I don’t get to see my 17-year-old son very often, so when we plan visits we always try to do something unique and memorable. Because of the endless pandemic, our usual trips had to be placed on hold for over a year. Thanks to the wonders of science and the miracle of the COVID-19 vaccine we were able to continue our tradition this summer.
One of the things that I cherish the most about our relationship is that like me, he is a rabid horror fan. Also, like myself, he cites his favorite horror series as the Friday the 13th films. For his birthday this past March, I purchased for him the complete original series on Blu-ray. This included the first eight films; arguably the entire original series.
Related Article: FRIDAY THE 13TH 8-Movie Collection Hits Blu-ray in August
As it became more likely that we all were going to have a relatively normal summer, we decided to rent a cabin in the woods with the sole purpose of watching every film in the original series. We found a great spot called Hickory Hill Cabins at the edge of Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. The setting of another cult horror series, Wrong Turn (the forest, not the cabins).
The place was absolutely ideal and really felt like it could have been in one of the films. In this cabin, we began a nostalgic journey that I am honestly unsure if I’ve ever actually accomplished before. We viewed every single film. Only breaking for sleep, showers, and meals.
As I said before, I’ve been a lifelong fan of the films, but as far as I can recollect, this is likely the first time in my life that I have binged the entire series back to back.
Over thirty straight hours of Friday the 13th! Because of this feat, we both have acquired newfound knowledge, respect, and perspective. For example, we believe Jason Voorhees is a fucking Deadite!
If you are curious to know my son’s and my unique perspective on each film. Please read on as I attempt to share our individual thoughts on the story, timeline, and each film as a whole. I promise to try and keep it at only a couple of paragraphs per film because I am aware that this series has been debated to death.
I am going to write this chronologically to establish a debatable timeline as I find it helpful to describe the series. So, without further ado, I present yet another editorial on Friday the 13th!
Friday the 13th (1980)
I doubt there are any of you reading this article who do not know this film. However, in an attempt to chronologize the timeline and the series as a whole, this is the logical place to start. You know the story; On Friday, September 13, 1957, Pamela Voorhees’ son Jason accidentally drowns while she is working as a cook at Camp Crystal Lake.
She blames the counselors because they were doing drugs and having sex and not paying attention to her weak, deformed boy. On Friday, June 13, 1958, she discreetly murders two counselors. The killer is never apprehended and Camp Crystal Lake is shut down until Friday, July 13, 1979 (Or Wednesday, June 13, I’m going with Friday because it makes the most sense, hence the title) when Steven Christy renovates and reopens the camp and it all begins again.
Our Thoughts: Obviously a well-respected movie as it is the first in the series and almost everyone knows the plot. Kill count is great and includes amazing practical effects by the legendary Tom Savini. The film also includes Kevin Bacon in one of his very first film roles. All in all, not one of our favorite films in the series.
Though it introduces the character of Jason Voorhees, he is not in the film until the end, and even that is debatable as it may have been a dream sequence in the mind of the final girl, Alice Hardy.
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Part 2 opens in August of 1979. After surviving the Crystal Lake massacre, Alice Hardy returns to Crystal Lake in an apparent attempt to face her fears and deal with the trauma of the massacre. One night while in her rented apartment, she is murdered by a man wearing a burlap sack. It turns out that the assailant is none other than Jason Voorhees. Apparently, he survived the drowning and has been living in the woods for all of these years.
After the title sequence, we flash forward to July 12, 1984. Paul Holt has opened a camp counselor training program at Packanack Lodge near Crystal Lake. Why he thought this was a good idea is anyone’s guess. I can assume that since Pamela Voorhees had finally been killed that the locals presumed that the woods were safe. Enraged that folks were trespassing near the shrine to his mother. Jason Voorhees begins to pick off the would-be counselors one by one.
Our Thoughts: It is our opinion that this film is the official birth of the legend of Jason Voorhees. Establishing that this monster has lived in the woods around Crystal Lake for years, this film continues a sequence of murderous events that will continue throughout the genre in the 1980s and beyond.
All in all, the plot is essentially the same as the first Friday. Kills are good, lots of great practical effects, and Part 2 begins the tradition of broken windows that comedically continue throughout the franchise.
Friday the 13th Part III: 3D (1982)
It’s worth noting that every cinematic scene in this film was designed for the new 3D technology of the era. I wish that I could have seen this film in a theater with a pair of 3D glasses as I feel that it would have taken on a whole new level.
Alas, I was too young at the time. Other than that, there is nothing really memorable about the film; rather it simply rehashes the plot of Parts 1 and 2.
In the timeline, Part III begins the day following the events of Part 2. More teenagers arrive at the area known as Higgins Haven, a community near Crystal Lake. It is here that Jason continues his murderous spree.
This is the very first film that Jason dons his iconic hockey mask. He obtains it after killing Sheldon “Shelly” Finkelstein, the prankster of this group of victims.
Jason meets his first death by being axed in the face by final girl Chris Higgins after a full 25-minute standoff. In the final scene of the movie, Chris Higgins has her own horrific experience in a canoe, this time as an undead Pamela Voorhees jumps out of the water in a nod to the original Friday.
Our Thoughts: Other than a few obvious shots to take advantage of the three-dimensional cinematography, the overall kill count and practical effects are notably weak and the story seems to suffer from a lack of direction. Granted this is a slasher film, but we still appreciate a good story. We rank Part III near the bottom of the series.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Much like Part III, The Final Chapter was supposed to be the last movie of the series but demand for the films remained high. In many ways, The Final Chapter is the most memorable Friday the 13th film. Who doesn’t love Crispin Glover’s iconic dance scene?
I for one can relate so much to Corey Feldman’s portrayal of young Tommy Jarvis. Not only the main protagonist of the series but also a great portrayal of a true eighties’ horror nerd, and I mean that in the best positive sense. I too was painting horror masks and reading Fangoria magazine at that age and time.
In the timeline, Final Chapter picks up where Part III left off. It is still 1984 and Jason Voorhees rises from the dead in the morgue where his body was delivered. He murders the morgue attendant and a nurse and continues his murderous rampage until he meets his end (again) when Tommy Jarvis, while protecting his sister, hacks him to pieces with a machete.
The Final Chapter also featured Robert Dier, brother of Sandra, a secondary character from Part 2 in a seemingly pointless and unnecessary story arch that was rehashed in the 2009 reboot.
It is also worth noting that The Final Chapter features a laughable number of broken window sequences. I believe my son and I counted at least ten; window smashing is a Friday the 13th tradition that continues to this day in the video game.
Our Thoughts: The Final Chapter is a very fun film and we place it near the top of the list. Though the majority of kills take place off-camera and the film lacks a lot of the great gore effects that established the franchise as the premiere slasher fest of the era.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Between 1984 and 1989 in the timeline of the series, the town of Crystal Lake changes its name to Forest Green in an attempt to distance itself from the notorious legend of “Camp Blood”. Tommy Jarvis, now 17-years-old, is transferred from a mental institution to the Pinehurst Halfway House.
The day that he arrives, a fellow patient Victor J. Faden murders another patient named Joey with an axe. Apparently, Joey is the secret son of local coroner Roy Burns.
In an act of psychotic revenge, Roy Burns disguises himself as notorious serial killer Jason Voorhees and murders the patients of Pinehurst (as well as some locals) until he is stopped by Pam, Tommy, and young Reggie Reckless.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was produced by Paramount because of the unexpected demand for the series to continue. It was originally written as an origin story to present Tommy Jarvis as the new hockey-masked maniac, but the film created such a controversy among fans that the storyline was ultimately scrapped in favor of bringing back the original Jason Voorhees.
Our Thoughts: We are both in agreement that this film was completely unnecessary and is arguably the worst in the entire series.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
As the title suggests, Jason indeed lives! This time it is Tommy Jarvis who reawakens the very monster that he put down in the first place.
The year is now 1990 and Tommy Jarvis and his friend Allen Hawes escape from their institution and drive to Eternal Peace Cemetery to dig up Jason Voorhees’s grave so that Tommy can finally face his demon and put his fears to rest.
This is a bit confusing for a couple of reasons. Tommy Jarvis is now portrayed by Thom Matthews instead of John Shepherd, and looks like he has aged five years. Also, it is established in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning that Jason Voorhees’ corpse was cremated. So how was there a corpse to be desecrated in the first place?
Regardless, Tommy digs up the body of his nemesis. Just to make sure that he is dead, he shoves a steel rod from the cemetery’s iron fence into Jason’s heart only to have the rod immediately hit by a lightning bolt. And just like Frankenstein’s monster, the demonic killing machine awakens! Tommy also happens to bring the hockey mask worn by Roy Burns in the previous film, which Jason immediately places upon his mangled face.
Tommy flees to the nearby town of Forest Green to warn them that Jason has been awakened and is coming to kill them all. Of course, no one believes him and the local Sheriff believes that it is Tommy who is responsible for the killings.
Only the Sheriff’s daughter Megan comes to the aid of Tommy Jarvis and they devise a plan to chain Jason to a rock and sink him to the bottom of Crystal Lake.
Meanwhile, Jason returns to the former site of Camp Blood, rebranded Camp Forest Green, and slaughters the counselors, a group of executives on a paintball retreat, and a couple of deputies. But none of the children.
My son found it laughable how hard it was for the residents of Forest Green to heed Tommy’s warnings, given that there had been four mass slayings in and around that camp in the past decade.
Our Thoughts: Fun fucking film! We rank part six at the very top of the list, the absolute best of the bunch. Great kills, broken windows, effects are back, plenty of action and on a side note, no nudity. We figured it must have been because of the young children on set.
It even concludes with Alice Cooper’s “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” playing during the credits. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives in our opinion is the crème de la crème of the franchise.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Part VII was originally planned as a crossover production between New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures. The plan was to pit Jason Voorhees against Freddy Krueger, an idea that was again teased in 1993 but did not come to fruition until 2003.
Unfortunately, the two studios were unable to agree to terms, and the original script was abandoned in favor of a Jason vs. Carrie concept.
The film begins in October of 1990, when young Tina Shepherd flees to a boat in Crystal Lake because her alcoholic father is beating her mother. When her father runs to the dock in an attempt to apologize, Tina unleashes her telekinetic abilities and buries her father, along with the entire dock to the bottom of the lake.
After the opening sequence, the story picks up on Friday, June 13, 1997. 17-year-old Tina returns to Crystal Lake with her mother Amanda and her therapist Doctor Crewes.
The good doctor believes that the best way for Tina to deal with her trauma is to return to the scene of her father’s accident, but he secretly is hoping to expose her telekinetic powers.
After a fight with her mother, Tina returns to the dock and attempts to bring her father back but inadvertently frees Jason Voorhees instead. Unleashing him upon yet another batch of unsuspecting victims.
This leads to an epic final showdown between the telekinetic hero and the hockey-masked demon, in which she vanquishes her foe and sends him back into the murky depths of Crystal Lake only to be reawakened in the next film.
Our Thoughts: Personally, I’ve always thought this story was strange, even by Friday the 13th standards. But upon revisiting, both my son and I thought that it was a really fun film and probably is closest to Part VI in entertainment value.
This is the first film that Kane Hodder donned the iconic mask and would continue to wear it for the next three films. I also agree with Kane Hodder when he cited Part VII as his personal favorite because the look of Jason is hands down the best of the series.
Director John Carl Buechler has complained numerous times over the years about the sheer number of edits to the film to keep it from receiving an X rating from the MPAA.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
In the final Friday film released by paramount and arguably the end of the original series, Jason Voorhees is awakened once more. This time he sneaks aboard a ship carrying the high school class of ‘98 seniors on their graduation cruise to New York City, leading to a final showdown in the sewers beneath the streets of Manhattan Island.
Our Thoughts: I like this movie! I know that it is disliked by my son as well as a bulk of the fans. He ranks it toward the bottom. I however have always listed Part VIII among my favorite of the Friday films. I can’t really explain why.
All I know is that the movie makes me laugh and I think it was the first Friday the 13th film that I actually viewed when it was first released. It is likely because of that, it has remained one of my personal favorites for all of these years.
The kill count is high and it boasts some of the best practical effects of the series. Both of us were confused by the ending. Why does Jason turn into a little boy? Could it be, in fact, that Jason Voorhees is really a Deadite?
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
After we finished the eight original films, it seemed only natural to continue all the way through Jason X. Though admittedly, the series gets very muddled here. As I said before, I am satisfied to call Part VIII the true honest ending of the franchise.
Part VIII was abysmal at the box office and Paramount had determined their long-running franchise that had dominated the eighties was no longer lucrative. So in 1989, Paramount sold the rights to the Jason Voorhees character to New Line Cinema, but not the rights to the Friday the 13th name or characters within.
It was because of this that Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday was not called Friday the 13th Part IX.
New Line brought on first-time director and fan of the franchise Adam Marcus. The protagonist of the series was originally scripted as Tommy Jarvis, but since New Line did not own the rights, the character was changed to Steven Freeman.
The film was ultimately panned by fans and critics alike, bombed at the box office, and effectively ended the franchise for nearly a decade.
In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Jason is hunted down by an elite FBI team and destroyed. However, his evil soul possesses the coroner investigating his body and after devouring Jason’s heart, ignites a chain reaction of Jason’s soul jumping from body to body in search of a new host.
It is ultimately revealed that Pamela Voorhees, distraught over the death of her son. Obtained a copy of the Necronomicon from Evil Dead and was able to bring Jason back as a Deadite!
How the fuck did I never know this? Seriously, I consider myself a well-informed fan of the franchise but this was all news to me. In my opinion, this is a great story arch and redeems this film.
Admittedly, I first watched Jason Goes to Hell when I was in High School, and because I thought that it was such a terrible film and departure from the franchise, I never revisited it until now.
At the time I had not yet seen Evil Dead, a fantastic movie and legendary franchise in its own right, and a horror film that I still cite as one of my all-time favorites. With this newfound knowledge, I for one completely accept Jason as a Deadite.
I feel that it not only fits well into the narrative; it serves to explain some gaps in the story. For example, Jason’s superhuman strength, his ability to not be killed, and even the strange ending to Part VIII when he reverts back to a little boy after being flushed with toxic waste. They even used the original Necronomicon prop! Mind equals blown.
Our Thoughts: Other than the Evil Dead angle, this is not a good film. It seems as though the story would have been better suited as a stand-alone film and does not belong in the franchise. That said, Final Friday boasts some of the goriest kills and practical effects of the entire series, courtesy of the addition of Greg Nicotero on the effects team. We rank it next to the bottom only because of the revelation of the Deadite angle.
Jason X (2001)
After attempts to execute Jason Voorhees have failed it is decided that the best course of action is to cryogenically freeze him so that he can be safely preserved for future study. Obviously, things don’t go as planned and Jason nearly escapes. In an attempt to save not just the project but humanity as a whole, head researcher Dr. Rowan LaFontaine manages to force Jason into the cryogenic chamber and closes the door. When Jason stabs her with his machete through the door of the chamber it causes the entire laboratory to lock down and freeze.
It remains in this state until the scientist and Jason Voorhees are discovered in an expedition to Earth in the year 2455. Jason is then brought aboard a spaceship called The Grendel and is awakened. Leading to devastating results for not just the ship’s crew, but for all of the inhabitants of Earth 2.
Our thoughts: I’m going to keep this short because I understand how controversial this film is among the fan base. Both my son and I adore this one. It is likely the third-best of the series in our opinion. It’s a fun movie. The kill count is off of the charts, there is blood and gore everywhere, plenty of action, humor, and the film boasts my favorite kill of the entire series! Yes, we even like the rebooted “Jason 2.0”!
This concludes my son and I’s take on the entire series. We did not include Freddy vs. Jason as we both thought that it didn’t seem to belong in this bundle. I do wish that we could have had a little more time to add the reboot, but it may have just confused the timeline. I am always open for debate and would welcome your thoughts, whether or not I agree with them. I know that we all love this franchise and look forward to the day when the litigation over the rights ends and Jason Lives Again!
If you have any thoughts and would like to continue the conversation, you can leave a comment below or on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Instagram. You can now find Dread Central on Google News or you can carry on the vibe with me personally on Twitter @psychobillychef.