In 1980 the most prolific horror franchise was born. Ironically, this prolific series made its bucks on hacking, chopping, severing, and otherwise dispatching the lives of nearly everyone in the films. The franchise was, and is, "Friday the 13th".
So popular and trenched into our society is "Friday the 13th", that even children who haven't seen it know what it is, and, more importantly, know who they need to be scared of: Jason Voorhees, the infamous hockey-mask-wearing, machete-toting behemoth of terror with an unquenchable desire for teenage death.
His story has been told in 12 films as of now, with more in the works. His weapons have included everything from hacksaws, to pitchforks, to bare-hands, to his trusty machete. His story has been told and discovered and re-evaluated in countless ways.
Jason Voorhees is one of the most recognizable horror icons in the world, and we've looked at his "bodies" of work through "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter", which as we all know was anything but. So now let's take a look at the Jason Voorhees on the other side of "The Final Chapter", and all that has changed about the franchise since Paramount "killed him off" in "IV".
(film descriptions from IMDb.com)
"Friday the 13th: A New Beginning" (1985) - 'Still haunted by his gruesome past, Tommy Jarvis - the boy who killed Jason Voorhees - wonders if somehow he is connected to brutal slayings occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives.' Paramount learned quickly that the hockey mask and machete wasn't enough, Jason had to be the killer. Who was the killer in this one then? Some random dude with an axe to grind. Lame.
"Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives" (1986) - 'Tommy Jarvis goes to the graveyard to get rid of Jason Voorhees' body, but he accidentally brings him back to life. Jason wants revenge and Tommy must defeat him once and for all!' The studios heard the cries from "V" and brought back Jason, and a whole lot of ridiculous ways for him to kill.
"Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" (1988) - 'Years after Tommy Jarvis chained him underwater at Camp Crystal Lake, the hulking killer Jason Voorhees returns to the camp grounds when he is released accidentally by a teenager with psychic powers.' The only entry that I would proudly call "good horror", we finally get a Jason who looks as monstrous as his appetite for death, and a story that isn't a carbon copy of its predecessor.
"Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" (1989) - 'A passing boat bound for New York pulls Jason Voorhees along for the ride. Look out New York, here comes hell in a hockey mask.' The premise sold tickets here, but unfortunately the film itself didn't fully utilize all of the interesting and unique possibilities of shooting in The Big Apple.
"Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" (1993) - 'Serial killer Jason Voorhees' supernatural origins are revealed.' Again, not the "Final Friday", but it may be the last one you want to watch. For the third time in the franchise's history, the killer really isn't Jason Voorhees, even if it's his spirit. When will the studios learn?
"Jason X" (2001) - 'Jason Voorhees returns with a new look, a new machete, and his same murderous attitude as he is awakened on a spaceship in the 25th century.' I have no words.
And a few bonuses...
"Freddy vs. Jason" (2003) - 'Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees return to terrorize the teenage population. Except this time, they're out to get each other, too.' Certainly a dream (no pun intended, Freddy) come true for all horror fans, this film actually doesn't disappoint too much, considering its massive potential to bomb.
"Friday the 13th" (2009) - 'A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees and his deadly intentions.' Next to "VII", this is the best in the franchise, combining the first three films into one and giving us some great scares and some spectacularly bloody scenes.
Hope you've had a nice, scary trip down memory lane and are all pumped up to grab a blankie and a friendly hand to squeeze, and start a "Friday the 13th" marathon! No? Then at least "Part VII".
Stay tuned to the Oklahoma City Horror Movie Page for scary reviews, chilling news, and spooky slideshows! Be sure to check out Part One of the look back at Jason, as well as The Ultimate Horror Challenge and The Most Anticipated Horror Films of 2012. And don't forget to subscribe!
Stay spooky, my friends.