Every Friday the 13th Kill

8. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

If you ask someone who has never seen a Friday the 13th movie to describe the series, they’d probably describe Friday the 13th Part III. This is where the final pieces fell into place to create the template that has pierced larger pop culture awareness. The woodsy, lakeside setting is still prominent. Jason finally gets his hockey mask. The victims are a fine mixture of local hicks, ditzes, nerds, and stoners. There’s something classical about the whole thing – it exists as a perfect artifact of everything this series represents as a whole. But as a movie, it’s not especially good. Many of Jason’s kills are fairly uninspired, the characters rarely stand out enough to make you care about their impending demises, and the film frequently goes on bizarre tangents to help pad out the running time. I personally get a kick out of the various objects and weapons flying at the screen (the film was originally projected in 3D), but there’s no denying that it renders sequences hokey rather than effective.

friday the 13th movies ranked a new beginning

7. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

Quite possibly the most underrated film in the entire series, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning continues to receive a lot of flak because it’s the one without Jason. Since the lead villain of this series was killed in the previous movie (he got better in time for part six), this one introduces a mystery: who is wearing a hockey mask and committing a series of Jason Voorhees copycat murders? The answer who make you yell “Wait, who’s that guy?” but it’s intriguing for a little while and a nice throwback to the original film and its Agatha Christie/And Then There Were None roots. While the film does botch its central mystery, it’s a perfectly engaging and wholly entertaining slasher movie, even without a proper Jason Voorhees at the center. The homestretch, where our lead heroine does battle with faux-Jason in the middle of a raging storm, is very possibly the best climax in the entire series.

friday the 13th movies ranked jason x

6. Jason X (2001)

Jason X sounds like a terrible idea, but that’s part of its plucky charm – it’s so stupid that it just might work! And it works far better than you’d expect, especially since the movie is so keenly aware of exactly what it is and plants its tongue firmly in cheek. The mere premise is enough to make some eyes roll and inspire a cackle: Jason Voorhees is cryogenically frozen and awakened 450 years later by a class of college students visiting the wasteland planet called Earth. Naturally, they bring their newfound artifact back on board their spaceship, where he thaws out and proceeds to start murdering everyone. It’s preposterous and the film’s budget often hampers some of the more ambitious set pieces, but it’s genuinely funny and intelligently stupid. It knows you’re going to laugh and damn it, it leans into the comedy something fierce.

friday the 13th movies ranked friday the 13th

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

The original Friday the 13th often gets reduced to a footnote because it’s the one without Jason, but that’s a little unfair. Sure, the iconic lead character wouldn’t take center stage until the sequel, but the first film is an effective, trashy little chiller that sets out to shock and disgust and succeeds with aplomb. Since the franchise hasn’t settled into a comfortable formula by this point, the first film can’t help but feel fresh, especially when compared to the later sequels it inspired. It’s very much a mystery (who is killing off these camp counselors and why?) and Tom Savini’s make-up effects set a high standard that the rest of the series struggles to meet. Those looking for a silly hack ‘n’ slash romp should look elsewhere – this is a slow-burning horror tale that feels like it emerged from a campfire storytelling session.

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