Friday the 13th only falls in October every six or 11 years, and this year’s spooky season gets an extra dose of fright with the arrival of the superstitious occasion. October’s Friday the 13th is the perfect day to get your terror fix with a horror movie marathon, and there’s no better place to start than the iconic “Friday the 13th” films. Beginning with the classic “Friday the 13th” (1980), masked killer Jason Voorhees has been stalking campers and unsuspecting victims at the cursed Camp Crystal Lake throughout 12 films, and it looks like he’s not done yet.
While some entries in the franchise are nightmare-inducing, at least a couple are downright laughable. Whether you’re looking for the most terrifying films of the franchise or prefer horror movies with a side of humor, there’s plenty of bloody good content to choose from. In celebration of the films and Friday the 13th, We rated every “Friday the 13th” film on a scale of 1 – 13, with 1 being the least scary and 13 being horrifying.
Agree with these ratings? Which “Friday the 13th” film is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
‘Crystal Lake’ (2024) — Unrated
While we can’t rate the new “Crystal Lake” streaming series yet until it comes out on Peacock in 2024, the success of the series may lead to a renewed attempt to add a final film to the franchise, making it a perfect 13. We know the series is intended to be a prequel to the events of the films and will bring back at least one cast member — and possibly more — from the 1980 classic. Now that the source material is out of legal limbo, we’re confident Peacock will do a great job of making this series as spooky as possible. We shudder to potentially see a young Jason Voorhees, or maybe his insane mother as the menacing killer in the show.
‘Friday the 13th’ (2009) — 7
The 2009 remake is pretty mediocre, lacking the imagination of the 1980 original. Still, it brings a modern, intense flavor and updated cinematography, making it the best-looking movie in the franchise. Originally conceived as an origin story, the project turned into a re-imagining of the first four films. “Friday the 13th” introduced a more sympathetic back story for Jason (Derek Mears), but trying to apply logic to a ridiculous character and situation resulted in a weak, plot-hole-filled script. While many felt that the film didn’t add much to the franchise and only provided middling scares, it was highly profitable and is considered quite good for a horror remake.
‘Freddy vs. Jason’ (2003) — 8
This highly-anticipated and fairly chilling crossover film combines the worlds of “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and provides plenty of fan service to lap up. The suspenseful battle between two iconic supernatural slasher villains is a thrilling ride for fans of both franchises. When defeated, child-killing spirit Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) uses his last remaining power to resurrect Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), and then uses Jason to terrorize children in his place. A group of Springwood teens develop a plan to force Freddy to face Jason, but don’t anticipate both murderers turning on them! “Freddy vs. Jason” is a slick and stylish, if somewhat hollow, entry, earning more at the box office than any other film in the franchise.
‘Jason X’ (2001) — 6
Did anyone have a strong desire to see an Uber Jason (Kane Hodder) cryogenically frozen and taken along with humanity to their future in space? No one? “Jason X” is as ridiculous as it sounds and barely scary, which is perfect if that’s your kind of horror flick. However, it’s a big departure from the franchise’s humble origins, feeling more like an over-the-top fan fiction than a consistent installment. The film is out there enough that it could be making fun of itself, featuring cringe humor, creative kills, and high-budget imagery that make it a guilty pleasure for fans.
‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (1993) — 7
Ridiculously and inexplicably resurrected once again, Jason (Kane Hodder) returns to Camp Crystal Lake where he foolishly chooses an undercover FBI agent to be his next victim. The FBI lures Jason into a trap and blows him up, but his spirit manages to escape once again by possessing a morgue worker. The film looks into Jason’s supernatural origins and contributes to the canon, but the confusing body-swapping plot, mediocre thrills, and tired formula made “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” a snooze-fest. The low box office numbers for this installment resulted in a nine-year hiatus for the franchise.
‘Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan’ (1989) — 6
Although it boasts a tantalizing premise by taking the masked killer out of his tame lakeside hunting grounds for the thrill of the big city, “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan” disappoints in almost every way. The majority of the film is spent on a cruise ship before the action moves to the city, leaving little time for Jason (Kane Hodder) to live up to his full terrifying potential in the Big Apple. It can’t be enjoyed for how ridiculously bad it is in the same way that “Jason X” can, leaving us with a dry, unsatisfying entry with little suspense and poor performances.
‘Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood’ (1988) — 8
After the success of “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives,” the follow-up film retains newly-introduced supernatural elements and the broader new direction of the franchise. A damaged young telekinetic (Lar Park Lincoln) who killed her father with her powers accidentally raises Jason (Kane Hodder) from the bottom of Crystal Lake to begin a new string of gruesome killings. With his main adversary possessing power to rival his own, Jason is hunting on a more even playing field. This keeps tension high throughout the film, giving it a spine-chilling effect that made it a major box-office success.
‘Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives’ (1986) — 8
“Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” elevates its screenplay with dark, offbeat, and pointed humor interlaced between gruesome killings. It’s unusually good for a sixth installment intended to revive a slipping franchise; it’s considered one of the first popular horror comedies. We see the fearsome Jason (C.J. Graham) resurrected from the dead, introducing a supernatural element to his character and making him more unstoppable than ever. A good balance of suspense, action, humor, and a deeper exploration of Jason’s pathology makes “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” not the most terrifying, but easily the most entertaining entry in the franchise.
‘Friday the 13th: A New Beginning’ (1985) — 7
Tormented by nightmares years after killing the mass murderer Jason Voorhees, a teenage Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) finds himself in a home for troubled teens on Crystal Lake. When strange murders once again start plaguing the town, it could be the infamous murderer Jason risen from the dead, a copycat killer, or Tommy himself. The premise is solid and the kills are fairly scary. The tone of the film strikes a good comedy-horror balance, but the final plot twist was so monumentally stupid that it brought the whole film down. “Friday the 13th: A New Beginning” also suffered from gimmicky directorial choices that moved the franchise further from its low-budget beginnings.
‘Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter’ (1984)’ — 10
Established character actors, a growing budget, and cleaner visuals lend an air of professionalism to “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter,” with more realistic shocks and suspense making it one of the most terrifying films in the franchise. The film introduces comedy elements and taps into Jason’s unsettling psychology, creating the setup for the success of later comedy-horror installments like “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.” Moving away from the teens-getting-slashed formula of earlier installments, “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” introduces the franchise’s best protagonist, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), a young boy whose single mother is murdered by Jason, spurring him to become Jason’s main adversary throughout three films.
‘Friday the 13th Part III’ (1982) — 8
While “Friday the 13th Part III” introduced us to the iconic hockey mask that has become synonymous with Jason Voorhees and provided some pretty good scares, it isn’t one of the most enjoyable watches of the series. One of the most cold and ruthless iterations of Jason (Richard Brooker) is paired with some of the most chilling imagery of the franchise, but the humor and undertones are somewhat lost. The filmmakers tried to wow with 3D showings and over-the-top special effects that ended up being more immersion-breaking than captivating, leading to a less warm reception than the first two installments.
‘Friday the 13th Part 2’ (1981) — 10
The film where Jason (Steve Dash) takes the reins as the lakeside killer from his deranged mother wasn’t nearly as strong as the original, but crucial for the franchise’s canon back story. A youthful Jason maims and murders in the infamous sack mask that solidifies his masked-killer image for the rest of the franchise. In keeping with the low-budget vibe of the original, “Friday the 13th Part 2” features tamer killings than later entries but better suspense throughout. High energy, genuinely bloodcurdling, and well put-together, this is the solid horror sequel that created a lasting legacy for the films.
‘Friday the 13th’ (1980) — 12
Director Sean S. Cunningham’s original “Friday the 13th” holds a special place in horror history as a foundational work of the slasher genre. The suspense builds gradually, leading to the mind-blowing twist that immortalized Jason Voorhees (Ari Lehman) as an iconic cinematic killer. The grainy post-’70s imagery works well to create a hazy, confused sense of dread throughout the film. Apart from its outsized influence, “Friday the 13th” is the franchise’s scariest and most suspenseful entry, and the only one that kept us guessing until the very end — perfect if you’re looking for some real chills this October.