Here it is guys. My marathon run at the original timeline Jason movies. I had seen every one of these in the theater, but this was my first attempt at a release order rewatch.
Friday the 13th (1980) - This actually holds up pretty well. It’s just camp counselors getting killed, but the performances are good and the infamous twist is still effective, especially as modern audiences link Jason to the franchise so tightly. Everyone knows Kevin Bacon is in it, but I didn’t think his performance was all that noteworthy. He’s as good as the other counselors - just good enough. The movie really rests on Adrienne King as Alice and Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Voorhees. It’s always been seen as a cheap slasher, but Sean S. Cunningham’s movie has a couple of horror landmarks in it. You see Alice run the archetype of the final girl circuit, and Walt Gorney’s “Crazy Ralph” is the first really solid harbinger of doom character that was lampooned so well in Cabin in the Woods.
Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) - Set five years after the first movie, Steve Miner’s sequel gives us a Jason, but he’s not fully formed yet. He kills with more style than his mommy, but he’s got a bag on his head and he’s not the robotic giant everyone typically thinks of as Jason. Poor Crazy Ralph bites it, which is a shame, but The star is the 2-for-1 shish kabob skewer kill, which starts the franchise’s rising level of showy murders. (Just who is Jason trying to entertain anyway?) Final girl Ginny, as performed by Amy Steel, isn’t quite as resourceful as Alice, but she does a good final girl circuit. It’s weird how Ginny’s boyfriend and “final guy” Paul just disappears from the movie. AFAIK, we never find out what happened to him.
Friday the 13th Part III: 3D (1982) - Steve Miner directs again, but this time with THE THIRD DIMENSION! Of course, streaming the movie doesn’t have the 3D stuff, but that’s fine as it allowed me to more clearly see the goofball effects like the obviously spring-propelled eyeballs when he crushes a guy’s head. Ironically, the movie starts on the day after the previous movie, Saturday the 14th, and continues through Sunday. We finally get Jason’s iconic hockey mask, but it’s a lot less scary when you remember that he gets it by stealing it from a practical joker loser guy character named Shelly. The movie ends with cops arriving at the scene and a dead Jason in a barn. How does he get away? Maybe the next movie will show us!
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - Here, finally, is the quintessential Jason. He’s got his mask and machete and he lumbers around menacingly. While Ted White is no Kane Hodder, he’s tall and big enough that Jason is now a physically scary dude just standing still. But as glad as I was to see the Jason we’ve all come to know, it’s Crispin Glover that steals this movie. He’s just so goddamn weird and his dancing is amazeballs. Corey Feldman turns in the best Tommy Jarvis out of the franchise, but that’s small credit overall. Supposedly quite a bit of this movie was edited away by the studio, which is a shame. I could watch Glover whine “I’m not a dead fuck” all the time. Also, this movie starts right after the last movie, on Sunday the 15th and continues into the Monday.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) - The downhill slide begins. Apparently, there was a lot of drama between producers and the studio about how to “resurrect” Jason, and this is the result. A half-assed attempt to set a young adult Tommy Jarvis up as the new killer, but first we detour to a halfway home in the woods for troubled teens, where a completely different dude dresses up like Jason and kills kids. Corey Feldman was too young to portray the early twenties Tommy, so he only gets a cameo in a dream sequence. Fans of the franchise hated this new direction and the studio panicked.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) - The slide continues. Tommy, now portrayed by another actor, goes to Jason’s grave with his buddy Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter and accidentally resurrects Jason with lightning. (Just go with it.) This marks Jason’s transformation from typical slasher killer to full supernatural entity. The movie introduces a weird bit of lore - Jason doesn’t kill children. It ends with Jason tied to an anchor and sunk in the lake, but very much not dead.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) - Hot garbage, but you do get Kane Hodder as Jason. Originally sold to Paramount as Freddy vs Jason, the script eventually morphed into faux-Carrie vs Jason when Paramount and New Line couldn’t agree on anything. Psychic girl Tina fights Jason with hilariously bad special effects. Astoundingly, Paramount offered Federico Fellini the chance to direct because one of the producers had delusions of the film winning an Academy Award, (this is real, I swear) which I can only imagine resulted in hours of laughter. John Carl Buechler wound up with that honor instead. It does have the iconic sleeping bag against a tree kill. Terry Kiser, Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s, plays an unscrupulous psychiatrist. The movie ends with Jason once again dragged to the bottom of the nearby lake.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason takes Manhattan (1989) - At this point no one gave a shit about Jason, not even the studio, and it shows. The movie is almost an unfunny spoof of its own franchise. First, the film is a bait and switch. You don’t even get to NYC until the last 20 minutes. The majority of the movie takes place on a dirty freight ship that’s supposed to be a cruise. But you do get the film debut of Kelly Hu and a pretty funny boxing scene kill. Ends with Jason dissolved in toxic sewage, because har har NYC poop, amirite?
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) - A giant ball of WTF. Sean S. Cunnigham returned to direct, and he was apparently bored by Jason so he made a movie about a worm that possesses people. It’s nice to see Erin Gray, but man what a stinker of a horror film. Ends with Freddy’s claw hand busting through the ground to snatch up Jason’s mask because fuck it all. Rightly hated by most genre fans.
Jason X (2001) - When you don’t know where to go with a franchise, you go to space. This movie is actually a fun, if monumentally dumb, romp. Jason gets frozen in 2008 and is resurrected 500 years later. On a spaceship crewed by college kids. I shit you not. Includes Andromeda stars Lexa Doig and Lisa Ryder. Features Jason getting nanobots, a chrome mask, and performing the frozen face kill that everyone loves. Look for the David Cronenberg cameo. This also marks the end of Kane Hodder’s run as Jason.
Freddy vs Jason (2003) - It’s a good lesson in “be careful what you wish for.” Fans clamored for this match-up for years, so they finally got it. Ugh. Ronny Yu pits Jason Vorhees against Freddy Krueger with a lot of energy, but the plot is dumb as can be and the kids are unlikeable shits. There’s literally a Jay and Silent Bob ripoff duo. Introduces the goofy idea that Jason is afraid of water. So dumb. $116 million box office puts it on top of both franchises (even the reboots) for box office haul! Unfortunately, it’s also the last movie appearance of Robert Englund as Freddy.
Watching them one after the other is weird. First, the middle of the franchise doesn’t even take place on the titular day. Second, the Jason we all think of doesn’t even show up until the fourth movie - the one that was supposed to be the franchise end. Third, the Tommy Jarvis swerve was dumb as shit. I don’t know why the Paramount folks thought that was going to work. Finally, Kane Hodder, the guy the fans love most as Jason, plays him in all the worst or atypical Jason movies.