Jason Voorhees, This Is Your Life: A look back at the Friday the 13th series

Jason 'mummy's boy' Voorhees is looking pretty pleased with himself these days (eyes right), and so he should - How many other socially inept, unfortunate looking dudes like him do you know that can say they've made a successful cult franchise with 11 movies and are a household name? Not many!

Here's a run down all 11 films (watched/ re-watched in only 4 sittings, I'm hardcore) and what makes them awesome (or indeed awful)!

Friday the 13th:

It all started here. The year is 1980 - We follow a group of innocent teens to Camp Crystal Lake for the summer, where they are picked off one by one, by an unknown killer. Great early use of the killer's POV camera shots and some stunning SFX from the master, Tom Savini. Don't get me wrong, this movie scared the absolute bejesus out of me when I first saw it (aged 12) but it doesn't hold up as well now, against some of the other classic slashers of it's time such as Halloween or A Nightmare On Elm Street. Having said that, if we didn't have the original, the below beauties would never have existed... Check out the trailer for Friday below, and enjoy the pointless counting to 13 - it may be entertaining now, but it soon gets dull when you realise they do it on EVERY trailer up until about part 6!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjiqwTv9yeI]

Friday the 13th Part 2:

It's exactly one year later - and still somehow also Friday the 13th, that's impossible, but let's allow a little creative license shall we? even though it defies the laws of physics...

The trailer for this one again gives away all of the details of who dies, how and in which order - what is the obsession with body counts? If you missed the first film or forgot how it ended, don't worry, the first 10 minutes of part 2 is pretty much a shot for shit recap of the whole thing.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYIoiusGk14]

Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D:

My favourite of the first 3 movies, by a country mile. It's got everything: A biker clan, a fat girl eating a donut, some unruly sex-crazed teens with particularly awesome '80s hair and attire. Oh and it's in 3D! Some clever use of that eye-popping new 3D technology including yoyo gags, pitchfork fun and hot poker jiggery-pokery. A particular highlight from this film for me is the upside down, machete-meets-crotch kill - any guy showing off doing a handstand when there's a killer on the loose is asking for it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoyLoSaXc0w]

Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter:

...Except it's not, is it? What I didn't realise until putting the DVD on was that Crispin Glover was in this one, and boy did he put on a good show! Check out the video below of his super-cool dance moves - my heart did a little dance when I first saw this. Note to all genre filmmakers: Just because you're making a scary movie, doesn't mean you can't throw in a little 'funny':

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_f0ELRcgCo]

Back to the movie, this is perhaps one of the most sophisticated in terms of direction (in particular that beautiful slo-mo shot of a girl falling through a window) and Jason is more dynamic than ever; bursting through walls and doors, pulling peoples heads through windows - there's no stopping him!

Part 4 introduces a younger character to the previously predictable and stale ensemble, Tommy Jarvis. Younger brother to our central heroine Trish, Tommy is fascinated with horror films (he even creates his own latex masks) and this sets him up as the perfect candidate to go head to head with Jason. Cue the child actor who never grew up Corey Feldman, who kicks some serious ass and goes balls-out batshit crazy in the final scene. I like to think this is how I would have dealt with Jason as a kid (I was a bit mental back then!)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y56Xl7ZKJq4]

Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning:

Damn right it's a new beginning - the Friday series gets a new lease of life the same year as I was born, yay! How can you follow up the brilliant dance moves of Crispin Glover in part 4? I hear you cry. With a goth girl doing 'the robot' to His Eyes by Pseudo Echo, of course! Just watch the dancing (not the death - don't spoil the surprise):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpBTSZXKktA]

Someone really needs to work out a timeline for the Friday the 13th franchise because it seems to get very confused. I'm not sure how many years are supposed to have passed after part 4, but with the exception of the intro/ recap, Tommy Jarvis is now played by someone who looks completely different, and appears to have aged about 15 years!

There is a lot of mixed feeling towards this installment, partly because is breaks one of the fundamental rules of the horror genre - don't cheat. I won't say anymore than that in case you have yet to see the film (what are you waiting for, get a copy and see it now!), but I will say not everything is as it seems...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc6oHiXVJ0Y]

Friday the 13th part VI: Jason Lives:

With yet another, couldn't-be-more-different-looking actor playing an even more grown up Tommy (how old he is supposed to be now is anybody's guess), Jason Lives is the first of the series to turn Jason into a zombie (how else were they going to bring him back?) - the opening scene shows Jason being accidentally raised from the dead thanks to Tommy and his dumbass mate, who intend to dig up the corpse and cremate it, but just as they start digging with a big spike, a bolt of lightning strikes and re-animates Jason. Uh-oh.

This episode sees Tommy return to Crystal Lake (now renamed Forest Green) to put right the damage, so he warns the town Sheriff – unfortunately he recognises Tommy as having escaped a mental insititution and locks him up in a cell. Cue sheriff's good-girl-gone-bad daughter, Megan, (whose idea of entertainment is balancing chairs on two legs – hardcore), who takes a liking to the sightly unhinged Tommy and wants to help him out.

Everyone raves about the paintballing scene, which I think for the most part is overrated – except for a bit where a guy gets his head smashed against a tree to reveal a bloody, smiley faced imprint (which I didn't realise was actually there before).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-XRW1zgAcE]

Friday the 13th part VII: The New Blood:

Everyone seems to be having sex in tents or the back of a van in this one.

Lead girl Tina has a very Amy Smart vibe about her, the mum has possibly the best gravity-defying '80s hair and the Doctor won't stop harping on about Tina's dad.

You can't ignore the massive Carrie homage in this one with our heroine Tina (who even happens to look like Sissy Spacek) harbouring telekinetic powers. She kills her alcoholic, wife-beating dad by willing the porch to fall on his head - he disappears underwater never to be seen again, at least, that's what we're meant to think.

Without a doubt the two best bits of the movie are when Tina's mum and doctor go out into the woods to look for her, and the mum ends up shouting her name maniacally, with a crazed facial expression to match. The other is when a nerdy kid is about to get it on with one of the popular girls only for her to reveal that it's not really gonna happen cos he doesn't turn her on – his response to this 'rejection' is classic and should be carved in stone: “I've been rejected by some of the finest science fiction magazines in the continental United States”.

This is the first entry of the series where for great chunks of the movie you completely forget you are watching a 'Friday' movie – Jason is a minor character (more so than in any of the other films), and he only really bothers to show up properly in the last 20 minutes. It's verging on Hellraiser territory.

Part 7 also marks the first appearance of Kane Hodder as Jason (perhaps the actor best known to play him in the series), as well as the introduction of the possibility of a collaboration with the Nightmare on Elm Street series (albeit subliminally); the changes in soundtrack from jarring strings to a more dreamlike electro sound and the supernatural element of having the main character with telekinetic powers. Funnily enough this was supposed to be the first film of the franchise where Jason and Freddy come to blows, but didn't go ahead due to Paramount and New Line not coming to an agreement (a problem that was eventually solved when New Line bought the rights to the Friday films and released Freddy vs Jason in 2003).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFueYFS9rB4]

Friday the 13th Part 8 – Jason takes Manhattan:

Manhattan, rather like Jason in several entries of the franchise, hardly makes an appearance in the film – in fact, most of the story takes place on board a boat en route to Manhattan.

It's pretty unique not only in it location, but also it's methods of dispatch. Jason's done with the machete - that was sooo '88, no man it's all about using what you've got to hand now, and getting creative with it. Cue a harpoon gun, control panel, an electric guitar, a needle, and just punching someone's head off!

This is by far my favourite trailer - it totally has you in it's grips; that cheesy, sax soundtrack, the romantic New York skyline - you think you're watching a trailer for the latest Tom Hanks '80s Rom-Com as they slowly pushes in on a male figure with his back to us, then BAM! He turns round and it's Jason! Fooled ya...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5fc43O3ynE]

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday:

In the opening credits sequence the tension is palpable, this is the first Jason movie (up to this point) that has actually felt threatening and scary, and features perhaps the most memorable role reversal setup in a horror franchise - cue the female bait, a SWAT team, and Jason Voorhees being obliterated into a million pieces. All of this in the first 15 minutes.

I'm not usually a fan of jumping the shark, but I usually give horror films a bit of a break, especially if they bend the rules creatively. I knew we'd be in good hands with this one when I saw Sean S. Cunningham's name with a Producer credit, returning to the helm to spice things up and drag this antiquated series kicking and screaming into the 21st Century (way ahead of it's time, I might add!)

Having done the standard slasher stuff, then zombie thing, and the telekinetic tom-foolery, part 9 allows for things to get freaky with the occult. It turns out that Jason was just a mindless killing machine vessel, for a demon that possessed his heart, all along. When a coroner examines the infamous lifeless corpse of the serial killer, he gets a little too close and ends up EATING HIS HEART?! What the....? (stick with it, people...) This film has everything including a seriously badass Bounty Hunter named Creighton Duke and some of the best deaths of the entire franchise (deep fried head anyone?)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that despite it being totally bloody mental, part 9 is one of my all time faves of the series, save for the next entry - Jason X.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCeV_oKPQ_A]

Jason X:

Jason in space - WHY DID NOONE THINK OF THIS SOONER?! Usually reserved for part 4 of any franchise (see Hellraiser, Critters, Leprechaun for examples), Jason's far too cool for that, instead holding out for part ten to be set in space - let's face it, they've exhausted every other possible avenue by now.

This movie is tongue-in-cheek all the way, and revels in the fact. Every character is bursting with energy and charisma - there are no unforgettables in this one, you either love 'em or hate 'em. Sure, it borrows heavily from the best and original Sci-Fi Horror movies of all time, Alien and Aliens, but it has fun and sets out to do nothing but entertain.

It has perhaps the best re-watchability of all of the films in the franchise, as there's always plenty going on and it requires little neuron activity to take it on board. If you don't love this movie, to borrow a much loved end of a horror movie tagline: you're dead already!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2J6EzXGl9I8]

Freddy vs Jason:

Ten years in the making, and the more forgiving, 18 year old me, watching it for the first time at Nottingham Odeon thought it was awesome - but having revisited it more recently (having seen a great deal more horror films since then) it didn't hold up so well, and definitely not in comparison to the previous ten Friday films.

Let's take a look at the evidence - you've got a member of '90s R&B pop group Destiny's Child in a lead role (that's strike one), there is a scene where Freddy fights Jason by using him as a marble in a human pinball game (lame move, strike two), and there are way too many CGI effects where real effects could have been used instead (that's three strikes, you're out).

Worth a watch if, like me, you waited for ten years for the promise of a Freddy and Jason tete a tete to come to fruition. But just don't go expecting anything life changing.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qj_CqzTCTs]

If you have a spare 10 minutes and wanna check out all of the inventive - some just downright ridiculous - deaths from the franchise, then you're in luck - a helpful YouTuber has compiled the lot in this video. Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJVVWQyjBlw]