Today is Friday the 13th, but it doesn't have to be unlucky if you are an old-school slasher film fan. Jason Voorhees—the unstoppable killer with a penchant for dispatching teens who engage in premarital sex—has been painting the big screen red since 1980. We learn in the original film that Friday the 13th was also Jason's birthday, so blow out some candles for the big guy and have a Friday the 13th marathon with the 12 films (!) in the frightening franchise. (Note: That marathon is now a lot easier to enjoy thanks to the Blu-ray box set Warner Bros. released containing all 12 movies. Read our review here.)
Friday the 13th: Jason Voorhees is not the killer in director Sean S. Cunningham's 1980 original, a fact that got Drew Barrymore in a lot of trouble when quizzed by the killer in Scream. Instead, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), Jason's mother, is taking revenge on the new counselors reopening Camp Crystal Lake where, years earlier, little Jason drowned while the counselors were smooshing. See all six degrees of young Kevin Bacon as one of the hapless and horny counselors before Alice (Adrienne King) beheads Mrs. Voorhees with her own machete, which resurrects Jason from his watery grave.
Friday the 13th Part 2: Jason is all grownz up in this 1981 sequel in which he tracks down and offs original survivor girl Alice in her home. Then it's back to Crystal Lake where a new group of camp counselors are hooking up while they are setting up. This enrages Jason—an unwitting Reagan-era champion of abstinence and "Just Say No"—and he dons a burlap sack and quickly carves his way through the teens. He meets his match in Ginny (Amy Steel), who takes advantage of Jason's low IQ long enough to impersonate his mother and sink a machete into his shoulder.
Friday the 13th Part 3: This is the first Friday movie released theatrically in 3D and is also the first time that Jason covers his disfigured mug with the iconic hockey mask, which he takes from one of his teen victims. Jason hunts down Chris Higgins (Dana Kimmel) and her friends in Chris's family cabin because apparently Chris encountered Jason once in the woods when she was younger and escaped. Chris shortens the reunion by putting an ax into Jason's head. Part III is available on both DVD and Blu-ray with a few pairs of anaglyph 3D glasses included.
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter: Yeah, right. Jason might have taken an ax to the head, but he rises again to terrorize a group of friends, including young Crispin Glover, renting a cabin on Crystal Lake. A young boy, Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman), dresses up as a young Jason and confuses the big lug long enough to sink a machete deep into Jason's head.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning: They lied, of course. Jason is dead and buried, but his memory haunts a teenage Tommy (John Shepherd) who is living in a halfway house for disturbed teens. A copycat Jason goes on a rampage in this neutered sequel that tones down the red stuff due to MPAA pressure.
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives: "He's back," sings Alice Cooper in the movie's theme song. Yes, Tommy (Thom Mathews)—who is still obsessing about the psychopath he killed in Part IV—digs Jason up and stabs him with a long metal spear that, as luck would have it, doubles as a lightning rod and accidentally resurrects the unstoppable killer. Oops! This sequel is the first to lighten the mood with some humor and is the first to actually show children at the summer camp. See how they run.
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood: This time Jason is accidentally resurrected (this happens a lot) from his watery grave by Tina Shepard (Jennifer Banko), who has freaky Carrie-like powers. The two face off in a supernatural showdown that features some impressive makeup effects as we get our first really good look at what that hockey mask is covering up.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan: Well, at least they didn't send him into space (but read on). Jason does, indeed, end up in the Big Apple, but most of this movie takes place on boat filled with partying high school seniors bound for New York.
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday: A new studio (New Line) takes over the franchise and misleads us again with that word "final" in the title. Jason is blown up at the beginning of this movie but his soul transfers from person to person until he is reborn in the corpse of his sister. When the sequel's heroes use a magical sword to stab Jason and demons drag him down into Hell, Freddy Krueger's razored glove comes up through the dirt and pulls down Jason's hockey mask, too. Yes, this is foreshadowing.
Jason X: Jason goes to space in this futuristic, ridiculous sequel that is also the funniest. Ignoring the plot of the last eight sequels, we find a group of science students on an expedition with their professor to a long-abandoned poisoned Earth who stumble aboard a cryogenically frozen Jason and take him on board their spaceship. When he thaws out, Jason schools the 2455 A.D. crowd 1980s style until he is blown apart by an android and unintentionally resurrected (again!) by the ship's computer into a pumped-up, metallic Jason 2.0. He eventually is shot into space and crashes like a meteor onto Earth Two, which, as luck would have it, seems to also be populated with horny teenagers.
Freddy vs. Jason: Long in development and hinted at in Jason Goes to Hell, this popular face-off between Jason and dream demon Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) blended the mythologies of both the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street series. When the titular bad boys finally go at each other in the bloody, over-the-top finale, it is Camp Crystal Lake's finest who seems to emerge the victor in this monster mash-up that is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Friday the 13th (2009): This inevitable reimagining of the first four Friday films introduces a new generation to the Camp Crystal Lake killer who—no joke—seems to be a pissed off pot farmer who is just as upset about copulating teens as his '80s predecessor. This brutal remake was produced by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes—the same company that remade The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—and is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.
What's next for Jason? If the planned reboot is ever released, it will be the 13th Friday the 13th. Now that is freaky! A TV series is also being developed, but no one is sure if Mr. Voorhees will be involved with that.
Follow Robert B. DeSalvo on Twitter @zuulboy
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