Of all the terrifying creatures in the world of horror, there are few as famous as Jason Voorhees. His hockey goalie mask and machete has graced the bedroom walls of horror enthusiasts for decades, and you can’t go a single Halloween night without seeing at least 10 Jasons. But his real legacy lies with the Friday the 13th franchise – a series of 12 slasher films, comic books, video games and more based on Jason’s killing sprees. These follow Jason’s journey from a kid who “drowned” in Crystal Camp Lake to one of the greatest horror villains of all time.
There’s no denying the legacy of the Friday the 13th franchise, and Jason Voorhees, in popular culture… but did you know that most of the films received negative reviews from critics? If it’s not a Rotten Tomatoes score that makes a film memorable, then what is? Many say that it’s Jason’s terrifying appearance that has spawned merchandise, Halloween costumes, and killer tattoos for nearly 40 years. Others say it’s the sex and violence that make for a scary good (even if not sophisticated) time. Or perhaps you’d like to decide for yourself? Watch these top five films from the Friday the 13th lineup to determine why the franchise is so iconic.
Interested in the real history of Friday the 13th, well we’ve got that too!
Friday the 13th (1980)
The film that started it all – and funny enough, doesn’t even include Jason in his trademark hockey mask. What it does have, however, is young Kevin Bacon, lots of blood, and a sweet tale of vengeance. Friday the 13th follows a tale of teenagers who are trying to refurbish an abandoned summer camp, which has been vacant since a young boy drowned at Camp Crystal Lake many years prior. But things take a violent turn when they start getting murdered one-by-one, and you’ll never guess who’s doing it. This is the first movie in a decades-long tale of torment and fear, and who doesn’t love a good 1980’s slasher flick? Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
This is the film where Jason gets his iconic hockey mask and finds his identity as a killer, and it’s a lot of fun along the way. It was released in 3D, which was a huge deal back in 1982, and therefore gave you a lot of grotesque images of body parts coming at you through the screen. But that’s just horror, right? This is one of the best films that lays the foundation for the rest of the franchise, and you’ll really connect with Jason! Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
For the record, this film is definitely not the final chapter in the franchise. Not even close. However, it’s still one of the best Friday the 13th movies that introduces you to Tommy Jarvis, the brave kid with an affinity for masks who comes face-to-face with Jason. Portrayed by a young Corey Feldman, this film marks Tommy’s first appearance in the franchise… but definitely not his last. You’ll see him hack away at Jason with a machete and kill him, and the terrifying results will unfold over the next few films! Stream on Amazon here.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
If you asked somebody on the street which Friday the 13th film was their favorite, it would likely be Freddy vs. Jason. It’s one of the best and most popular features, likely due to the face-off between two of the biggest villains in horror. There’s just as much blood as you would expect, as Freddy raises Jason from the dead (once again) to get back into the killing spirit. While the clawed villain from your nightmares was expecting the hockey-masked murderer to help him, things get a little twisted as they start battling each other and fighting over who gets to kill whom! Stream on Amazon here.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Sure, the title is kind of a spoiler… but if you’ve watched any of the movies, you already know that Jason lives. Again, and again, and again. While Tommy Jarvis murdered Jason years ago, things take a dramatic turn after the former is released from the mental hospital and returns to Crystal Lake to confront his fears. A bolt of lightning and some seriously bad luck ressurects Jason from the dead, and the killings start once again as Tommy tries to stop the hockey masked murderer once and for all. This movie is less scary, and more funny… and one of the best parts of what makes Friday the 13th so iconic? It doesn’t take itself too seriously! Stream on Amazon here.
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.