8. Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D (1982)
The three-dimensional presentation is not what warrants Part 3 such a high place on this list. It’s just not as bad as the previous three films! Dana Kimmell’s Chris is completely boring, blending into the woodwork of many bad actors within this film. Oddly, the gimmicky nature of the 3D actually endears it to me more, and watching it without the ability to view it in that form makes me sympathetic to it. That third dimension sets it so firmly in the early 1980s, grasping at any gimmick to keep the series alive.
Also, there are some funny, memorable moments: the kids in the van are strange and weird enough to watch with curiosity, and this features the first use of Jason’s staple: his mask. And that’s enough for me to raise it above Jason in Space or in Hell.
7. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
The most impressive thing about Jason Lives is the establishment of Jason Voorhees’ hulked-out zombie nature. Tommy, accidentally following in the footsteps of Dr. Frankenstein, resurrects Jason when he stakes him through the heart with an iron rod during a lightning storm. He thought that was a good idea? Doesn’t he know that he’s in a horror movie? Basically, every subsequent death rests squarely upon Tommy’s head.
I actually want to respect the concept of a sort of reboot, bringing the franchise back to its roots, acknowledging the aftermath of Jason’s many murder sprees in-movie, and leaving Jason chained, Prometheus or Tantalus-like, at the bottom of Crystal Lake. I know that this movie is ranked higher for many people due to its humor and that same gumption to reboot the series, and I applaud that effort and enjoy many elements of the film. It just falls seriously short in the poor execution (get it?) of those elements, namely Thom Matthews’ nearly unwatchable performance as Tommy Jarvis.
6. Friday the 13th (2009)
This is a reboot and conflation of the first few Friday the 13th films, with Jared Padalecki (of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls fame) taking the lead as Clay Miller, searching for his sister who has gone missing in Crystal Lake. The film is a who’s who of CW shows, including Padalecki (though he’s easily the best actor of the bunch, followed closely by Aaron Yoo). For all the good production value that followed all of Michael Bay’s 80s slasher reboots, I wish they’d have kept the Camp Counselors formula, rather than going more toward Cabin in the Woods or Cabin Fever with just pot-smoking campers.
This is a perfectly fine film. It’s fun, dark, slashery, and brings Jason into the 21st century in a better way than Jason X ever could hope to do (but still falling short of the other new millennium installment: Freddy vs. Jason for sheer audacity and fun).
5. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Once again, Friday the 13th attempts a course correction by essentially coming up with Carrie vs. Jason. On the shores of Crystal Lake there’s a cabin with a terribly abused girl. That long-time abuse has led her to develop telekinetic powers, with which she accidentally releases Jason from his imprisonment at the bottom of the lake, and with which she’ll battle him later on.
Just like Dream Warriors is one of the best Nightmare on Elm Street installments, so The New Blood tries to do something different. The plot is passable, but the creature design for Jason is just stellar–they actually took the time to think through the fact that he’d been at the bottom of a lake for years, undead, and took that into account. I have to give them credit for the foresight that the producers tend to lack.