Franchise Fun: A Week Of Fridays

Friday the 13th has always been my favorite horror franchise. I don’t try to make excuses for the movies. I know that most of them aren’t good and I know that the continuity doesn’t hold up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. I also know that there is not a collection of films that comes close to being half as much fun as the Friday films are and that’s all I want from these movies. I wanted to marathon through the entire franchise in one sitting but life is just too busy for that, so I have decided to spread them out over the course of a week (or less if I can do it faster).

NOTE: I’M NORMALLY CAREFUL WHEN IT COMES TO SPOILERS. I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone but I have decided not to hold back in the discussion of these movies. If you’re reading this site and you haven’t seen the Friday the 13th movies already, that’s on you, not me. The most recent one is ten years old at this point for God’s sake. And with that word of warning…

SUNDAY 6:34 PM

Friday The 13th (1980)
Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham
Written By: Victor Miller

This is a movie that I appreciate more every time I watch. When I was younger I didn’t really care for the original Friday. It seemed slow and boring, plus I already knew who the killer was so the whodunit was out the window. Watching it now, I see an extremely well made horror film. Seriously, this movie is a thousand times better than it has any right to be. The young cast is brilliant, everyone looks like they are having a good time and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that that’s because they were.

So many iconic things came out of this one little film that it’s impossible to list them all. We get the Kevin Bacon kill (still an amazing moment even though I have seen it just shy of a million times), we get Crazy Ralph (who doesn’t love that guy?), we get Jason Voorhees (who is almost an after thought in this film), by extension we get Ms. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer is the greatest) and we get the unforgettable score from Harry Manfredini (it sits alongside the all-time greats). There is no way I mentioned everything, that’s just off the top of my head.

Every slasher in the ’80’s wanted to be Friday the 13th. Some of them may have come close but none of them hit the mark. If you don’t think you like this movie, give it a re-watch. I promise it is better than you remember. Hell, if you do like this movie, give it a re-watch. I promise it is better than you remember.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday The 13th (1980)

SUNDAY 11:07 PM

Friday the 13th Part II (1981)
Directed By: Steve Miner
Written By: Ron Kurz

A lot of people insist that Part 2 is better than the original. I think that those people believe this because Part 2 has Jason as the actual killer and not just the killer’s backstory. The second film is good but it’s not in the same league as the original for a number of reasons.

There are also a lot of people who believe that Part 2 takes place the day after the first one. This has lead me to have to suffer through a lot of dumb Saturday the 14th jokes. It’s not clear exactly when it does take place but it is definitely not the next day. I always thought it was 5 years after the original. If we use June 13th 1980 (there is a title card that reads June 13th, Present Day or something to that effect near the beginning of the original) as the day of the first film, that would place this one at June 13th, 1985 (in the future because it came out in 1981). June 13th, 1985 was a Thursday. So this could be called Thursday the 13th or if you consider that the killings don’t really happen until the second night it could be called Friday the 14th, either way Saturday the 14th doesn’t work so stop it. Alternately, I have read that the part with Alice at the beginning takes place 2 months after the original film which would be August 13th, 1980 (a Wednesday) and if Part 2 is five years after those events that would be August 13th, 1985 (Tuesday). None of this matters anyway, Friday the 13th is just a cool ass title and I won’t do this for any of the other films, I promise.

The entire team was really put in a bad spot when they were trying to come up with a sequel to the first movie. It really doesn’t lend itself to a sequel at all. The idea to bring Jason back seems to make as much sense as anything else (and in hindsight, it was genius). There are some issues with the script though. For instance what’s with that scene of Scott shooting Terry in the ass with a slingshot and then giving her a creepy look? I guess he’s flirting? I don’t know. Clearly it exists just for the close up of her butt at the beginning but after seeing that scene, if I was a woman at the camp I would have been way more terrified of Scott than Jason.

The major issue that this film has though is that the ending doesn’t make sense. What is going on? Jenny survives, that seems clear but I have no clue what happened to Paul or Muffin, I’m not even sure what happened to Jason. People who claim to understand it have tried to explain it to me but you could go over it a thousand times I still won’t get it. This is a slasher movie, the ending shouldn’t be so damn confusing.

A few other things really quickly. No one ever seems to mention Ted when they talk about characters who survived a Friday film. We need to change this, not only does he survive but he does so simply by staying out to get drunk with the locals and not going back to camp. Ted is the true hero of this movie and possibly the franchise.

The iconic kill in this entry is probably Mark, who takes the machete to the head and then goes down the stairs backwards in his wheelchair. It’s unfortunate that that kill overshadows the death of Crazy Ralph though. Crazy Ralph, we hardly knew ye! He would have been a great fit for the next two films anyway.

This is way more than I thought I would write about this movie so let me wrap by saying that I like Baghead Jason but he doesn’t look like Jason to me. I’m always looking forward to the next movie when he gets that iconic hockey mask.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
2. Friday the 13th Part II

MONDAY 10:56 PM

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Directed By: Steve Miner
Written By: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson

Part 3 is a movie I have always liked despite it having many flaws. I watched it in 2D because the last time I tried watching the 3D version I made it about 20 minutes before getting a headache. I’ve heard mixed reaction to the 3D on the new blu-ray discs, I didn’t have a good experience with it but you might.

The biggest problem that I have with Part 3 is that, probably more than any other film in the franchise, these characters do not seem like they would be friends at all, let alone go on a weekend trip together. The personalities are too different. This isn’t help much by the mediocre to poor acting. This feels like the point that the characters became more caricature than anything else.

There are some great things about this one too. Shelly is as memorable as any of the teenagers Jason has killed, we finally get the hockey mask and I love Richard Brooker’s performance as Jason.

There are many other points to hit on in this one but I’ll save that for when I do a deeper dive on it sometime. Part 3 isn’t the best entry in the Friday franchise but it’s up the list. Here’s hoping they figure out a way to deliver me that 3D experience without the headache.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
2. Friday the 13th Part II
3. Friday the 13th Part III

TUESDAY 12:38 AM

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Directed By: Joseph Zito
Written By: Barney Cohen

There is a lot going on in The Final Chapter. You’ve got the Jarvis family, the group of kids who are partying next door to them (with their own stories), the guy who came to Crystal Lake because of his sister and, oh yeah, Jason Voorhees is running around killing everyone. This doesn’t even mention the adventures of Axel and Morgan at the morgue. With all of this going on this film could easily have become a confused mess. In fact, it’s almost a miracle that it doesn’t.

If Part 3 marked the first entry in the franchise marred by less than fleshed out characters and poor acting, The Final Chapter reverses course. The characters come through as real people and the acting is great across the board. Of course, Cripin Glover steals the show because he’s Cripin Glover but everyone is good in this one.

This isn’t the darkest Friday, nor is it the most fun but it may just be the best made movie in the franchise. It’s well directed, written and acted.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
2. Friday the 13th (1980)
3. Friday the 13th Part II
4. Friday the 13th Part III

WEDNESDAY 11:57 PM

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Directed By: Danny Steinmann
Written By: Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen, Danny Steinmann

I have always had a soft spot for this movie because it was the first Friday film that I saw, however I must admit that this is without a doubt the worst film in the series so far. The whole thing is full of pessimism. There is no fun to found in this installment.

A lot of what is happening doesn’t make sense. From big things like, why does Roy kill all of those people that had nothing to do with his son’s death? To little things like, why is Vic chopping wood in a way that no human has ever chopped wood before? Or why are there two 50’s greasers in this movie?

Despite story and script problems (three people worked on it and this is the best they could do?), there are a few positives. The cast is pretty good. The characters are terrible, Ethel and Junior maybe the worst characters in the franchise, but the actors do a decent job. This includes Tom Morga as Jason. I know everyone hates on Fake Jason, that actually doesn’t bother me too much, but Morga does a solid job of playing the character in this movie.

This is sort of like this franchises Season of the Witch. A film that tried to take things in a whole new direction. I do wonder what would have happened had they continued down the path that they laid out at the end of A New Beginning. I know, without a doubt, that this will never come to be seen as a great movie in the same way Halloween III is now.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
2. Friday the 13th (1980)
3. Friday the 13th Part II
4. Friday the 13th Part III
5. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

WEDNESDAY 8:57 PM

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Directed By: Tom McLoughlin
Written By: Tom McLoughlin

Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise because it’s the most fun. Jason Lives is by far the film that is the most fun. Tom McLoughlin did a complete 180 degree turn from Part 5 and made a fun monster movie that is full of tributes to the horror directors that came before him.

There are a lot of things that people hate about Part 6. The James Bond opening, the utility belt that Jason wears, the numerous jokes and some people even hate the fact that Jason doesn’t attempt to kill the children, even though he clearly wanted to kill Tommy Jarvis in Part 4 and Reggie in Part 5. I love all of these things about Jason Lives. This movie has a much lighter tone than Parts 4 & 5, of course he doesn’t try to kill the kids. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an effective horror film. It is full of great kills and iconic moments (Who could forget Jason standing on top of the burning RV?).

This movie is entertaining from beginning to end. It’s well shot and well acted. Tom McLoughlin knew exactly what kind of film he wanted to make and it doesn’t make any apologize for it. Aside from Jason Goes To Hell, this is the biggest departure from the Friday formula and it 100 percent works.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

WEDNESDAY 10:44 PM

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Directed By: John Carl Buechler
Written By: Manuel Fidello, Daryl Haney

Carrie vs. Jason. The idea sounds good in principle but it doesn’t really work for me in this film. After the fun of Part 6, The New Blood feels too cynical. It suffers from a problem that a lot of slasher films suffer from, none of the characters are likable. This is a collection of people who are largely terrible to each other and you can’t help but be glad when Jason dispatches them, especially that doctor.

There are a couple of positives. We get Kane Hodder donning the mask for the first time. As always, his performance as Jason is stellar. And, three words: Sleeping. Bag. Kill. Such an iconic kill in a franchise full of them. That scene does put a smile on my face every time.

Overall, The New Blood is just okay. The acting is hit or miss, the direction is fine but unremarkable and the story swings for the fences but fouls the ball off at best.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Friday the 13th: The New Blood
7. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

THURSDAY 12:31 AM

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Directed By: Rob Hedden
Written By: Rob Hedden

I believe that I called Part 5 a terrible movie. At the time I meant it. Now, it seems like a masterpiece. This movie has an hour 40 runtime that manages to feel like 5 hours. It’s a true test of endurance to get through.

The concept is intriguing (I’m not sure it’s good), the execution is a disaster all the way around. The complaints are well known. We spend the majority of the movie on the boat, Jason starts teleporting, there are a million and a half things that don’t make sense and the ending is stupid. Basically, no one likes this movie.

Normally I would take on the challenge and try to defend a film this roundly hated but I don’t have the energy left after sitting through the damn thing. I will highlight some positives. Kane Hodder is back as Jason, there are a couple of great kills, the acting isn’t awful and…nope, that’s all I can do.

I’m not sure taking Jason away from Crystal Lake was a good idea to start with, taking him to New York was probably the worst place you could have chosen. Doing it the way they did it was an embarrassment. It’s not hard to see why Paramount didn’t want to make any more Friday movies after this one.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
7. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
8. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

FRIDAY 10:25 PM

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Directed By: Adam Marcus
Written By: Jay Huguely, Dean Lorey

Well, I jumped the gun when I called Part 5 the Season of the Witch of the Friday the 13th franchise. They tried to do something slightly different with that movie and it backfired on them. Jason Goes To Hell is completely different than anything else in the franchise. Outside of the first 10 minutes and the final 10 minutes, it doesn’t look anything like a Friday film. It’s also starting to pick up a cult following years after it’s release. I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid on this one though.

Jason Goes To Hell does not fit into the franchise at all. It attempts to introduce a new set of rules that make no sense. I’m not even sure this would be a good movie outside the context of this franchise, I just think it’s a miss on every level. Suddenly Jason Voorhees is a body switching spirit who can only be killed by a magic dagger wielded by a member of his family. None of this has ever even been hinted at in any previous entry. No family has ever been mentioned outside of his mother, now suddenly there are three Voorhees women just hanging around Crystal Lake? Also, why is the old Voorhees house so nice. Sure, it’s rundown in the film but that’s because it’s been left to rot. In it’s day that place would have been a mansion. The family has the money for that beautiful house on the lake but Pamela still has to work as a cook at the local summer camp? Again it doesn’t add up.

Fans of the film like to praise Creighton Duke as an interesting character. I find him off putting at best and creepy at worst. The whole little girl in a pink dress comment, it’s just weird. I don’t want to spend more time with this character. I don’t want to spend more time with any of these characters. The quicker this movie is over, the better.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
7. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
8. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
9. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

SATURDAY 12:01 AM


Jason X (2002)
Directed By: James Isaac
Written By: Todd Farmer

Jason X, or Jason In Space as some call it, is a movie that has really grown on me. When I first saw it I thought it was completely stupid and a sign that this franchise was ready to be put to bed. Watching it again, I realize that it is completely stupid but in the best way possible and a sign that this franchise might just be coming back to life.

After the horrendous boat ride to Manhattan and the nonsensical diversion of going to Hell, we finally get a film that understands what the audience wants from a Friday the 13th movie. Sure it’s in space, in the future but it’s still a ton of fun and the kills are spectacular.

I’m not crazy about the look of Uber Jason but that’s my only real complaint about this installment. The cast is good, the film moves at a great pace and it’s fun from beginning to end. It’s absurd but it’s Friday the 13th, it’s supposed to be absurd. Shut your brain off, sit back, relax and enjoy this franchise’s return to form. Even if it is in space…in the future.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Jason X
7. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
8. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
9. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
10. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

SATURDAY 2:02 AM

Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Directed By: Ronny Yu
Written By: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

I recently read the book Slash of the Titans which traces the long and troubled road that lead to Freddy vs. Jason. It was a long and winding road that saw a ton of drafts and concepts, some good and some bad. Ultimately, they went with this idea, which is pretty simple compared to the others. It was the correct choice.

Freddy vs. Jason feels more like a Friday the 13th film than it does an entry in the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. Not in the least because Freddy only gets credit for one kill in the film, everyone else falls by Jason’s hand. The kills are creative and fun. In fact, the entire movie is about fun. Don’t get caught overthinking this one.

The cast is good, the idea is solid and the kills are fun. This film isn’t without it’s problems though. The characters are poorly written (one guy is a thinly veiled Jason Mewes rip-off), Freddy’s make-up doesn’t look right to me and Kane Hodder is nowhere to be found. Ken Kirzinger is good as Jason but, much like Freddy’s make-up, he just doesn’t look quite right.

This is a fun slasher movie that no doubt falls apart under close scrutiny. The trick is to not question too much and just go along for the ride.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Freddy vs. Jason
7. Jason X
8. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
9. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
10. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
11. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

SATURDAY 9:36 PM

Friday the 13th (2009)
Directed By: Marcus Nispel
Written By: Mark Swift, Damian Shannon

An extremely divisive entry into the franchise, the 2009 reboot. When this came out I was expecting it to launch a slew of sequels and bring Jason Voorhees back to prominence. Here we are a decade later and we haven’t gotten a single sequel and with the ongoing legal battle, it doesn’t seem like we will get anything soon.

This is one of the better remakes/reboots/reimaginings (whatever they are supposed to be called) but that doesn’t say a whole lot. I don’t dislike this one, I just have trouble reconciling it with the rest of the franchise. Given that it was supposed to be a remake, I guess that makes sense.

The idea of Jason as a pot farmer has never really sat well with me but I can shrug that off. The tunnels and trap doors and bells all around Camp Crystal Lake really bother me more. It feels like they got too hung up in explaining how Jason gets away with everything. I never even really thought about it until they brought it up in this movie. It’s answering questions I never thought to ask.

The cast is good, even if most of the characters are not. We get all of the stereotypical characters comprising the stereotypical slasher movie group of friends. This is the worst group of friends since Part 3, by the way. There is no way any of these people would hangout together outside of a horror movie.

Jason is smarter and more brutal in this film, which I kind of like. Derek Mears plays the part well. It’s still weird to see someone who is not Kane Hodder wearing that hockey mask but whatever, that ship has sailed (Oh God, Part 8 flashback).

The 2009 film is close enough to the others in the series with enough new ideas of its own to be interesting. It’s not the best of the Friday movies but it is far from the worst.

FRANCHISE RANKING:
1. Friday the 13th: Jason Lives
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
4. Friday the 13th Part II
5. Friday the 13th Part III
6. Freddy vs. Jason
7. Friday the 13th (2009)
8. Jason X
9. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
10. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
11. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
12. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

That’s it, a week of Fridays. I always enjoy going through these movies. I’m sure that the feedback on my rankings will be plentiful, please don’t call me any super mean names, everyone has their own opinion on how these movies stack up to one another. I’ve seen people say that Jason Goes To Hell is their favorite. I can’t be friends with these people but I can accept that they enjoy the outside the box thinking that went into that movie. Whatever you make of my thoughts, I encourage you to watch through the franchise on your own and draw your own conclusions. They aren’t great movies but they are great fun and that’s what makes Friday the 13th the best horror franchise in my book.


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