16. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Part 2 director Steve Miner returned to give Jason a higher body count. This time in 3D. Yes, it is one of those films. Part III isn’t the worst of the series, but it may well be the most forgettable and boring entry.
The problem that comes when talking of Part III is that it is so unremarkable that there is nothing at all to say about it. Sharing the same director as the previous film is a detriment. The two are exactly the same narratively, and thanks to Miner, they are stylistically similar too. Flatly shot and with no characters to care for, the film is just a flatline.
Yes, this is the film when Jason finally gets his hockey mask. But it wasn’t this film that made Jason iconic. Jason is a lumbering idiot with a few sharp tools at his disposal. His body count is only as high as it is because the teenagers appear to want to die.
As for the 3D, it goes down as well as it did in Jaws 3D. I’m sure it looked good in 3D at the time. But now, in 2D, these shots range from being awkward to outright embarrassing. Other than that there is nothing more to be said about this film, good or bad.
The Best Kill: Despite this film having that awful eye-pop kill (which is hilarious), the best kill has to be the guy being cut in half while doing the handstands. It will make any boy watching wince as the machete strikes his crotch. Although, the question remains, later on in the film how did Jason get his body tucked up in the rafters?
15. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Rushed into production after the success of the original, Part 2 is more or less a remake of the previous entry. Replace the elderly woman killer with an over six-foot-tall man with mummy issues and away we go. The blatancy of the laziness in writing is a huge issue for this film. Part 2 simply isn’t enjoyable, unless you worship the ground that the original film walks. The pacing, the deaths, the cast of characters and overall story are identical.
Steve Miner, who has had a prolific career since, is an unfortunately boring filmmaker. Workman-like is the best way to describe the style. There is no personality or zest on screen, just people making a film as competently as they can and getting paid at the end of it. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to be stylistic for a Friday film to work, but you need more than, well, nothing.
There is nobody to care about. Jason, in his sack mask, is a laughably unimposing villain. Tom Savini not returning for the make-up means that the kills aren’t as gruesomely memorable this time around.
All that can be recommended about Part 2 is that it has an excellent ‘final girl’ who manages to beat Jason is an intelligent way. Using her child therapy teachings to convince Jason that she is his mother. It’s a good note to end on and she puts up a great fight with him. Sadly, it just isn’t worth the rest of the film.
The Best Kill: While most are dull this time around, there is a fun one when the guy in the wheelchair gets a machete to his face. The kill itself isn’t anything to write home about. Seeing the body, still in the chair, rolling down the stairs to the lake though is fun, in a Looney Tunes kind of way.
14. Jason X (2002)
When your horror franchise has officially run out of steam, send them into space. It worked with Hellraiser, Leprechaun and Critters after all. Well, actually it embarrassed them. Just like it did with Jason. Our killer is cryogenically frozen and picked up on a space shuttle, where he thaws out and kills again. At one point upgrading into a ridiculous looking cyborg as he destroys an entire space station.
To its credit, Jason X knows it is ridiculous and is a deliberately camp film. The problem is it over does it. Every deliberately silly moment is cringeworthy. Every joke lands with a groan. In fact, some of the film’s humor is scarier than the actual horror. There are scenes in this film that made my brain hate my eyes for seeing them. Kane Hodder is back as Jason – and this exceptional stunt man spends 90% of his screen time bursting through walls. What a waste.
It is interesting seeing this and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (which is much higher up on this list) back to back. Both came out to essentially keep audiences interested in their characters and attempted to bring something new to the table. One did this very right and Jason X did it very wrong. With terrible effects to top it off, it is no wonder why so many hate this film. At least it isn’t boring.
The Best Kill: Jason dunking a woman’s head into a pool of liquid nitrogen. This causes her face to freeze. Jason then slams her face on a desk, shattering it. For all this film’s failed humor, Jason is still treated seriously. It is an awesome kill that is worth watching on its own. It is also a strong contender for the best kill in all twenty listed films.
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)
On paper, The Dream Child sounds interesting. It is a film that deals with themes of teenage pregnancy, adoption, abortion, single parenthood, grief, anorexia, and fear for the future. It sees the return of Alice, one of the best final girls of the slasher genre. Robert Englund is back in more gruesome make-up. The film has a gothic aesthetic and, while still retaining the humor of later installments, seeks to go back to the series’ darker roots.
In reality, even director Stephen Hopkins has admitted to being embarrassed by the end result.
A rushed production and numerous issues regarding the films many effects made it a narrative mess. And the attempt to balance the series’ darker origins with the comedy of the later installments makes it a tonal mess too. Englund is trying his heart out keep Freddy going, but his jokes aren’t funny, and the make-up is plain weird (towards the end he has a deformed hand for no reason). Because of this, when his victims are killed it is hard to tell if we are meant to be laughing or screaming – making feel crueler than intended.
The themes touched on, as well as some effective moments and some amazing kills with spectacular effects, make me want to like this one. But I can’t. It simply isn’t worth a second watch. The tragedy is, given more time and a bigger budget – and maybe not having to cut down the violence – this could have been one of the better films of the franchise. As it stands, it is one everyone would want to forget.
The Best Kill: While all three kills are well handled, Greta’s death is the most memorable. She is literally fed to herself until she chokes to death. It’s Freddy’s nastiest kill ever and will linger long after the credits roll. I would have given points to the comic-book kill, but Super-Freddy is a memory to be purged.