Friday the 13th is the one most prolific franchises in the horror genre. The franchise contains 12 separate films that place lead antagonist Jason Voorhees in a summer camp, a lake house, Manhattan, the body of a sad, middle-aged police officer, space, a nightmare, and back around to a second (or maybe fifth?) lake house. But how many people can honestly say that they’ve seen all 12 entries in this series?
Friday the 13th – Pamela Voorhees kills a bunch of horny teens because she’s mad about her son drowning
Friday the 13th Part 2 – Jason Voorhees kills a bunch of horny teens because he’s mad about a camp counselor decapitating his mom with a machete.
Friday the 13th Part III – Same as 2, but this time Jason wears a hockey mask
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter – Same as 2, but this time Jason gets killed by an 8-year-old Corey Feldman
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning – Same as 2 but this time Jason is a guy pretending to be Jason
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives – Same as 2 but this time Jason is a zombie
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood – Same as 2 but this time the female lead has psychic powers
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – Same as 2 but this time the cast spends a quarter of the film traipsing around Manhattan
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday – Jason dies when he’s stabbed with a magic knife by his niece
Jason X – Same as 2 but on a space ship in the future
Freddy vs Jason – Same as 2, but with a totally awesome sweet fight between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees and some chintzy, early 2000s sex appeal
Friday the 13th – Same as 2 but filmed likea movie released in 2009
What I Learned:
1) When it comes to murder, few can compete with Jason Voorhees
Jason Voorhees, Pamela Voorhees, and Roy burns score 184 kills across about 17 and a half hours of film.
Compared to the other chumps on this chart, Jason’s numbers are impressive. As Jason goes deeper into the franchise, he kills more and more people – Pamela only kills 10 people in the first Friday The 13th, while Jason kills 20 people in both Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X. Few other horror icons can compete with that kind of murder output.
Which brings me to my second point:
2) Jason would be a good metaphor for the AIDS crisis, if AIDs were a completely different disease that had a 100% transmission rate and killed victims instantly when their genitals touched their partner’s genitals.
38 characters have sex in the Friday the 13th films, and Jason murders all 38 of them.
So if you see a guy wearing a hockey mask and wielding a machete, it might be time to invest in a chastity belt.
3) Jason really hates teenagers and twenty-somethings.
Maybe this isn’t a revelation, but if you find yourself in a Friday the 13th Film, your odds of dying are somewhat lower if you’re not in your teens or twenties.
4) Jason is a master of killing people with camping gear lawn tools.
But he’s proficient at killing people with anything he can get his hands on.
I bolded a few of my favorites – the party horn:
The sleeping bag:
And one spectacular bare handed kill:
5) The Friday the 13th Movie Franchise is more durable than some other horror franchises.
Friday the 13th has some surprising market durability when you compare it to some of its peer franchises.
As the franchise gets deeper, it would make sense that the number of people who watch each installment would drop off. When you consider horror franchises, which are 1.) cheap to make, 2.) easy to write, and 3.) have exploitable brand recognition (looking at you, Hellraiser: Revelations), you have a recipe for a viewership that melts away as the franchise persists. If you look at almost every franchise on this graph, the same thing happens – the number of people rating this film, and likely the number watching it, drops from installment to installment – especially the Hellraiser franchise.
But this isn’t true with Friday the 13th, which seems to experience a renaissance during its 10th installment, Jason X, pulling it out of its slow decay. The franchise peaks in its 11th installment, Freddie vs. Jason, and it only slips a bit with the 2009 remake. This was probably a combination of clever marketing, novel settings, and the sweetest early 2000’s crossover film in history.
6) Almost every Subtitle is a lie.
This is the 4th film in a 12 film franchise.
This film is fundamentally the same as the first 4 films.
Only 1/3 of this film takes place in Manhattan.
This is the 9th film in a 12 film franchise.
7) Jason gets more comfortable with confrontation as the series goes on.
The first five films have a mystery element to them, where Pamela, Jason, and Roy quietly stalk their victims and kill them by surprise. Usually characters don’t know that the murderer is around until it’s too late, and the murderer doesn’t enter into open conflict until the last 20-30 minutes of the film. You’ll notice that there are no open conflicts before the last leg of the film in movies 1-5:
In contrast, the later films see Voorhees frequently engaging open conflict with his victims earlier in the film. Perhaps the way that horror narratives were written shifted in the mid-80s, and directors wanted their characters to show terror before being killed, rather than building tension and mystery. After all, by the 6th film, everyone knew that the killer was Jason.
Then again, becoming an invincible zombie may have also made Jason less careful.
8) You’re better dead than Ted.
One of the worst, most repugnant, piece-of-shit characters in this franchise is a guy named Ted Cooper.
Ted appears in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (Part IV), where he’s a relentless asshole to his friend, Jimmy, who he calls a “dead fuck” after Jimmy’s girlfriend breaks up with him. He tries to fuck every woman at the lake house, demanding that they “give Teddy Bear a kiss” when they’re visibly uncomfortable, and he becomes surly and standoffish when they tell him to fuck off. This shot of Ted occurs in the middle of a party – everyone else in the room is having fairly normal interactions, while he’s brooding and staring at matches because no one will fuck him.
One of the women he’s hitting on leaves the party early and is promptly thrown against the house by Jason Voorhees, which is a merciful end after having to put up with Ted’s bullshit.
Ted is the culmination of a long lineage of churlish nerds in the franchise. In the first film, our Ted is a guy named Ned. Ned runs off to a cabin to pout when Kevin Bacon goes to fuck his girlfriend, because I guess Ned liked her or whatever. Ned is then promptly stabbed by Pamela Voorhees.
In the second film, our Ted is a guy named Scott. Scott spends most of the early movie following and making creepy comments to one of his co-counselors, Terry. When Terry goes skinny dipping, Scott runs up and steals her clothes, and then gets caught in a snare. Terry, bless her heart, tries to help him, but Voorhees puts them both out of their misery.
Part III features Shelley, the Carrot Top of the Ted archetype. Shelley has a thing for prop comedy – when the cast first gets to the lake house, Shelley fakes his own death using a fake axe, and scares the shit out of all of his housemates. He has a short confrontation with a female character where he describes himself as fat and unlovable, and says that no one would pay attention to him if he weren’t an asshole, and then runs off to a barn to sulk.
When he dies, the other characters don’t even believe that he’s actually dead, they think it’s another shitty joke.
Part V features a stuttering nerd in a halfway house who just directly asks two of his housemates if they want to fuck. This guy is probably the most respectable archetypal Ted in the series because he cuts straight to the point, and is willing to take no for an answer. He still dies, though.
It’s a good thing that Voorhees has the decency to put all of these assholes out of their misery.