Summer's almost here and, if you're anything like me, that means it's time for a campfire horror marathon. There are plenty of outdoorsy gorefests for the warmer months, but it's hard to think of a franchise that better encapsualtes the terrors of going outside than Friday the 13th.
The Friday the 13th franchise is one of horror cinema's most storied, with hockey-masked headman Jason Voorhees having become a symbol of not just the films, but the genre itself. There are 12, yes twelve movies in the saga, which is both exciting and, let's face it, a little intimidating. If you're a new fan, you might not know where to start. Fortunately, Popverse is here to ki-ki-keep your ma-ma-marathoning simple.
That was a music joke, it's the theme... eh, just look it up later. For now, let's go ahead and begin our exploration into the murky waters of Camp Crystal Lake by talking about the Friday the 13th movies in order, which you can begin by watching in...
Friday the 13th movies release order
The '80s were the decade of Jason, with a Friday the 13th movie out almost every year. The franchise petered out in the '90s and started getting strange around the '00s, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. For now, here are the Friday the 13th movies in chronological order, for your watching pleasure.
"But wait," you say, staring baffled at this list, "How is a movie called 'The Final Chapter' not even the halfway point of the franchise? And what about that 'Final Friday' is final, if three movies came after it? And what does the 'X' mean?"
All fair questions, which are a lot easier to answer if you consider watching the movies in...
Thankfully, the chronology of Friday the 13th is pretty linear, with each movie until the ninth following the plot of its predecessor. However, I'd humbly suggest that the films are easier to watch if broken down into 'chapters' based on major changes in the franchise. These chapters are of my own divising, so if you're a Friday die-hard and don't like them, don't get mad at anyone but me.
But also, please don't get mad at me.
Oh, and one last thing before we move on: I've tried to keep this vague, but in talking about the different chapters, some mild spoilers may come up. If you wish to avoid having any fact of the Friday franchise ruined for you, skip right ahead to the "Where Can You Watch Friday the 13th?" section.
Still here? Alright, let's jump right into the first era of Friday the 13th, or as I like to call it...
An Old Beginning
Inspired by the success of John Carpenter and Debra Hill's first Halloween movie, producer/director Sean S. Cunningham and writer Victor Miller coagulated the idea of teen counselors dying horrifically at a summer camp. Camp Crystal Lake was born and a franchise begun, a franchise which would start out with these three movies:
Interestingly, a lot of Friday the 13th staples don't appear in the first movie, but are threaded into the story gradually as this chapter progresses. For example, Jason Voorhees isn't even the killer in the first film, and doesn't get his trademark hockey mask until the third. But it's not until number four that we get a change big enough to switch eras, that is, until Jason gets an arch-nemesis. Let's call this chapter...
Tommy vs. Jason
It's in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter that we meet Tommy Jarvis, a smart and scrappy kid originally played by Corey Feldman. When the seemingly conclusive events of that film turned out to be not so conclusive, Tommy returned as a teenager played John Shephard, then as an adult played by Thom Matthews. Throughout this chapter, Tommy not only confronts Jason, but his own trauma caused by the maked killer. Check it out in:
The films that come after Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives move away from Tommy's story, however, it's not exactly the last time fans get to see him. In the acclaimed Friday the 13th fan-film Never Hike Alone, Thom Matthews returns as the character of Tommy, now working as an EMT. Since the movie is a fan film and not affiliated with any studio, you can watch it for free right here. Don't do that yet, though, because we're just getting to the next chapter, lovingly dubbed...
Jason Lives! Then Dies. Then Lives! Then Dies. Then...
Though Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives toyed with the idea of resurrection, it's in this post-Jarvis chapter that the Friday franchise fully embraces supernatural horror. Jason is drowning in fantasy at this point; he meets a telekenetic, swaps bodies, and even takes a trip to New York City (Where the Magic is You!). See it all in:
This chapter's the last stop on our tour before the timeline start getting jumbled, so get ready to toss continuity out the window. After the ninth entry into the franchise, a change in studio ownership led to a new era of Vorhees vehicles unlike any seen before in an era I'm calling...
Jason Goes to (Development) Hell
You've probably already noticed that there's almost a decade between the last film in the last chapter and the first in this one. A lot was going on offscreen during that time, and the onscreen results were, well, also a lot. Gone were the rules and history of the previous films, opening the door for Jason to meet other horror royalty, get a complete continuity makeover, and of course, go to space. The movies of this chapter are:
What's fun about this particular chapter is that you can watch these movies whenever you want, at any point before, during, or after the previous nine, and not much is lost in terms of story. In fact, the first Jason Voorhees I ever watched was Freddy vs. Jason, and it instilled in me a love of the franchise, Tommy Jarvis or no.
Now that you know the chronological order of the franchise, it's time to ask another question very important to your macabre marathoning. That is, of course...
Where can you watch the Friday the 13th movies?
Renting or buying any of the Friday the 13th movies is pretty easy on Amazon or Apple TV, but c'mon, you know you're looking for a place to stream. While there's no place to stream all of the movies straight through, one service does get you pretty darn close.
That service is STARZ, and it's got six out of twelve of the Friday the 13th movies as of this writing. Once you stream the original Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th Part 2 on Paramount+, head straight over to STARZ for all the movies from Friday the 13th Part III to Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.
Sadly, it's all rent or buy after that. Jason Goes to Hell: the Final Friday, Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason, and the 2009 Friday the 13th remake are currently streaming nowhere, which means you're going to have to shell out some cash if you want to watch the most recent entries into the franchise... most recent as of now..
If that feels like a segue, well, that's because it is. And it means we've finally reached the part of the article where we ask...
Will there be more Friday the 13th movies?
Before we answer that question, a quick explainer: The reason we haven't seen Jason's masked face in a new movie for 14 years is because of an ongoing dispute between Friday the 13th's originators, producer Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller. For years, they've been waging a legal battle over who would get the rights to make more films. Recently, however, a winner was announced, and it appears to be... both.
On Halloween in 2022, Peacock announced that Miller would be producing a new entry into the Friday the 13th franchise, though it wouldn't be for the big screen. As reported by The Verge, the Miller-produced project is an upcoming series called Crystal Lake, which will act as a prequel to the movies. The series's showrunner will be Hannibal's Bryan Fuller, and the studio footing the bill would be modern horror magnate A24. The announcement did not specify any casting or release date.
Then, just three months later, Bloody Disgusting announced that Cunningham would be producing his own Friday the 13th project, this one for the movie screen. The film is described as a reboot and, judging by comments from Jeff Locker (one of the writers attached to the project), it may take a different direction than other films.
"[...]We’re hoping the surrounding excitement [for Crystal Lake] will inspire both sides to come together and give us Jason on the big screen again," said Locker, "but we also have a Plan B for a sequel to the original we think fans will absolutely love and should avoid any legal entanglements."
"Legal entanglements" aside, it's a great time to be a Friday the 13th fan, with new stories finally on the way after years of disappointment. So this summer, make sure you've got this guide (and a whole lot of popcorn) at the ready; this marathon may be your last chance to catch up before the reign of Jason Voorhees begins again.
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