It’s Friday the 13th and FANDOM is taking a look at one of the most beloved horror franchises of all time and giving you our definitive rankings.
We’re going to summer camp and probably not coming back with the Friday the 13th franchise. Beginning in 1980 and spanning twelve films, the series centers around Jason Voorhees, a brutal and sometimes undead killer who doesn’t go anywhere without his trademark hockey mask. Let’s start the ranking but remember the words of Crazy Ralph: “You’re all doomed!”
Honorable Mention – Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)
This exhaustive documentary on every single film in the Friday the 13th franchise is a must-watch for fans of Jason. It takes its time focusing on each individual film and collects candid interviews from as many people involved in the productions as possible. It’s an enormous undertaking that is incredibly rewarding for anyone who has stuck around with this series. You can stream it right now on Shudder.
12. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
The title sounds like a blast but Jason spends most of his time knocking off teens on a cruise instead of in the Big Apple. With the exception of a boxing match in which Jason literally knocks a guy’s block off, the kills aren’t too spectacular or even incredibly gory. And Jason’s trip through the streets of New York is a big bummer for anyone wanting to see him mow down a bunch of people. There’s still some trashy fun to be had but Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is mostly a wash.
11. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
The series tried to shake it up by giving Jason a psychokinetic foe to fight, but things mostly fall apart in this seventh go-around. There are some big bright spots though, including fan-favorite Kane Hodder’s first appearance as Jason. And the makeup effects are some of the best in the series. Unfortunately, the MPAA ratings board forced a bunch of edits which eliminated some of the goriest kills in the series’ history. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood is a missed opportunity to make a real standout entry.
10. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
This wacky body-switching break from the norm has some of the best effects in the entire series, but it’s a little too far from home base for most fans. The sense of self-awareness is welcome, but the complete reworking of the entire mythology is a boneheaded move that makes the movie feel like it’s a sequel to an alternate series. Still, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday is worth a watch to see how crazy this series can get. And that iconic final shot of Freddy Krueger‘s glove grabbing Jason’s mask is one of the best images in horror history.
9. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
This is the film that introduced Jason as the series villain and it entertains on a very basic but enjoyable level. It’s a bit repetitive in terms of plot, but the strong mythology building and fun kills makes this a worthy continuation of the first film. As the series began to take shape into the formula we’d come to love, Friday the 13th Part 2 solidified a lot of what would become standards of the franchise. An important film in delivering the Jason Voorhees we all know and love.
8. Friday the 13th (2009)
Many fans didn’t like this super slick remake, but it delivers what you want out of a Friday the 13th movie even if that’s a little stale. But you can’t hate on Derek Mears as Jason. He’s a true contender for the best Jason in the entire franchise. Thanks to some inventive kills and the best production design outside of a certain crossover film — don’t worry, it’s coming — Friday the 13th (2009) is a fun but somewhat rote reboot of the slasher classic.
7. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
Although this entry gets rightly derided for its Scooby-Doo use of a fake Jason, the kills are plentiful and plenty brutal in this one. The setup of a halfway house for troubled youths is a nice change of scenery. Plus, the decision to take lead character Tommy Jarvis and make him a psychologically disturbed young man who could possibly be the real killer is a good twist on the formula. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is not nearly as bad as its reputation makes it out to be.
6. Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
This knockdown fright fight is more of a Freddy movie than a Jason one, but it’s still a rollicking good time with some of the most crowd-pleasing kills in the Friday the 13th franchise. Thanks to the biggest budget in the franchise’s entire history, Freddy vs. Jason is overflowing with polish and imagination. Tons of style and a very sympathetic portrayal of Jason makes this bad guy battle a blast.
5. Jason X (2001)
The Friday the 13th series is often knowingly tongue-in-cheek, and nothing is more ridiculous than taking a franchise into space. Jason X is easily the silliest entry in the series, but it leans into that silliness with such affection that you can’t help but love it. The kills are nonstop and the goofy spirit of the movie makes the entire film a lunkheaded joy. Don’t let the cornball premise turn you away. This is one of the best in the entire franchise.
4. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
The series went gimmicky early on with this 3D entry and it pays off in terms of wacky delight. All the goofy in-your-face gags are cheesy gold and this entry deserves special merit for introducing that iconic hockey mask. Friday the 13th Part III is when the franchise emerges into its fully formed state. Tone, formula, and style are all on point here and it’s the first film in the series that just goes straight for the fun.
3. Friday the 13th (1980)
The original film still works as a giallo-inspired murder mystery with some infamous gore gags and a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Though Jason’s mom is the killer in this one — um, spoiler? — it’s still a horror classic for a reason. Along with Halloween, Friday the 13th helped kick off the slasher boom of the ’80s. With its focus on graphic kills and a big body count, it set the standard for many horror movies that followed in its wake. An essential piece of film history.
2. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Since this was intended to be the final entry in the series, director Joseph Zito pulled out all the stops and crafted one of the most brutal entries in the entire franchise. The vicious gore and the surprisingly strong characters make this a fitting end to Jason, even if it actually wasn’t. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a high watermark for the series and many fans consider it to be the best film in the entire Jason Voorhees saga. However…
1. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Who would have thought the sixth entry in a series would be the best? But it is! Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is the most enjoyable, cinematic, and well-structured film in the entire series. It delivers everything you want from a Friday the 13th film while also being a funny and engaging piece of horror cinema. Director Tom McLoughlin pulls out all the stops and brings a level of humor and production quality that elevates this film into a league of its own. If you only watch one Friday the 13th film, make it this one.
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