A Man Who Needs No Introduction… But Here’s One Anyway For Jason From “Friday the 13th!”
I think it’s safe to say that if you are a horror fan, then you’ve seen the Friday The 13th films, or at least some of them. Jason Voorhees is as much of a staple of horror as Santa Clause is of Christmas. Let’s say, though, that the person reading this has never seen a horror movie and is now starting to take an interest. I would say it’s my solemn duty to inform you of what you are getting into with this classic franchise.
First off, my hypothetical person, you need to trim off the fat a little bit. Leave Jason X (2001), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and the Friday the 13th 2009 remake out of your viewing. You can return to these later if you’d like. We’re talking about the original franchise thread, Friday the 13th (1980) through Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989). You need to see Jason at his finest to truly appreciate this slasher titan. These films that I cut from your list are exemplary in their own right, but they were geared to a newer generation and saw considerable changes in style that do not reflect on the franchise as a whole. Also, skip Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) altogether. Trust me.
The original film, Friday the 13th (1980), sets up everything for the rest of the franchise. It establishes the location, the tone, the lore, and the score for every addition following. This is also where you’re going to get the premise for most of the Friday the 13th movies; killer stalks teenagers through the woods and murders them heinously. It’s different from all other films in the series, though. Jason isn’t introduced until the sequel. Assuming you know nothing of the first film going in, you won’t know who the killer is. What makes this film special is that it keeps you guessing. It’ll surprise you, give you genuine scares, and plenty of memorable deaths, which may be as big a staple in a Friday the 13th film as Jason is himself. This movie is everything to love about a classic 80’s slasher wrapped up in a neat little bow for you.
You won’t see Jason until Part II, and he won’t dawn his trademark hockey mask until Part III. For his first three movies, we see him at his most human. I don’t mean his sensitive side. He doesn’t have one of those. I mean, these are the only times you will see this beast in flesh and blood. You’ll see a version of the man that isn’t talked about, one that actually runs after his victims and shows human characteristics. All that disappears in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) after literally returning from the dead. From here, he’s the legendary walking, menacing killing machine that gets grosser with each sequel.
With every installment, you can expect an increase in two things; violence and female nudity. This is 2021, though, and we want to be progressive, so we’re only going to focus on the violence. Jason is known for murdering in horrible and creative ways that elevate after returning from the afterlife. He literally bends a man in half in one movie. You can start from practically anywhere in this series and not miss a beat. It’s all bloody and sex-crazed. Those go hand in hand actually, bloody murder and sex because his M.O. is to punish anyone he finds doing the nasty on his turf. You can start at Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), which I believe to be peak Jason, and see the menacing brute in his prime. Don’t worry about continuity. It wouldn’t change anything if there wasn’t any at all.
What you need to keep in mind when watching any of these movies is not to think too hard. Remember, the whole series follows a guy in a hockey mask that haunts a place that remains open after numerous massacres. And, this guy does many un-practical things, like literally punching holes in people. You’ll enjoy the ride more if you don’t take it too seriously. The main story goes through the first four movies. That is also going to be where you get the most authentic scares in the franchise. From Part 5 on-wards, you are mostly along for the ride, as Jason slaughters everyone in sight. That is all a part of the fun, though. There is nothing Oscar-worthy here. Friday the 13th movies are enjoyable because of their campiness and craziness. Don’t be surprised or ashamed if you find yourself rooting for Jason more than his victims, because most of them are just there to die for your entertainment. This is peak 80’s horror at its finest before everything was CGI and shaky-cam. Just enjoy all the spectacular carnage and special effects that make this franchise stand out from all others. It is truly amazing what filmmakers were able to do with practical effects. That is one of many things to appreciate about this franchise.
Check out the official trailer for “Friday the 13th!”