” day at the halfway house, am I right? We meet the rest of the patients, who will most definitely die, most of whom’s reasons for being there are never elaborated on.
On Tommy’s first day at Pinehurst, super annoying man-child patient Joey is hacked to death by the extremely volatile Vick who should definitely be at the asylum. In all honesty, Vick did us a big favor, but he still has to go to jail. Amid the chaos of the massacre, we meet Ethel and her dumb son, Junior, who are sick of patients Debbie and Eddie sneaking away from Pinehurst and “fuckin’” on her property. Luckily, Ethel hates her son as much as we do and tells him to “shut the fuck up” on several occasions. Junior has an awesome death scene so it makes his character worth putting up with.
Meanwhile, Tommy still has visions of Jason and tends to lash out violently when he feels threatened. Witnessing the carnage of Joey’s murder certainly isn’t helping the situation. We eventually get a much-needed break from the patients at Pinehurst when Pam takes Reggie to visit his brother, Demon, at a local trailer park and takes Tommy along. Unfortunately, Junior also shows up at the trailer park which results in Tommy kicking his ass because he’s rambling on about some stupid shit. Tommy runs off (nice work, Pam) and Pam and Reggie head back to Pinehurst and look for Tommy along the way. We get one last great scene with Demon being killed in an outhouse after having a bout of diarrhea resulting from those “damn enchiladas” he had for dinner. True to the form of the franchise, Demon also does not wipe his ass, therefore justifying his death in my eyes.
Pam and Reggie return to Pinehurst with Pam going back out to look for Tommy and Dr. Matt who has also gone missing after leaving to search for Debbie and Eddie who have been long dead since their sex-cursion earlier that day. While Reggie sleeps on the couch, everyone else in the house is being murdered (even Gramps!). Pam returns to the house after having to ditch her truck after it, surprise, breaks down. She and Reggie discover the bodies of patients Robin (who conveniently sleeps topless), Jake (whose only issue seemed to be a speech impediment), and Violet (who only wanted to dance. She was a bitch though so meh) and are now being pursued by Jason himself. He has a new mask now but I guess the last one kind of got ruined. I don’t even know if Pinehurst is in Crystal Lake but, I mean, whatever. Pam and Reggie face down Jason in the barn and, thank God, Tommy shows up. He’s ready to conquer his fear of Jason once and for all. Except he gets stabbed and doesn’t really help much at all.
The final showdown finds everyone in the loft of the barn and Jason is sent plummeting into a conveniently placed bed of nails below. Jason’s mask is now off, and we see his dead body on the bed of nails, but something seems… off. His face doesn’t look deformed and is he wearing… a bald cap? What the eff? The movie pretty much lost me at this point but the explanation is hilariously ridiculous. “Jason” was actually local ambulance driver Roy, who we only met briefly when he was retrieving Joey’s body at the beginning of the film and the bodies of some stranded motorists later on. The sheriff explains to Pam that Roy was actually Joey’s father and he must have snapped when he saw his son had been hacked up. He decided to use the Jason persona to just, like, kill everyone over his dead son that no one even knew was his. He even has newspaper clippings with some great screenshots of Jason from previous films. Oh brother. The movie ends with Pam going to check on Tommy in his hospital room, only to find that he is missing. Except he’s not missing—he’s hiding behind the door with a knife… and wearing Jason’s mask! He really is the new Jason…er, maybe.
Melanie’s Ranking: 7/12
Reason for Ranking: I think the reason I dislike this movie so much, though I’ve found myself warming up to it a bit more with age, is because I loved the previous film and its characters so much and I really didn’t have that connection with anyone in this film. These people are all living in a halfway house but we never find out why and we don’t get a chance to ever really care. Maybe I’m asking for too much. I would have loved to see where the series would have gone if they had waited for Corey Feldman to finish filming The Goonies so he could have starred in this.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Tommy Jarvis is back, and all of his issues from the previous film seem to have been cured. I guess he’s not the new Jason after all because we never get any kind of explanation in regards to the previous film’s ending. Also, the character is now being played by the super cute Thom Mathews. But Tommy can’t move on until he sees for himself that Jason Voorhees is dead and still in his grave, even though Jason wasn’t even the killer in the last film. Ok, Tommy, do that you gotta do. He goes to the cemetery accompanied by Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter and digs up the plot which is conveniently only about two feet deep for grave digging convenience. Luckily for Jason, Tommy has brought a handy “Bring Jason Back to Life” starter pack with him.
We discover that Jason is very much dead and buried. However, a strike of lightning hits at the exact moment that Tommy plunges a wrought iron stake into Jason’s corpse. Magically, Jason has come back to life, and since Tommy carries Jason’s mask around with him everywhere he goes, Jason is ready to go. The main difference in Jason now is that he is essentially a zombie, so he doesn’t run after his victims anymore. Don’t worry; they all still die somehow. Tommy’s friend is killed and now the problem that Tommy created must be fixed, but not before the newly minted Camp Forest Green, formerly Camp Crystal Lake, is terrorized. Tommy attempts to recruit the help of the town sheriff to stop Jason but the sheriff is hearing none of it. Forest Green is a new town and Jason has been dead for years. The sheriff’s daughter, Megan, however, finds Tommy very attractive (she’s not wrong) and believes him when he says Jason is back.
Megan and her friends are counselors at Camp Forest Green and are left to their own devices when the two head counselors (one of them is the president in Scandal!) never show up due to car trouble that turns into them being dead. When people start disappearing, Sheriff Garris suspects Tommy is killing under the guise of Jason and throws him in jail without any real reason because he’s literally too lazy to investigate anything. All of Megan’s friends manage to get killed back at the camp while she is busy busting Tommy out of jail so that he can execute the big plan he’s devised that will make sure Jason stays dead once and for all, even though Jason would still be dead if it weren’t for Tommy digging him up. The final showdown at the camp results in the death of every cop in town, including Sheriff Garris, and Tommy successfully killing Jason by anchoring him to the bottom of Crystal Lake with a chain and a rock while Megan turns Jason’s face into deli meat with the motor of a boat. Tommy almost drowns with Jason but is saved by Megan as the young campers look on.
After Tommy is revived, all of the campers cheer despite being surrounded by dead bodies and probably being traumatized for life and Megan isn’t sad about her dead dad or her dead friends because she has a boyfriend now. Everyone is dead because of Tommy, thus ending his story arc.
Melanie Ranking: 4/12
Reason for Ranking: This movie is just a lot of fun. Director Tom McLoughlin decided that if he was going to do a Friday the 13th film, he was at least going to leave his mark on it. There are a lot of fun kills and characters that are exciting to spend time with. The filmmakers decided to really bring their A-game when all that was expected of them was to deliver a body count.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Tina Shepard and her mother return to their family’s old lake house in Crystal Lake, which I guess isn’t called Forest Green anymore because the name change didn’t work apparently, years after Tina killed her father by using her telekinetic powers to make the dock outside their house collapse. Yep, that’s right. Tina’s doctor, a real douchebag named Dr. Cruz, is hoping that by having Tina return to the location where she experienced so much trauma, he will be able to better understand her psychic abilities. A group of asshole friends are staying at the house across the lake and Tina manages to catch the eye of Nick, the only likable person in the group, much to the disappointment of mean girl Melissa. Dr. Cruz manages to piss Tina off so badly that her telekinetic energy is felt throughout the lake and brings Jason back to life. Jesus, ok.
It becomes clear very early on that Dr. Cruz has no intention of helping Tina but only wants to be able to record her telekinetic episodes for his own fame and Tina isn’t blind to this. Nick walks over to invite Tina to a surprise party that he and his friends are throwing for his cousin, Michael, who never shows up because his car breaks down and he and his girlfriend are killed during their five-mile walk to Crystal Lake from where their car broke down. Once again, I don’t think the people who made these movies realized how far five miles is to walk. The party ends up being a bust when the birthday boy doesn’t show up and Tina runs home after Melissa pulls a mean prank on her, causing Tina to use her telekineses to break Melissa’s pearl necklace.
The next day, Nick ditches his friends to hang out with Tina because he explains that he really doesn’t like those people anyway since they’re his cousin’s friends and they really are pretty unlikable. That night, Tina has enough of Dr. Cruz’s bullshit and decides to go for a drive, but she has a vision of her mother being killed by Jason in the middle of the road and crashes the car. Mrs. Shepard and Dr. Cruz go looking for Tina and find the crashed car. They run into Jason in the woods and Mrs. Shepard is killed when Dr. Cruz uses her a shield like the dick that he is. Luckily, he doesn’t last much longer. Tina finds her way back to Nick, and I’m not gonna lie, I don’t remember how. As you’ve probably guessed, all of the friends at the party house are killed, leaving only Tina and Nick alive. Tina has to break the news to Nick that she had a vision of his cousin being killed by Jason and she’s pretty sure he’s dead. Tina has a final showdown with Jason in the basement of her house, her telekinetic powers helping her immensely and leaving Jason very confused. She sets the house on fire with Jason still inside and drags an unconscious Nick outside. The house explodes, but Jason manages to find a second wind. Luckily for Tina and Nick, Tina’s dead dad rises from out of the lake, ties Jason up with a chain, and drags him back into the lake. Once again, Jesus, ok.
What am I doing with my life? Anyway, Tina has no parents now but she has a boyfriend so, I mean, I guess it could have been worse?
Melanie’s Ranking: 6/12
Reason for Ranking: The only reason I like this movie as much as I do is that it’s so similar to The Final Chapter with the terror taking place at houses right across the way from each other (some of the reshoots were even filmed at the Jarvis house from the Part 4). I’m fine with the main characters, except for the dumb telekinesis thing, but the lake looks so bad in this. As someone once put it, Crystal Lake in this film looks like what happens when you leave the hose running in the backyard.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
In the final Friday the 13th film to be released by Paramount Pictures, Jason goes to New York, for about 20 minutes, after hijacking a high school graduation cruise. A group of forgettable characters, a final girl with the personality of a can of paint, and a super dumb plot make this my least favorite of the Paramount releases. In this film, a girl with a fear of drowning reluctantly joins her graduating class on a cruise to New York City. Unbeknownst to her, Jason was jolted back to life the previous night when a power line running through the lake (what?!) gets snagged by an anchor, and now he wants to kill the kids on this cruise ship for some reason. Final girl Renny is going against her Uncle Charles’ (he’s a teacher and chaperone) by going on the cruise. She has a serious fear of the water after Charles almost let her drown while teaching her to swim in Crystal Lake when she was a child. She also has a memory of being dragged down deeper into the water by a young boy. We never do figure out if this is a dream or not, but I really don’t care. Maybe their mutual fear of the water connects them kinetically? Why am I still thinking about this? I don’t care.
Look, everyone in this movie dies except for Renny and her boyfriend, Sean. I would have been fine with them dying too, honestly. The only one in this movie I didn’t hate was Toby, Renny’s dog. Jason meets his end when the sewer gets flushed with toxic waste and melts him. Renny then sees Jason as a little boy. I don’t really know what’s going on. I don’t care.
Melanie’s Ranking: 8/12
Reason for Ranking: Jason’s on a boat with characters I don’t care about. I may be boring but I like the movies to stay in Crystal Lake. I also never understood what prompted Jason to get on the boat. Was he just bored?
Jason Goes to Hell (1993)
After the poor box office performance of Jason Takes Manhattan, we wouldn’t see Jason again until 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell. After the four year wait, Jason was back, and he’s… a body swapper? I guess he regenerated after being melted? Don’t care. The first five minutes of this movie were pretty promising and then it got all kinds of stupid.
The beautiful Agent Michaels lures Jason into her cabin by simply showing up and getting naked. Literally, he shows up in like 30 seconds. Once she has Jason in pursuit of her, she leads him to a waiting SWAT team in the woods. I’m very unclear as to what prompted this takedown and how Jason is even alive. They just gave up on explaining how he comes back at this point. Jason gets blown up after what was a promising intro only to have his heart eaten by the medical examiner, causing said medical examiner to be inhabited by Jason’s spirit and turning him into a killer. Yeah, I know.
So it turns out that Jason has a sister, Diana, who’s a waitress in Crystal Lake. She meets a bounty hunter named Creighton Duke who tells her he knows who she really is and that Jason will never really die until another Voorhees kills him with some special dagger. This would have been great information to find out about years ago. Anyway, Jason finds his way into the body of a local deputy who then murders Diana. Luckily, she has a daughter, Jessica, who can still kill Jason but first, the police need to be convinced that Jessica’s baby daddy, Steven, isn’t the one who killed her mother. I think this is about as much of a recap as anyone needs on this movie. Everyone dies, Jessica finally faces off with Jason and manages to kill him with that dagger that Creighton Duke gave her. Jason is finally dead… forever! The final shot of the film is of Jason’s mask being pulled into the ground by Freddy Krueger’s glove. It would be ten more years before we saw that the long-awaited showdown between those two.
Melanie’s Ranking: 9/12
Reason for Ranking: Jason’s soul transfers between bodies in the shape of some weird worm thing. What really sucks about this movie is that the first 5 minutes were so good. I liked that they were back in Crystal Lake but that’s about the only thing that was done right.
Jason X (2001)
Yep, Jason went to space.
Melanie’s Ranking: 10/12
Reason for Ranking: Jason went to space.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Freddy’s back, Jason’s back, and now they’re together in Freddy Krueger’s hometown of Springwood, OH. It’s pretty much a Nightmare on Elm Street movie but with Jason doing most of the killing. The plot is dumb; everyone’s acting is awful. Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child is in it. The only character I liked at all (played by Chris Marquette) was killed. I still don’t really understand what Freddy and Jason are fighting about or why. All I know is that I hate this movie a lot.
Melanie’s Ranking: 11/12
Reason for Ranking: I hate this movie so, so much. You know it’s a bad movie when you want every character in it to die. I still can’t take Monica Keena seriously as an actor after this. Bad acting, bad writing, and bad directing.
Friday the 13th (2009)
The long-awaited remake, written by the same clowns who wrote Freddy vs. Jason, is pretty much just a mash-up of the entire franchise. I went into this with higher expectations than I go into any remake with and oh boy, did I learn my lesson. The rumor was that this film was going to contain elements of the first four films from the original franchise. I mean, I suppose that wasn’t necessarily false, except that, unlike the original four films, this movie had no likable characters and I had no emotional investment whatsoever. With character bro names like “Clay” and “Trent”, I knew I was in for a real treat. Clay arrives in Crystal Lake in search of his missing sister, Whitney. He has a run-in with a group of friends heading to a vacation house for the weekend. It’s all very much “The Final Chapter” except not good and missing Tommy Jarvis. I seriously couldn’t wait for everyone in this movie to die, and they do, except for Clay and Whitney. I don’t deny that these movies have a very simple formula and shouldn’t necessarily be taken as the most serious thing in the world, but I still have standards, and this movie crapped all over a franchise that became iconic for a reason. Horror is so much more than just a body count, it’s bringing you face to face with the idea of death, and it’s made even scarier when you feel like you’re experiencing it with real, human people.
The 2009 remake experienced an unprecedented 80% drop in its second week at the box office because word got around that the movie was awful.
Melanie’s Ranking: 12/12
Reason for Ranking: Three words: “Perfect nipple placement.”
How do you rank the films in the Friday the 13th franchise? Is your love story with the films just as complicated as mine?