Ranking Jason’s thirteen best. How many do you agree with?
Jason Voorhees: the man, the myth, the monster; and in many eyes the greatest stalk-and-slash villain to ever grace the slasher sub-genre. The Michael Myers clone who would take teenage-oriented horror to cynical depths before Paramount applied the censorship tourniquet, Jason would be figuratively castrated as the series staggered forth, relying on meta shenanigans, Carrie clones and gallows humour to keep the lolly rolling in.
Still, it’s hard to keep a good killer down, and Jason would remain pretty consistent in the kill department during his original run, resulting in one of the best-loved horror franchises the genre has to offer.
In this article, VHS Revival ranks its thirteen favourite kills of the series. Bear in mind, this movie excludes the original Friday the 13th, A New Beginning and Jason Goes to Hell for reasons that should be clear enough to any fan of the franchise. Feel free to challenge our selection in the comments section.
13. Alice: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Where had Jason been hiding in the years since his supposed drowning back in 1957? Friday the 13th Part 2 seems to suggest that he’s been laying low in an all-too-accessible outhouse in the middle of the woods surrounding Camp Crystal Lake for the best part of thirty years. This has always troubled me. How would such a monstrous presence conceal himself for so long? How would he eat, drink, entertain himself? In fact, what on Earth was he doing for all those years? Did he not think about contacting his mother to tell her that he was actually alive and well? I mean, all of this killing lark could have been avoided.
Okay, so Paramount were just looking for an excuse to introduce the kind of marquee character who would rival the likes of Michael Myers, and rival him he did. Jason was a much more marketable killer than Pamela before him. Unlike his maniacal mother, he has a colossal frame and the kind of facial deformity that begs many more questions. He is also something of a mystery for all the reasons already listed and in 1981, six months before John Carpenter’s hand was forced to bring back Michael Myers for the enjoyable yet wholly unnecessary Halloween II, Mrs Voorhees’ baby boy would return to enact a little vengeance of his own, and he wouldn’t disappoint.
For many, Friday the 13th Part 2, the first of two instalments from director Steve Miner, is the best sequel of the lot, and it’s easy to see why. In fact, as an example of a pure slasher it is probably the best in the entire series, though ‘best’ and ‘favourite’ often mean very different things when it comes to this particular franchise. On this occasion, Jason would conceal his identity under a crude, peephole sack manufactured from a pillow cushion, and he was distinctly human compared with his later incarnations, cowering beneath a plethora of courageous attacks from superlative final girl Ginny (Amy Steel), a tower of female strength who would tackle our bumbling brute head-on.
Others weren’t so lucky, including Jason’s first ever onscreen victim, Alice, whose portrayer, Adrienne King, was not too pleased about having her character killed off in the opening scene of the sequel, wrongly assuming she would live to fight another day. It’s a superbly staged sequence too, relying on the kind of slow, suspenseful build that would all but vanish as the sequels plundered forth like an insatiable brute backed by an insatiable production company looking to squeeze every last dime out of their horror poster boy. After a quick shower that recalls Hitchcock’s most famous scene, Alice wanders off to investigate a strange noise. It should come as no surprise that there is a cat involved.
Panic seemingly over, Alice then wanders to the fridge for some refreshment, only to find the decaying head of a corpse staring back at her, but before she can react Jason grabs her throat from behind and drives a screwdriver crudely into her temple. Patient, swift and brutal. Michael Myers would have been proud.
12. Terri: Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
A kill doesn’t have to be particularly brutal or gory to make this list, a fact that Terri’s inclusion will attest to. Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter features a few familiar faces from the decade of excess, most notably Crispin Glover from the original Back to the Future movie and 80s stalwart Corey Feldman. There is also an all-too-brief appearance from Weird Science beauty Judie Aronson as one of Jason’s least notable victims. Perhaps more memorable in this instance are twin beauties Terri and Tina, played by Carey and Camilla More respectively. Terri, in particular, is quite the hormonal hellcat, hellbent on making someone else’s beau her own, and as is typical in the realms of slasherdom, hers is an attitude for which she will pay the ultimate price.
Whenever you approach Friday the 13th fans with the question of their favourite kill, they’ll inevitably bring up the sharp implement, the brutal displays of inhuman strength or the hyperbolic decapitations, but sometimes a departure from the norm can startle you, and Terri’s death is a prime example. With stuntman Ted White providing our resident killer with a high-octane fuel injection that left him plundering through victims like a suped-up wrecking ball, Friday the 13th Part IV offers a few surprises in the kill department, and none more than the disposal of the movie’s salacious sister. As obvious as it is that Terri is next on Jason’s radar, I just wasn’t expecting the manner of her death whatsoever.
After a thoroughly satisfying romp with Crispin Glover’s enigmatic dancer Jimmy Mortimer, Terri decides to take a look out of the window in a close-up shot that leaves a very familiar blind spot for audiences to ponder. We’ve seen Jason creep up behind his victims on numerous occasions. After all, it is the quickest, most effective way to take out your target with as little fuss as possible. So what would it be this time? A screwdriver through the temple? Perhaps a swift slitting of the throat or a superhuman neck snapping? Actually, it’s none of those. And here I am pegging Jason as predictable.
Like many kills you don’t see coming, this one seems to be beyond the laws of physics — at least to any mere mortal. With his target pressed against the window, Jason, who has climbed up the side of the house, smashes the glass and unceremoniously slings Terri out through the window onto a parked car in a moment of blunt opportunism that encapsulates Jason’s most frenzied rampage. Bravo, sir!
11. Judy: Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Barely a week after New Line Cinema released The Dream Master, then the most successful A Nightmare on Elm Street instalment by some margin, Paramount released the then most edited-for-gore instalment of their long-running Friday the 13th series, a movie that would prove their least fruitful instalment to date. It’s no wonder Paramount executives approached their rivals with the opportunity of a Freddy vs Jason crossover the previous year, a movie that would later break The Dream Master‘s total gross after Paramount sold the rights to what they considered a moribund and worthless property. In the first instance, however, they smartly declined Paramount’s self-serving olive branch.
In response, Paramount would decide on a Jason vs Carrie crossover, but for those of you looking forward to a returning Sissy Spacek, you may be disappointed. Paramount would instead clone the character for a telekinesis showdown that avoided any bothersome rights issues, and as you can probably guess it’s a contender for the most ludicrous of a series that has excelled in self-aware stupidity over the years. For that reason it’s a lot of fun, particularly the movie’s climactic stand-off, one that sees Jason wrestled by trees, electrocuted, drowned in a puddle, struck with all manner of heavy furniture, headbutted by a decapitated victim, crushed by a porch, smashed through a staircase, hung from a ceiling, burnt alive, blown up and shot several times with a pistol.
Sadly, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood suffers from so much censorship interference that there is barely a kill worthy of inclusion on this list — a shame since the existing raw footage hints at one of the most bloody and creative in the series. By 1988, Paramount honchos were locked in a shameless void of contradiction: they loathed the Voorhees character and the stigma he carried but continued to churn out ruthlessly neutered instalments that fans felt obliged to see. The hypocrisy is just astonishing.
Judy’s death, though one of the most iconic kills in the series, suffers from similar impositions, though manages to work on an entirely different level even with the cuts. In the existing raw footage we see Judy’s writhing body dragged towards a giant tree in a sleeping bag and repeatedly smashed against it until blood explodes all over the material. In the edited version, she is swung against the tree only once and immediately killed. As great as the original footage looks, the edited footage works on a level of sheer brutality that requires no gore. After all, if an entity as powerful as zombie Jason smashed your body against a giant oak, one swing is all that would be required, and since Jason seemingly takes no pleasure in killing and is simply on autopilot by this point, one swing would suffice even for him. Besides, there are plenty more victims just waiting to meet their maker. For those reasons, The New Blood makes it onto this list. Just barely.
10. Rick: Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
One of a few to utilise the movie’s often shoddy 3-D gimmick, the third and final kill from Friday the 13th Part 3 is a little silly visually, but it once again displays the remorseless edge that would make Jason Voorhees the most formidable stalk-and-slash killer in the slasher sub-genre. When it comes to sheer, brute strength, the madman in the hockey mask is not a person to be trifled with — just ask the plethora of useless sheriffs who should have boarded-up Camp Crystal Lake back in 1980 instead of descending into backwoods self-delusion and becoming responsible for a slew of similar slaughterthons.
Trying and getting nowhere with the film’s conflicted final girl, Chris (Dana Kimmell), passive-aggressive sleazeball Rick wanders into the dark to investigate everyone’s seeming disappearance. Dumb move, bozo. After struggling to call out to Chris with Jason’s giant hand muffling his attempts on the other side of their cabin, Rick then has his cranium crushed until an eyeball pops unceremoniously out of his head and shoots towards the audience in all of its crappy 3-D glory. If that wasn’t punishment enough for our sweatered lover boy, his body later careens through a plate glass window courtesy of Jason as his frigid sweetheart loses her shit inside.
Jason’s transition from the distinctly human, sack-wearing soft lad from Friday the 13th Part 2 to the superhuman mountain of strength on display here is nothing short of devastating, and proves the correct move for the longevity of a franchise that took inane, self-knowing slaughter to a new commercial stratosphere. 3-D was the first of many gimmicks utilised by Paramount as they attempted to freshen their more-of-the-same slasher paradigm for close to a decade, and it was the only one that effected the nature of the kills directly. Some of those determined by the film’s 3-D exploits proved painfully average, but this one did more than enough to break into our top ten, displaying Jason at his most merciless.
Fans of Friday the 13th tend to split the series into two halves: the cold-blooded instalments that preceded the Video Recordings Act of 1984 and those overtly self-reflexive instalments which followed. For me, Friday the 13th Part 3 is the model for what a Jason flick should be: cynical, violent and with just a dash of silliness to remind you that it’s all just a bit of fun, regardless of what the censors might say.
9. Julius: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Rob Hedden’s Jason Takes Manhattan is a monumental fail on so many levels and was enough to bring the original Paramount-led series to a long-anticipated halt. Originally, the director set out to give us the biggest and baddest instalment yet, which is why he would send our irrepressible killer to ‘the city that never sleeps’. On the surface of things, it seemed like a match made in heaven for a flailing horror franchise in need of a creative boost. Of course, the project was doomed from the outset, particularly as a result of budget restrictions stemming from New York City’s astronomical shooting fees. This resulted in a movie that was supposed to see Jason headline Madison Square Garden and leap off the Statue of Liberty being confined to a boat for the first hour, with most of the NYC scenes actually filmed in the much cheaper city of Vancouver, Canada.
There was also Paramount’s continued clampdown on violence to contend with, which by now had reached levels that were almost unnecessary following The New Blood‘s pedantic extremities, and it wasn’t about to get any better. In fact, Jason Takes Manhattan manages to outdo its predecessor for lack of good, honest gore, instead fetishizing Voorhees to the extent that we barely see anything of our victims, which not only lays waste to the film’s graphic capacities but also kills the horror dead in what is basically an MTV video starring Jason’s pop culture juggernaut. To be fair, there are those who have something of a soft spot for Jason Takes Manhattan‘s shallow formula, and I can almost see why, but when it comes to a list of Jason’s most memorable kills it’s slim pickings indeed.
Still, you can certainly see what Hedden was aiming for, and some of the ludicrous scenes that were ultimately nixed would have lent the instalment an injection of grandiose absurdity that may have elevated it above the realms of mediocrity. If you’re gonna do outrageous there should be no holding back, but the film’s production problems resulted in a tepid affair with only slavers of humour and one of the most underwhelming instalments of the entire series. Period. The fact that it would prove the last for a company renown for flogging a dead horse at all costs is perhaps most telling of all.
Budget and censorship restrictions aside, the movie still manages to give us one of the most memorable kills in the series. In-keeping with the horror trends of the late 1980s, it is also one of the cheapest and least graphic but captures the ‘wink wink’ humour that Hedden was aiming for. In a scene that was presumably reserved for Madison Square Garden’s world-famous squared circle until plans were abruptly altered, young pugilist Julius takes on Jason in a bout of fisticuffs on a rooftop, swinging himself punch-drunk as he attempts to put our omnipotent beast down for the count. Full points for bravery, but when Julius boldly gives Jason a free shot after succumbing to his seeming invincibility, his head is taken clean off his shoulders with a single shot, rolling off the rooftop and landing in a nearby trash can which even has the courtesy to close itself. Now that’s respect!
8. Adrienne: Jason X (2001)
Many fans are unwilling to accept New Line Cinema’s space-bound Jason X, an anomalous instalment which saw a cryogenically frozen Jason unleashed on a celestial rabble of pretties. Aesthetically, Jason X is nothing like the Paramount instalments of yore, and to its credit. Does Jason X have the same nostalgic draw of those Camp Crystal instalments? Of course not. But the series was in dire need of something new after a near-decade of the same old shtick. It was also in need of a little back-to-basics treatment following 1993‘s conceptual nightmare Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, an instalment absent from this list because it put the spirit of Jason in a series of possessed bodies thanks to a parasite reminiscent of Jack Sholder’s 1988 horror absurdity The Hidden, which essentially means there is no Jason. At least not in the traditional sense.
Unlike Adam Marcus’ disastrous inaugural outing for Paramount, Jason X fully gets what makes the Friday the 13th Series so special. While other horror franchises are criticised for their lack of imagination and inability to provide fresh and worthwhile sequels, the Friday series is one that thrives on repetitiveness and is in fact loved for its refusal to stray too far from its seek-and-destroy template. Sure, a series of cheap gimmicks have served to freshen things just enough, but fans enjoy the series for its unashamed vacuity and monomaniac indulgence in teenage slaughter. Never before has a series got by on such half-assed hokum.
In space, no one can here you scream, and Jason X takes more than a leaf out of Alien‘s book for its celestial slaughterhouse, one that sees Jason transformed into a truly invincible beast known endearingly as Über Jason, a regenerative feat of nature that even the eternal void of outer space can’t lay waste to. Xenomorph who? But while New Line’s second attempt at reviving the franchise is in many ways an entirely different entity, it shares many similarities with those Paramount entries of yesteryear, giving us a character very much in the Voorhees mode.
Even before he is thawed by scientists intrigued by the stasis relic that has found its way aboard their ship, Jason’s frozen body foreshadows the inevitable by falling out of his cryogenic chamber and chopping the arm of a crew member clean-off, but the best is yet to come. Later, dubious intellectual Adrienne is working on Jason when he suddenly awakens and freezes her head in a vat of liquid nitrogen before smashing it to smithereens in a brutal kill that perfectly encapsulates Jason’s no-nonsense approach to murder. Welcome back, Jace!
7. Sheriff Garris: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!
Dismissive Sheriffs are almost a prerequisite when it comes to Friday the 13th movies, and none are more dismissive than Jarvis scourge Sheriff Garris, who spends the entire movie keeping Tommy behind bars after suspecting him of the latest spate of murders to affect the summer resort formerly known as Camp Crystal Lake, a place renamed Forest Green in an attempt to bury the memory of America’s most notorious killer. This is a surefire way to spark yet another killing spree. You’d think four previous massacres would have been enough to keep law officials on their toes, but when Tommy comes a knocking with tales of a returning Jason, Garris is having none of it, even going as far as to attribute Forest Green’s dead phone lines to the fact that residents haven’t paid the bills. That’s some nice work, chief!
Lucky, then, that Garris’ hellcat daughter, Megan, takes a liking to wild-eyed weirdo and former mental patient Tommy, releasing him from prison and escorting him on his quest to re-murder a long-buried legend who has all but been forgotten less than two years after his last massacre. Will they ever learn? Megan is obviously a chip off the old block too, her outrageously irresponsible impulses ultimately leading to her father’s death. But hey, you can’t stop young love — or even a brief, 60-minute fling with an absolute stranger, it seems. Well Megan, I hope it was worth it!
To be fair to Garris, once he drops his groundless assumptions regarding the hysterical stranger messing up his quiet little town, he doesn’t wimp out, taking it directly to Jason and giving the relentless menace everything he’s got — whatever that’s worth. Of course, guns are of little use against zombie Jason. I mean, if a monster is able to lie dormant underground for an entire two years before returning to the fray fresher than ever, you take your chances and run, right? Teleportation Jason is still three years away, so get to your car, step on the gas and board the next plane out of there. Just don’t forget to check your luggage for murderous stowaways.
Instead, Garris unloads round after round at Jason, our killer chewing on a barrage of bullets like bubble gum before advancing on our increasingly desperate law enforcer. Once Jason catches up with Garris, a temporary struggle ensues, and our crafty officer is able to grab a nearby boulder with the intention of caving his aggressor’s head in. He gives it a decent go too, repeatedly smashing Jason in the face in a manner that would reduce any mere mortal to a plate of smashed liver. But this is no mere mortal, and Jason soon responds in kind, snapping Garris’ spine like a twig and leaving him doubled-up in a heap. I suppose an open-casket funereal is out of the question.
6. Mark: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
The second of two kills from Steve Miner’s superlative debut, Mark’s is one of historical interest in the horror world. Nobody would have dared fed a physically handicapped teenager to a brutal slasher villain before Tobe Hooper’s grungy exploitation classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a movie that broke all the rules back in 1974 to become the most talked about independent horror movie of its generation. That particular film saw a wheelchair-bound innocent chainsawed into oblivion by a marauding beast with a nondiscriminatory appetite for murder. To say the scene was the subject of controversy would be a gross understatement.
Almost certainly aware of this, Steve Miner would pull a similarly exploitative trick in Friday the 13th Part 2, a movie that would also imitate A Bay of Blood‘s infamous coitus kebab death. That particular kill was too derivative to make this list, but paraplegic Mark’s unceremonious dispatching is the finest in the movie, and one of the most memorable in the entire series, revealing Jason as a remorseless, amoral killer absolutely bereft of pity. All these years later it still comes as something of a shock to see Mark so brutally slayed. For us moral folk weaned on notions of empathy, it is simply wired into us.
Mark’s death utilises the lowest form of emotional indulgence you are ever likely to come across in the realms of mainstream horror. Right or wrong, it is our natural instinct to feel pity for anyone at a physical or mental disadvantage. It doesn’t matter that Mark is a handsome jock and undefeated arm wrestling champion. All we see is a guy in a wheelchair, and you’ve got to think that Miner was aware of that fact. What’s worse, Mark is on the verge of getting laid by quiet cutie Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor) before wheeling himself onto the porch as a rather disconcerting storm brews above the midnight dim of Camp Crystal Lake. Everyone else is off at the local bar letting loose, but Vickie decided to stay at the cabin with her beau-to-be. For Mark, all of this seems like a rather fortunate set of circumstances as Katie is off spraying perfume in places he never could have imagined.
As for Mark, he’s busy soaking up the sights and sounds of the good old American wilderness when a machete comes out of nowhere and embeds deep in his kisser. Not only that, but his wheelchair rolls backwards and somehow manages to stay upright as it careens down a steep and crooked set of wooded steps. Not only a brutal and heartless death, but an ignominious one for poor Mark. Jason has perhaps never been crueller.
5. Darren: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives! (1986)
By the time Jason starred in his fourth instalment of the Friday the 13th series he was a completely different animal. Sure, we essentially still had a madman in a hockey mask hacking up teens, but by now the character was a straight-up antihero, a fact precipitated by Paramount’s commercial shenanigans and the decision to present us with a copycat killer for Friday the 13th Part V: New Beginning. All of this after boldly proclaiming the previous sequel ‘The Final Chapter’, though anyone who believed that was in need of a crash course in cynicism.
Any horror fan worth their salt would have noticed a marked decline in graphic content during the mid-1980s, and the majority of you will be aware of the censorship impositions imposed by the MPPA and BBFC during a period of moral panic and ‘video nasty‘ hysteria, but Paramount Pictures were notoriously self-censoring during the fallout, particularly when it came to marquee attraction Jason Voorhees. That’s the reason why those tepid latter instalments were never re-released in their original form like so many other movies deemed too explicit all those years ago. Those later Friday instalments simply don’t exist in their pure, uncut forms asides from some crude raw footage.
In Jason Lives!, director Tom McLoughlin transforms Jason into something resembling those Universal monsters of yore, which was somewhat necessary since a dead and buried Jason has to be dug up and struck by lighting in order to make his triumphant return, giving us a character that fans lovingly refer to as ‘zombie Jason’. Like all Paramount instalments post The Final Chapter, Jason Lives! feels the rather hefty chop of a production company who were somewhat ashamed of their attraction’s popularity, but it more than makes up for it by taking the series meta and daubing it with a healthy dose of self-mocking.
Still, Jason Lives! features a series of memorable kills, and though most fans gravitate towards the still-beating heart ripped out of Jarvis buddy Allen Hawes’ chest or the brutal snapping in two of the wonderfully dismissive Sheriff Garris (David Kagen), the kill that sums up the series’ descent into Roger Moore style innuendo comes in the form of Darren’s unfortunate meeting with a spike, one that Jason abruptly jabs into his testicles before sending him flying glibly over his shoulder like a pole vaulter with the most unfortunate of techniques. Ouch!
4. Vera: Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
Of all the Friday the 13th movies, Friday the 13th Part 3 is easily a contender for featuring the best kills in the entire series. Released before the MPAA’s censorship crackdown and that of Paramount themselves (which were arguably worse), the movie is about as brutal and as graphic as the series became, and Steve Miner’s second and last directorial outing for the ‘Friday’ series has about as much fun as one can have, delivering a unique and varied gallery of deaths that are each memorable in their own right. Since Friday the 13th Part 3 is my favourite instalment, there may be a little bias here, but all the reasons I love this movie aside, it’s difficult to name an instalment with a superior level of brutality.
Many of the deaths on display were determined by Friday the 13th Part 3‘s venture in the realms of Reagan-era 3-D, a fad that would one day bring us such cinematic atrocities as Jaws 3-D and the laughably bad Amityville 3-D, the latter proving so ludicrous that legendary critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert struggled to get through their video review of the film, choking back each delirious syllable as they recalled the all-out crappiness of the picture. But Jason in 3-D? There was something rather intriguing about that concept. I mean, how exactly were they planning to approach this?
Friday the 13th Part 3 is also guilty of some nonsensical 3-D inspired moments, the majority of which seem tacked-on for no apparent reason. In fact, in spite of its brutish array of Jason-led slaughter and a whole bunch of silliness of the more exquisite variety, the movie often meanders for a series of inane, action-derailing visual treats that include a 3-D yo-yo, a swinging bale of hay (quick, better duck) and a baseball bat that protrudes about an inch through the screen for some reason. Still, there are a couple of inspired moments that better utilise the whole concept and Vera’s death is the finest example.
After a little lover’s quarrel with perennial prankster Shelley (Larry Zerner), the guilty Vera accidentally drops our resident porker’s wallet into the lake and immediately goes in to fish it out. With Vera now at a physical disadvantage, Jason strolls onto the walkway, suddenly adorned in the iconic hockey mask that would come to define him, and before she can figure out what’s going on BAM! A harpoon shot through the eyeball. For me, this was the kill that first brought Jason out of the POV shadows and into the growing spotlight of amoral antihero. The way he glibly drops his implement of destruction and lurches off in search of his next victim is beautifully ominous and a hint at what the character would later become.
3. Axel: Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)
It takes students up to fifteen years to qualify as a doctor. First, there’s a four-year undergrad course to undertake, then four years of medical school and then a further three to seven years of residency training before the student is eligible for actual medical licencing. Fifteen years of intense learning and adaptation. Now that’s some schooling! Of course, there is an upside to all of this, particularly in the realms of Hollywood where doctors are not only über-wealthy, they drive around in flash cars and have women falling at their feet left, right and centre. I mean, assuming television hasn’t been lying to me, some women actively set-out to bag themselves a doctor husband and the lavish fringe benefits that go with it.
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final chapter doesn’t deal with doctors per sey. It instead deals with coroners, but according to Joseph Zito’s superlative Friday instalment, they are just as irresistible to women, even when the still-cold corpse of Jason Voorhees is lying around just biding his time and waiting to spring miraculously back into life again. By Part IV, Jason is already borderline supernatural. I mean, how many near-death experiences can you survive? For Jason to have been taken to the coroner’s room he must have been clinically dead for at least a couple of hours, but if you think that’s gonna stop him you obviously have no clue who you’re dealing with.
For me, The Final Chapter is almost on a par with Friday the 13th Part 3 for pure savagery, a fact partly owing to stuntman Ted White’s decision to replace the lumbering Jason with a frenetic and relentless killer who pursues his victims full-throttle. We also get the very welcome return of practical effects legend Tom Savini, who had been notable by his absence since working on the first instalment back in 1980, in which he gave us our first glimpse of a peewee Jason. Granted, the movie was released at the apotheosis of moral outrage regarding the slasher sub-genre, 1984‘s festive slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night proving the straw that broke the reindeer’s back, and Jason’s supposed final outing (please!) would feel the wrath of censorship like no instalment before it. I have since seen the scrapped footage, and though it does devalue Jason’s exploits just a smidgen, there is still plenty of grue on offer.
Having been shunned by slutty nurse Morgan after a bout of coroner room bonking was interrupted by the wayward hand of Jason’s supposed corpse (you naughty boy, you), the dubiously named Axel takes solace in a sweaty aerobics show playing on TV until a hot brew distracts him for the briefest of moments. Waiting in the shadows is a newly upright Jason, who slices the chauvinist’s throat with a hacksaw and twists his head around 180 degrees. Ouch! The fact that the original cut was even more explicit qualifies this one for a particularly high ranking. Nice work, Jace!
2. Allen Hawes: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives! (1986)
A heartless killing machine Jason may be, but it takes heart to return from the dead time and time again, especially when you’ve been six months under for the past two years. This time, Jason doesn’t require much effort to once again rise from the dead, Tommy Jarvis doing most of the legwork by driving for miles to Jason’s burial ground and digging him up to make absolutely sure. An electricity conducting spike and a rather unfortunate blast of lightning do the rest, setting the tone for arguably the most ludicrous entry in the entire series.
Jason Lives! may be heavily censored compared with those earlier instalments but doesn’t suffer quite as badly as those that would follow. Not that it matters, since the sixth film in the franchise thrives on its meta-humour and in-jokes, giving us the horror equivalent of Roger Moore’s James Bond as a never-more-peripheral cast of victims are bumped off in increasingly far-fetched, self-reflexive ways. Two of those victims, out playing paintball in the woods surrounding Camp Crystal Lake, even wear headbands that sport the word dead on them. Love it or loathe it, Jason Lives! knows exactly what it is.
The second of three kills from Jason Lives! to feature on this list announces our killer’s return in emphatic fashion. After stupidly accompanying former psychiatric patient Tommy Jarvis to the grave of one of history’s most relentless and elusive killers, Alan Hawes is shocked to see Jason’s corpse suddenly reanimated and makes the even stupider move of whacking him so hard on the back of the head that his shovel snaps in half. Having lost none of his sharpness, Jason immediately spins around and rips out his aggressor’s still-beating heart with his bare hands. Ta very much, Tommy.
Though many fans resent Jason’s sillier incarnation, it is this kind of over the top mayhem that makes Jason Lives! one of the best-loved entries in the franchise, and the kills are undeniably creative, giving us brutality and self-knowing humour by the bucket load. Whatever your opinion, it’s hard to deny this particular kill such a lofty position.
1. Andy Beltrami: Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)
So it’s come to this!
The last in our trilogy of Friday the 13th Part 3 deaths tops the charts courtesy of handstand douchebag Andy Beltrami, who couldn’t have made it easier for Jason if he tried, and the results are there for all to see. In the world of high school jock Andy Beltrami, weed, beer and promiscuous hammocks are the essential building blocks of life, while gymnastics circus acts are the key to unlocking them. Showing off is one thing, but if you’re going to the trouble of walking on your hands all the way to the fridge for a cold one, you really are asking for it in the worst way imaginable. There have been bigger dickweeds in the series, some of whom were infinitely more annoying, but for pure ostentation this guy deserved everything he got and then some.
Apparently, Steve Miner agrees, giving us what is hands-down the most brutal and emphatic kill in an instalment that explores the creative side of things with the kind of tongue-in-cheek fun that set the series on a self-referential path. No longer was Jason the meek momma’s boy often glimpsed in Friday the 13th Part 2; the days of cowering and flailing around like a bony-armed girl in the face of some Amy Steel led retribution were long behind him. This was our first look at the remorseless, dead-eyed killing machine we would all grow to love, and the sight of Beltrami wiling away the midnight hour was just the trigger to unleash the irrepressible fury that is Jason Voorhees.
After catching our dexterous cretin spider-walking along the cabin hallway, Jason steps in front of him, halting his display of flamboyancy dead in its tracks. The first thing Andy notices is a giant pair of boots, then the monolithic purveyor of slaughter wearing them. Should he run? Should he hide? It would probably help if he was standing on his feet like any self-respecting person, though I still wouldn’t fancy his chances. The height Jason gets with his newly acquired machete before driving it clean through his latest victim’s carcass is quite astonishing, and the brutality and sound of the act is positively cringeworthy.
If all that wasn’t enough, Jason took it upon himself to stack the two halves of Andy’s corpse neatly on a beam above his girlfriend’s hammock, which provides her with a brief and nasty surprise before our killer swiftly dispatches of her with a kitchen knife through the back and chest. Not too shabby. Still, in comparative terms the girl got off lightly. Just ask haggis-on-a-beam, Andy Beltrami, Jason’s undoubted masterpiece.