Horror cinema is known for a lot of things, be it adrenaline pumping scares or masked freaks swinging hatchets, but in my mind the greatest trope is the franchise. While action flicks and comedies hold their own, no genre is as drawn to the allure of sequels as horror. We’ve had plenty, too: classics like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and even Psycho have spawned franchises, while lesser fare like Leprechaun, Critters, and Wrong Turn all have their own continuations. Go to any horror convention, and you’ll find table after table of low-rent production companies shilling sequels to movies you’ve never even heard of.
With all of these long-lasting series, one remains king in this writer’s eyes: Friday the 13th. Directed in 1980 by Sean S. Cunningham in response to the success of 1978’s Halloween, Friday the 13th went on to gross nearly $60 million worldwide on a budget of $550,000. Of course this meant sequels, and by the time the ‘90s rolled around there had been eight films produced for the franchise. Now in 2015 we’re at a grand total of twelve films, ranging in quality from total garbage to underrated classic.
So, let’s get right to it, shall we? Brace for SPOILERS, ’cause here are all twelve Friday the 13th films ranked from worst to best, starting of course with…
12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
During the production of the original Friday the 13th, director Sean Cunningham took a liking to his son Noel’s 11-year-old friend Adam Marcus and would later be described as a “spiritual father” to the boy. Cut to twelve years later, and the 23-year-old film school graduate was given the reigns to that horror juggernaut, now at it’s new home at New Line Cinema. He was the youngest director ever hired by the studio and, well, let’s just say that nepotism is never the best policy when choosing a director to send out one of the biggest horror franchises in history.
Jason Goes to Hell is a terrible film. It’s poorly shot, poorly acted, and features next to no Jason. Last time that happened was Part 5, and many reading this will probably consider that film the lesser of them all. However, it at least had a discernable plot, whereas this turd goes on the biggest tangent since Jason set sail for New York City.
Marcus, who also co-wrote Final Friday, was quoted as saying “The last thing the fans want is to see Jason going through Camp Crystal Lake chopping up teenagers again.” You know what that tells me? Despite growing up with the franchise, he just didn’t get it. No one goes to see a Friday the 13th movie for its unique plot or reinvention of the genre, but instead for a good time watching teens have sex, take drugs, and get brutally punished for it. Is it high art? No, but we don’t expect it to be.
There are those who will give this one a leg up just for a few quality kills, and while they are genuinely some of the best of the series… the rest just doesn’t deliver. From the bizarre Jason-is-a-demonic-worm-thing plot to the series-low acting, it’s just a slow, uninspiring dud.
Creighton Duke was pretty great, though.
The Best: “That makes me think of a little girl in a pink dress sticking a hot dog through a doughnut.”
The Worst: That sudden realization that this isn’t going to be a Jason movie.