October is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “31 days of horror.” Don’t bother looking it up; it’s true. Most people take that to mean highlighting one horror movie a day, but here at FSR, we’ve taken that up a spooky notch or nine by celebrating each day with a top ten list. This article celebrating the best kills from the Friday the 13th franchise is part of our ongoing series 31 Days of Horror Lists.
More than any other genre, horror sees a high percentage of its output in the form of franchise entries. From the popular (Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Resident Evil) to the slightly more obscure (Subspecies, Witchcraft), these sequels, prequels, and reboots are often the lifeblood of the genre. While it may not be to everyone’s taste, there’s no denying that one of the mainstays — well, at least until the mighty Jason was seemingly killed by legal wrangling — is Friday the 13th.
There are currently twelve films in the Friday the 13th “series” including a reboot and a crossover with Freddy Krueger. One of the hallmarks across the franchise is the kills that often find a mix of the gory and the creative, so of course, we decided it was time to strap in, comb through the carnage, and celebrate our ten favorite kills from the Friday the 13th films.
10. Speared Bacon in ‘Friday the 13th’ (1980)
No one starts out as a movie star. Every big actor you can think of began their career in smaller movies and smaller roles, and for some of them, that start was in a horror flick. Kevin Bacon sizzled his way through much of the 80s and 90s (and is still going strong), but his fourth feature film role was as Jack in the franchise-starting slasher Friday the 13th. He’s just an average, fun-loving guy who has the misfortune of not realizing soon enough that there are dead people in the bunk above him. His punishment? A hand from under the bed grabs his head and holds him tight as a spear is twisted up and through his neck. He would go on to defeat graboids and guilt-fueled ghosts, but an angry mom is his downfall here. (Rob Hunter)
9. Speargun to the eye in ‘Friday the 13th Part III’ (1982)
Go to any midnight movie, and you’re likely to find a crowd eager to cheer when an errant crew member accidentally is caught in the background of a shot or when a boom mic peaks into the corner of the frame. However, nothing is more cheer — or groan-worthy than the ridiculousness of watching the 2D version of a classic 1980s 3D effect. And if we’re being honest, that’s how most of us watch Friday the 13th Part 3. But if there was one scene in the film that would benefit from throwing on those cheap red-blue glasses that came with whatever physical copy you have, it’s Jason’s “speargun to the eyeball” kill. As Vera retrieves a wallet from a lake, Jason lumbers down the dock with a weapon in hand. He pauses to line up his sight before squeezing the trigger, sending the spear deep into Vera’s eye as she falls back into the water. The spear is a simple shape, so the illusion that it flies at the camera, across the proscenium arch, and into the audience feels more fully realized, making our physical reaction to the kill a hint more impactful. (Jacob Trussell)
8. Wheelchair shenanigans in ‘Friday the 13th Part II’ (1981)
It should be obvious to say, but representation matters. The more different kinds of people are made visible in films and television, the quicker we come to accept and appreciate the presence and value of those different kinds of people. Race, gender, size, ability — we’re all people. Jason Voorhees agrees, and while his preferred victim type might be a nubile young female, he’s open to slaughtering anyone and everyone. Thankfully, director Steve Miner is also down to clown when it comes to equal-opportunity murder. While many viewers back in 1981 saw the wheelchair-using Scott roll into the frame and immediately figured he’d survive, Jason has other plans. He slams Scott’s face with a machete (not even the sharp side!) and sends his wheelchair tumbling down the stairs in the rain. Who knew 80s slashers could be so progressive? (Rob Hunter)
7. Handstand slice in ‘Friday the 13th Part III’ (1982)
Andy’s got skills. Or at least one skill. He can walk around on his hands. Wow. What a marvel. He leaves Debbie in the shower and hobbles to the kitchen on a mission to snatch a few beers for them both. In the hallway, he encounters Jason and his machete. The killer looks down at the inverted dope and judges his flirtatious trick with cold precision. When the machete comes crashing on Andy’s crotch, the dope crumples. The blade to the groin does illicit shivers, but it’s more about how Andy’s body immediately falls lifeless upon impact. Sure, it’s a dummy (in every sense of the word), but the lifeless switch sells the impact beautifully. Now, Debbie must fend for herself. At least she’s upright for the getaway. (Brad Gullickson)
6. Eyeballs pop in ‘Friday the 13th Part III’ (1982)
It’s kind of perfect that the most boring guy in Friday the 13th: Part 3 gets the best death in the movie. In a film that includes an edgy biker gang, local yokels, and a dude who’s obsessed with walking on his hands, the final girl Chris’ boyfriend, Rick, is an extremely unmemorable character — to the point that when he finally tells Chris he’s going to look around outside, you’d be forgiven for cheering for Jason.
The way the man meets his fate is anything but ordinary, though. While Chris stands on the cabin deck calling for him, Rick is just feet away, being held silent by Jason around the edge of the building. He doesn’t get any last words before the killer uses brute force to squeeze his head until his left eyeball literally pops out of his skull. This is a wacky trick that looks good on screen despite the obviousness of the practical effect, but it gets even better when you realize this film was originally shown in 3D. Talk about eye-popping effects. (Val Ettenhofer)
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