Posted on Friday, January 13th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
Over the past week, I’ve been revisiting the Friday the 13th series with one simple, stupid goal: I was going to rank every single person killed by Jason Voorhees (and his fellow murderers) in the entire series. There turned out to be 181 of them and I ranked them here and here.
But throughout the process, other questions kept cropping up: which Friday the 13th movie is your favorite? How would you rank them? Is The New Blood really worse than Jason Takes Manhattan? So, in the interest of laying it all on the table, here is the completely correct and scientifically accurate ranking of every movie in the Friday the 13th series.
Not ranked: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
After a lot of back and forth, I have decided to not include Freddy vs. Jason in the official Friday the 13th ranking. Not because it’s a bad movie (it’s pretty good and often very fun), but because it’s not really a Friday the 13th movie. Sure, Jason Voorhees is a main character and he racks up quite the body count, but it terms of structure and tone, this is very much A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 8, which just so happens to guest star the other most famous horror movie villain to emerge from the ’80s. It’s a perfectly fine Nightmare movie, one that does a good job of toning down Freddy Krueger’s more obnoxious antics, but it is far too divergent from what makes a Friday the 13th movie a Friday the 13th movie truly to rank here.
11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
The second time the Friday the 13th series promised a final chapter (only to deliver more sequels), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is structured as if this was going to be the last time we’d see our favorite hockey masked undead serial murderer, which makes its sins all the more insulting. Rather than just roll with the series’ charming improvisatory style (and then this happens and then this happens), the film bends over backward to explain why Jason Voorhees cannot die – he’s actually an immortal demon that can jump between bodies and resurrect in his true form under the right circumstances. The “final” Jason movie barely features any Jason at all as he takes over a series of bodies on a road trip back to Crystal Lake, which could’ve been forgivable if the movie weren’t so dimly lit and so littered with uninspired characters and set pieces. It’s not enough that Jason Goes to Hell goes out of its way to clutter up the reliably simple Friday the 13th mythos. It’s also really boring.
10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
The story goes that Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood found itself under fire by the MPAA and was forced to remove almost all of its onscreen violence, reducing a gnarly slasher movie into a tame, almost PG-13 affair. I’m not sure if a healthy serving of gore would fix this movie’s underutilized high-concept premise (it’s Jason versus Carrie, basically) or its monotonous characters, but it certainly doesn’t help that this is a Friday the 13th movie where the kills (the reason people watch these movies in the first place!) are so very boring. But the whole movie feels tired, especially after the energetic sixth film, and it’s quite clear that the series needed some kind of shake-up at this point. There are Friday the 13th movies that make more baffling decisions and fall a little harder on their faces, but this is the only one that feels downright lethargic.
9. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
I’ll say this much about the oft-maligned eighth film in the series: it certainly isn’t boring! Baffling and stupid and incoherent and completely unaware of the laws that govern space, time, and matter, but not boring! Despite the title, only the final act takes place in New York City, with the bulk of the film essentially boiling down to Jason Takes a Cruise Ship Full of Obnoxious Teens. But the film really comes alive with charming stupidity once the survivors reach the Big Apple, a land of dark alleys, broken buildings, gang members borrowed from Tim Burton’s Batman, and random barrels of green goo on every street corner. Did you know that toxic waste floods the sewers beneath Manhattan every night at midnight? And that said toxic waste can transform a murderous zombie hillbilly into his younger, more innocent self? Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is one of the stupidest horror movies every made and I can’t help admire its spunk.