A Retrospective Of The Friday the 13th Film Series
Spanning 12 slasher films over nearly 40 years, the Friday the 13th franchise has become one of horror cinema’s most iconic brands, built around its hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees. This retrospective will examine the highs and lows of the decades-long series.
The franchise originated in 1980 with Friday the 13th, in which Jason’s mother goes on a murder spree avenging her son’s drowning death. Though a surprise hit, it was 1981’s Friday the 13th Part 2 that introduced the now-legendary Jason as the antagonist. He acquired his signature mask in Part 3 (1982), while 1984’s The Final Chapter was intended to conclude the series, until its popularity demanded more installments.
What is the best order to watch the Friday the 13th movies?
There are two main ways to watch the Friday the 13th movies: in chronological order or in release order.
If you want to watch the movies in chronological order, you should start with the original Friday the 13th (1980), followed by Friday the 13th Part II (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason X (2002), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and finally, the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th.
However, if you prefer to watch the movies in release order, you should start with the original Friday the 13th (1980), followed by Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason X (2002), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and finally, the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th.
It’s worth noting that the final two films, Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason, are not in chronological order with the rest of the series, but they can be watched at the end of either viewing order.
The films that followed through the late 80s recycled the formula of Jason resurrecting to kill randy teens at Crystal Lake, albeit with diminishing returns and increasingly absurd scenarios, like taking Manhattan. The meta-horror of Jason Lives (1986) stood out by satirizing slasher tropes.
After 1989’s Jason Takes Manhattan, the series limped on. Jason Goes to Hell (1993) tried injecting mythos, while Jason X (2001) took the killer to space. 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason finally pitted Jason against Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger. A reboot followed in 2009 before the series went dormant.
Friday The 13th Movies In Order
Camp counselors arrive at the newly-reopened Camp Crystal Lake, unaware of its violent history. They are picked off one by one by an unknown assailant. In the climax, it is revealed that Pamela Voorhees, the mother of a boy who drowned at the camp years earlier, is the killer. She’s eventually beheaded, ending her murder spree.
Despite the events of the first film, another set of camp counselors arrive at a camp near the old Camp Crystal Lake. This time, the killer is Jason Voorhees, Pamela’s son, who supposedly drowned but is revealed to have survived. Wearing a sack over his head, Jason avenges his mother’s death by killing off the counselors.
Jason survives the events of the second film and continues his killing spree, this time around donning the iconic hockey mask. The movie follows a group of friends who become his victims at a lake house near Camp Crystal Lake.
This film, misleadingly subtitled “The Final Chapter,” finds Jason once again resurrected. He heads back to Camp Crystal Lake and resumes his killing spree. This time, he meets his match in Tommy Jarvis, a young boy who manages to kill him.
Despite Jason being dead, a new series of murders occur around a halfway house for troubled teens. The twist is that the killer isn’t Jason, but a vengeful father using Jason’s M.O. to exact revenge for the death of his own son.
Tommy Jarvis, still haunted by his past, inadvertently resurrects Jason while trying to make sure he’s really dead. Jason comes back to life and returns to his killing ways. Tommy manages to chain Jason to the bottom of Crystal Lake, but Jason is not truly defeated.
Jason is resurrected again, this time by a young girl named Tina who possesses telekinetic powers. Tina and Jason face off, with Tina ultimately succeeding in chaining Jason back at the bottom of Crystal Lake.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Jason is once again resurrected and ends up on a ship full of graduating high school students heading to New York City. He terrorizes the ship and eventually makes it to Manhattan, continuing his killing spree until he’s finally defeated through toxic waste.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason is blown up by the FBI but finds a way to transfer his soul into other bodies. The hunt is on for Jason’s half-sister and her daughter, as Jason needs their bodies to be fully resurrected. He’s eventually sent to Hell after a special dagger is used on him.
Jason X (2002)
Jason is cryogenically frozen and awakens in the year 2455 on a spaceship. He goes on a futuristic killing spree but is eventually defeated by a group of students and a combat android.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Jason is resurrected by Freddy Krueger to create fear in Elm Street, as Freddy’s powers have waned due to the town’s children forgetting about him. Eventually, Jason and Freddy turn on each other, resulting in a brutal showdown.
Friday the 13th (2009)
This is a reboot of the original series and sort of an amalgamation of the first few films. A group of friends goes camping near the old Camp Crystal Lake and run into Jason, who kills them off one by one in search of his missing sister.
While quality waxed and waned, the franchise Left an indelible mark on horror. Even as the films grew repetitive, Jason became enshrined as one of the genre’s most memorable villains. For better or worse, after 12 outings spanning every era of American horror cinema, the hockey-masked slasher defined an entire subgenre.