This feature originally ran in May 2016. We’re reposting it today because … well, check your calendar.
Why do I love the Friday the 13th franchise so much? Most entries feature poor directing, acting, writing, editing, lighting — really every credit involved in making a movie. The best way to describe this series, and the slasher genre as a whole, is to look at it as a roller coaster.
If you look at a roller coaster as a sound, structural piece of transportation, it’s a disaster. The loops are dangerous. The corkscrews look nauseating. Those drops? Unnecessary. But we still ride them because we know we’re safe. We can scream and yell and twist and turn, but we’re strapped in. If we experienced something akin to a roller coaster on a highway heading from New York to Florida, we’d be horrified.
Like roller coasters, the Friday series is a temporary escape. We don’t root for killers in our everyday lives (at least I don’t). We don’t laugh when people get decapitated, impaled, or torn in two. These movies are fun rides for about 87 minutes a pop. You can even be afraid of heights and enjoy them for what they are.
However, if the sight of blood, fake or otherwise, gets to you, look away. I took a deep dive into Jason, his mother, the paramedic who kills all those kids in the fifth movie, and dissected each entry, ranked them, and then went ahead and ranked the kills in each movie. Yes, I even included the spinoff Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 remake. Please feel free to comment with your outrage below.
Happy Friday the 13th. I’ll let the narrator from The New Blood take it from here…
“There’s a legend round here. A killer buried, but not dead. A curse on Crystal Lake. A death curse. Jason Voorhees’ curse. They say he died as a boy, but he keeps coming back. Few have seen him and lived. Some have even tried to stop him. No one can. People forget he’s down there…waiting…
Senior Staff Writer
P.S. A special thanks to Friday the 13th The Franchise for help with the body count.
12. Friday the 13th (2009)
“Plot”: A group of teens stay at a lake house on Crystal Lake for the weekend while a young man searches for his missing sister. Jason’s back … for the first time.
Jason: Derek Mears, a proper actor, takes up the reigns in this franchise reboot. Because of the new circumstances, this Jason is an actual living, breathing psychopath for the first time since Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, unless you believe he died at the end of Part 3, unless you believe adult Jason was always dead — who cares. Mears is fine. His Jason actually tricks his victims by using others to lure them out (burning sleeping bag, dying post-ax attack, etc.).
Murder by Death — Ranking the Kills:
05. Officer Bracke
11. Trent DeMarco
12. Mrs. Voorhees
Final Girl: Credit goes to the filmmakers for pulling a last-minute switcheroo. There isn’t a moment that we don’t truly believe Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) will be the last one standing…until she isn’t. After helping Whitney (Amanda Righetti) escape, Jenna gets machete’d. I did not see that coming. This leaves the Miller siblings (Righetti and Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki) as the last survivors … until Jason emerges from the water. Roll credits.
Comedy Relief: A progressive movie. The geek this time … is played by an actor of Asian descent! Aaron Yoo plays Chewie, a science nerd with abilities to create fun ways to smoke weed. Aside from Jenna and Clay, everyone in this movie is a total jerk, including the aforementioned geek. This works heavily against the movie. Rooting for Jason is one thing, but actively rooting against the cast of hunks and hotties is another.
Town Crazy: There is an old woman who passes on some guarded information about Jason, but I think the real crazy comes in the character of Donnie (Kyle Davis). A local mechanic/pothead, Donnie has a mannequin in storage he’s been intimate with. I don’t mean to judge, but this guy sounds like a real nut. His habitat also provides housing for a hockey mask, which Jason picks up halfway through the movie.
Best Kill: In an homage to one of the most popular deaths in the franchise, Amanda is killed in her sleeping bag. However, this time the victim is zipped up in her sleeping bag and burned alive atop a campfire. Its little homages like this that make the movie something other than disposable (see also: a wheelchair in Jason’s lair).
Reboot? Sequel? Remake?: Filmmakers seemed confused about what to do with this movie. With a prologue that remakes the original’s ending, gives us a modern-day rag-faced Jason (Part 2), a brother searching for what happened to his sister (The Final Chapter), and Jason finding the hockey mask (Part 3), what is this supposed to be?
Summary: Just read the above. What works most against this remake is a sense of individuality. Even the worst entries have something about them that stands out, what with those trips to Manhattan, demon possession, and when the killer turns out to be someone other than Jason. This plays like the greatest hits re-recorded, and why do that when you can just check out the originals? More pointless than incompetent, but pointless nonetheless.
Halloweenies? Coming soon.
11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
“Plot”: The spirit demon of Jason finds new hosts to continue his reign of terror. That’s great and all, but where the hell is Jason?
Jason: Kane Hodder returns for the third time. This go-round finds Jason worse for the wear: His hockey mask sunken into his bloated, living corpse — good makeup. Too bad he’s in the movie for about 10 minutes. Hodder also appears as a security guard who gets offed by a possessee. If my calculations are correct, the guy who plays Jason plays a guy who gets killed by a guy playing Jason who isn’t Jason. Checks out.
Murder by Death – Ranking the Kills:
04. Joey B.
08. Officer Mark and Officer Brian
11. Coroner’s Assistant
12. Sheriff Landis
14. FBI Agent #1 (off-screen)
15. FBI Agent #2 (off-screen)
16. Luke (off-screen)
17. Officer Ryan
19. Diner Patron #1
20. Diner Patron #2
Final Girl: It’s a family affair. Steven (John D. LeMay) reunites with his ex-Jessica (Kari Keegan) and their daughter, literally walking off into the sunset together. Fans may recognize LeMay from his work on the Friday the 13th TV series, where he played Ryan for two years. The series was from the producers of the Friday franchise, but had nothing to do with Jason, his mother, or Camp Crystal Lake. The name sells, baby!
Comedy Relief: Not a lot of humor here. Diner owners Shelby and Joey B. are a couple of stereotypical rednecks with an equally goofy son in Ward. They meet predictably grisly ends, most notably an elbow to the face that caves in Joey’s jaw, or grill — because they work at a diner. The inclusion of The Evil Dead’s Necronomicon is a nice touch, as is the ending (more on that later).
Town Crazy: No town crazy this time, though everyone believes Steven is responsible for all the murders. What’s crazy is that there is no Jason in a movie with Jason. Sure, we get him in reflections of mirrors near crime scenes to remind us that this is supposed to be a Friday film, but is that enough? At least have the common courtesy to trick us into believing there’s a Jason when there really isn’t (ex. A New Beginning).
Best Kill: The best kill is actually in the “Director’s Cut”, which is the only version you should check out. It arrives mid-coitus when Jason (a.k.a. the coroner) shoves a post through a woman riding atop a young fella, tearing said post up and splitting the woman in half. The ultimate example of why you shouldn’t have sex in these movies.
Freddy v Jason: Dawn of Nightmare: The last shot of this movie is the best final shot of the entire franchise. Jason is dead (again). Some dust blows away from his resting place, and we get a glimpse of the hockey mask. Suddenly a familiar gloved hand shoots up from beneath the ground and takes the mask back to hell. It’s Freddy (hand provided by Hodder)! Yes, because New Line Cinema now had the rights to both the Friday and Nightmare franchises, it appeared as though a match-up was just right around the corner. Years of Development Hell meant we wouldn’t see said match-up for another decade.
Summary: JGTH is an utter mess. I didn’t even mention the plot regarding Jason’s family and how only they can destroy him once and for all. Why do these producers need to over-complicate matters? If “Keep It Simple Stupid” ever applied to anything, it’s to slasher movies. Jason doesn’t like people on his turf. The end. The fact that they don’t utilize the real Jason apart from the prologue and climax doesn’t help matters, either. The last Friday movie for eight years.