Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: The Last Ranking of Friday The 13th Movies You'll Ever Need...Until the Next One

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. In and of itself, that doesn't mean much (it's the first of two in 2012), but it's also the opening date of Joss Whedon's genre-twisting horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. I've seen it (review pending), and while it veers pretty far from what you might expect, it still starts out as a movie about a bunch of young people stranded in the woods and stalked by...something.

It's no coincidence Cabin is coming out on the 13th...or maybe it is, it's been in the can since 2009. Whatever, it's *fitting* this movie's release date dovetails with the film that created the "Isolated Teens Threatened By Mysterious Assailant" subgenre, Friday the 13th.

Thirty-two years, 12 movies, ten Jasons; that's quite the cinematic legacy, and I've seen them all. On the off chance you're planning on checking out one or two or five of the fine flicks in this series, allow me to use my vast powers for good and steer you towards the better selections.

And I hate to be the one to say this, but we really need to make one more sequel and end the series on 13 installments, it's what Mama Voorhees would've wanted.

12. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) -- By the time we finally get to Vancouver Manhattan, there are only ten minutes left in the movie. From the previews, I had high hopes that the movie would be a dizzying cavalcade of carnage in the streets of New York. Little did I know they could've just as easily called this Jason Takes a Cruise. Weak even by the slasher standards of the late '80s, JTM has bad F/X, bad acting and would only have been redeemed if Jason had been on one of those rock and roll cruises and murdered Styx and REO Speedwagon.

Rating: F

Best Death: Would you call this a TKO? Julius's head may still have been technically alive after the ten count, and Jason never went to his corner.

11. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) -- The beginning is interesting enough: SWAT troops stake out Camp Crystal Lake after Jason's disappearance from Manhattan, where they lure Jason into a murderous crossfire. At this point, you'd be better just ejecting the DVD, otherwise you'll be forced to hear how Jason is some sort of parasite who hops from body to body (à la The Hidden) in an attempt to kill the last of the Voorhees women (they being the only people who can kill him...don't ask).

Rating: D-

Best Death: The rude interruption of Deborah's tryst with Luke, and the subsequent tearing in half. He interrupts a lot of trysts, and tears a lot of people in half (1:15 mark, NSFW):

10. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) -- Another bad one, in large part because it isn't even Jason killing the teens, but some dude named Roy who's using Jason's MO to get revenge on the punk kids who caused the death of his son. Little Tommy Jarvis, confined to an asylum thanks to the traumatic events of The "Final" Chapter, is forced to kill Roy, which can't be good for his convalescence.

Rating: D

Best Death: Girls in the '80s were simply unable to do anything but scream when confronted by a mutant with garden shears, and Tina is no exception.

9. Friday the 13th (2009) -- We start off in promising fashion, with five murders taking place before the opening titles even run. From there, however, we settle back into predictability. This is really a remake of the second movie, since according to the opening sequence, the first mass murder already took place at the campsite. Unfortunately, minus a mild plot twist you'll probably see coming from the first five minutes, nothing original is in the offing. This lack of creativity wouldn't be a problem except at this point we've already seen Jason rise from the dead half a dozen times, demonstrate the ability to jump from body to body, and travel into space. Just watching him stab somebody in the head again seems...uninspired.

Rating:: D+

Best Death: A variation on the sleeping bag kill from the first movie. This is the 21st century, however, so naturally it has to be that much more horrific.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar