A Horror Retrospective #3 - The Friday The 13th Franchise.

Updated: Jun 24

Have you ever found yourself avoiding walking under a ladder? Does your sphincter get a little twitchy if a Black Cat crosses your path? Do you carry a Rabbit's foot around in the belief that it somehow brings you good luck? It certainly wasn’t lucky for poor Bugs who’s now missing a foot.

Human’s have been on this planet in some form or another for around 6 million years and while that’s a relatively short amount of time when you compare it to the fact that Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is around 14 billion years old, we have still come a long way on an evolutionary scale, or so you might think...

It’s understandable that our ancestors, with their limited understanding of science would attribute things to the supernatural or the will of the God’s, but we are no longer primitive monkeymen. We have a greater awareness of how we came to be here. How the mechanics of the universe work, and how superstition is a nonsensical way of whitewashing what we don’t understand.

So why, despite all the evidence to the contrary, are there still plenty of us who believe that doing or not doing a certain thing will bring about a negative consequence? That avoiding certain, everyday situations will prevent bad luck befalling them? To me, it seems completely ludicrous. Others take it deadly serious.

One such day that has those of a superstitious nature getting their knickers in a twist is Friday the 13th. The fear of Friday the 13th seems to have originated in the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages? It’s 2019 people. I think we are a little past putting things down to curses and witchcraft. Statistically you are far more likely to be killed by a hockey masked psychopath than you are by bad omens…

… Which brings me round nicely to the point of this article.

So, it’s Friday the 13th and you don’t feel like leaving the house because bad luck may befall you. How are you going to spend your day? You could sit, huddled in bubble wrap, avoiding sharp objects like Devon Sawa in Final Destination. Or you could use your time more wisely and have a slasher marathon. If option B interests you more, then why not revisit the Friday the 13th franchise.

This is something I do fairly regularly. I am a Jason man. While I’m a fan of the Elm Street series, I have always been a Jason man. Jason is a killing machine. He doesn’t pause to crack wise. He doesn’t waste time explaining his motivation. He just gets on with the job at hand. He is a blunt instrument. An unstoppable force of nature and if your paths cross, you’re dead. He can’t be bargained with or reasoned with. He is a hot knife to your warm butter and he will go through you like a vindaloo.

I am a self-confessed Friday nut. I love the series. I collect all things Jason, and I find things to love in even the worst entries in the franchise. So I can’t promise that this look back over the Friday saga won’t be both biased and rose-tinted. Let’s find out, anyway..

Friday the 13th (1980).

Directed By: Sean S. Cunningham, Written By: Victor Miller, Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon & Robbi Morgan.

“Did you know a young boy drowned the year before those two others were killed? The counselors weren’t paying any attention... They were making love while that young boy drowned. His name was Jason. I was working the day that it happened. Preparing meals... here. I was the cook. Jason should’ve been watched. Every minute. He was... he wasn’t a very good swimmer. We can go now, dear.” – Mrs Voorhees.

In 1978 a little movie named Halloween changed the face of horror movies forever. It was a runaway success and people lined the streets, yearning to witness a gaggle of fresh-faced babysitters picked off one by one by a masked psychopath. This was a fact not lost on Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller who recognised that a cash in could be just as successful. Victor Miller openly admits to riding on the success of John Carpenter’s masterpiece.

What they needed was a gimmick. Halloween had its gimmick and what better gimmick than to set the movie on the unluckiest day of them all. It certainly turned out to be unlucky for the nubile councillors of Camp Crystal Lake.

In 1958 a couple of frisky councillors are brutally murdered, forcing the camp to close and earning it the moniker ‘Camp Blood’. Skip forward twenty years and Steve Christie (Peter Brouwer) has decided it’s the perfect time to re-open the camp. Boy, is he wrong.

No sooner does the new batch of cannon fodder.., I mean councillors rock up, then they start to die, horrible, violent deaths. As protests go, it’s a little extreme, but someone really doesn’t want the camp open.

Now is around the time I would add a spoiler alert, but this is a 39-year-old movie. If you haven’t seen it, or have somehow avoided spoilers, then chances are you have no interest in seeing it and you won’t care if I ruin it for you.

It turns out that the killer is the old camp cook, Pamela Voorhees. She explains that her son drowned in the 50s and that it had been the fault of the councillors who were not watching him while he swam. Killing off the new crop of councillors was her way of ensuring that the camp never re-opened, there-by preventing any more deaths. In many ways her reasoning is both sound and understandable. Her methods are just a little too extreme to get behind.

Friday the 13th was a hit and defined the genre for decades to come. Suddenly, we had horror movies for all occasions. April Fool's Day (1986), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984). No significant date was safe. There was a killer for all occasions.

Friday the 13ths ace up its sleeve is its ending. We believe that good has triumphed, and that evil has been defeated. There is nice, happy music and our protagonist has vanquished the evil Mrs Voorhees with a little, machete to neck action. Everything is ok. Alice sits in a boat, idly running her hand through the water… Then, Jason lunges from the water. He throws his arms around Alice’s (Adrienne King’s) neck and drags her beneath the lake. It’s a shocker for sure and it’s this scene that elevated Friday the 13th from slasher movie obscurity. Friday the 13th became a template for horror to come.

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981).

Directed By: Steve Miner, Written By: Ron Kurz, Starring: Amy Steel, Warrington Gillette, John Furey & Kirsten Baker.

“Paul, there’s someone in this fucking room!” – Ginny.

The story picks up a few months after the events of the first movie. We are reunited with Alice who.. Wait, what he fuck? You just killed our hero. Well, that was unexpected.

Camp Crystal Lake has a new problem. Mrs Voorhees is very dead, but that doesn’t stop a new crop of teens from being picked off. Who could be responsible for this trail of death and carnage? A copycat? The ghost of Pamela? The answer is a little simpler than that. It transpires that little Jason hadn’t drowned at all. Instead, he had lived like some feral animal in the woods surrounding the lake. He had witnessed Alice kill his mother, and now he wants revenge.

When I say it back to myself like that, it seems a little daft. Why did he choose to live in the woods? Why wouldn’t he have run back into the arms of his loving mother and avoided all this unnecessary bloodshed? As plot devices go, it’s a bit thin. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as it provided me with my favourite movie maniac, but I understand how ludicrous it must seem.

Part two introduces my favourite final girl in the series. Ginny (Amy Steel). She is smart; she is tough and her survival seems the most credible of all the people who face Jason down, except maybe Tina in Part 7. It’s a shame she didn’t reappear in further entries.

It also contains one of the more controversial kills in the series. A wheelchair-bound Mark (Tom McBride) receives a machete to the face, causing his chair to tumble down a flight of stairs with him still very much in it. It’s so wrong that I laugh every time I see this scene. I’m a bad person and I’m going to hell.

The Jason we get in part 2 is more of a hillbilly. Favouring a sack with eyeholes instead of his trademark hockey mask. It’s a blatant rip-off of The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). Friday the 13th Part 2 was another roaring success, proving that the series still had plenty of steam in its engine and wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982).

Directed By: Steve Miner, Written By: Martin Kitrosser & Carol Watson, Starring: Richard Brooker, Paul Kratka, Dana Kimmell & Gloria Charles.

“Oh, they said they were going skinny-dipping. I’m not skinny enough.” – Shelly.

Let’s be honest. 3D in the 80s was bad. The general idea was that you sat in a cinema with silly cardboard glasses while the characters on-screen, wiggled whatever they could find at the camera. It’s even funnier when you watch an old 3D movie in 2D. I have never actually seen Part 3 in 3D, but I doubt it holds up very well. I do love that scene where Jason squeezes Rick’s (Paul Kratka) head so hard that his eyes pop out towards the camera like Pepe Le Pew having just spotted a sexy female skunk.

There is, however, plenty to enjoy about part 3. There is plenty of the nudity that the Friday series has become known for. The violence and inventiveness of the kills really ups its game. Most importantly, Jason finally acquires that red wings hockey mask. In that moment, a horror icon is born. Jason now had his own identity. It wasn’t borrowed from another film. It’s so iconic that even non fans know what Jason looks like without even having seen a film.

The change in look for Jason came from the producers being unhappy with how much he resembled The Elephant Man as he appeared in David Lynch’s film of the same title. Strange that it was this movie they were most concerned about mimicking.

The casting of Richard Brooker as Jason started a trend, whereby Jason appears to increase in size with each following sequel. Were they still making these movies, Jason would be about 8ft tall by now. I don’t know what’s in the water in that Lake but it certainly hasn’t stunted jason’s growth.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984).

Directed By: Joseph Zito, Written By: Barney Cohen, Starring: Kimberly Beck, Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover & Ted White.

“Am I a dead fuck?” – Jimmy.

The final chapter? Not by a long shot. It was supposed to be, but Part 4 was so lucrative that there was no way that Paramount was going to kill their cash cow.

The Final Chapter introduces us to what turns out to be Jason’s greatest nemesis, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). Of all the people who have faced Jason and won, I never understood what it was that gave Tommy such longevity. Sure Corey Feldman was great in the part but other than a brief cameo in part 5, Tommy is played by a different actor in each subsequent movie.

The real hero of the piece is Crispin Glover’s dance. George McFly rocking out to Love is a lie by Lion is second only to Jesse’s bedroom dance in A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). It’s as if the filmmakers felt they hadn’t quite rammed home just how dorky this character is, so they crafted this dance scene. Poor Jimmy. He may be a dead fuck, but eventually he gets screwed. Literally and then literally again.

My particular favourite scene in this movie comes when the character of Rob, heroically rushes into a room to confront Jason. While his death takes place offscreen, his shouts of “Help! He’s killing me! He’s killing me!” really adds a sense of peril to the scene. Generally, victims of the Friday movies are just killed with little or no time to react. Rob’s death is probably the most chilling simply because of this dialogue.

The nudity that Friday fans both expect and crave is both present and fairly gratuitous. While I’m not one to complain about this, it isn’t a plot device. It’s on-screen simply to appease its target audience.

The Final Chapter is a great entry in the series and one of the better sequels. By now the Friday films had grown formulaic. Not that that’s a bad thing. Things, however, were about to change..

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985).

Directed By: Danny Steinmann, Written By: Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen & Danny Steinmann. Starring: Tiffany Helm, Melanie Kinnaman, Deborah Voorhees & John Shepherd.

“You dumb dildo!” – Ethel.

The most baffling thing about A New Beginning is that it took three people to write it. Other than a bit of a twist that can be seen coming a mile away, it’s a generic Friday the 13th movie.

That isn’t to suggest that there isn’t plenty to be enjoyed. There're boobs (plenty of boobs). Murder (plenty of murder). And Violet’s (Tiffany Helm’s) robotic dancing to the excellent ‘His Eyes’ by Pseudo Echo. Ive always enjoyed that scene. I don’t know why.

Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) is all grown up. He is also, thanks to the trauma of his run in with Jason, a paranoid lunatic. This see’s him shipped off to a mental hospital. No sooner is he introduced to his inmates (for lack of a better word) than they begin to die. Is Tommy losing his grip on reality? Is Jason back from the dead?

The answer to both those questions is NOPE! If it’s really necessary then *SPOILER ALERT*

It’s not Jason doing the killing, and it’s not Tommy either. It’s Roy. Roy? Who the fuck is Roy? Roy (Dick Wieand) is a paramedic. He gets a call to the hospital to retrieve the body of one of the patients only to discover it’s his estranged son. This sends Roy on a kill crazy frenzy of revenge. He adopts Jason’s M.O. and cuts a bloody path through naked teen after naked teen.

There are plenty of clues throughout to suggest that the killer isn’t Jason. His mask, for instance, replaces the famous red wings with blue. Roy reacts to injuries in a way that Jason wouldn’t have concerned himself with. It’s all there to see if you’re paying attention. Sadly, paying attention isn’t that easy. Part 5 is kinda boring. I count it whenever I host a Friday marathon. It isn’t so bad that I feel the need to omit it and as I said before, there is plenty to enjoy. The whole movie just feels like the first mis-step in the franchise.

Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives (1986).

Directed By: Tom McLoughlin, Written By: Tom McLoughlin, Starring: Thom Mathews, C.J. Graham, Jennifer Cooke & David Kagen.

“I’ve seen enough horror movies to know any weirdo wearing a mask is never friendly.” – Lizbeth.

We now arrive at what many fans consider to be the best entry in the series. I am inclined to agree with them.

Tom McLoughlin decided to put a slightly different spin on the series, and what we got was a more comedic, self-referential twist on what had come before. Friday the 13th Part 6 feels more akin to Scream or Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and it not only works but breathes new life into the ailing franchise.

From this point on, we have Zombie Jason. Gone is the deformed yet still human antagonist. Jason is now, very much a member of the undead. Not a shambling, groaning, Romero type of undead. Jason is still very capable of swiftly dispatching his victims. It just means that he is even harder to kill than ever before.

It’s all the fault of Tommy Jarvis (this time played by Thom Mathews). Needing to see for himself that Jason is dead, Tommy and his friend dig up our hockey masked anti-hero. Not content to just look, Tommy spears him with a metal spike. Low and behold a storm roles in and before you can say “That’s a conveniently placed lightening strike” Jason is back on his feet and doing what he does best.

Tommy runs to the local sheriff's office to report these events, but they understandably think he is nuts and lock him up. Meanwhile, Jason makes his way home to Crystal Lake, or as it’s now known, Camp Forrest Green. Killing anyone he encounters along the way, including a hapless bunch of paintball fanatics.

C.J. Graham gives a great performance as Jason Voorhees. Second only to Kane Hodder. Sorry, C.J. but Hodder will always take it.

Jason Lives is a really fun movie. Fans had been unable to accept any other killer in the series for part 5 in much the same way that fans had been so outspoken about the absence of Michael Myers in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982). Although Halloween 3 was a great film. Friday the 13th part 5, not so much.

Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood. (1988).

Directed By: John Carl Buechler, Written By: Daryl Haney & Manuel Fidello, Starring: Lar Park-Lincoln, Kane Hodder, Susan Jennifer Sullivan & Terry Kiser.

“Okay, you big hunk of a man, come and get me!” – Judy.

Long before Freddy vs Jason we got Jason vs Carrie.. sort of.

Tina (Lar Park Lincoln) possesses a telekinetic ability that she has little to no control over. This very ability caused the death of her father when she was just a little girl. It’s easy to overlook that her father was an abusive, woman beating, douche-bag who probably deserved it, but Tina blames herself anyway.

At the insistence of Dr Crews (Terry Kiser), Tina and her mother return to their old house on Crystal Lake to work on Tina’s guilt and hopefully keep her out of the mental hospital. Dr Crews is far more interested in Tina’s abilities however and one night, in a fit of rage, Tina accidently uses her power to drag Jason from his watery grave.

Jason gets back to doing what he does best before a final showdown finds him having his arse handed to him by Tina who would probably be a member of the X-Men in a different universe.

The New Blood is a great addition to the series. I love Lar Park Lincoln as Tina. It’s a novel take to finally have a protagonist that is far more equipped at giving Jason a taste of his own medicine.

Best of all… Kane Hodder!!! Kane Hodder is Jason. As Robert Englund is Freddy, Kane Hodder is Jason. Jason is a character hiding behind a mask. He doesn’t speak; he doesn’t emote. So what Kane brings to the table doesn’t get enough credit. He breathes not only new energy, but personality into what could have always been 2 dimensional character. This might start sounding like some love letter to Kane Hodder and in some ways that might be the case. I can’t state strongly enough how great Kane is as Jason.

The final showdown between Tina and Jason is pretty epic. She uses her telekinesis to hang him. Electrocute him. She causes his mask to tighten on his head until it explodes. She burns him and she even knocks him clean through a staircase. You can almost sense Jasons frustration at not being able to get anywhere near enough to just kill her.

Sure, some of it is daft but Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood is one of my favourite sequels.

Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989).

Directed By: Rob Hedden, Written By: Rob Hedden, Starring: Jensen Daggett, Kane Hodder, Peter Mark Richman & Kelly Hu.

“Walking corpses are not real.” – Charles.

Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan, or as my wife likes to call it, Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Fucks Around On A Boat Before Popping To Canada.

I get that this film isn’t the movie they set out to make. Between budget problems and censor interference, the project was about as doomed as the fateful voyage that dominates the majority of the runtime.

There are gapping holes in both logic and plot. The gore is watered down considerably when compared to other entries in the series. Yet despite all these flaws, I still kinda love it. It’s a fun movie. The scenes that actually do take place in New York are great. Jason is out of his comfort zone, but that doesn’t stop him from being an aggressive motherfucker. That scene where he boots a stereo belonging to a gang of punks and when they challenge him about it, he scares them off by simply lifting his mask is priceless.

You can tell that Kane Hodder was having a whale of a time during these scenes.

It was a bold move taking Jason out of Crystal Lake after seven movies, set in the same location. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it worked, but it could have been worse. At least it wasn’t space..

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993).

Directed By: Adam Marcus, Written By: Dean Lorey & Jay Huguely, Starring: Kane Hodder, Steven Williams, Erin Gray & Steven Culp.

“Shit!” - Agent Elizabeth Marcus.

It all starts so well. A lone female drives out to a cabin in the woods. She enters the darkness of her lodgings before changing a bulb so that she won’t break her neck and then heads upstairs for a bath. She disrobes, (It’s a Friday movie people. It’s important to the plot. Stop being so judgy). Just as she is down to her birthday suit, she hears a noise and goes investigate. With a towel now covering her thruppenny bits, she heads on out of the bathroom and… ARGHHHH It’s Jason.

Somehow she dodges his attempt at a beheading and runs out of the door before fleeing towards the woods. She dives over a car and suddenly, floodlights illuminate Jason like the worlds most psychotic stand-up comedian. It’s the FBI. It was all a ruse and the buxom young lady was an agent all along. They open fire on poor old Jason before blowing him to pieces with a rocket launcher. THE END..

Except that’s not the end. The movie has only just started. Sadly, it all goes downhill from here. Pieces of Jason are taken to the coroner's office. While performing an autopsy, the coroner suddenly finds himself afflicted with an overwhelming urge to eat Jason’s still beating heart. The next thing we know, the coroner is now Jason, except he still looks like the coroner.

Basically, Jason’s evil can jump from person to person, so that he wears them as a suit while carrying out his post-being-blown-up, evil deeds.

Jason Goes To Hell is a horrible, horrible movie. The only redeeming parts are the beginning and the end. Both of those times, Jason is present and correct. The rest of the film may as well be some shonky alien/possession/pod-person movie.

If I was to linger for too long over this 9th entry in the series, it would be dragging it out for the sake of it. Sure Kane Hodder is back. Sure Steven Williams is great as Creighton Duke and sure that final scene where Freddy's glove bursts forth from the depths of Hell to retrieve Jason’s mask is cool, but that really is all that this film has going for it.

Jason X (2001).

Directed By: James Isaac, Written By: Todd Farmer, Starring: Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder & Melyssa Ade.

“Guys, it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” – Professor Lowe.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of one homicidal maniac.

Pinhead did it. The Leprechaun did it. The Critters did it. All of those were astonishingly successful (That was sarcasm), so why not send Jason into space? It will be great, right?

Strange thing is, it kind of is. For all the Shark jumping that the series achieves with Jason X, I kinda of like it.

Jason has been captured. They have tried every method of execution known to man, but nothing will put the big guy down. The logical next step is to cryogenically freeze his arse until they can figure out what to do with him. This would be fine, except Jason escapes and kills everyone in the vicinity, except Rowan (Lexa Doig) who manages to trap him in a cryo-pod. Not before Jason stabs

her through the door causing a cryo-breach that freezes them both.

Skip forward a few hundred years and Earth is an uninhabitable wasteland. A salvage crew sweeps by and discovers the pair in their state of hibernation and takes them back to their spaceship, believing them to be valuable.

As I’m sure you are aware, Jason wakes up and all hell breaks loose.

Jason X is a ridiculous departure from the rest of the franchise, there is no denying it. It is, however, an enjoyable movie if you can look past the fact that it’s basically an R-rated episode of Farscape. There are some clever, tongue in cheek pokes at the series as a whole, and who doesn’t love the liquid nitrogen face smash? And Uber-Jason, am I right?

Sure, there is more cheese present than the larder of a French café, but Jason X is a brainless beer and pizza movie and nothing more.

Freddy VS Jason (2003).

Directed By: Ronny Yu, Written By: Damian Shannon & Mark Swift, Starring: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, & Katharine Isabelle.

I covered this movie when I looked back over the, A Nightmare on Elm Street series. You can read that by clicking the link below:

Friday the 13th (2009).

Directed By: Marcus Nispel, Written By: Damian Shannon & Mark Swift, Starring: Jared Padalecki, Derek Mears, Julianna Guill & Travis Van Winkle.

“These would win in a fucking titty contest!” – Trent.

Interesting fact, Travis Van Winkle is playing the exact same character in this movie as he did in Transformers (2007). Did you find that interesting? No? Wow, tough room. The above line of dialogue is genuine by the way. Somebody got paid to write that.

I’m not going to trash this remake like I did the Elm Street remake. It isn’t even close to as bad.

What it is, however, is pointless. It sticks close enough to the Friday formula that it can’t really screw up. It has boobs. So many boobs in fact that Michael Bay got up and left. This is the Michael Bay, who filmed Megan Fox like he was her gynaecologist.

It has a few interesting and amusing kills. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the table though, which is why I stated that it just feels pointless. At least Elm Street tried something a little different even if it was a steaming pile of shite.

The Friday remake is a less infuriating watch than Elm Street. I didn’t want to get up and punch the nearest small guy I could find so that has to be a good thing right?

At the end of the day though, it’s just a bunch of pretty people getting killed for playing beer-pong and generally being wankers.

So, to summarise, Friday the 13th as a franchise is a series of ups and downs. In my opinion, mostly ups. I am a huge fan, and if they can just sort this court thing out with Victor Miller, then I hope we get something new to the series soon. Until now, we have some great fan films being made. Check out Never Hike Alone and Friday the 13th: Vengeance. Plus, anyone who has played the video game knows how great that is. Sadly, that was also ruined by the whole, ongoing court debacle.

Until next time. Your tits are stupendous.

Get your grubby mits on the Friday the 13th collection by clicking the link below:

UK readers can find it here: