Horror cinema wouldn’t be what it is today without the Friday the 13th franchise. Created by Victor Miller and Sean S. Cunningham, the series started in 1980 with the release of the original film of the same name. Since then, it has become an essential part of pop culture and is often associated with Halloween. Above all, the Friday the 13th franchise is renowned for its inventive kills, iconic imagery, and the unstoppable nature of its antagonist. It is one of the most popular horror franchises in cinema history.
Jason Voorhees, the central character and main antagonist of the franchise, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic figures in horror cinema. He has terrified audiences for four decades and counting. The film series has churned out 12 installments and is evidently one of the most successful horror franchises of all time. Over the years, it has also become a cultural phenomenon and is a horror cinema staple.
12. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan(1989)
The eighth installment in the franchise, Part VIII was directed by Rob Hedden. The film takes the iconic killer, Jason Voorhees, out of his usual setting and contrastingly places him in the bustling metropolitan city of New York. It provides a departure from the series’ usual campsite setting and shows a gritty portrayal of the Big Apple. Jason Takes Manhattan is also notable for its attempt to inject fresh energy into the franchise by exploring new environments. However, it does not quite achieve what it sets out to do and instead is a rather disappointing addition to the franchise. Nonetheless, it has a handful of memorable kills, though.
11. Jason X (2001)
Jason X is possibly the most over-the-top entry in the Friday the 13th franchise. The tenth installment in the series sees Jason Voorhees take a trip to space after being cryogenically frozen for 445 years. Perhaps there’s an underlying cautionary tale in there about leaving things where they’re found. After all, if the group of students who found Voorhees had left him alone, they would have stayed alive. The plot of Jason X is largely ridiculous; the film is quite enjoyable, albeit silly. Jason X is only a hard sell if too much is expected from it, so don’t have high expectations.
10. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason Goes to Hell was initially marketed as the final installment in the Friday the 13th franchise. It is the ninth entry in the series and immediately precedes Jason’s space odyssey in Jason X. The film also departs from the traditional Friday the 13th formula, delving into more supernatural elements. This particularly added a new layer to the story of Jason Voorhees. Throughout the movie, there are intense and gory sequences as Jason’s essence possesses various characters. The end of Jason Goes to Hell hinted at a potential crossover with the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, setting the stage for Freddy vs. Jason in 2003.
9. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
This is the fifth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise. The 1985 movie takes the story in a new direction, introducing a new protagonist and exploring the psychological aftermath of the previous films’ events. A New Beginning faced criticism upon its release due to the absence of Jason Voorhees as the central killer for most of the film. It was also criticized for its deviation from the established formula. As such, it is not the most beloved entry in the franchise. However, with other entries achieving much less favor from fans, it is also not the worst.
8. Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
The New Blood adds a supernatural twist to the series by introducing Tina Shepard, a telekinetic teenager who can go up against Jason Voorhees. It stars Kane Hodder in his first appearance as Jason and Lar Park Lincoln as Shepard. When Jason reappears at Crystal Lake to resume his killing spree, Tina is the only real adversary who could possibly stop him. The movie’s climax depicts an epic showdown between Tina and Jason and is the most memorable part of the entire film. Hodder also provided motion capture footage as Jason in the video game Friday the 13th: The Game.
7. Friday The 13th Part III (1982)
The third installment in the franchise, Friday the 13th Part III, continued the story of the infamous killer from the first two movies. One of the film’s notable parts is the introduction of the hockey mask as Jason’s signature disguise. He acquired it early in this movie and completed the look that would become iconic in the subsequent films of the franchise. As in previous installments, Friday the 13th III featured creative and graphic kills, showcasing Jason’s brutality. While the film received mostly negative reviews upon its release, it has become a fan favorite. It is also widely appreciated for its contribution to the evolution of Jason Voorhees as a horror icon.
6. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
This crossover horror film brings together two of the most iconic horror movie villains: Freddy Kreuger and Jason Voorhees. Krueger is the main antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. He goes head-to-head against Jason Voorhees in this film, which is the 11th installment in the Friday the 13th franchise. Despite its low ratings, the film delivers on the promise of an epic showdown between the two horror icons. Freddy vs. Jason grossed $116.6 million at the box office. It is also the highest-grossing installment in both film franchises.
5. Friday The 13th (2009)
Released in 2009, this movie is a reboot of the legendary horror franchise. It is the 12th installment in the franchise and serves as a reimagining of the first four movies in the original Friday the 13th series. This movie condenses the story into a modern setting while retaining the essence of the original slasher formula. The stylish cinematography and special effects used in the story also do some good. However, it does not quite manage to live up to the original movies. Nonetheless, it still pulled in a considerable crowd into theaters. Like most films in the franchise, it received mostly negative reviews but was a commercial success.
4. Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)
The second installment in the franchise, Friday the 13th Part 2, continued the original film’s legacy. It introduced new characters and expanded the lore of the infamous Camp Crystal Lake. The story picks up a few years after the events of the first film, and despite a few inconsistencies, it manages not to drop the ball. It was a successful sequel in spite of its poor critical ratings. Friday the 13th is notable for paving Jason’s prominence in subsequent films. It also establishes the camp setting as a central theme in the franchise. This helps create the horror legacy of Camp Crystal Lake.
3. Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
In Jason Lives, the franchise’s tone shifts slightly, incorporating humor and self-awareness. The film embraces its status as a slasher movie, acknowledging the cliches and stereotypes present in the genre. Despite the humor, however, it doesn’t shy away from the franchise’s trademark elements. Jason Lives is undeniably one of the most enjoyable and entertaining entries in the Friday the 13th franchise.
2. Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
This is the fourth installment in the Friday the 13th film series. Despite its title, it evidently is not the last film in the franchise. This movie is notable for its well-executed kills, intense atmosphere, and the introduction of Tommy Jarvis. The Final Chapter is also known for its graphic violence and practical effects, showcasing the gruesome kills in vivid detail. It is often considered one of the best and most influential installments in the franchise.
1. Friday The 13th (1980)
This was the very first movie released in the franchise and is the genesis of the Friday the 13th lore. It is a classic slasher film that has become a cornerstone of the horror genre. Notably, the use of point-of-view shots from the killer’s perspective heightens the film’s sense of dread. The film’s success also lies in its ability to create a terrifying atmosphere. Moreover, the secluded camp setting adds to the overall feeling of fear, isolation, and vulnerability. The impact of Friday the 13th was immense, leading to numerous sequels, spin-offs, and a long-lasting franchise. It also established a template for slasher films and has influenced a generation of horror filmmakers.