9. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
“They say he died as a boy, but he keeps coming back!”
Jason (Kane Hodder) is once again unleashed on a group of hard-partying teens when he is awoken from his underwater slumber by young psychic Tina (Lar Park Lincoln), who proves to be his most challenging opponent yet.
Don’t think too hard about the timeline of these movies, because if we took a leap forward enough years to allow all of Jason’s traumatised victims to age out of childhood and experience PTSD-related mental health problems then none of them would be set in the same decade they were made.
Jason’s new half-rotted design incorporating every injury he had endured in previous instalments, with exposed spine, ribs and teeth, after emerging from being trapped under Crystal Lake for years, looks really cool.
Once again this was released shortly after a similarly themed instalment of Nightmare on Elm Street (Dream Warriors) which involved teens with psychic powers receiving psychiatric treatment and fighting back against a supernatural foe. Tina reluctantly undergoes therapy for accidentally killing her wife-beater dad just as Jason nears, forcing her to use the same destructive mental powers to defend herself, which is a pretty neat idea.
But that’s where the originality stops, as the movie shamelessly lifts scenes from Carrie and Jaws when Jason killing people at a glacial pace with conventional (and weirdly bloodless) stabbing isn’t deemed exciting enough. By the time a hedge trimmer is pulled seemingly out of nowhere to do something that’s definitely not gardening you’ve already lost interest.
Director John Carl Buechler has proclaimed the MPAA “raped his movie” in the edit, and because several of the ensemble were out and proud it has been lazily referred to as “Frigay the 13th” among the fanbase.
At least you get a record-breaking fire stunt as Hodder in his first of four appearances as Jason is set spectacularly ablaze, the impact of which is somewhat lessened by an ending that makes less than no sense even in a series famous for “huh?” endings.
Jason’s best kill: Jason picks up an occupied sleeping bag and whacks it viciously against a tree.
8. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
“Look. You don’t understand. There is a maniac trying to kill us! / Welcome to New York!”
Jason (Kane Hodder) gets shocked back to life once more and finally escapes Crystal Lake aboard a high school graduation party boat bound for New York. Then the bodies start to pile up in the cabins and corridors just as a ferocious storm hits.
It used to be a sign that a TV sitcom had been going for too long and had run out of ideas when they sent the cast on holiday for a special episode. What does it mean when they do this with a slasher movie antagonist?
Battling Jason never looked as dramatic as it does on a storm-lashed deck, but most of the stuff on the boat is really rather dull, and unfortunately that encompasses over half the movie.
This is the third film in a row that has its protagonist dealing with repressed trauma. There’s a mystery element as to what actually caused Rennie’s (Jensen Daggett’s) fear of water, which could have been interesting to uncover, but aside from some striking hallucination imagery the answer is not a particularly satisfying one.
Seemingly just to remind you he’s a mass murderer with a moral code, Jason does save Rennie from being raped when they finally arrive in the big city, and he also saves his nastiest killing methods for the absolute worst people.
The final act of Jason’s Manhattan excursion is almost entertaining enough to justify the slog of the rest of it. Highlights include him flashing his hideous face to scare some young gang members that he really can’t be bothered to fight, and him prompting disinterested shrugs from NYC commenters as he strides down a subway car.
Jason’s best kill: Jason dunks a terrible teacher in a barrel of toxic waste.
7. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
“Smoking some dope, having some premarital sex and getting slaughtered?”
Jason (Kane Hodder) is finally stopped in his tracks seemingly once and for all when he’s ambushed and blown up by the FBI, but continues his killing spree by hijacking other people’s bodies from beyond the grave and seeking a surviving relative to be reborn into.
“Large Caucasian male with massive tissue loss due to extreme explosive trauma.” (Translation: the FBI blew Jason up and all that’s left is his head, heart and assorted viscera in a bag.)
You only get to call your film the “final” instalment once in your ongoing series and have the audience buy it, and the Friday films had already done that three movies earlier. With Jason’s rights sold on to New Line, and franchise originator Sean Cunningham back on board as producer, they aimed for something a bit different with this one.
The Final Friday could definitely be considered ahead of its time given its satirical elements – sensationalist news reporting, vigilantes, tragedy tourism and profiteering – even if it doesn’t make the most of these elements.
This feels a lot like an Evil Dead film, and that’s even apart from the Necronomicon cameo. From the demonic possession angle to the wisecracks, cartoony supporting characters and gross-out slime and gore, this would have worked a lot better as the full-on Deadite crossover originally planned and then mixed by rights issues.
In the end, there’s too much by way of confusing exposition and additions to the mythology, and the good-in-concept action is often bewilderingly edited.
You do get an undeniably pleasing final shot for horror fans, one that would finally be paid off a decade later.
Jason’s best kill: Jason pushes a road sign through a woman’s naked torso mid-coitus.
Recommended for you: Evil Dead Movies Ranked