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FRIDAY THE 13th - RECONSIDERED
Reviewing Jason X prompted me to take a look back at all of the Friday The 13th movies. Here are my picks for the best and the worst that this franchise has to offer:
Ranking The Films:
This was tough. Some of these films were very hard to split, particularly the bottom three, each of which - to paraphrase Tolstoy - sucks in its own way. The rooftop decapitation finally gave Jason Takes Manhattan the edge over Jason X, but it was a close call. Friday The 13th Part 3 suffers badly from being seen flat instead of in 3-D, but we can only go with what we've got. Jason Goes To Hell is such a departure, it was hard to rank against the others. I spent an embarrassing amount of time agonising over second and third, and could change my mind again at any moment. Anyway, for better or worse:
10. Jason X (2002)
9. Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
8. Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
7. Friday The 13th Part 3 (1982)
6. Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
5. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
4. Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
3. Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
2. Friday The 13th (1980)
....and the winner:
1. Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)
And that being the case, you probably won't be surprised by the winner of my next category:
Best Final Girl
All the others have their moments - particularly Alice and Trish - but there is no doubt in my mind that this franchise's outstanding Final Girl is Ginny (Amy Steel) of Friday The 13th Part 2. Much better served by her screenwriter than any of her sisters, Ginny is the full package, fighting back with a chainsaw or a pitchfork or a knee to the groin when it's called for, but above all being allowed not just to out-fight, but to out-think her assailant: this film's "Jason, it's Mommy" sequence is the closest thing this franchise has to an actual justification. But this is not just the supreme Final Girl moment; it's the single most interesting moment that Jason Voorhees ever had, too. The original conception of Jason as a bestial child-man (far more intriguing than the later hockey-masked automaton, frankly) really pays off here. Apart from a few touches of body acting from Kane Hodder, this is the one time where you can honestly see that something is going on behind the mask. (And since the mystery of who was under that sugar-bag at any given point in the film seems only to be deepening with the passing years, I will simply say: gentlemen, well done!)
I mean, that's why we're here, right? But first, a few honourable mentions - namely, the deaths that would have made the list if only we were allowed to see them properly, like the spear through the eye in Friday The 13th Part 3 and the triple decapitation of Jason Lives. Also, Shelly getting his throat cut in Friday The 13th Part 3 and the double offing of Ethel and Junior in A New Beginning, because I was so damn grateful.
And now, the Top Ten:
[10.] Have Sex And Die from Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. Takes the prize over the coital shish-kebab of Friday The 13th Part 2 by virtue of not having been copied wholesale from another film.
[9.] "Hey, Ted, where’s that fancy corkscrew?" from The Final Chapter. A perfect Crispin exit!
[8.] The pitchfork through the chest from Friday The 13th Part 3. Five prongs on the way in, four on the way out. Andy Milligan lives!
[7.] Sheriff Garris bends over backwards in Jason Lives. Owie!
[6.] An axe between the eyes - eventually - in Friday The 13th. The nastiest stalk-and-kill sequence of the whole franchise.
[5.] For coming so completely out of the blue, and going so completely over the top, the demolition of Fat Pathetic Loser in A New Beginning. The high point of a dismal film.
[4.] Kevin Bacon gets an arrow through the throat in Friday The 13th. And that, Kevin, is for making us look at your butt.
[3.] Hand-Walking Guy gets a machete in the crotch in Friday The 13th Part 3. I said it before and I'll say it again: yeeeeee-OUCH!!!!
[2.] Mrs Voorhees loses her head in Friday The 13th. The original and the best. Okay, second best.
....and the winner is:
[1.] Wheelchair Guy gets a machete in the face in Friday The 13th Part 2. For sheer audacity, nothing beats this one. Buy, hey! - he was thinking about having sex, so he must die....and the fact that he is in a wheelchair doesn't matter a damn. Equal Opportunity at its finest.
[10 - 4:] All the strangulations and neck-snappings of Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan onwards. Shame on you!
[3.] The strap around the head in Friday The 13th: A New Beginning.
[2.] Party noise-maker through the eye in Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood.
....and the loser is:
[1.] Impaled while using the Port-A-Loo in Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning. Talk about adding insult to injury....
Best Jason Death:
The Final Chapter. No contest.
Best Female Nudity:
Kirsten Baker's full frontal skinny-dip in Friday The 13th Part 2. I speak, you understand, from a purely aesthetic viewpoint when I say - man, she is built. And oh, the wonder of natural breasts....
Best Male Nudity:
What, are you kidding? Welcome to the wonderful world of gender imbalance! You guys get Debisue Voorhees's breasts, we girls get Kevin Bacon's butt. Thanks for nothing.
Most Enduring Mystery:
Whatever did happen to Mrs Jarvis...?