by Mason Kupiainen Slasher movies have been a staple in the horror genre ever since Halloween popularized the subgenre in 1978. Since its release, Halloween has inspired an entire genre and many films that have tried to copy its formula, including the Friday the 13th series. As with all franchises, there are many great films and just as many terrible ones.
5- Friday the 13th (1980)Even though this is the first film in the series, this one falls short behind the others. The movie comes off as an attempt to capture the success of Halloween but doesn't bring anything new to the genre. It follows the basic formula, yet it’s just not as well executed. The main problem with this movie was the absence of Jason Voorhees. Since the franchise is built around the title character, it’s strange going back to this film and seeing that he plays a very small, almost insignificant role at the end. This makes for a weird tone to the movie, since it tries to add a layer of mystery about who the killer is, but it just doesn’t play out well. Despite this, the film does nothing to embarrass the franchise and has some fun with it. It’s a very basic slasher movie that is neither terrible nor great; however, the inclusion of Jason’s mother gives an interesting twist to the story.
4- Friday the 13th Part 2Improving on the original, this film saw the premiere of Jason as the killer in his franchise. The film improves on the budget, story, and acting, making a much more enjoyable movie. The inclusion of Jason also helped give a face to the franchise since the first movie hid Mrs. Voorhees until the end. The movie suffers from not having great characters that would keep you invested in the film. You never get a reason to care for them and actually hope Jason hurries up and kills them. The movie also suffers from many logistical problems, like how Jason died as a child but somehow was resurrected as a full-grown adult. There are many times throughout the movie where you have to just roll with it and not think about the fact that the story contradicts itself; however, these issues don’t ruin the movie as a whole.
3- Friday the 13th Part 4: the Final ChapterThis film improves on the first three films by actually having characters that you can care about. Instead of simply being walking body bags ready for Jason to kill, you are actually invested in them and want to see them live. The main characters are a poor family with some substance to them. Unlike other characters, we get a backstory that explains why they are living alone in the middle of the woods instead of having a nondescript reason for bringing a group of people to Crystal Lake. Since this was to be the “final'' film, it was nice to see the story wrapped up in a satisfying way. The major problems in this movie are similar to the ones suffered in the first three. There are many logical and story issues that if you think about them, they don’t make any sense. Just like any other horror franchise, the title villain is someone survived the events of the previous film to return to terrorize a new group of characters. The plot of the film also had some inconsistencies with the previous films and even within its own story. This all can be forgiven since the film turned out great for a movie that was shot in six weeks, and then only given six weeks for post-production. This was due to the fact the film was shot in October 1983 for a planned October 1984 release, only to have the studio to change the release at the last minute to April 13, 1984.
2- Friday the 13th (2009)This is a rare case where the remake surpasses the original. It's an interesting movie since it’s basically the first three films mashed into one, but this also makes the movie great since it skips over Mrs. Voorhees and goes right to having Jason donning his iconic hockey mask. The movie doesn't try to change anything about the mythology of the franchise and gives fans everything they know and love about the series but on a bigger budget. The one thing they changed was Jason setting traps around Camp Crystal Lake, but this adds a layer of horror to the movie since you never know when someone’s going to die. The only problem with this movie is what plagued previous films— weak characters. Just like the other films, the characters are hollow and have little substance to them. They all have the same motivations: wanting to get away from the world and go out into the middle of the woods where they can drink, smoke, and have sex, and then end up paying the ultimate price. They’re essentially walking body bags waiting to be killed in gruesome and horrible ways by Jason, instead of being characters that we care about and want to see live.
1- Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason LivesThis far into the franchise, the filmmakers finally realized they needed to revamp the movies. This story is pretty weak, but it’s so well executed that it can’t help but be entertaining. The filmmakers gave the movie the jolt of energy the franchise needed, and also gave it a sense of fun and humor. For example, there’s a scene in the movie where Jason accidentally rips off someone’s arm, then becomes surprised by how much strength he possesses. The filmmakers took what should have been a horrific scene to instead make a laugh out of it. The movie becomes self-aware and makes fun of itself by breaking the fourth-wall and loses the series tone from the films before. During the movie, there’s a scene with a graveyard owner who turns to the camera and talks directly to the audience about the movie. It doesn't go too far with the campiness, but mixes it with the horror to give a different style from the rest of the films. When it comes to the negatives, this movie doesn't really have any. It has terrible characters and dialogue, but the way they play this off becomes part of the joke. Since this movie throws away the horror elements, this creates a more light-hearted film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Sources: Den of Geek Images: IMDb Featured Image: Baylie Clevenger