Friday the 13th is one of the biggest franchises in movie history, horror or otherwise. It’s spawned twelve films to date, a television series, a Nintendo game, action figures, T-shirts and so much more. If you can name it, Jason’s hockey mask has been printed on it. And there are fans of the franchise all over the world, who love and adore the features and the masked madman at the center of them.
Every Friday the 13th fan has their favorite entries. There are those that are considered the best by the majority and are generally unchallenged—things like Part 2, 3 and The Final Chapter, as well as Jason Lives. But at the same time, there are those entries that are loathed by fans almost universally.
Are they really that bad, though? Or at the very least, are they not entertaining? Some entries deserve their reputation, while others are far from the disasters they are made out to be. Here are five films widely considered to be among the worst Friday the 13th entries that are actually worth a look.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Now, right off the bat I will admit that there is no defending this movie. The quality of the film itself is pretty embarrassing. But despite all of that, or in some places because of that, Jason Takes Manhattan is more fun than it has any right to be. It’s utterly absurd, ridiculous, and even downright stupid at times. But it doesn’t take itself terribly seriously and even when it does, it doesn’t really make any sense. Part VIII does the audience the courtesy of making itself impossible to think about too deeply. Even with all the flaws of the story and the fact that it doesn’t even deliver on the promise of the title until the last 20 minutes, Jason himself is at the top of his game. He really is the star in this one. The slick, perpetually wet look is kind of neat and the kills are so over-the-top that it’s hard not to have fun with them.Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
The New Blood is a little more divisive. It’s not nearly as universally panned as Jason Takes Manhattan. This one definitely has as many fans as it does detractors. In general, it’s not a great movie. Outside of one or two major standouts, most of the cast is incredibly forgettable, including the male lead. What people really love about this one is Jason. It’s Kane Hodder’s first outing as the character and Jason has never looked better, with a zombie-inspired design that showcases every wound Mr. Voorhees has ever taken. There are even some great kills, as cut to hell by the MPAA as they were. So, it’s not one of the best entries in the series, by any means, but there are enough things going for it to warrant a watch.
We’re getting into a little bit different territory now, because Jason Goes to Hell is actually a good movie. Its only major flaw is that it is the furthest thing from what the average Friday the 13th fan expected it to be, which is not so much a flaw on the movie’s part. But after eight movies, what Jason Goes to Hell does is honestly refreshing. Sure it’s a demonic possession movie instead of an outright slasher picture, but it’s not a bad demonic possession movie and the fact that it’s also a part of the Friday the 13th series doesn’t change that. Trying to keep things fresh and interesting is what sequels should be doing. Especially when marathoning the series, it can be refreshing to hit an entry that goes in such a different direction. It makes the few minutes that Jason is actually on screen even better. On top of that, it might have the best effects of the whole franchise, as well as the best ending.
A New Beginning is not only not a bad entry, it’s one of the best. Even if Jason doesn’t have much of a presence in the movie. And even if there’s a Scooby Doo styled plot that reveals the killer was someone else all along, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a fiendishly entertaining feature with some of the best kills and many of the best characters. This is a sleazy Friday the 13th, purely mid-eighties and it can go from surprisingly funny to harsh and mean-spirited at the drop of a hat. It is also the first direct sequel in the franchise, actually carrying on the story of Tommy Jarvis from The Final Chapter in an interesting way. Yet for some reason this one is and has always been despised by the fans. For that reason, a lot of people have ignored it, but it’s worth seeing. It has one of the highest body counts of any Friday and, more importantly, is probably the most quotable.