Like Its Main Villain, Friday the 13th Franchise Has Been Hard to Kill

By Abbey Kinzel, ’23

Staff Writer

Friday the 13th is one of the classic horror movie franchises from the 1980s. Sean S. Cunningham’s original was a smash hit, making $59.8 million in the box office, which is $216.28 million today. Just like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th has an “unbeatable killer” that proves to be beatable at the end of the movie. Almost every movie picks up where the last left off, with a new quality that makes the audience think that the killer, once again, cannot be stopped. This movie franchise has become a part of pop culture to the point where the generic killer is a guy in a hockey mask and kills people in a summer camp. The Friday the 13th movies are infamous in every way, shape and form. But over the life of the series, there have been jewels and there has been dirt. Honestly, like its friend Halloween, the franchise is slowly dying. Maybe it’s time to put the series to rest; a big break from making a movie almost every year may not be such a bad idea.

Friday the 13th (1980): This movie has become a classic in the genre of horror movies like Child’s Play and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Since CGI wasn’t invented yet, they had to use something called “practical effects.” That means for one scene ,the cast had to kill a real snake. But they had to be smart about some of the kills in this movie, like when an arrow goes through someone’s neck on camera. Some people who know the series but watch the first film all over again forget that the killer isn’t the same throughout the series. Most think that Jason has always been the killer, but the first film’s villain is his mom, Pamela. Thinking that her little son Jason drowned in the lake unsupervised, Pamela swears to kill every counselor at the camp to close it down. However she is decapitated, and for some reason the final girl rows a boat out onto the lake until morning. This has a 63 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is the highest rated out of the 12 movies released so far.

Friday the 13th: Part II (1981): This one was a little worse than the first one, and by a little worse, I mean it earned a 29 percent according to Rotten Tomatoes. However, I think it’s cool that Pamela’s son, Jason, wasn’t dead and he comes back to get revenge for the death of his mom. He starts the film by tracking down and killing the final girl from the first installment. The final girl for this movie is a child psychology student. She defeats sack-head Jason with the power of child psychology and his mom’s sweater. We also get to see Jason’s shack, which is a small shack with all the victims from the movie with his mother’s head and sweater as an altar. The only disappointment was that Jason had a sack over his head and when his face was revealed it was more deformed than monstrous. It is an ok movie for a sequel.

Friday the 13th: Part III (1982): Ok so, I’m going to be honest with everyone for a hot minute. I haven’t watched Friday the 13th in quite awhile. So I completely forgot that this movie has a 3 in it for another reason, which is that it was filmed in 3D. Most fans know that this movie is the one with the cheesy gags to make the movie more “3D” including for some of the kills. This is also the movie where Jason gets his signature hockey mask. Some of the kills I found cool are a handstand kill, a harpoon kill, and someone getting his head squeezed between Jason’s hands. I know for a fact that two-thirds of those kills had some 3D element that makes them look kinda cheesy. The survivors’ big showdown with Jason in a barn goes a little overboard. So in order, they stab him, hang him from the ceiling and when he wasn’t dead they swung an ax in his head until he collapsed on the floor, not dead but defeated again. I mean, whatever gets you far away from that camp the fastest, then I guess…go off? Queen? This has a seven percent on Rotten Tomatoes and the lowest ranking movie to date of the series. Yes, it’s a fan favorite since the ax to the head made the signature missing piece in his hockey mask. But other than that, never do cheesy gags in your movie to make it “3D.”

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984): This one is a bit of an improvement from the third movie and it introduces Tommy Jarvis, who will appear in this film and the next two movies. But this movie title is “The Final Chapter” and if you could tell, it wasn’t the final chapter. This movie seems like now they can dial back the uncomfortable scenes and introduce a family, the Jarvis family. Some teens next door get killed by Jason, as does the mother of the Jarvis family. The rest of the Jarvis family is next on Jason’s hit list. Some guy named Rob that was with the Jarvis family, who was related to some girl from the second movie, dies hilariously by screaming “He’s killing me, he’s killing me!” And with the power of acting, Tommy stuns Jason long enough for his sister to knock off his mask and kill him with his own machete. This has a 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and a good balance of laughs and kills. My personal favorite was when Rob died, it reminded me of the audio clip, “Help! The killer is escaping! The killer is escaping! Help Me!” This was called the final chapter since this was supposed to be the last film, because Jason is successfully killed. So I guess it’s the final chapter of Jason’s killing spree as a mortal.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985): Almost every fan hates this movie. Authorities bring a grown-up Tommy Jarvis to a mental camp, which also includes Jason’s grave. I don’t know who would bury him, let alone give him a gravestone made out of wood. Once someone gets killed by a man who isn’t Jason, he is arrested and a lot of people begin to die. Tommy is convinced that Jason came back from the dead, and tries to hunt him down and kill him again. However, it is just a copycat killer named Roy Burns, who snapped when his son was killed. And it’s a big mystery if Tommy became influenced by the ghostly apparition of the real Jason, to kill the final girl, Pam. This has an 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Nobody could really like this movie since it is literally Halloween 3 for Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th: Jason Lives (1986): From this point onward for the series, Jason is a supernatural being. He will never be a mortal man-child anymore. If you couldn’t tell, Jason gets resurrected because Tommy digs up Jason’s grave and stabs him with a metal pole. That pole is struck by lightning and Jason comes back, and kills Tommy’s friend who is there against his will. We also meet a fourth wall -reaking grave digger. But all in all ,most of everything in this movie is more gore and more over-the-top kills. There are a lot of people who we don’t know who get killed for no reason because test audiences said they wanted more kills. But anyway, Jason is lured by Tommy into the lake when Tommy starts calling him mean names. Tommy manages to get a chain around Jason which is tied to a giant rock to make him sink to the bottom. It has a rating of 50 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the 2nd highest-rated movie of the series. And we will never see Tommy Jarvis again, unless you watch the “Never Hike Alone” fan film with the actor that played Tommy in it. 

Friday the 13th: The New Blood (1988): Let’s just get this out of the way right now. I hate this movie. They introduce this girl who has telekinesis, and she got her powers by wishing her abusive dad would die. She uses her mind to make their dock collapse, killing him in the same lake where Jason sank to the bottom in the last film. I also hate this one because they had to dial down the gore and blood, making it the least gorey of the series. The main girl Tina goes to cry by the lake while thinking of her dad, and when she tries to use her powers to bring her dad back, she raises Jason instead. We get very cool shots of Jason’s back, his spine is just out in the open. A fan-favorite kill was when Jason took a girl in a sleeping bag, zipped her up and whacked her against a tree. The stunt man that played Jason, Kane Hodder, said that it is his favorite too. Throughout the movie, Tina and some guy named Nick wander around and learn more about Jason. Nick goes back to the teen party house where he came from and discovers some bodies. I think the production team didn’t know how to fill in the run time, so this movie is full of running around in the woods. Tina and Jason face off and I would like to add Jason has never gone up against someone with supernatural powers before, so he is like a bumbling idiot the whole time. Tina uses her powers to take Jason’s mask off and yet again he doesn’t look anything like he did in the previous movie. She starts beating the life out of Jason and, I kid you not, brings Jason to the dock and summons her dead dad to bring him back down to the bottom. Man, they were really stretching with this one. It was one of the most out-there scenes I have ever seen. This movie has 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The only good thing that came from this movie was a new stuntman for Jason, Kane Hodder who was willing to get the living crap beat out of him, including holding 40 seconds of uncontrolled fire on his body, setting a record. He even stayed committed to the part when that very same fire gave him burn scars on his face and chest. That is what I call dedication.

Friday the 13th: Jason takes Manhattan (1989): This movie’s title says almost everything, Jason goes to Manhattan and kills some people along the way. This movie should be titled “Jason on a Boat” since he kills tons of people on a boat and spends such little time in Manhattan. Jason teleports now? I guess that’s cool? And the ghost of kid Jason checks in on the final girl every once in a while for no reason but to be there. Two teens in a very nice boat go over some power cable and somehow wake Jason up from his nap at the bottom of the lake, and Jason of course kills them. So we meet future victims on a new graduation cruise ship, and somehow, some way, Jason drifts from Crystal LAKE to some river or body of water that connects to New York. He hitches a ride on the cruise ship, which is so big it doesn’t deserve to be called a cruise ship, it’s like Jeff Bezos’ giant yacht. There is a boxing ring, a cafe, a disco floor, a sauna and plenty of room for the many kills. Once it hits the one- hour mark, the remaining members finally decide to abandon ship and row to some alleys in Vancouver. Some kid Julius decides to box Jason on a rooftop and Jason gets his shot at it and punches the dude’s head off. The one thing that is wrong with the big murder round-up to kill off the remaining characters is that there are just open barrels of sewage, just out there in the open waiting for someone like Jason to use to kill someone. And a random tidbit of information, in this movie the sewers flood with toxic waste every night at midnight, I call BS on that matter. After Jason gets his face splashed with toxic waste, he burns and is forced to take off his mask and again he looks nothing like himself in the last movie. Jason begins to melt, gets set on fire, and somehow gets reverted back to his kid form. This movie has an 11 percent on Rotten Tomatoes , and gave new meaning to the term “plothole.” It’s very bad and they couldn’t even afford to shoot in New York, except for that one shot of Jason in Times Square but that’s it.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993): This is the movie where the production company switched from Paramount to New Line Studios, and the title says it all. Jason goes to hell, but he is only there for 10 minutes, because he becomes a spirit that can possess someone to kill. Speaking of kills, they are the best of the series and very gruesome. To begin, Jason gets surrounded by the FBI and is blown up. After he possesses someone, we find out that a waitress named Diana is Jason’s half-sister, who has never been mentioned before. A man newly possessed by Jason kills Diana and tells her baby daddy to protect her daughter Jessica. It turns out that Jason’s new bodies don’t last long, so he needs to transfer his soul to a family member. The possessed man tries to transfer his soul to Jessica multiple times and kills some people in a diner. A Jason creature comes out of some cop’s neck and enters Diana’s corpse. So now Jason is back to his normal form and is promptly stabbed in the chest by a magic dagger, which makes a lot of hands come out of the ground and literally drag him to hell. This movie was given a 16 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and was a mess. You could tell New Line Studios used a first-time director. Even though Jason didn’t take his mask off, we all would probably guess that he wouldn’t look anything like himself from the previous movie.

Jason X (2001): To be real for a minute, this spends most of the run time in space, and they are in the future. Keeping Jason in literal chains was the worst idea ever, the people keeping him like this are only interested in his regeneration properties. So it’s no surprise he breaks out and kills almost all of his captors. One girl traps Jason in a cryo fridge so future people can deal with him instead. A future team finds Jason and the woman frozen, so they take them back to their ship and blast off into space. It’s not a big surprise whenJason wakes up after being inspected by one of the girls, where we see his face for this movie. And in a shocking turn of events, he kinda looks like himself from the fourth movie. Finally a movie that remembers what Jason looks like! But anyway, after waking up he dunks the girl’s head in an open tank of liquid nitrogen, and smashes her head on the countertop. Fun fact: Mythbusters tested this to see if it would actually work; it didn’t. Jason kills a lot of people on the ship and is responsible for letting the spaceship crash through a space station — totally destroying, by the way, the size of a city. The final survivors get ready to kill Jason, and some guy upgrades his android to shoot the hell out of Jason. But as Jason lays on the floor dying,some nanobots come out nowhere to revive Jason. So now we get the dumbest name for Jason ever, he is now Uber Jason. Once Jason tracks down the survivors again, they boot-up the VR machine to trick Jason by making the setting a camp. He reenacts the sleeping bag kill three movies later. The survivors escape and the sergeant faces off with Jason as the ship explodes and then makes Jason burn in the atmosphere of a nearby planet. This movie has a 19 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and was definitely made just for a cash grab. Since almost every major horror movie franchise has made it to space, why not Jason? It’s not going to look good on the timeline for the series but who cares? They made money.

Freddy vs. Jason (2003): Freddy vs. Jason is a movie only for the fans of both franchises. This was teased at the end of Jason Goes to Hell, but fans would have to wait a decade for it. So it has to be better than the last few movies, right? This was an ok movie, it would have been better only if they didn’t use a stupid, overused flying through the air effect. The main characters have the flawless logic of “Freddy died by fire, Jason by water, how could we use this?” Yes, Freddy died by fire but Jason has some of his kills when he pops out of the water, so he isn’t defeated by water. The kids that live in the town where A Nightmare on Elm Street takes place, don’t  know about Freddy so he can’t kill them in their dreams. So he manipulates Jason to get out of hell, climb out, kill some kids and make some others think that Freddy is back and more powerful than ever. The characters are really crappy and it’s hard to watch them lead their lives. And there is a lot of Freddy trying to kill some teens in their dreams, so for some of them he sends Jason to kill them instead. Jason kills one of Freddy’s targets when he was about to kill her in her dream. Jason also kills some kids at a cornstalk rave. Freddy possesses a kid into drugging Jason to sleep, where Freddy and Jason face off in a boiler room. One of the girls goes into a dream and pulls Freddy out into the real world so Jason and Freddy can have a rematch. Freddy and Jason duke it out on the Crystal Lake dock with some gruesome hits to the both of them. The final girl decapitates Freddy as Jason falls unconscious into the lake. The final shot of the movie is Jason emerging from the lake with his machete in one hand and Freddy’s head in the other. And Freddy’s head winks at the camera, but I don’t care Jason won fair and square. This movie received 42 percent on Rotten Tomatoes; it was more fun and the score shows it too. 

Friday the 13th (2009): Around the year of 2009 there were a lot of reboots for famous horror movie franchises . They disregarded but also kept a lot of the lore from the previous movies, like killing Pamela in the first few minutes of the movie in a flashback. We also learn that Jason had a hard time swimming but he never drowned, that’s what everyone thought, and he watched his mom get decapitated. The characters are very cliche and add almost nothing to the movie unless it’s for a kill. Most of the kills are very gruesome and different from the other movies in the franchise. There is a weird subplot going on with this one guy Clay who is looking for his missing sister Whitney. Whitney was from the beginning of the movie with some of her friends, who were killed; she was kidnapped by Jason because she looks like his mom. The subplot and the main plot merge so everyone can fight off Jason. And I think they went more overkill than the third movie since they wrapped a chain around his neck, hung him, threw the chain into a woodchipper and, before he goes in, Whitney stabs Jason with his own machete. This movie has a 27 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, 17% less than the last movie, which goes to show not all reboots are good reboots. And if they made another movie it would probably be just as bad.

Untitled: Friday the 13th Coming Up (2023?): This movie is a complete mystery to both me and the superfans. Articles say a new Friday the 13th that was set to come out in the new year has been called off. This usually means that it was in the works but they ran out of budget, it wasn’t given the green light to start filming, or they couldn’t get the story right. Most superfans think the studio is telling them that there is no movie, and it’s just a big prank so they can surprise them in September with the trailer. Honestly I don’t quite know who to side with, and after so many years of bad sequels, I don’t really care that much either. This is a franchise that needs to be laid to rest, but, like Jason, has been hard to kill.

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