Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Hi there, campers! If you missed last week’s article, we went through the first six films in the Friday the 13th film series, talking about their pros and cons and any fond memories we have associated with them. Flipping channels late at night led to these flicks being essential to the formative years of many horror hounds of a certain age, some of whom weren’t privileged with being old enough to see these when they were first making their theatrical debuts.
These movies hold a special place in our hearts, is what we’re saying. That’s why Nathan, Jason, Patrick, and David have decided to revisit these movies in honor of spooky season. This isn’t about figuring out which movie is the best or worst, but rather to share our love for these bonkers entries in the slasher genre. Today we’ll be covering the second half of the series, so grab your Kandarian Daggers and prepare for cryosleep. It’s time to finish off this slasher saga.
Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood (1988)
Nathan: Funny story: one of the original pitches for this flick would have seen Cheech & Chong battling Jason. Is the final product better that that? Kind of? Kane Hodder’s first appearance as Jason is definitely one of the stronger points of this confused entry. It has some creative kills — the infamous “sleeping bag kill” is easily a franchise high point. I also love the makeup design of zombie Jason in this one, what with the exposed spine and wicked facial prosthetics. However, the characters in this one are beyond paper thin and the finale is genuinely one of the dumbest in the series, surpassed only by Jason’s defeat in the following flick. 6/10
Jason: Fun fact, this movie was supposed to take place in 1997 – 9 years after it actually came out. This one has a couple of things going for it, namely the introduction of Kane Hodder as Jason and a protagonist with goddamn mental powers. I guess they figured, we’ve got a jacked zombie bad guy, let’s put him up against Jean Grey. Still, despite her powers making her the first real threat to Jason’s undead rampage, it takes a deus ex machina from her dead abusive father to put the big man down. At least most of the characters are fun enough that their deaths generate emotions – even if it’s mostly giggles at how dumb it all is. Not the worst in the series, but it’s not exactly a series high either. 6/10
Patrick: It might be the nostalgia talking, but this is the Jason that I think most people picture when running the slasher series through their memory. Kane Hodder, jumping into the union suit for the first time is an absolutely BEAST of a slasher – taking no end of abuse through the entire movie. They collapse s--t on to him, throw him down stairs, squish his melon with his own mask, electrocute him, and set his ass on FIRE. Admittedly, the Carrie as a psychic badass (we see you, Stephen King reference) is actually a pretty refreshing take on the film, but the overall effect isn’t the greatest. I really appreciate that Jason finally eats some s--t, after going up against some pretty lame teens for several films. Carrie hands him his ass left and right, and while Hodder might not be able to emote shock too well in the mask, it felt nice seeing our unstoppable killing machine stop a bit. There’s a few weak points that make this slightly less amazing. First, introducing something else in the lore with supernatural powers takes a little bit of the shine off our monster, and second – the undead dad ending is an absolute crock of s--t after a pretty fun ride. Bonus points for my favorite of the Jason faces and the BEST kill in the entire series – the sleeping bag home run. 8/10
David: Kane Hodder! The best man to put on the hockey mask. Part 7 is the second Friday I saw. And looking back, I really went into this series ass backwards, didn’t I? Anyway, cute blonde chick with psychic powers fighting Jason? Sign me up! Jason gets his ass handed to him and you have the famous sleeping bag kill, but in the end, good ole dad comes along and jacks up the damn ending. Not even Tina can save my score for this one 5/10
Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Nathan: Due to maybe the worst pacing in the entire franchise, this is easily my least favorite film in the series. There are a couple of fun moments, including the boxing match that goes terribly wrong and a young Kelly Hu as a student who meets her end on the dance floor. But the “psychic vision” sequences are goofy (and not in a fun way) and the ending is easily the silliest of the series (again, not in a good way). Bonus points for the fun sight gag of Jason just scaring off a bunch of street punks just by taking his mask off, though. 3/10
Jason: Also known as Jason takes a leisurely boat ride to spend 15 minutes in Manhattan – mostly around those seedy Manhattan docks that are just crawling with dangly-earinged dudes just waiting to shoot up your teen daughter full of heroin. Allegedly, budgetary concerns forced a lot of last-minute re-writes that kept the action confined to a cruiseliner that evidently made its way from northern New Jersey to NYC. Still, there were some fun kills – notably the use of a Flying V as a bludgeon, and Jason literally knocking a dude’s block off like a Rock’em Sock’em Robot. This is not nearly as bad as some will have you believe, and yielded that amazing clip of Jason on The Arsenio Hall Show, so it’s definitely a winner in my book. 7/10
Patrick: I rented this one boring afternoon on Summer vacation, took it back to my house, and promptly fell asleep watching it. It really is awful. The fact a giant killer can stow away on a ship, and kill people without the rest knowing is just a terrible plot build, and outside of shoving a lava rock inside a guy to kill him, and punching one dudes head CLEAN OFF, the kills are pretty pedestrian as well. Jason’s death is also a bag of suck, with him reverting to a child AND NOT EVEN A DEFORMED UGLY ONE upon drowing in Manhattan’s toxic waste water. This entry killed the entire series for several years. 3/10
David: Jason is on a boat for 60 years and I die a little inside. If I could have bashed my skull in with that guitar, I probably would have done it. I will say that as much as I loathe this installment; I love the poster and I even have a T-shirt of it. I’m a hypocrite 🙁 2/10 (Note from Nathan: this movie had some fantastic marketing. No shame in wearing one of the series’ best posters.)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Nathan: This movie is a lot of dumb fun. It’s a terrible Friday flick, though, which explains why the two sequels after this one would essentially ignore the new continuity wrinkles (which don’t make a lick of sense anyway). The nods to the Evil Dead franchise are appreciated, as is the fantastic gore in the unrated cut of the film (which still hasn’t made it to Blu-ray, to my knowledge). It’s still a lackluster flick all around, with the one true shining spot being the great Steven Williams (Mr. X for my X-Files nerds) as bounty hunter Creighton Duke. Williams is clearly having a blast breaking dudes’ fingers and spouting off nonsensical one-liners, resulting in maybe my favorite supporting character of the entire series. 4/10
Jason: Like a few others, this one ends up being a bit of a blind spot for me – and it’s largely because it’s the worst film in the series. In the first 10 minutes they literally blow Jason up into a million little pieces, only for us to learn that Jason isn’t a man, isn’t a zombie, he’s a little demonic slug that jumps from body to body? I guess? It’s dumb, and means it’s another movie that is all gun shy about Jason being Jason. The kills aren’t that memorable, they try to take the cerebral route with the body swapping premise to ill effect, and it’s a film that is more remembered for its “twist ending” than anything the movie actually did. I own all of these movies except Vs. and the remake, and yet this is the one I’ve watched the least. It’s just not quite as fun as the others and that makes it what common society says it is – a bad movie. Also it’s set in 2003. What? 3/10
Patrick: I never saw this one. Should that gap of knowledge continue to save me?
David: I only saw this one once and I only remember the ending when Freddy grabs Jason’s mask and drags it to hell. This caused an uproar and speculation that Freddy vs. Jason could become a reality. And it did….. 3/10
Jason X (2001)
Nathan: I know that we’re judging all of these off their sheer entertainment value, rather than any inherent filmmaking quality, but there’s nowhere else in the franchise where that holds quite as true as it does with this entry. Make no mistake, Jason X is GARBAGE… and I adore it. I know that this is likely the point in this article where I lose any and all credibility, but I stand by this flick as being wholly entertaining in its badness. It’s a movie that understands at all times what a goofy mess it is and it embraces it at every turn. To many, this is the Freddy’s Dead of the Friday the 13th franchise, an embarrassing attempt as wacky comedy. To me, it’s the antidote to every Scream knockoff that populated the multiplexes of the late nineties and early aughts. It’s a splendid stupid 90 or so minutes of bonkers death scenes and absurd special effects, plus it gave us the amazing line delivery of “He just wanted his machete back!” 7/10
Jason: Maybe I’m just a fanboy, but I absolutely loved Jason X. It was MONSTROUSLY stupid, which is largely the point, and that makes it one of the highlights of the series. This is a movie in which there is an earnest conversation about whether or not to give a robot nipples, and in which – after said robot beats the s--t out of Jason – turns our central character into a literal killing machine. Shoot, Jason one ups his sleeping bag kill by hitting one sexy teen in a sleeping bag with another sexy teen in a sleeping bag. It’s the defining “dumb fun” outing in this series, and should definitely be on your radar if you’re discovering these films. 8/10
Patrick: There’s two types of people out there. People who saw this, expecting a slasher flick and left pissed off or people who knew it was going to be absolutely stupid fun from the jump and felt they got what they expected. I’m absolutely in the latter half. Is it totally ridiculous? You bet. Do they science Jason to explain him? Yep. Does it make sense? Nope. Is there a holodeck scene that’s one of the best in the entire run? Damn straight. Is it a good Friday the 13th movie? God no, 4/10 But if we were rating comedic cult films, I’d rank it far higher.
David: Jason goes to space. If you hit ten installments in a series, the character is bound to hit space eventually. The gang from The Fast and the Furious will be the next ones to hit orbit. I honestly don’t remember anything about this film except for his mask. Maybe I need to revisit it….maybe I don’t. ?/10
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Nathan: This is also not a good movie, but it is one that holds a particular place in my slasher-loving heart. After years of catching these respective titans on cable TV and worn VHS releases, this was my first time seeing either of them on the big screen. This is a slick-looking flick with some excellent kills and a wonderful performance from Robert Englund that perfectly balances the camp side of Freddy with a return to his darker roots. That being said, the film as a whole is a bit of a mess. The CGI effects have aged poorly (and didn’t look great back then) and the majority of the teenage characters feel underwritten, occasionally spouting off some very unfortunate and problematic dialogue, even by slasher standards (though I’ve heard that much of this was added on set, much to the dismay of the film’s screenwriters). Still, I’ll never be able to fully erase the genuine hype I felt finally seeing these icons throwing down in a theater. The bizarre soundtrack also introduced me to Type O Negative, so I’d call that a win. 6/10
Jason: Growing up a fan of both series, I was very excited to see this one finally come out, then after watching it, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still dumb fun – it just doesn’t quite get as dumb or as fun as Jason X. Freddy’s quips feel kind of lazy, the teens aren’t as sexy or fun (what was up with the teenage Jason Mewes ripoff?), and the kills are largely forgettable. There is a contingent of fans of both series that consider this one non-canon, and though I’m not one of them, I get it. This one is fine, but it could have – and perhaps should have – been so much more. 6/10
Patrick: Upside, watching Freddy and Jason go at each other is fantastic. The nonstop brute vs the chatty serial killer is a fun scene. Downside, that’s a very small piece of this film, clocking in at 10 minutes. The whole “Freddy is forgotten and powerless” plot seems good, until the cops being VERY AWARE of Freddy and trying to cover s--t up blows that out of the water. Lori is a great final girl (even though several kids survive) and for some reason sticks out as one of the most sympathetic in the entire series. Still, the entire movie is a build up to a single fight, that honestly – Jason utterly dominates the entire time. Sure he takes damage, but that’s his whole gig. 5/10
David: This is the matchup everyone wanted to see, right? The casuals went into this with higher hopes than the die hards, because all of us die hards knew there would be no clear winner! One studio isn’t going to let the other studio’s monster whip their monster’s ass and take the title as king! The talk growing up was always that Freddy can throttle Jason and vice versa. Some parts are entertaining, but let’s be honest; it wasn’t ever going to live up to the fanboy hype. I like it, but expected much more. Soundtrack>movie/10
Friday the 13th (2009)
Nathan: Okay, are y’all ready for my hottest of hot takes? Behind Jason Lives, this is my second favorite Friday the 13th film. That may mean that I will never be taken seriously within the fandom, but there’s just so much to dig about this flick. I honestly believe that a few tweaks to the script would have allowed this to stand as simply another sequel in the series, considering how closely it hews to the formula of the first half of the franchise. Derek Mears is terrifying as the most realistic depiction of Jason Voorhees: a deranged survivalist who would just as soon wait for you to tire yourself out as he would pick your ass up and toss you in the nearest woodchipper. The cast is a lot of fun, particularly Ryan Hansen wearing the funniest t-shirt of all time and Travis Van Winkle delivering lines about “perfect nipple placement” with an entirely straight face. There are some genuinely hilarious moments in here to balance out the sheer terror of seeing a Jason who isn’t content to slowly stalk after his victims. For that, I gotta give it to this flick; it made me afraid of Jason again! I think it has a very muddled reputation, so I’d honestly recommend giving it a look. It may surprise you. 9/10
Jason: I’m one of the rare folks who actually likes the remake. Sure, Padalecki wasn’t a great choice, and the film couldn’t really settle on a consistent tone, but I liked considerable portions of the movie. I wasn’t in love with Jason kidnapping and keeping the final girl because she looked like his mom, but it’s not entirely inconsistent with series lore. Similarly, Jason having a series of Vietcong-like tunnels running throughout the camp seemed a bit much, but did make some degree of sense. Still, it has the best sex scene of any of these movies which has to count for something, right? Right? Ugh, well it’s kind of funny at times. 6/10
Patrick: Never watched it. I hear mixed things, but it just never landed in a spot for me to spend a few hours on it.
David: Nope! Nope/10
And there you have it! This franchise that featured such glorious highs and preposterous lows that it made us question our sense of taste and made David give up on numbers!
Still, if we learned anything from this look back at this slasher series, it’s that Friday the 13th has something for everyone. Depending on when you first found this series and the memories you have attached to this wacky saga of Jason and his mom and sometimes Freddy and a demon worm (it’s complicated), you may have an entirely different attachment to its many twists and turns. That’s part of the reason why the horror fandom is so fun and why it’s never a bad time to pop one of these flick on.
You’re bound to have a scream.