Friday the 13th Movies Ranked

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

“That is one fucking ugly man that goes there!”

Troubled teen Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) is sent to a halfway house to begin to prepare for his reintroduction into mainstream society but is haunted by his witnessing of Jason Voorhees’ brutality as a child, just a new killing spree commences in the surrounding countryside.

Jason steps into Freddy Krueger’s turf by invading his victims’ dreams here, but there’s a very real physical threat to the group of troubled teenagers as well. Plus he’s wearing a hockey mask.

Seems like they made more of an effort to give returning protagonist Tommy (Corey Feldman from The Final Chapter cameoing in the prologue before Shepherd takes over) a bit of character depth as he tries to work through the trauma of his encounter with Jason, and it’s certainly one of the better performances of the series. It’s a good job because the rest of the mostly teenage characters are sketched even thinner and more irritating than usual.

This is often highlighted as the excessive one, and it does feature more nudity and sadistic violence than the others courtesy of former hardcore director Danny Steinman.

There are lots of red herrings thrown out here for who the new killer is. There’s also a moment where a kid hits the killer with a bulldozer, plus a brief chainsaw vs machete duel.

Potential for more interesting future instalments not directly involving Jason (much like how they eventually passed the torch in the Saw franchise) never went any further.

“Jason’s” best kill: “Jason” jams a lit flare in a guy’s mouth.

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

“We ain’t gonna stand for no weirdness out here.”

Twenty-odd years after a tragic drowning, Crystal Lake summer camp is due to reopen and the camp counsellors begin to get things ready for the arrival of the kids, but not before someone with a connection to the camp’s past begins to pick them off one by one.

This was a quick, cheap (around $500,000) horror movie made by struggling filmmaker Sean S. Cunningham that was a massive and unexpected smash, especially among teen and young adult audiences. It did a lot with its limited budget, simple story, money raised on the back of a memorable title, and behind-the-scenes links to the similarly successful shocker The Last House on the Left.

This group of horny teens, including a pre-Footloose Kevin Bacon, are actually pretty likeable, which makes a change from most slasher movies where pretty much everyone is lining up for a well-deserved stabbing.

The only Friday film where Jason (40-year-old spoiler alert) or someone who looks like him isn’t the killer, and is relatively restrained by the standards of the franchise to come.

Composer Harry Manfredini’s economic but eerie work (ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma…) instantly makes an impression and would become a series linchpin and antagonist character theme as iconic as when you knew the shark was near in Jaws.

Not-Jason’s best kill: Not-Jason pushes a hunting arrow through a poor sod’s throat from below his bed.

Recommended for you: Instruments of Terror: The Music in Horror Films

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

“That’s you they’re talking about on TV, pal!”

Jason (Ted White) is somehow still not dead and escapes the morgue to come into contact with more teens on vacation in his woods. These include local residents Trish (Kimberly Beck) and her precocious 12-year-old brother Tommy (Corey Feldman).

Roger Ebert called this one an “immoral and reprehensible piece of trash”, but why this was so much worse than the others is anyone’s guess.

The Final Chapter is built up to be, and was originally intended to be, the final Friday, and certainly has the feel of a definitive finale.

It’s got something in the realm of a proper budget (at least compared to Parts 1-3), Tom Savini returns to do makeup and gore effects, and the cast includes soon-to-be-stars Feldman and Crispin Glover (Back to the Future).

There’s a big manly man in this one played E. Erich Anderson with his own machete (for all the good it’ll do him), but far more effective is a sister’s primal instinct to defend her younger brother from a hulking masked killer and said brother’s surprising resourcefulness.

It’s atmospheric, looks pretty good and has a self-aware streak in that the kid makes monster masks and uses Jason’s hideous appearance against him.

Jason’s best kill: Someone’s searching for a corkscrew and finds it when Jason stabs it through his hand, following it up with a machete in the face.

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