Friday the 13th is such an elusive series for me. When I watched all of them in 2020, during my doomer days of removing myself from the current state of the world, I honestly didn’t care for these movies. But now, a year and a half since I had seen all of them, I’ve grown to actually… like these movies? Look, I’m gonna make this ranking here. You’re gonna read it, think “this guy is a real jackass for saying [insert your favorite Friday the 13th movie] is worse than [whatever slosh I said]”. To that I say “boo hoo”, here are MY favorite Friday the 13th movies.
In dead last (and for good reason): Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
This movie is just a slog of a watch. There are some admirable qualities to 90s-era slashers – and I have a few favorites from that time. But, I couldn’t care less for this movie. Jason Goes to Hell is the embodiment of what I would eventually hate about capitalized slashers. Studio compressed, “saved by the title”, bland affair. If it weren’t for the Friday the 13th name slapped onto it there was no way this would be admired today. You could get excited for the fact it teases the eventual collaboration with everyone’s favorite murdering dream lurker (which we’ll discuss later).
Number 11: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
My disdain for this is nowhere near as strong as the previous entry. The New Blood is fine – it does ride the Friday the 13th name pretty hard. However, it really tried to swing for the rafters and this was just a foul ball. An admirable effort, even though I don’t really love this movie.
Number 10: Friday the 13th (2009)
Out of the slasher remakes we saw during its renaissance in the 2000s, I would say the Friday the 13th remake was miles away the best one of the bunch. A solid cast, some decent kills throughout, and a pretty deliciously frightening Jason made this a great time at the theaters. Never taking itself too seriously, even kicking the movie off with arguably the funniest fart joke in all of horror. If we had gotten more of this I think a resurgence in the brand would’ve definitely occurred. Sadly, due to the legal coffin the series is resting in, we won’t get to see more of THIS Friday the 13th in this day and age.
Number 9: Friday the 13th (1980)
The One that kicked it all off. Although this is ranked pretty low on the list, I can’t deny how iconic it is. That ENDING – legendary. But to be completely honest, I respect it more than I enjoy it. At 95 minutes it somehow manages to feel like a 2+ hour affair. Without a doubt an important movie, just not my favorite of the bunch.
Number 8: Jason X
When I first watched Jason X I appreciated it nowhere near as much as I do now. I found it to be kind of boring and just overall an experience I could care less for. With time though, I have a newfound appreciation for this movie. Like the “mom I just puked”-looking Jason, and the jump-scare level cameo of David Cronenberg makes the ultimate camp slasher. Plus it’s silly and unhinged, the making of a great horror watch with all of your friends!
Number 7: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
This entry in the series is definitely the most bizarre. Following up on what is considered the most praised and beloved entry – The Final Chapter – is a tough act to follow. Yet, it just goes all over the place. And…it works somehow? At this point, the series just goes off the rails and says “who cares about longevity, let’s just make crazy slashers”.
Number 6:….ok, look – hold your boos and your “this guy freakin’ sucks” but Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
This IS a good movie and a good slasher. Probably one of the most foundational slashers of its era. But, I just prefer the other 5 movies. Jason is full throttle in this one, and definitely a force to be reckoned with. The Final Chapter has probably the best ending of all of the Friday the 13th movies. A guy like me though? Give me these OTHER 5.
Number 5: Friday the 13th Part 2
THIS movie is the Friday the 13th movie that gets under my skin the most. Friday the 13th Part 2 had some of the best imagery-driven horror since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. We got a tease at the end of the first movie that Jason has become an other-worldly being. But the way he was shown in this movie established him as an icon of horror. Seeing him rip through the campers of Crystal Lake was especially tense in this entry. Although this series is known for how gratuitous it can be, this movie really took its time to meditate with the viewer to get THE right kill. This movie was the make-or-break for the series, and this movie slam DUNKED it.
Number 4: Freddy vs. Jason
Once Saw came out, the horror landscape changed immensely. Leaving traditional horror camp at the door in lieu of a more soap opera-esque horror experience. Which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing, but blending it with the slasher genre was a major risk. Yet, the creative team behind this beautiful abomination made it work. Freddy Krueger needs no introduction, but Robert Englund kills (pun intended) as usual. Although you can really dig into the faults in this movie, this was definitely the antithetical 2000s studio slop horror fest. Much different from the bland cash-grab attempts found in the 2000s. Making a decent set up and somehow giving the viewer a great fight between the two horror icons.
Taking the Bronze: Friday the 13th Part III
This was the Friday the 13th movie that blew my mind. I liked Part II, but this movie was the one that made me see the light. Brutal kills, Jason going off the rails (in the best way possible), and he got his iconic mask. This was a lead-in movie for The Final Chapter, but it still stands on its own two feet. I would say this is the ultimate slasher movie in its purest form. If the first two Friday the 13th movies didn’t grip you, I ask you to watch this and then make your judgment. I know asking to watch three movies to gauge if you like something is a tough ask, but this is just too much fun. Plus it was in 3D and was the grandfather of the goofy “throw stuff at the camera” thing most 3D movies do now.
Taking the Silver: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
I love this movie. Just unhinged, off the rails, unadulterated fun. With A New Beginning, you can feel the creatives behind it feel concerned that Friday the 13th was “losing the script” per se. But everyone behind this entry did not care – “we’re already this far, why not go further?” If the stupid Frankenstein level of resurrection they did for Jason didn’t convince you what you were in for, maybe the James Bond title card rip-off will. Stupid in all of the best possible ways.
Taking the Gold: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
This movie is just loads of fun. Yes, the boat part was fun. When Jason was roaming around Times Square, it was fun. Seeing Jason wander around just being the absolute menace he is in the middle of New York is equally bizarre and hilarious. I can see why most people don’t like this one, but it’s full send on the ridiculous and kills. How can you not enjoy that? – Jacob Mauceri
The Friday the 13th movies are available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.