Thursday, June 13, 2013

His Name Was Jason... And Today Is His Birthday

Today is Thursday, June 13th and that can only mean two things.

1) It is Jason Voorhees' 65th birthday! He's getting up there but he's managed to stay in shape.

Still eviscerating teenagers like a 20-year-old.

2) Considering it's a Thursday, we can breathe easy knowing that we're safe to live another day. We're only in danger when it's a...

Well, sh*t.

At any rate, we've got a year left. Make the most of it.

In honor of this Day of Days, as I do every year, I've planned a Friday the 13th event. Now, I won't get around to reviewing the series just about yet, that's a task for my all day marathon next year. But in honor of the day, I have prepared this list for y'all.

Warning: This article contains photos of gore scenes which I generally consider cheesy, but if you're squeamish just be prepared.

The Top 12 Friday the 13th Movies: Ranked Worst to Best

12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

Year: 1993
Jason: Kane Hodder
Final Girl: Jessica Kimble (Kari Keegan)
Best Kill: A girl gets vertically SPLIT IN HALF mid-coitus.

Although the patent absurdity of Jason getting blown up by the FBI and becoming a body-controlling demon worm makes this film absolutely worth watching, the fabulous Kane Hodder is underused in one of only four turns as Jason Voorhees and the film ultimately gets bogged down in its own mythology.

11. Friday the 13th (2009)

Year: 2009
Jason: Derek Mears
Final Girl: Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti) [Also, weirdly enough, Jared Padalecki]
Best Death: A girl hiding under a dock gets stabbed from above through the wood - and her skull.

Although this film wasn't a terrible terrible remake like some movies we know (coughcoughNightmareonElmStreetcough), it still didn't quite manage to recapture the glory days of Jason in his prime.

10. Friday the 13th Part 3D

Year: 1982
Jason: Richard Brooker
Final Girl: Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmell)
Best Kill: A man's skull gets crushed in eye-popping 3D. Literally.

This movie is historic, because it is the first film in which Jason dons his iconic hockey mask (yes, it took him this long). However, he steals it from an annoying Jew Fro Prankster named Shelly whom most of us would rather forget. Also featured: Female Michael Jackson, Much Too Old For Their Friends Hippy Couple, and Pregnant Girl Who Dies Anyway.

9. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Year: 1989
Jason: Kane Hodder
Final Girl: Rennie Wickham (Jensen Daggett)
Best Kill: A boxer gets his head punched off.

That title alone won me over. This is the first F13 movie I ever owned, and I currently have the poster hanging in my room, so I have a deep, abiding love for this film. But let's face it, this entry was kind of weak. Jason spends most his time on a cruise ship on the way to Manhattan (which, in a bold casting choice, is played by Vancouver) not really doing much of anything. Although he gets bonus points for sinking an entire ship.

8. Jason X

Year: 2002
Jason: Kane Hodder
Final Girl: Rowan LaFontaine (Lexa Doig)
Best Kill: A doctor's head is frozen in liquid nitrogen and smashed on a countertop.

Jason in space! Come on! Get pumped! I also proudly display this poster on my bedroom wall. Jason is taken to the hypermodern Crystal Lake Research Facility, cryogenically frozen, and unearthed by space teens who take him aboard their ship! Jason gets turned into a cyborg and fights a leather clad android! A naughty professor wears giant nipple clamps! Two topless holographic campers proclaim their love for premarital sex and wriggle around in sleeping bags to distract Jason! OK, I love this movie. The only reason it's not higher up is because it really doesn't have the DNA of the down-and-dirty Paramount original franchise. By this point, Jason had been sold off to New Line after Part VIII tanked and things got... a little weird.

7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Year: 1986
Jason: C. J. Graham
Final Girl: Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), and because a girl always does have to survive, Megan Garris (Jennifer Cooke)
Best Kill: Just... this.

This is the point where the franchise began losing its sh*t. After the Jasonless Part V bombed, producers were desperate to regain audience goodwill (hence the title). Jason went from being cremated to buried in a coffin to struck by lightning and zombified. The butt-kicking Tommy Jarvis is played by the third actor in as many movies and (this had to come up at some point), the movie is a horror comedy. While some reviewers retch in disgust, I have already committed myself to loving this series and also have come to terms with the fact that, intentional or not, the other films in this franchise are already comedies. Also there's a triple decapitation. Mother always says "When three heads come off, you can't go wrong."

6. Freddy vs. Jason
Year: 2003
Jason: Ken Kirzinger
Final Girl: Lori Campbell (Monica Keena)
Best Kill: A kid in a folding bed gets bent backwards, then ruthlessly machete punched to death.

I would never insult this movie by pretending it needs an explanation as to why it is awesome. Moving on.

5. Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

Year: 1985
Jason*: Dick Wieand
Final Girl: Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) feat. Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman)
Best Kill: A man with... intestinal problems sits in an outhouse, flirts with his girlfriend, and gets stabbed with a spear

Following The Final Chapter by only a year, this movie seemed a wee bit insincere. The way the filmmakers got around this was by putting another man behind the mask, which had fans foaming at the mouths. However, I am one of the few defenders of this movie if only for one scene that took me by surprise. I won't say what it is (not that any of you who haven't seen it really want to), but for a movie as routine as the fifth installment in the F13 franchise to surprise anyone even a little bit means that there must have been a creative spark somewhere in the process. Also Tommy Jarvis is a kung fu master and the costume design looks like the 80's had a long night and vomited over the entire set.

4. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Year: 1984
Jason: Ted White
Final Girl: Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) feat. Trish Jarvis (Kimberly Beck)
Best Kill: Crispin Glover gets corkscrewed.

Now this is more like it. Mid-80's. Original franchise. Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman in a film together. The introduction of Tommy Jarvis, the only person to defeat Jason three times in a row. Skinny dipping! Hot twins! Nerd dancing! Teen parties! Tom Savini (the original makeup artist) is back! 1984 is having a party and you're all invited.

3. Friday the 13th Part 2

Year: 1981
Jason: Warrington Gillette
Final Girl: Ginny Field (Amy Steel)
Best Kill: The infamous sex kebab.

This film, directed by Steve Miner (who was the assistant director on the original), is the closest F13 film to actually being a good movie in its own right, or at least a competent one. This is the first film where Jason is the killer, and our Final Girl for the evening is a child psychologist played by Amy Steel who goes after Jason with all she has. Amy Steel later went on to star as the Final Girl in April Fool's Day which, even though it's only another slasher, is more of a career than any other final girl on this list. Also, the wheelchair kid gets a machete to the face and rolls down the stairs, proving once and for all that Jason is an equal opportunity killer.

2. Friday the 13th (1980)

Year: 1980
Jason: Ari Lehman
Final Girl: Alice Hardy (Adrienne King)
Best Kill: Kevin Bacon gets knifed in the back of the throat.

Where it all began... Directed by ex-softcore porn producer Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th cashed in on the success of John Carpenter's Halloween and ignited the slasher boom of the early 80's. No slasher movie would be so influential until Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984. It's one of the only films in the series where camp counselors are the victims (contrary to popular belief), Harry Manfredini's brilliant discordant CH-CH-CH-HA-HA-HA effect is introduced. Tom Savini, the make-up artist of Dawn of the Dead, produces beautiful European style gore scenes the likes of which had never before been seen in American cinemas. Also it retroactively has a twist ending because modern audiences assume Jason is the killer. I watched it with some twelve-year-olds once (don't ask) and it was hilarious to see their faces once the killer was revealed.

1. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Year: 1988
Jason: Kane Hodder
Final Girl: Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln)
Best Kill: Jason beats a girl in a sleeping bag against a tree - Kane Hodder's favorite kill.

Kane Hodder's first stint in the role of Jason is legendary. He is the fan consensus best actor to play Jason, but his other three times were in films of increasing inanity. Not that this film isn't inane. In fact, it very much is. But the inanity is of such a perfect late-80's desperate-for-cash paranormal slasher decibel that the film is a masterpiece of camp horror. Tina Shepard has telekinetic powers. You read that right. In attempting to resurrect her father who drowned in Crystal Lake when she was a child, she accidentally awakens Jason from the depths. The final girl sequence will go down in history as "the time Jason fought Carrie" and it is awesome. Finally, Jason has met his match, and it helps that this Jason is bigger, better, and more intimidating than any of his predecessors. The Final Girl sequence involves a long chase through the woods, Jason being attacked by plants, a house collapsing on his head, and so much more. Easily the most thoroughly weird and entertaining entry in this long-running (and my favorite) horror franchise.

With that said, I hope everybody has a happy (and safe) Jason day! I know I will.
Word Count: 1713

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