friday-13th-crocsAdmit it, at least once you’ve caught yourself watching one of the Friday the 13th movies and enjoying it. And what’s not to enjoy? They’re awesome… OK, most of them are awesome… some of them are awesome… they’re actually pretty stupid.
But by God, they’re entertaining!

Long before Rebecca Black, there was one person who struck fear into our hearts when we heard “friday” mentioned- and that person was none other than Jason Voorhees.
I grew up with these films, so they’ve always meant a lot to me, even if I never actually thought they were any good. Or scary. Or original. But there’s something to be said about the series’ tenacity, constantly trying to reinvent itself, failing miserably, and yet still thriving for 10 movies before a spin-off and a reboot. No matter how old or smart I get and no matter how much I realize how absurd these films are, well, in the words of Whitney Houston: IIII-e-IIII will aaalwaaays looove yooooouu!

Leading up to Halloween, I’ve been appropriately binge-watching the aforementioned horror franchise starring our second favorite masked killer. It would probably be more appropriate to binge-watch the Halloween movies, though. Well, maybe if there’s time.

But for now, here’s a blow-by-blow analysis of the series from 1980 to 2009. Yes, 2009. I didn’t leave out any movies.

Ki ki ki, ma ma ma…

"Here I come to wreck the daaaaay!"

“Here I come to wreck the daaaaay!”

1. Friday the 13th (1980)
Before I ever saw any of the Friday The 13th movies, I was a Boy Scout in New York (long after Jason “took” it) . One of my very first camping trips was to a campgrounds in New Jersey called Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, where they apparently filmed the first movie. Yeah- I didn’t sleep that weekend. When I got home, I had to seek out the movie. And I did. And it rocked. The twist had long been spoiled by one of my other all-time favorites, Scream, and I had ended up seeing a couple other Friday the 13th movies before I ended up seeing this one, but I still loved it. Here we learn of Jason Voorhees’ origins of how he was a mentally challenged boy with a physical deformity who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake when the counselors weren’t paying attention. And what does his mother do? Well, she does what any loving mother would do under the circumstances, she grieves and forgives the counselors, going on to lead an otherwise uneventful life… ha, just kidding. She slaughters everyone. Happy Mother’s Day! The film was clearly banking off the success of John Carpenter’s masterpiece, Halloween, even using another scary day as the title/ setting. Despite not being very good and actually being pretty slow at times, audiences ate it up when other films around the same time failed to do so. While still decent and much more solid than most of the sequels would be, the film lacked what Halloween had however in a scary villain with an iconic image (among other things like interesting characters, provocative ideas, but I digress) but that would soon change… in Part 3.
And it gave us Kevin Bacon… so that’s cool…

friday the 13th kevin bacon

Easily his best role until “Wild Things”

2. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Now we’re talking. After the first film ended with the surprise that Jason was alive the whole time, he ages rapidly from a little boy to a full-grown man in the course of two months to be the villain in this film. Because characters in these movies never learn, they decide to open a camp on the same lake that Camp Crystal Lake was situated with even more victims- I mean counselors. One of which is Ginny, a character finally worthy of the best “final girls.” More likable and realistic than anyone in the first film, Ginny takes the time to try to figure out Jason’ psyche, which is what this film actually does the best of any of the films: it treats Jason like an urban legend come to life. They really got the campfire story tone down with this one, complete with an actual scene where a character more bland than mayo on white bread tells the tale of Jason and his *ahem* unique relationship with his mother. They treat Jason as if he was a real, developmentally challenged man who was sheltered by his mother and then snapped after her death. And not really understanding what death is, he continues his mother’s work as a killer dressed up as the guy from The Town That Dreaded Sundown. What an odd homage.
So this horror franchise is doing pretty well. I guess it’s time to shit the bed. After all, what could be worse than wearing a potato sack on your head?

My mama told me I could be anything I wanted for Halloween... so I'm a potato.

My mama told me I could be anything I wanted for Halloween…
so I’m a potato.

3. Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Oh crap, it’s this one.
In the 80’s, Hollywood thought it would be a good idea to take all their upcoming horror movies and release them in 3D. Why? Who f***ing knows. The point is, there’s a lot of long, awkward shots of random objects coming into the foreground for no reason like TV antenna, a yo-yo, farm equipment, and then eventually an eyeball on a string.

"Eye" see you! Thank you, I'm here all week, my wife won't let me come home...

“Eye” see you! Ha! Thank you, I’m here all week… my wife won’t let me come home…

This movie sucks. This is when the franchise went from mediocre into the realm of lazy. Here we start to see the one-dimensional character tropes that we will get used to seeing in the films to come: the nerdy character who likes a hot character but dies before anything happens, the dickhead, the character who inexplicably has a dark past involving Jason despite having no other relation or connection, and the sex-crazed couple whose only personality trait is an active libido. I know that last one is common for any slasher flick, but Jesus, do they really hammer that one in. Not to mention the film’s cheap effects, even by franchise standard. The noticeable padding on the actor playing Jason, the thugs lifted straight from a bad music video, and the overall lack of creativity. Even without 3D effects, this is the plainest looking film of the series.
I could forgive the film for being lazy if it weren’t so dull, which is really the film’s biggest crime. The best thing this film has to contribute is the introduction of Jason’ iconic hockey mask… yay.

Did I mention this movies was in 3D!?

Did I mention this movies was in 3D!?

4. Friday the 13th: Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman are in this one! (1984)
No, seriously. Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman are in this one, look it up!
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter made a promise in its title that it obviously didn’t keep, but I give it credit for trying. In this one we have the obligatory group of teens coming out to the lake to stay the weekend (even though they get there on a Tuesday, seeing as this film takes place right after Part 3 which takes place right after Part 2, but whatever. Details aren’t important in this franchise) but we also have a family that lives next door, one of which is a fresh-faced Corey Feldman before he became this Corey Feldman:

I’m sorry you had to see that…
Anyway, this film, like that previous film, doesn’t do anything to advance the Jason mythology other than introduce Feldman as Tommy Jarvis who will be our lead character for the next two films as well. But it’s still a fun film with the distinction of having the most nudity of any of the Friday the 13th films, so imagine how happy the 12-year-old me was upon discovering this film.
I’ll also say that, before Kane Hodder showed up and completely owned Jason, this was the first film where I feel they really nailed the physicality of Jason. In Parts 2 & 3, he was just a big guy who killed people. But Ted White created a unique physicality that would carry over onto other films, making him more interesting than just a masked killer.
Speaking of physicality, I wasn’t lying. Crispin Glover is in this movie and it’s everything you ever dreamed it would be.

5. Friday the 13th: Ha- Just Kidding, There’s More (1985)
After I got home from Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, before I ever saw the first one, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was the first Friday the 13th movie I ever saw (and on HBO too, with all the violence and nudity intact, so that was cool). I was so ready to see Jason Voorhees kicking ass! And guess what? Jason isn’t even in this one… God damn it…
I love how they brought the franchise back, not after several years of failing to make a buck, but the very next year. It’s still one of the better films, though. It has high hopes of character development by showing Tommy years later joining a halfway house, still haunted by that night that happened an unspecified amount of time ago. He says no more than 30 words in the entire movie, instead relying on facial expressions and kicking the shit out of people with karate… seriously. Uncommonly for these films, I found myself kind of rooting for some of these characters which made the finale, dare I say, actually a little intense? Of course there’s a shitload of peripheral characters who exist solely to become butcher meat, which takes away from the film. When you introduce a character at a random point in the movie only to be immediately killed, it feels like a waste of time. The other films did this of course, but when you have characters with such potential that get less screen time because you have to introduce two hillbillies who are so cartoonish that they were almost two-dimensional (although to be fair, the hillbilly woman in question was f***ing hilarious) it becomes distracting. I just wish we had more time with these characters, especially when they’re characters who we have established have flaws or serious issues. More time with good characters would have made the film more forgivable when you find out that Jason this whole time was actually a paramedic who was the absentee father of one of the boys at the halfway house who was killed by another boy at the house for being way too Goddamn annoying (but also sort of endearing. RIP Joey). I still love it though for its generous amount of nudity, some more creative kills, and the coolest dance scene/ death scene you’ll see all day:

6. Sorry About That, We’ll Bring Back The Real Jason (1986)
The idea with the last one was that Jason was actually killed in Part IV and the next film would feature Tommy taking over as the killer due to childhood and current trauma. I’m glad they went back to form because Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI is, in my opinion, the best film in the series. And not just for bringing back Jason, it’s actually a good movie. Despite the initial silliness in the way Jason is brought back to life by being electrocuted by lightning after his corpse is impaled with a fence pole, the movie is actually pretty good. The lead characters are likable and well acted, the plot actually moves forward with little to no distractions, there are cool stunts (and even a car chase) and, most importantly, a kick-ass soundtrack. We find Tommy, no longer following the “Ryan Gosling School Of Acting With No Dialogue,” who is now a more energetic, proactive hero. He meets up with Megan, one of the counselors at the newly reopened camp, and who also happens to be the daughter of the sheriff of the town that has since changed its name from Crystal Lake to Forest Green. They manage to make the sheriff strict, but also understandable in his actions and later even likable. The chemistry between Tommy and Megan is remarkably strong for a film like this, and even the other counselors are more likable than most of the other franchise’s counselors. Plus, Jason is back! In the other films, you could still believe he was just a persistent mortal if you suspended disbelief. This time, he’s in full-on zombie mode and this would go on to create some of the cooler moments in the franchise. Of course the film still has the clichés of two characters having sex while the power goes out and then one of them is killed while the other listens to loud music, but this time it works because the scene ends with an RV flipping over a fallen tree followed by Jason punching the door off and walking out as it catches fire. F*** yeah!

"Mad it, ma! Top o' the world!"

“Mad it, ma! Top o’ the world!”

7. Friday the 13th: The One Where Jason Fights A Telekinetic. I’m Not Even Kidding (1988)
Oh, Jeez. Another example of the franchise trying something new and failing, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is one of the more tedious entries. This time, the lead character is a telekinetic who feels guilty over the death of her father which she was responsible for when she was a little girl. Now she’s all growed up and it’s time to go back to their house on (you guessed it) Crystal Lake with her doctor who thinks it’s a good idea to face the problem head on where it started. Of course we find out later the doctor is a selfish dick who only wanted to provoke and study her telekinetic abilities. But that’s not all, we have a group of friends getting together at the house next door for a surprise party only to all end up being murdered… surprise! All of these characters include the tropes I mentioned earlier. The nerdy guy who’s into film or costumes or something who likes a girl who’s only personality trait is sex who tries to get into the pants of the main guy who likes the main girl who turns out to be a telekinetic. You know, the usual stuff. Not to mention the other characters where they just double up on the tropes. We have about an hour of this bullshit before Jason finally faces off against our resident telekinetic, Tina. So it’s basically Jason vs. Carrie. Because that’s what we all wanted to see. There’s not much else positive to say except that some of Jason’s stunts at the end are impressive considering they were all done by Kane Hodder himself (the best Jason who makes his debut in this film) and at the end we’re treated to a sweet explosion following Jason’s unmasking which, by the way, is also sweet.

"You know, gingivitis is the number one cause of all tooth decay." -Ace Ventura

“You know, gingivitis is the number one cause of all tooth decay.”
-Ace Ventura

8. Jason Kills People On A Boat And Eventually Makes A Brief Stop In Manhattan (1989)
If the last movie’s reinvention of the series didn’t work, don’t worry, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan doesn’t work either. In an attempt to take Jason out of the rural setting and put him in an urban setting, they center the films around a graduating class who takes a cruise from Crystal Lake all the way to Vancouver doubling for Manhattan. Yeah, seriously, f*** Vancouver. You get the gist already, shy girl with past relating to Jason, nerdy guy, hot girl, girl with guitar, black guy, dick teacher, and a partridge in a pear tree. The draw of this film though was to see Jason in Manhattan, but when your film is an hour and a half long and Jason doesn’t even step foot on Manhattan until and hour and two minutes into the movie, you know something’s wrong. The glaring lack of NYC was due to budget constraints, but that’s not all that suffered due to low-budget. Jason’s makeup looked like a cheap rubber mask which is even more upsetting considering how awesome his face looked in the last movie. There’s the obligatory scene in Times Square to show that they actually filmed for a few hours in NYC, and that’s about as authentic as you get. As a resident of NYC, it was clear that the writer had never been to the city. The characters were cartoons, everyone they run into is either a rapist, a mugger, a junkie, or all three. Not to mention the whole finale revolving around toxic waste that floods the sewer at midnight (and turns old Jason into little boy Jason again. Um… OK…) despite the fact that it looked less like a sewer and more like the hallways under a dam or something, and that this doesn’t actually occur in the city. The whole movie was a cheap ploy to get people’s butts into seats after box office returns started taking a serious dive. Overall it’s a real waste of time, save for one moment involving Jason and a few thugs in Times Square.

Jason boombox kick

“F*** yo boombox!”

9. Jesus Christ, Another One? (1993)
The producers remembered how disappointed you were when you found out Jason wasn’t actually Jason in Part V, so in Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, the producers decided to makes sure Jason was in the whole thing,,, even if you never actually see him until the last five minutes. Son of a BIIIII-
Sorry about that, I blacked out. Where was I? Oh, yeah- this movie sucks. They thought it would be a good idea to randomly introduce Jason’s sister and concoct some poppycock about how only a Voorhees can kill a Voorhees. Sure. I’ll take the word of a shady motive-less bounty hunter who takes payment in the form of broken fingers. He also says only a Voorhees can save a Voorhees, so Jason is looking for one of the three remaining Voorhees to transfer his soul into. A soul int the form of a weird black worm gremlin that transfers from body to body throughout the film, causing the murders not to be done by Jason, but by random, out-of-shape supporting characters possessed by Jason. Super. Honestly the film might have worked as a standalone B-movie, but as a Jason movie with no Jason that waited 9 Goddamn movies to introduce this mystical mythology, it falls flat on its face. Even the stuff with Jason at the end isn’t that great because he’s constantly throwing the hero around instead of killing him because the director told him not to.
There’s a cool cameo from Freddy’s glove at the end but the movie isn’t worth it to get to that point and you can YouTube it anyway.

And that’s it. The final Friday, so to speak. Jason would never live to kill another day…

humor funny jason friday the 13th calendar friday jason voorhees 1920x1080 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_54

Just kidding! There’s still more money to be made!

10. Jasonnn Innn Spaaaaace! (2001)
Imagine you’re watching a bad episode of Babylon 5 and Jason Voorhees shows up. That’s Jason X.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Jason X is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it is the dumbest movie I’ve ever seen. This is the moment where the producers threw up their hands and said “f*** it, let’s remake Alien: Resurrection but with Jason Voorhees.” “Brilliant,” said another producer as they plummeted to their deaths because they were driving while stoned off their ass. Fortunately for us, we still got Jason In Space, and by God it’s miraculous. This movie knows what it is probably better that we do. In a move that screws up the entire timeline set by Jason Goes to Hell and Freddy vs. Jason, Jason is cryogenically frozen by the government after every attempt to kill him has failed. After a mishap at the lab, he is frozen along with Rowan, the impossibly hot, young scientist. When both of them are thawed out in the future, all hell breaks loose and it’s Goddamn glorious. There are fights with cyborgs, there’s naked holograms, there’s future technology that makes no sense, and that guy from 300 who is informed that this is, in fact, Sparta- right before being kicked into a giant hole. Not only is there all of that, but after a particularly nasty fight with a cyborg, Jason is brought back by future technology and turned into Uber Jason! That’s- that’s not even my name for him, that’s his actual designation. I don’t know if it’s on purpose or accidentally, but the film is also really funny, which unfortunately undermines any attempt at tension or horror… but who gives a shit? It’s Jason Voorhees iiiin spaaaaaccee!!!! Easily the best of the “horror icon in space” genre, this film is in no way great, but it’s still one hell of an entertaining film.
P.S. There’s a moment where a female cyborg’s nipples fall off. You can’t make this shit up.

Jasooon innn spaaaace!

Jasooon innn spaaaace!

11. Finally! Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
This movie may have come 15 years too late to an audience who no longer gave a two-shilling shit about Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, but it still delivers the goods… I think. I’m not actually sure if this movie is good or not. I still haven’t figured out if this movie follows the same tired formulas because it’s a poorly written piece of crap, or if it follows the same tired formulas in a satirical fashion. The film sort of reuses the setup of (the far superior) New Nightmare of Freddy losing his power because he’s been forgotten, only this time he releases Jason Voorhees from hell to start killing again so he can take the credit and people will remember him. And then they go their separate ways until the end. Huh… OK. Either way, it definitely still has its moments. Working as both a Nightmare On Elm Street ad Friday the 13th movie simultaneously, this movie gives us the stuff we’ve come to love (or rather tolerate) from both franchises until the final showdown between the two titans of horror. Was it a solid fight? Of course it was. Would it have been even cooler if it took place in Freddy’s dream world and we got to see both Freddy and Jason at their strongest as opposed to just Jason who is clearly bigger and stronger? Definitely. But it’s still a passable film that satisfied our thirst, even if it didn’t completely quench it.

The film we deserve, but not the one we need right now...

The film we deserve, but not the one we need right now…

12. “Is It A Remake Or A Reboot?” “Does It Matter?” (2009)
Michael Bay has made a habit of remaking horror movies that no one wants to see remade that end up actually being halfway decent. The Texas Chainsaw remake was actually not half bad, I actually prefer the Amityville Horror remake, and Jackie Earle Haley was well cast as Freddy Krueger. Unfortunately for Friday the 13th fans, this was not exactly what we were looking for. This remake was far too modern to speak to the sensibilities of the original franchise. The originals, while violent and full of nudity and flat characters, had a kitschy quality to them. Never to be taken too seriously and never unreasonably dark. This film took itself a little too seriously and I found myself having a hard time enjoying this film. I do however like the idea of the mash-up of the first four films. The first film is the flashback (where Pamela Voorhees is the killer and is beheaded), the second film is the prologue (where Jason starts killing wearing the burlap sack on his head), the third film is the main portions (where Jason has his signature hockey mask), and the small throwback to the fourth film with the male character looking for his missing (translation: dead) sister. Unfortunately, it’s hard to root for anyone in this movie. It’s one thing to not care if a character dies like in the originals, but when you’re hoping for the characters to die, that’s something altogether unforgivable. Plus it seems that every female character is topless at one point and they all end up dying, proving yet again that the Friday the 13th franchise is an allegory for abstinence. Bottom line: you have sex, you die. It’s like these movies were written by the gym teacher from Mean Girls.
Not to mention the dialogue- dear Lord Jesus, the dialogue. There’s a sex scene near the middle of the movie where the male character says, I shit you not, “Your tits are stupendous.” That’s an actual line from this movie. And he doesn’t stop, he continues to compliment every detail of her breasts. Now I did like Jared Padalecki’s and Danielle Panabaker’s characters simply because they’re talented, likable actors, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the characters.
I do however have one glowing praise for the film and that’s Jason. Derek Mears, who has made a career as a stuntman and physical actor, created a Jason unlike the previous Jasons but just as effective. He moved with more speed and agility than previous Jasons, creating a more threatening Jason than we had seen in most previous films.

Crouching Jason, Hidden Tiger

Crouching Jason, Hidden Dragon

The Friday the 13th franchise is a confusing mess of a series ranging from good, to bad, to silly, to “what in all f*** is going on?” and yet we still watch them year after year. Maybe it’s the gratuitous violence. Maybe it’s the copious amount of nudity. Maybe it’s because we like familiarity and every Goddamn movie is exactly the same. Or maybe it’s the most heartwarming mother-son relationship since Norman Bates and his mother. Who knows?

"Mama always said, life is like a box of murder..."

“Mama always said, life is like a box of murder…”

Until next time, lock your doors, don’t go camping, and see you next Friday the 13th.

Ki ki ki, ma ma ma…