You’ve therefore got a difficult decision on your hands. If you’ve never seen a Friday the 13th film my recommendation would of course be the first one so that you can find out where it all began but if you’re already a Friday the 13th fan, which is your favourite?
To be honest, despite the canonical importance of the first one though, my favourite is Part VI: Jason Lives. I was recently chatting about this subject to Chris Alexander, the editor of Fangoria, after he professed a love of Part III, and he pointed out that your favourite probably has a lot to do with when you saw it. My first experience of Part VI was as the sixth film into a marathon of all the films and this fun Friday the 13th was exactly what I needed.
I’m sure you all have different experiences though and a different favourite so let us know. Leave your favourite and first experience in the commments, on Twitter, on Facebook or in our Forum.
In case you need a reminder you can check out Gary’s post from Halloween last year where he reviewed all the Friday the 13th films or check out the brief run down of your options below (with editorializing from me):
Friday the 13th (1980)
The first and some would argue the best. The first Friday the 13th sees Mrs Vorhees kill a group of teenagers at the now (in)famous Camp Crystal Lake. With some iconic and gory deaths (thanks to special effects master Tom, Savini) and a wonderful jump scare ending the first Friday the 13th helped define the direction of the franchise and in many ways slasher films that followed. This entry also gets bonus points for introducing ‘strip monopoly’ to the world.
Friday the 13th Part 2
Released just one year later Friday the 13th Part 2 features a bunch of kids arriving at the camp for a counselling training course but Jason interrupts this with violent slaughter. Part 2 tries hard to recapture a lot of what made the first film great but is a little disapointing by comparison. The worst part about this instalment though is that it features the death of my second (Jason’s first obviously) favourite character in the Friday the 13th franchise, Crazy Ralph.
Friday the 13th Part III
Friday the 13th… In 3D!! I have watched Friday the 13th in 3D (the red blue anaglyph version) and despite a couple of amusing moments, the eyeball scene is great, the 3D was a pretty daft gimmick and seriously headache inducing. I’ve been reliably informed though that there is a version that uses the polarised 3D technique and is much better. Part III begins the day after Part 2 (that’s Saturday, right?) and sees a whole bunch of new kids killed by Jason. Part III does have some pretty solid death scenes, most gratifying is the despatching of the franchise’s most annoying character, Shelly, and it’s also significant as Part III introduces the iconic hockey mask.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Set the day after Part III (Sunday?!) this is obviously not the final chapter but does feature the ‘death’ of Jason at the hands of Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). I’m not a fan of The Final Chapter although it is well liked by a lot of fans. The Final Chapter does feature one of the best window smashing scenes though (a strange recurring theme in Friday the 13th) thanks to Tommy’s dog.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
This is my least favourite Friday the 13th film, mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t feel like a Friday the 13th film and although this could have been a wise and exciting attempt to revive the franchise the film is pretty dull. The now teenage Tommy (from The Final Chapter) is living in a mental institution and as deaths start to mount up he begins to wonder if maybe Jason has come back…
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
My favourite Friday the 13th film and one that also represents the total abandonment of any sense of continuity in the series. Completely ignoring the fifth film Tommy is again the central character but this time he is a dumb teenager who accidentally revives Jason. Jason Lives is perhaps the most fun Friday the 13th film and despite being light on scares or horror the fast pace and enjoyable sequences make it very entertaining.
Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood
The first Friday the 13th film to feature the mighty Kane Hodder as Jason. Unfortunately the film also features Tina the telekinetic. In this instalment the franchise takes a supernatural diversion as Jason is pitted against Tina and her strange powers. The pacing in New Blood feels a bit leaden but it is still a pretty solid entry and Hodder is fantastic, especially in the iconic sleeping bag scene.
Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Jason takes a cruise ship not Manhattan. In a pretty fantastic piece of exploitation advertising Jason Takes Manhattan actually features very few scenes in Manhattan but it did help make for a great poster and trailer. The film is a little uneven but there are some great moments, namely the scene in which teenage promiscuity literally brings Jason back and a decapitation scene that is a work of glorious deadpan humour.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
Yet again the franchise attempts to end with The Final Friday but with a final shot that teases a Freddy/Jason showdown, this obviously isn’t the end of Friday the 13th. One of the worst of the Friday the 13th films, The Final Friday doesn’t have a lot going for it apart from a bafflingly fantastic scene with a coroner and Hodder’s performance as Jason. Trivia fans may also like to know that in the final shot with Freddy grabbing the hockey mask Freddy’s arm was actually Kane Hodder’s.
Jason in space. Three words that probably tell you everything you need to know about the tenth chapter. Friday the 13th took a little longer to get into space than other franchises (Hellraiser and Leprachaun being good examples) but there’s a lot of fun to be had when it gets there. Featuring the tagline “Evil Gets an Upgrade”, Jason X’s main pull is probably Uber-Jason, a version of Jason brought back through nano-technology. Jason X is pretty silly but it is a lot of fun and also has a cameo from David Cronenberg.
Freddy vs. Jason
Rumours about a possible Freddy vs. Jason film began following the final shot of Jason Goes to Hell and fans became increasingly fed up as ten years rolled by without the promised showdown. Then in 2003 Freddy vs Jason was released. In an effort to raise his profile and return from hell Freddy uses Jason to scare the children of Springwood but Jason goes a bit beyond his remit and the two face off. The weight of expectation for Freddy vs. Jason was probably too great for it to ever live up to but the film is nonetheless a pretty weak entry in both franchises and despite a few directorial flourishes from Ronny Yu Freddy vs. Jason was a let-down.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Probably best described as a reboot this Friday the 13th essentially redoes the second and third films and adds a few extra elements. The other elements were pretty unwelcome though for most fans, including a kidnapping, an underground lair and a crossbow. A friend of mine (another Chris, this time with the surname Pugh) put it very succinctly, “Jason’s not a survivalist”.
As I said above, let us know your thoughts…
If you live in the UK and have a Sky Movies package you can watch a host of Friday the 13th films tonight, listings below.
9pm Friday The 13th (1980)
10.40pm Friday The 13th (2009)
12.30am Friday The 13th Part II
2.05am Friday The 13th Part III
3.50am Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
Also, if you live in London you have the opportunity to see the first film on the big screen at the magnificent Prince Charles Cinema. Head over here for tickets.
For a further reminder of some of the best bits of the Friday the 13th franchise check out IGN’s The Wrestler/Friday the 13th mash-up for an amusing look back at the franchise.