Today is the only Friday the 13th in all of 2022, and horror fans know the best way to mark the occasion is by spending some quality time with a certain machete-loving, teenager-hating masked maniac (and his dear mother, of course). This list isn’t a ranking — we’ve already done that — but rather a round-up of what we consider to be the most memorable death scenes across the Friday the 13th franchise.
Agree? Disagree? Did we skip over one of your favourites? (“Ki-ki-ki-ah-ah-ah” echoes menacingly in the background.) Here’s our favourite blood-splattered Jason Voorhees memories.
Arrow through the throat, Friday the 13th (1980)
Just a few years into his career (post-Animal House, pre-Diner), future household name/Hollywood trivia game inspiration Kevin Bacon meets a wonderfully gross end midway through the very first Friday the 13th, which features an array of special effects by the great Tom Savini. After a romantic interlude with another camp counsellor, Bacon’s character Jack realises the bunk above him is dripping blood for some reason. Of course, we know there’s another dead counsellor stashed there, but Jack doesn’t have time to investigate. He soon meets his own grisly fate when an arrow taken from the archery range pierces the mattress from below and emerges through his throat, courtesy of Jason Voorhees’ vengeful mother, Pamela (Betsy Palmer).
Machete through the face, Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Multiple counsellors get got in this first Friday sequel, but the death of Mark (Tom McBride) is probably the most shocking. While Friday the 13th Part 2 must be commended for actually including a character that uses a wheelchair — representation that the horror genre could certainly use more of, even today — a cynical viewer might suspect that Mark was perhaps written that way in anticipation of his death scene. Nascent killer Jason sinks what would soon become his favourite weapon (a machete) into Mark’s startled face, a blow that would be enough to kill him even without the movie’s added flourish of sending him clattering down Camp Crystal Lake’s achingly long outdoor staircase.
Pop goes the eyeball, Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
Though (as we’ve seen) Jason is quite fond of machetes, he’s not one to be pigeonholed into a single method of slaughter. Witness the demise of poor Rick (Paul Kratka), whose head finds its way between Jason’s hands and falls prey to his super-strong squeezing abilities. That would be grody enough, but since Friday the 13th Part III was made to be shown in 3D, you get that added impact of Rick’s eyeball popping out in a gloriously exaggerated fashion. Even in 2D you can really appreciate just what the filmmakers were going for there.
Jason’s “death,” Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Part four’s definitive-sounding title only got more comical as the years passed and more chapters were added to the Friday saga — but The Final Chapter, which features the return of Tom Savini’s special effects, actually has plenty to get excited about. (Some people even say it’s their favourite in the series! Ahem.) One extremely memorable takeaway is Jason’s death. Though he would of course eventually return in subsequent films, this scene makes it very clear that he’s a goner after Trish Jarvis (Kimberly Beck) and her little brother Tommy (Corey Feldman) tag-team him using a combination of psychology (Tommy, who’s a Savini-esque special effects whiz, dresses up as young Jason to confuse the hulking adult version) and machete whacks — including a blow that causes an unmasked Jason to fall on the blade as it slides slowly through his brain.
Head squeeeeeze, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
The high body count in this film actually doesn’t come courtesy of Jason Voorhees; in A New Beginning, we follow an older Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) as he’s sent to a sort of psych hospital/summer camp for troubled kids to help process the events of The Final Chapter. There, a random character with revenge motivations unrelated to the Voorhees family takes up Jason’s mantle and continues his killing spree. Anyway, at one point a pair of horny teens have sex in the woods, and Fake Jason dispatches them both, though Eddie (John Robert Dixon) gets the worst of it when he’s pinned to a tree with a strap tied around his forehead — which is then tightened so much that blood and brains start oozing out. Honestly, Real Jason would be proud.
Die smiling, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
The goofiest, most self-referential Friday the 13th brings back the actual Jason and Camp Crystal Lake, here renamed Camp Forest Green after racking up all that massacre-related bad publicity. In this murder scene, Jason targets a guy playing paintball as part of a corporate team-building exercise (so very ‘80s), literally reducing his head to a bloody stain on a convenient tree — which just so happens to have a smiley face already carved into it. Hey, we said it was the goofiest Friday!
Sleeping bag smack, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1987)
This is the entry where Jason meets maybe his most formidable foe (at least until Freddy Krueger entered the picture): telekinetic teenager Tina (Lar Park Lincoln). But the high point of the movie? Jason’s coolly efficient use of the materials he has on hand to end an unfortunate victim by dragging her squirming, screaming, sleeping bag-encased body across the forest floor, then whipping it against a tree. Though The New Blood is actually (ironically) light on actual blood, you definitely don’t miss it here.
Taste the sewer, Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
This logic-challenged sequel has very few glimmers of joy — it takes almost the entire movie for Jason’s very hyped arrival in the Big Apple — but it does feature a handful of creative kills. This one involves a jerky teacher who’s been chaperoning a group of recent high-school grads on a boat trip to you-know-which big city. After they come ashore, stowaway Jason throws the teacher out of a window before dropping him headfirst into a barrel of toxic-looking sewage that’s just, like, hanging out on the footpath. Welcome to New York!
Jason explodes, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
In the opening scene of this sequel — which was obviously far from the “final Friday” — the FBI captures Jason at Crystal Lake and promptly blows him to smithereens. BOOM! Of course that doesn’t stop him from stretching the limits of everything supernatural we’ve ever learned about him, and he spends most of the movie sending his murderous spirit into unsuspecting vessels to do his bidding — a strategy that actually yields several juicy kills. And don’t worry, he returns in one piece before the movie ends… only to die again and get dragged to hell by someone he’d face again in 2003.
Sleeping bag redux, Jason X (2002)
After being cryogenically frozen in 2010, Jason wakes up in in 2455 on an uninhabitable Earth, where he’s soon scooped up by a spaceship that just so happens to be crewed by a group of frisky students. Along the way he becomes a full-on cyborg, and there’s a virtual reality segment that allows him to revisit one of our, and presumably his, favourite Camp Crystal Lake moments (see: The New Blood above). Sure, it’s just a simulation, but the fan service is 100 per cent genuine.
Freddy’s (sorta) death, Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Obviously we had to go straight to the final showdown between our two battle-scarred serial killers, who wail on each other for most of act three with a little bit of human interference/assistance and topsy-turvy deployment of their signature weapons (machete, finger-knives). Though Jason emerges the apparent victor, Freddy’s head (severed moments earlier by the movie’s final girl) does offer a cheeky wink at the end… so members of Team Voorhees and Team Krueger, both of whom have just sat through so-so movie that fails to deliver on its much-hyped clash of the horror titans, can feel a little warm fuzzy in the end.
Sleeping bag redux (again), Friday the 13th (2009)
Though we’re generally not fans of this Michael Bay-produced remake, this wink to Friday the 13th’s long history of sleeping-bag terror ain’t bad. Here, an unfortunate teen is bundled into a sleeping bag which is then hung over a campfire, where it’s soon engulfed in flames — and her friend (who’s been caught in a nearby bear trap) is forced to listen to her screams. When the sleeping bag disintegrates, the girl pops out onto the ground… completely burned to a crisp.
Death of Mrs. Voorhees, Friday the 13th (1980)
We’re going back to the beginning for this final entry, an iconic moment that pits shell-shocked Alice (Adrienne King) against Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) in a brutal machete fight that ends with one of horror’s most epic decapitations ever. Mrs. Voorhees’ shocked expression! That spurting neck blood (Savini, yet again)! Those slo-mo grabby hands, ghoulishly flailing around in front of a headless body! It’s just perfection, every time.
Happy Friday the 13th, folks.
This article has been updated since it was first published.