In the world of slasher horror films, few characters are more iconic than Jason Voorhees. For an entire generation, a hockey mask doesn’t invoke images of an old-school goalie making saves, but rather, it makes people think about a large serial killer with a machete.
Like all horror franchises, Jason’s Friday the 13th series of movies is rather hit and miss. There are quite a few gems, but there are some films that make you wonder how anyone involved in the creation could possibly look at the end result and think, “that’s a film we can be proud of.”
Today, we’re going to rank all 12 movies involving our beloved hockey mask-wearing maniac and see which films are the best and which are the worst. It’s no small task ranking this many gore-filled horror romps, but we’re most definitely prepared for the job!
12. Jason X
When you watch this pile of garbage that was somehow released, you can’t help but wish Jason Voorhees would materialize in your room to put an end to your suffering. Everything about Jason X is terrible— from the actual premise of Jason in space to the horrible acting, it just sucks. It’s unfortunate that this was horror icon Kane Hodder’s final time donning the iconic mask because I can’t think of a worse way to go out.
11. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
While still garbage in the grand scheme of things, A New Beginning has a few more redeeming qualities that Jason X doesn’t. Just by virtue of not being set in outer space, it automatically comes in higher. This is actually the fifth installment in the franchise, and thankfully, the bulk of the movies that came after don’t follow along in the “new beginning” laid out by this one, because the franchise would be remembered far less fondly.
10. Friday the 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
In the eighth Friday the 13th movie, the creators decided that Jason needed to leave the beloved woods at Camp Chrystal Lake and venture into the big city—namely, New York City. While the 1989 film is anything but good, the interesting change of scenery and the situations Jason is forced to deal with are actually pretty entertaining. It’s not a good movie by any means, but it’s worth watching just for some of the quality kills.
9. Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood
The one good thing about this film is the debut of Kane Hodder as Jason Voorhees. While he didn’t play the role in the best movies, he managed to make the character appear even more badass than he already was. In fact, were it not for Hodder, this mediocre entry into the Friday the 13th franchise might rank even lower than it is.
8. Freddy vs. Jason
While not really a core movie in the Friday the 13th franchise, this movie most-definitely features plenty of Jason Voorhees. The quiet, brooding killer taking on the wise-cracking loudmouth Freddy Kreuger sounds like the recipe for a perfect movie. And while it’s not terrible, it’s far from perfect. Still, this features some awesome Jason kills, so it’s worth watching for that alone.
7. Friday the 13th, Part II
Fans had such high expectations for the second Friday the 13th movie, and unfortunately, it wasn’t able to live up the hype. While not a bad movie by any stretch, there are quite a few entries in the franchise that are better than this one. Still, it adds some interesting layers to the Jason Voorhees story, and it features some entertaining and over-the-top violence for a movie released in 1981.
6. Friday the 13th (2009)
The 2009 reimagining of Friday the 13th receives a lot of undue negativity. It actually does a great job of bringing the core idea of Jason killing a bunch of oversexed teens into the 2000s. It creates an interesting backstory that makes Jason feel quite sympathetic, but not so much so that he’s not scary and villainous. Is it a rehash? Sure, but it’s a pretty damn good one!
5. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday
There’s not a lot to say about Jason Goes to Hell—it’s just a pretty good horror that turns Jason Voorhees into an absolute badass. It gets a lot of flak from fans and critics, but when you look back at what the film managed to pull off compared to others released around 1993, it’s pretty impressive. There are some issues with the way the Jason character is used, but it’s still an enjoyable movie overall.
4. Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives
In some ways, this movie feels like a return to its roots for Jason. He’s back from the dead stalking and killing another group of camp counselors. This is where Jason truly came into his own as an undying supernatural being that became far more difficult to defeat. The pace ramps up heavily with Friday the 13th -- Part VI: Jason Lives, and it’s arguably the last truly good movie in the series without any major caveats.
3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
This is the fourth movie in the Friday the 13th franchise, and there are 12 movies on this list. So is it the final chapter? Not even close. But that’s okay because so many horror franchises claim to be finished and then come back for round two (and three, and four, and 27). Unfortunately, it does go downhill from here, as every single movie that came after it is worse. The Final Chapter does a good job of closing the story, even if the story ends up being far from closed.
2. Friday the 13th, Part III
While the series might have faltered a bit with its second film, director Steve Miner got things back on track with Part III (let’s just ignore the whole 3D thing, as 3D tech in 1982 left a bit to be desired). The actual story told in this film, coupled with some of Jason’s best kills, makes this a must-see for all horror fans.
1. Friday the 13th
Like so many iconic horror franchises, Friday the 13th really did peak with the first one. While the budget was small and the acting was cheesy, there’s just something about the charm offered by the original that makes it stand above the rest. It tells a cohesive story that stands on its own, and it even has a surprising plot twist at the end that is rather hard to see coming. It’s violent, it’s dark, and it’s just an incredible example of slasher movie done right.
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