ByScott Gibbs, writer at
Part-time writer, full-time horror fan
Scott Gibbs

12. Freddy vs. Jason

Useless. Laughable. The epitome of the phrase, “Careful what you wish for.” Hindsight lets us ask the question, why on earth did we think two iconic horror killers (one a wise-cracking smartass, the other a mute) would be anything but hilariously bad? Not scary, and not intentionally funny, Freddy vs. Jason was just a bad idea.

11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

By Part 8 the franchise had clearly run out of steam. Uninspired and generic in every way, the only saving grace that kept this turd from being completely unwatchable was the hammy performance of Peter Mark Richman as the “evil” teacher/chaperone, Charles. By this point the franchise had devolved into self-parody territory, but apparently no one had clued the filmmakers of this turkey to that fact.

10. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Bland characters, boring kills, The New Blood started with a mildly interesting premise: give the girl/survivor a formidable skill that could actually allow her to stand toe to toe with the unstoppable killing machine. But, apparently, they thought that was more than enough to fill theater seats so the rest of the movie was by-the-numbers tedium. Not to mention the ending was beyond terrible.

9. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

How do you revive a franchise that supposedly ended with a “Final Chapter?” Why, cheat, of course! The “twist” of A New Beginning rightfully pissed off a lot of fans, but that wasn’t its only problem. The kills were roundly boring (except for Junior on his motorcycle literally losing his head), and the characters were predictably bland. Ultimately a huge letdown, and not worthy of continuing a series that was supposed to be over.

8. Friday the 13th Part III

This one hinged on a lame gimmick (that machete is coming right at you!), Part III was the first in the series to feel like a total cash grab. After the fairly decent acting of the first two movies, the stock, blueprint characters of the third was glaringly bad. The nicest thing I’ll say about Part III is it first introduced the world to the now iconic hockey mask. Besides that, though, the 3D schlock of this sequel was utterly forgettable.

7. Friday the 13th (2009)

The idea of a complete “reboot” of the Friday the 13th franchise was exciting at the time. But the execution turned out to be, well, “meh.” Not terrible, but not good enough to revitalize the series in any meaningful way, 2009’s Friday the 13th just sort of sat there. The extended before-the-credits opening sequence was very cool, and had a lot of promise, but everything after that just didn’t live up to the hype. Mildly entertaining, but just not good enough.

6. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

Jason Goes to Hell gets major points for simply trying something completely new. It rubbed many fans the wrong way for maybe being a little TOO different (and not having nearly enough physical Jason), but I applaud the attempt. In my opinion you can’t really say the body-jumping concept was ridiculous in a franchise that featured a drowned kid who somehow “grew up” to be an unkillable monster. Jason Goes to Hell achieves middle of the pack status because it wasn’t perfect, but it had some major balls.

5. Friday the 13th Part II

At the end of the day Part II was a pretty good first sequel. It tried to capture the creepy feel of the original and mostly succeeds. A worthy continuation, if a little derivative of Part I. Not terribly original in terms of execution, but it does trade a middle-aged mother for an unstoppable maniac as its killer. That's an improvement right there! Mostly manages to recreate the feel of the one that started it all.

4. Jason X

Solidly a “love it or hate it” kind of movie. And what can I say, I loved it. Let’s face it, if the Friday the 13th franchise was going to go on and on and on we NEEDED Jason X. Totally crazy and totally fun, Jason X was the first in the series to decide it couldn’t keep taking itself so damn seriously. Some truly funny moments and some excellent kills (a frozen head shattered on a table, anyone?), Jason X showed the inventiveness and out-of-the-box thinking that Jason Goes to Hell hinted at a few years earlier.

3. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

The second best of what I’ll call the “traditional” sequels: teenagers at a summer camp. Jason Lives was technically a major step-up in terms of filmmaking, acting, and script. And it had a totally self-aware sense of humor that, to this point in the series, had been sorely missing from its dark, ultra-serious predecessors. Part VI was the first sequel in a long time that felt like they were actually trying. Unfortunately by Part VII they’d gone straight back to the bland phoning it in, but Jason Lives remains a true diamond in the rough.

2. Friday the 13th

Even if the creators of the franchise admit that their “vision” was really just an attempt to cash in on the runaway success of Halloween, they unwittingly created arguably the greatest mythology in the history of horror. Maybe not a technical achievement on the level of Avatar, but the original still has a creepy charm, and can still produce genuine chills. Plus, Kevin Bacon getting an arrow shoved through his neck. It’s got it all!

1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

If the series had actually ended after “The Final Chapter” it would have finished on a high note, and we would’ve walked out of the theater with a sweet, satisfied taste of horror in our mouths. The acting was above average (Crispin Glover!), the kills were cool (a spear to the groin! Yikes!), and the sexiness was definitely not a “dead fuck” (thank you, Judie Aronson). Part 4 had everything we’d come to expect from a Friday the 13th movie and stands as the closest we have to the “perfect” sequel. Still my favorite. Crispin Glover!

I’m sure this list will ruffle some feathers, so let me know your favorites. But, just to warn you, I WILL defend this ranking to the death.


Should the Friday the 13th franchise continue?


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