I recently embarked on a journey to watch all Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween movies. I have seen many of them before but, honestly, I can't remember which ones I have seen and which I have not. So, I decided to re-watch all of them together in one marathon.
I just finished phase 1 of this journey in that I watched all 11 stand-alone Friday the 13th films. While most of them are pretty bad, there are some good ones in the lot and even the really bad ones have some saving grace moments. My brief thoughts on each film are below. At the end of this post, I rank all 11 films from best to worst.
Some of these reviews do contain SPOILERS. You have been warned!
The original Friday the 13th is famous for it's big reveal of who the killer is. While I enjoy this classic film, I will say that it doesn't hold up very well to modern day. The kills are solid considering the year it was made and it has a couple of decent performances, but I just don't find it even remotely scary. I give Friday the 13th (1980) a 6 out of 10.
The second installment in this series is terrible! It comes across as a rushed rehash of the original. I was never really a fan of bag head Jason either. The acting, with the exception of a few, is laughably horrible but at the same time, the characters were written to be so stupid that the actors didn't have much to work with. I give Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) a 4 out of 10.
The third installment in the Friday the 13th franchise is my personal favorite of all of the films. While the acting is less than stellar, I do enjoy the characters in this film. Some of the characters, like the 3 punk characters, are over the top, but I still felt like they fit in with the 1980's setting and the overall tone of the film. Part III is also the first time we see Jason in his infamous hockey mask! The addition of the hockey mask was a smart move by the filmmakers as it now provides a character image that helps connect the films together. This film was also famous for being released in 3D. While I did not watch the 3D version of the film, I did find that the addition of the 3D helped to improve the quality of the film. The filmmakers were forced to get creative with the camera angles to provide for the 3D effect and this resulted in some pretty awesome looking kills (particularly the harpoon gun kill). I give Friday the 13th Part III (1982) a 7 out of 10.
The forth installment in this franchise is a fan favorite for many. With the additions of Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, this film screams 80's nostalgia. This film also took a turn into extreme blood and gore. In previous movies, Jason kills to kill, but in this one, he kills and then stages some of the bodies to scare those who are still living. The way this film takes a small hiatus from the woods in the begining helps to give this a fresh tone. I give Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) a 5 out of 10.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is very much a filler film and I personally do not think it should have been made. Part 4 ended beautifully with a great setup to Part 5, but this film completely ignored the setup and went in a completely unnecessary and laughable direction. The film tries to throw back to the original with a big reveal at the end, but honestly, I saw it coming from miles away. The kills are nothing original and the fake death of Jason (by tractor) was laugh out loud ridiculous. I give Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) a 4 out of 10.
Part 6 is where the series realizes how ridiculous it is and starts to have some fun with itself. The James Bond-like opening title and the reaction of Jason when he picks up a machete with the arm still attached are fun moments that help set the tone for a fun horror ride. Much like Part 3, the some of the characters are over the top but they help to maintain that fun horror tone. The addition of kids to the camp add a new level of complexity to the film and helps to build upon Jason's character. I give Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) a 6 out of 10.
I have one huge problem with this installment to the franchise and I can sum it up with one word, telekinesis. Yes, not only has Jason become supernatural, but now there is a teenager that can fight back with telekinetic powers. This is a well made film, it is not good. The story is ridiculous and the use of telekinesis to fight back makes it feel like something besides a Friday the 13th movie. Like Part 6 does, this film features some pretty fun and laughable moments like the kill with the girl in her sleeping back or when Jason discovers power tools. I give Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) a 4 out of 10.
In Part 8 of the Friday the 13th franchise, Jason leaves Camp Crystal Lake behind and hitches a ride on a ship with a group of high school graduates traveling to New York City. I was looking forward to the combination of Jason and an early 90's rough New York City, but I was let down a bit as much of this movie takes place on the ship before it reaches Manhattan. While the cruise ship environment did result in some gnarly kills (the sauna kill), I would have liked to have seen more of Jason in New York City. With the exception of Rennie, most of the characters are over-acted and forgettable. The biggest issues I had with this film were with Jason himself. The face makeup behind the mask is laughable and why is he always wet and slimy? I give Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) 4 out of 10.
Part 9 of the Friday the 13th franchise is when things really fall apart: One of the biggest issues I have with this film is that Jason has lost all human traits and is now completely a supernatural creature. Not only can he transfer his soul to others through a snake-like creature that comes out of his mouth, but he also has a mask that has magically fused to his face which makes him almost unrecognizable. Another big issue I have with this film is the terrible story. The story lacks an incredible amount of explanation and detail that makes it almost impossible to follow. For instance, who is the bounty hunter that magically knows how to kill Jason? Also, what is with the random magical knife? I give Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) a 2 out of 10.
Oh man, here we go. It is Jason in space! Yes, the year is 2455 and Jason has been awaken on a spaceship. This film is as bad as it sounds. The biggest issue I have with this film is that it has Jason in it. Why is it a Friday the 13th film? It almost feels like it was written without Jason, then someone said let's make the bad guy Jason from the Friday the 13th movies! The acting in this film is laughable and consists of an extremely high amount of screen-time dedicated to characters falling down with spaceship shaking. With the exception of the frozen face kill, which was pretty awesome, the kills are cheesy and over the top. I give Jason X (2001) a 2 out of 10.
The eleventh installment in the Friday the 13th is a reboot that is loosely based on the original 1980 film. To 2000's standards this film isn't great, but when you compare it to the original Friday the 13th films, it is a decent addition to the series. I really like how they quickly rushed through the concepts of the first film prior to the credits. This allowed the writters to create their own story while keeping true to the original film. The characters in this film are decent but not stellar. Some of the characters make some pretty stupid decisions but this is expected with a Friday the 13th film. This is the first time Jason has taken a prisoner and honestly it felt out of place for the Jason character. One aspect of the film I did enjoy was the underground layer where Jason kept his hostage. The addition of the confined space added a new layer of suspense to the film. By far the most awesome moment in this film is the scene just prior to the opening credits when Jason runs and charges his victim with a machete. While this doesn't sound all that awesome, the way the shot is framed and the way Derek Mears, who plays Jason, charges the victim makes for an original and badass moment for Jason Vorhees. I give Friday the 13th (2009) a 6 out of 10.