Are you ready for a good fright? Welcome to the spooky retrospective of all twelve Friday the 13th movies! Strap in and get ready for some real chills, as we explore this iconic slasher franchise.
The Friday the 13th franchise has been around since 1980 and is the epitome of horror. It follows the classic trope of an unstoppable killer who stalks isolated teens and dispatches them in brutal fashion. With twelve films in total, this series has become an important part of horror movie lore, and its influence is still felt today.
We'll examine each film in turn and explore their common themes, influences, and lasting impact. We'll also look at what makes them stand out among other horror movies and why so many fans have remained devoted to this franchise over the years. So join us for a journey through some of the most iconic scenes in slasher history!
A Campy Start: Revisiting the Original Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th is a horror franchise that goes back over 40 years, with 11 main installments and a host of other spin-offs. To get an idea of what has made this series so beloved by horror fans over all these decades, let's start by taking a look back at the very first film in 1980—simply known as "Friday the 13th."
The original film had a low budget of $550,000 but generated a total worldwide gross of $39.7 million—which was massive for that era. It was also notable for being heavier on camp than on scares. This meant it was more pop culture than it was serious horror, and fans today still enjoy its nostalgia value even if the movie itself wasn't terribly frightening.
The story follows a group of kids who go to Camp Crystal Lake where they are stalked and killed one by one by an unknown assailant. At first it seems like the assailant could be Jason Voorhees but it's later revealed he is actually his mother, Mrs. Voorhees, who is out for revenge due to an accident at the camp many years ago. The movie ends on a classic twist that sets up the higher stakes of future sequels—but not before an iconic ending scene that sealed its reputation forever in pop culture history.
The Rise of Jason Voorhees: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
The rise of arguably the most notorious slasher villain of all time can be traced back to 1981's Friday the 13th Part 2. After a brief prolog that shows Pamela Voorhees (the mother of him we'd come to know as Jason) is killed by camp counselor-in-training, Ginny Field (Amy Steel), the action moves to five years after the original film.
This sequel expands on the mythology of Camp Crystal Lake, with a group of camp counselors arriving in nearby woods for a summer at Packanack Lodge. Unbeknownst to them, they're being stalked by an adult Jason who has survived his near-death experience from the events of the first flick. This movie marks the debut of his iconic goalie mask that would become synonymous with his character in later sequels and also marks his transformation from a "normal" if disfigured human into a mythic figure. It's this movie that set up all of the slasher tropes we have today, ascribing Jason with superhuman abilities and allowing him to move beyond Crystal Lake for future installments in the franchise.
When 3D Terror Strikes: Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
The third installment in the Friday the 13th franchise hits a different note: 3D terror. Friday the 13th Part III introduces the much-feared hockey mask for Jason Voorhees. Widely considered one of the better entries in the series, viewers were immediately hooked by its fresh 3D visuals.
Apart from its technical advancements, Part III was also noteworthy for its interesting plot arcs, which revolved around a group of teens who were enjoying their summer vacation at crystal lake; this set piece served as an eerie backdrop to Jason's many kills. For instance, one of the most talked-about scenes involves a biker gang that gets axed by Voorhees — from being hanged upside down to being electrocuted in a tub of water — making for quite a nail-biting experience for viewers.
Last but not least, Part III has given us some classic lines that have been ingrained in horror movie buffs for decades now: "Y'know what they say — revenge is a dish best served cold", said by an offscreen voice as far back as 1982!
The Final Chapter...Or Not: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
The fourth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) was originally planned to be the actual final movie of the series. Originally billed as "The Final Chapter," with a little play on words, it was actually far from its titular promise.
This installment wasn't just an end for Jason Voorhees though – it was a beginning for Corey Feldman's career. Feldman's performance as Tommy Jarvis helped propel him later into The Goonies and a few other classics.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter also featured Crispin Glover in his first major movie role, which enabled him to portray Marty McFly in Back to the Future.
It certainly seemed like an end for Jason Voorhees (at least until next time) as he dies in this movie. However, this wasn't his curtain call either, as there eventually would be more sequels featuring him coming back from death itself!
A New Beginning or Just Another Sequel?: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was released in 1985, and it's the fifth movie in the series. It was unique in that it brought a lot of new elements to the franchise that no one had seen before.
Tommy Jarvis ReturnsPerhaps most importantly, Tommy Jarvis returns to the series as an adult, played by John Shepherd. After his experiences in Part IV, he's still struggling with PTSD and is now living in a halfway house. He gets pulled back into Crystal Lake after Jason's supposed resurrection—but it turns out to be a hoax caused by a copycat killer.
New Killer: Roy BurnsRoy Burns is Tommy's nemesis. He's a paramedic who suffers from grief after his own son, also named Jason, died tragically at Camp Crystal Lake. Roy assumes Jason Voorhees' identity to carry out his revenge on those he blames for his son's death.
In this installment of the series, you learn more about the origins of what we now know as Jason Voorhees—and while it may have seemed like just another sequel at first glance, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning still managed to bring something special to this iconic slasher franchise.
Jason Lives! And the Franchise Is Reborn: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
The sixth installment of the franchise, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), saw the return of an undead Jason. After being resurrected by a lightning strike, Jason seeks revenge against Tommy Jarvis and his camp counselors. As the movie progresses, viewers get to see Jason take on a superpower persona, with superhuman strength and increased durability.
This transition in the character made it much more difficult for his victims to defeat him, since they now have to rely on unconventional tactics such as trickery and creative problem-solving. All these elements combined make Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives one of the most exciting films in the series.
Not to mention, it also gave us one of the most iconic scenes of all-time—the final confrontation between Tommy Jarvis and Jason Voorhees at Crystal Lake Cemetery—which remains one of horror fans' favorite moments to this day!
ConclusionAs Friday the 13th reaches its 43rd anniversary, we can reflect on its impact on modern horror films. From the iconic initial scene of a frightened camp counselor to the mutated, inbred Jason of the 21st century, this slasher movie franchise has been a massive box office success. It's almost impossible to imagine popular horror today without the influence of Friday the 13th, and many of its entries remain stone-cold classics of the genre.
Whether you're a fan of the original series or are catching up with the new reboot, it's safe to say that the Friday the 13th franchise will have an enduring place in horror fan's hearts. It's just too iconic to die.