Beauty in Trash – The Best of the Worst in the Friday the 13th franchise

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Image credit: Courtesy of Park Circus Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. Image credit: Courtesy of Park Circus

For slasher fans, there are probably very few flicks that are as entertaining as the Friday the 13th movies. When Sean S. Cunningham directed and released the original Friday the 13th in 1980, he could’ve never imagined how influential his baby would’ve been: the classic slasher film spawned tons of sequels, video games, novels, comics and has been fundamental in horror pop culture for 40 years!

This was an unexpected success, considering the mild reaction from critics upon release. A huge success, though, that was due to two main aspects: the unforeseeable twist and the popularity of the slasher sub-genre that was about to explode in those years. From Friday the 13th Part 2, however, the main driving force of this franchise has switched from those elements to Jason Voorhees, one of the most beloved and iconic villains in cinema history. As a slasher fan myself, I always watch these movies with pleasure: I don’t consider them great films, obviously, but they’re good, enjoyable fun. Within the franchise (including spin-offs and remakes), though, there are three movies I truly love on a guilty pleasure level: these are the ones I can watch under any circumstance and find myself constantly entertained by. Let’s delve into them and see why, if you like slashers, you absolutely need to watch them today to celebrate Jason’s Day – AKA Friday the 13th.

Continue reading and check my takes on the three best/worst Friday the 13th movies…

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Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986, Tom McLoughlin)

At the end of Friday the 13th Part IVspoiler-alert…Jason is dead. It’s replaced by a copycat Jason in Part V, which fans didn’t like. In fact, Part V (together with Jason Takes Manhattan) is the most boring and disappointing entrance in the beloved franchise, in my opinion. Therefore, Tom McLoughlin decides to resurrect the hockey-masked killer in Jason Lives. Brought back from the dead in the same vein as Frankenstein’s Monster, Jason is now sort of a super-strong and evil zombie, who keeps going around camping sites to kill people.

Due to the absurd premise, even for slasher standards, McLoughin made the smart decision of going for a more meta and self-aware approach. Without giving too much away for the crazy ones among you who haven’t seen this hilarious movie, in Jason Lives our villain gets surprised at his own strength, leaves bloody smiley faces and face imprints around. Oh, there’s also a supernatural book involved which might help Tommy Jarvis to defeat Jason. McLoughlin must have been a huge fan of The Evil Dead! Anyway, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is dumb and even less sensical than the previous movies, but it wears self-awareness and lack of rules on its sleeve, resulting in a wildly entertaining, bloody ride.

Jason X (2002, James Isaac)

Since Jason Voorhees had already killed every teenage actor working in Hollywood, someone decided it would be a good idea to set this sequel in space, in the far future. In the early 21st century, Jason is cryogenically frozen in an attempt at putting his potential danger in suspension. This works until the 25th century, when limb regeneration and bringing people back from the brink of death is daily routine, apparently. Some things haven’t changed, though: aboard a fully functioning medical spaceship, first-year medical students are still shiftless and horny, attitudes that will be put to the test as they defrost Jason’s cadaver.

Jason X embraces the idea of Jason Voorhees as an unstoppable killing machine by making him, literally, an immortal cyborg-like creature. This really bad flick is hilarious and enjoyable for two main reasons: in a different setting and with new weapons, the kills become more inventive and creative than they’ve been since 1986. Secondly, the special effects are so bad they’re impossible to look away from. Between these elements, stiff acting and silly story, there’s really no way you’d be bored while watching this movie!

Freddy vs Jason (2003, Ronny Yu)

I can’t think of any 2000s horror movie that’s more 2000s than Freddy vs Jason. When this movie came out, I just turned 12, but I managed to sneak in a theatre and watch it: it was a glorious experience! 17 years later (jeez, I’m getting old…), I still massively enjoy this dumb and ridiculous flick, which is so rewatchable in all its trashiness. Whether it did it intentionally or not (I think the latter), Ronny Yu captured what made both A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th so iconic for horror fans: the first half of Freddy vs Jason, in fact, is more dedicated to dumb and annoying teenagers being slashed and the second half finally sees Jason and Freddy fight each other in.

This movie is filled with one-liners that are so poorly-written they kind of become funny and dated special effects that didn’t look good when this flick came out, so now they look even worse, even though that’s part of the charm. However, between shitty acting and fan-service elements, Freddy vs Jason does have some genuinely good scenes, such as the fight between the two villains that takes place in Freddy’s world: it’s bonkers, without any rule and, at the same time, it never takes itself too seriously.

What about you, guys? What’s your favourite Friday the 13th movie? What do you think of these guilty pleasures mentioned in the article? Let me know, have a pleasant Friday the 13th and stay away from campsites!

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