I’m a big fan of horror. You can look back a bit on this little site I’m working on and you can see some writings on horror films. Even on my older blog, I would write about horror alot. I love horror and a great horror movie is unlike anything in the world. But there’s something many horror fans can agree on. A bad horror movie is worse than many other bad movies in other genres in a critical sense. But these really bad movies can somehow immensely more watchable than average movies in other genres. And I can’t think of a series of movies that absolutely proves this theory better than the Friday The 13th series. They started out cheap little movies that shamelessly ripped off Halloween and just devolved into pure gonzo insanity. None of them are good on any critical level with pretty shit scripts and a lack of any desire to have good acting. But somehow, all of these movies are pretty watchable. Just perfect dumb fun with a stupid grin on it’s face, somehow knowing it’s stupid but not joking at all. Over the top and original kills mixed in with completely gratuitous nudity. The perfect bad horror series. And in my time since starting this site, this is the first Friday The 13th on the calendar I’ve come across. So it’s a fitting time to make up a list ranking all these movies, from slightly less watchable to completely watchable. And much like the series repurposed stories and other movies, I will be repurposing this list on different Friday The 13ths and any potential future Friday The 13th movies releases. So let’s dive in to this ridiculous series.
This is lowest on the list because it is the one that is the least fun in it’s silliness. For one, the name of the movie is a bit of a misnomer. The vast majority of the movie doesn’t take place in Manhattan, but on a boat to Manhattan. Which brings to mind the lovely little tidbit that the movie has people taking a boat from a Lake to Manhattan, coming in from the Atlantic heading westward. So even in the series’ weakest moment, it still has some brilliant moments of utter stupidity. What kinda slows the movie down and places it down on the bottom here is the lack of really great kills for the most part. There’s one unbelievable one, but the rest are just lacking. That one great kill tough? Jason punching a dudes head clean off, with one good haymaker. Brilliance. Despite it’s lesser successes in comparison to the rest of the series, it’s still an amazingly stupid good time. And it ends with Jason being defeated by toxic waste that runs through the sewers of NYC. How can you go wrong?
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
This one was close to Manhattan, but two things push it to the top. One is the amazing and tantalizing cameo by Freddy Kruger at the end. The second thing is the fact that this movie is bug nuts insane. Jason is in the movie, but not really. The movie opens with a great scene of Jason being ambushed by soldiers and cops, getting shot to shit and blown to smithereens. But then instead of just getting back up like he’s want to do, a demon worm crawls out of his mangled corpse and crawls into the coroner that’s working on his body. Just fucking insane. The whole movie until the climax features people possessed by Jason. No hockey mask, no visual cues we tend to expect from a Jason movie. Just crazy violence, bullshit mythology about Jason’s history/bloodline, and a bonkers hunter out for Jason. For the sheer insanity alone, it’s a better movie than Manhattan. It’s got some sweet kills to. Best kill? He punches a womans chin into her skull.
Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Ever wondered what would happen if Carrie White met Jason Voorhees? Well the producers of this series had that thought, so we now know what it looks like. And it’s silly as shit. But so earnestly shitty that you gotta praise the series for going for it. It’s got some good kills and a weird morality to it with a distaste for therapy. A ridiculous premise of a girl who blames herself for telekinetically killing her father comes back to the place where he died, accidentally raising Jason back from the bottom of the lake. Just good old fashioned fun for the series, something that the prior two on this last lack. Some woodlands action with the reigning king of retarded serial killers. Late night fun with this one, preferably with some drank, is recommended. Best kill? The iconic sleeping bag kill.
Since the series started off as a ripoff of Halloween, it makes plenty of sense for it to to have a sequel that ripped off the idea Halloween had to make a sequel that has no connection to the iconic killer in the series. We follow Tommy Jarvis, survivor of the 4th entry, as he’s older and all fucked up. He’s put into a group home and murders start cropping up. Is Jason back? Nope, it’s a copy cat and all done for the dumbest fucking reasons. Half assed as fuck, but the movie is all kinds of goofy fun. Good kills and the purely sincere attempt to be different while not being different at all, it’s a good ole time with this dumb fuck series. It’s so not different that they even bring back the POV kills from the first two. Best kill? Tree vice crip head crunch
The originator. The granddaddy of them all, for without it we’d have 12 less gloriously stupid slasher movies. This one though gets such a high placement for the importance of it, not so much it’s watchability. It’s a fine little dumb movie, but lacks next to the rest of the insanity of the future movies. What else is also interesting is that this doesn’t have Jason as the killer. Thanks to Kevin Williamson in Scream, we all know it was Pamela Voorhees. Jason’s mother was the killer in those POV shots with the super hairy man hands. It’s got a great score from Harry Manfrendini and amazing gore effects by Tom Savini. It’s fine and all, bit the franchise would get better by getting worse. Best kill? Kevin Bacon getting an arrow through the neck.
By almost all objective ways to judge a movie, this is easily the worst movie in the entire franchise. But this is an amazing movie. It’s so completely ridiculous, you can’t help but enjoy it. And unlike the other horror franchise entries that send their killers to space (Leprechaun, Hellraiser), this one is a joy to watch. One could say that it’s stupid and lazy, but I have a different opinion on that. I think it is a quietly smart movie, with the creatives knowing full well how silly the idea of Jason in space is and having complete fun with it. They just supplant a typical slasher story with some silly sci fi elements, ie turning Jason into a mech killing machine, and you got something too ridiculous to be as watchable as it is. Best kill? Jason freezing a girls head and smashing it to bits.
This one could simply be at this ranking just for introducing the infamous hockey mask to the dumbass serial killer we all love. But it’s also a slasher movie from the 80s that added the lovely gimmick of 3D. How can I not place a movie this high up that features Jason squeezing a mans head so hard his eyeball explodes forth from his head and flies into the camera. You can feel the series start to move into the form we all loved and instinctively think of when we look at this series. There is the super weird moment though where they intimate that Jason raped the main girl at some point in the past, which is so beyond bizarre that you have to think someone didn’t realize what they were doing or it was supposed to be cut and didn’t. But don’t let that get you down. This is movie is just aces. Best kill? The aforementioned head squeezing.
Of the first three movies, released in 3 years, this is the best one. It’s got that low key energy of the first one with a spooky tone to it. It’s got a great final girl in Amy Steele. Jason, despite the hockey mask, has a creepy aesthetic with the burlap sack on his head. Even that is just them ripping off The Town That Dreaded Sundown, continuing the series’ rep of blatant theft. It’s got a meanness to it to, with Jason stabbing a wheelchair bound man in the face and kicking him down a flight of stairs. But really, the winningest aspect of this movie is Steele. Her character is great, a strong role that bucks up against the typical “final girl” tropes. She even beats Jason with some well thought out psychology. It’s one of the few that I can see legit being scared by, so it earns the placement for that. Best kill? The wheelchair one.
This is the ultimate piece of cinematic fan fiction given a big budget. After such a tantalizing tease in Jason Goes To Hell, we wait 10 years for the money shot and boy did we get it. This movie does a weird balancing act of making the movie feel like a Freddy movie and a Jason movie seamlessly. And it’s a welcome change of pace for both characters, especially Jason. This one managed to jump almost everything before it, simply for it’s story and it’s back to basics approach to Jason. And by making him almost the hero of the movie, it gets to the idea that Jason is just a stupid child who doesn’t realize he’s doing bad things, especially in comparison to the genuinely evil Freddy. Great stuff all around for fans of the franchise. Best kill? His fight with Freddy
This is technically a remake, but in a series where continuity was as loose as the women that Jason liked to kill, it could just be seen as another entry. The structure of the movie is also very weird, and I like that. It’s status as remake only really comes into play in the opening credits, with a quick little redo of the scene of Pamela Voorhees getting killed. Then the movie does what is, essentially, a short F13 movie before the credits even roll. Jason makes quick work of an entire group of some dumb shits, all before the title card. All of this is basically the place of Part 2, with Jason in the burlap sack until roughly 20 or so minutes in. Then it’s Part 3 the rest of the way. They manage to cram the first 3 movies into one with ease. And it captures the tone of the series, earnest stupidity with some great kills. Best kill? Jason impaling a dudebro on a pair of deer antlers.
After the weird entry where a guy decides to kill people dressed as Jason for no real reason other than he must have known he was in a F13 movie, the producers decided to say fuck it and bring Jason back. This begins the era known as the zombie Jason era, where he’s a slow moving bastard who seemingly has the power to teleport. This movie is fun and has a sense of humor. The movie starts with a ripoff of the 007 gun barrel sequence, but with Jason slicing instead of shooting. And even the rest of the movie features plenty of moments with some winks in its eye. It’s such a distilled version of everything that F13 is known for and is only bested by one other, one that is just perfection and lays down the foundation of all to come. And it is the end of the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, and the last really good entry until Freddy vs Jason. Best kill? Jason folds a man in half.
The best of them all. The one where Jason “died”. We all know that was bullshit, but it was still badass as hell. If only because Jason was gonna be killed by the man who helped make him, Tom Savini. Savini came back because he wanted to kill the big dump, and his work here is amazing. This movie features the best cast of teens, the best deaths and setups and a tone that’s in between the scariness of the first 3 and the silliness of the future installments. It’s quite like the Goldfinger of the series. It also starts of the Tommy Jarvis trilogy, a fun little trilogy within the horror genre. For anyone interested in the series, this is the one to see. Continuity doesn’t matter, so it’s easy to jump into. Best kill? Jason getting a machete to the face and sliding down it slowly.