The Friday the 13th franchise with 10 films, one crossover, a reboot and countless pieces of merchandise is without a doubt one of the most popular franchises in the horror world. Each film is great in its own way and their rankings have been heavily disputed amongst fans for years. Here is how I rank the films (all 12 of them; yes, counting the reboot and FvJ).
12. 'Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday' (1993)
While I admire that they tried to make Jason Goes to Hell different from the other films, it is my least favorite of the series. The idea of a worm version of Jason just throws me off and breaks the franchise "rules." It reminded me of something you would see in A Nightmare on Elm Street not Friday the 13th. Even with Kane Hodder playing Jason (and a security guard) I still have to put Part 9 at the end of the list.
11. 'Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI' (1986)
Don't get me wrong, I love the character of Tommy Jarvis, but this time they went a little crazy. I liked young Tommy and crazy Tommy, but this version just wasn't for me. C.J. Graham was an amazing Jason, but the plotline killed this film for me. Of all the ways that Jason comes back throughout the series, this is my least favorite. Jason Lives does redeem itself with some of the kills like the hand through the chest, the arm rip and taking down a group of people with one swing of his trusty machete. Even with all of the great kills, the flaws overshadowed them and landed the film at number 11.
10. 'Jason X' (2001)
Jason X has been trash talked by fans since its 2001 debut. I don't hate the film, but I don't love it either. Todd Farmer is an incredible writer and Kane Hodder has always been my favorite Jason, but the idea of sending him to space, is not my favorite. While it was cool to see Jason away from Crystal Lake again, space probably wasn't the best choice.
9. 'Friday the 13th: A New Beginning' (1985)
The idea of two Jasons has potential, but the way that it was executed just doesn't work for me. I loved the continuation of Tommy Jarvis' story, but it would have been better (in my opinion) if this was the final showdown between Tommy and Jason instead of continuing it on to a third installment of the "rivalry." This is kind of like the Season of the Witch for the Friday the 13th franchise; while it is good, it catches a lot of flack for taking away from the formula of the rest of the series.
8. 'Freddy vs. Jason' (2003)
This film was difficult to rank. While it is awesome to see the crossover of the Friday and Nightmare worlds, there are some issues. The idea of a showdown between two of horror's biggest icons should have been more epic than it was. Freddy was of course phenomenal with the legendary Robert England behind the glove, but Ken Kirzinger's Jason was not the best. The way he played the role was a bit off for me; he made Jason out to be a coward and even though Freddy is an intelligent killer, Kirzinger played Jason as a lumbering oaf which kind of killed it for me.
7. 'Friday the 13th' (2009)
As far as reboots go, this is by far one of the best the genre has ever seen. Derek Mears is the best Jason since Kane Hodder (yes, I know there was only one between them), if Hodder won't come back for the role, I would love to see Mears carry the torch; his size and passion for the role put him high in the rankings of men who have worn the hockey mask. I was on the fence about it being called a reboot instead of just the continuation of the Jason saga since Pamela was not the killer. I liked the choice they made to have Jason connect with Whitney, it added to the depth of the story.
6. 'Friday the 13th Part 2' (1981)
Part 2 was the debut of Jason; the birth of one of horror's biggest icons. The "head sack" was by far creepier than the hockey mask. Amy Steel was phenomenal as Ginny; easily one of the best "final girls" of the franchise. It was also nice to see Adrienne King return as Alice for a brief cameo. Warrington Gillette set the bar high for the future of Jason Voorhees.
5. 'Friday the 13th Part III' (1982)
Friday the 13th Part III brought my second favorite Jason: the late Richard Brooker. This film also brought us another iconic moment for the franchise: the hockey mask. Some of my favorite kills come from this film: the harpoon gun through the eye, the girl in the barn skewered Cannibal Holocaust-style -- and who could forget, the bulging eye?
4. 'Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan' (1989)
Kane Hodder has always and will always be my favorite Jason; to me he personifies the role. It is simple for Jason to rack up the kill count in the middle of nowhere (especially when he knows the area better than anyone), but what happens when you take him out of his element and put him in a big city? The body count gets even bigger and he has to chase his victims even farther. I loved this entire film; I can't imagine anything worse than being trapped on a boat with Jason Voorhees.
3. 'Friday the 13th' (1980)
The very first Friday the 13th film was full of mystery and murder. Pamela Voorhees was (in my opinion) the first killer in a horror film that you actually feel kind of bad for. She believes her son is dead and in her grief puts the blame on the counselors and seeks her revenge. A mother commits the ultimate crime to avenge her son. What's not to love? This installment also has one of the best endings of the entire series.
2. 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter' (1984)
Final Chapter was full of awesome. I loved the cast of this film and the idea behind it. Tommy Jarvis and his family lived in a cabin across from the others and Jason had never bothered them before, but a group of teens move in across the way and the "slasher film rules" kick in. Who can forget Crispin Glover's dance sequence? The one thing that makes Final Chapter stick out the most has to be that we get to see the more human side of Jason Voorhees when a young Tommy Jarvis comes down the stairs looking like a young Jason.
1. 'Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood' (1988)
The New Blood is my favorite Friday the 13th film for several reasons, the first being that is was the debut of Kane Hodder as Jason. The character of Tina was a fantastic addition; she was finally an equal to Jason. It is the first time that we actually got to see him get smacked around by someone that may be stronger than he is. I also really liked the way that Jason was brought back this time; lightning has been done before in other films, but being brought back by psychic powers -- that's a new one. The New Blood had a very deep story (as did the first film and the Tommy Jarvis story lines). To finally see Jason meet his match and the film as a whole (the great kills, the unique resurrection and general content) is why this film is my favorite of the franchise.
This was a tough one because I love all of the films in the Friday the 13th franchise; each film is special in its own way. With at least one more sequel/reboot and another crossover (Freddy vs. Jason 2) on the way, this list may change, but for now, this is how I rank them.