About five years ago, I set myself the task of watching all the Friday The 13th movies back-to-back. Up until that point Jason Goes To Hell was the only installment I’d ever seen, so I felt like a bit of a fraud calling myself a horror movie fan without having seen any of the others (particularly the original).
After watching the first three I realized you can have too much of bad thing so I broke this odyssey up into three lots of three. I watched parts I to III, took a break, watched parts IV to VI, took a bigger break, and finally finished with parts VII to IX.
While going on this enlightening journey of self discovery I posted my thoughts on a, now defunct, movie forum. In honour of today’s date, and the fact that recycling my old crap is easier than writing something new I've dusted off those comments and now present you with the most comprehensive assessment of the Friday The 13th saga ever written.*
Friday The 13th (1980)
Bad performances and even worse dialog are strangely entertaining in this hallmark slasher.
Friday The 13th Part II (1981)
Different killer, same formula.
Friday The 13th Part III (1982)
Just when you think the acting and dialogue can't get any worse, it does. Part III is the worst Friday The 13th sequel, not helped by the fact that it was originally shot for 3D exhibition and, like most 3D movies from the 80’s, looks particularly stupid when viewed in 2D.
Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Saddled with probably the most erroneous title in film history (it’s actually part 4 of, what was at last count, a 10 part series (11 if you count Freddy Vesus Jason)), The Final Chapter doesn’t even attempt to conclude the Friday legacy. In fact, it’s really the seed for the plethora of sequels that followed, as it was the 1st sequel to establish Jason’s ability to rise from the dead. A very young Corey Feldmen out acts the adults he’s surrounded by, but apart from that The Final Chapter is just another Friday slasher.
Friday The 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
More Jason slashing action ensues in this 5th Friday The 13th instalment, but with a twist ending that seems to annoy a lot of Friday purists. Kudos to the makers for trying something a little different, but it’s so arbitrary, and makes so little sense (even by Friday standards) they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Of all the Friday sequels up to this point, Part VI is definitely the pick of the bunch. The story is truer to the original than most of the others and it has an amusing self-awareness that the others lack. Sadly, the hallmark nudity and gore has been cleaned up, but it’s still more fun than any of the other sequels.
Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
The seventh Friday instalment starts with a back story that doesn’t really seem to fit the chronology of the previous films. That probably doesn’t really matter, as continuity has not been a strong point of the Friday movies, but this one has so little else going for it would have been nice to get the story right. Once again scripting and performances are second rate, and the amusing self-awareness of Part 6 has been ditched in preference for the unintentionally funny straight faced approach of Parts 1 to 5. Unfortunately, the nudity and gore from Parts 1 to 5 (cleaned up in Part 6) failed to return, and the film concludes with probably the dumbest Friday finale to date. It’s probably not bad enough to take the award for worst Friday sequel away from Part 3, but its pretty close.
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
It’s funny how many of the Friday The 13th movies have misnomer titles. In Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason does not actually take Manhattan. He takes a boat cruise from Crystal Lake to Manhattan in what I can only assume was an attempt to free future sequel screenwriters from the confines of Crystal Lake. If further proof was needed that Paramount should have stopped at Part VI then Part VIII is it. It is without doubt the dullest and most sanitised, of all the Friday sequels to this point. Performances and production quality take a small step up from poor to fractionally better than poor, but the movie plods along as if all those responsible for making it are just there for the pay cheque. It’s completely perfunctory and lacks the sense of fun, deliberate or otherwise, of the other films.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Another Friday sequel: another misnomer title. This, the ninth Friday film is a lot more inventive than any of the other sequels, and avoids taking itself too seriously but the attempt to explain why Jason can not be killed is pretty stupid and, like part 5, seems to annoy the Friday (or should I say Jason) purists. The notion that Jason has to be killed by a Voorhees is fine but one can’t help wondering where was, the newly introduced character of, Jason’s sister during the first 8 instalments. Probably the most interesting thing about this film is the very last scene. SPOILER ALERT (like it maters) – we see Freddy Kruger’s knife fingers emerge from the ground and pull Jason’s mask down (to hell presumably). I never realised that the seed for New Line’s cross over movie Freddy Vs Jason, had been sown so early. OK, so it’s not that interesting.