A goal of mine this October was to finally finish every Halloween movie and every Friday the 13th movie. Why? I don’t know. But I do like both series of horror movies and found it a little weird that I hadn’t seen all of them. But that’s the thing: when people get together to watch either a Halloween movie or a Friday the 13th movie, not many people say, “Hey, let’s watch Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers.” No, it’s going to be the classic first John Carpenter Halloween movie or, if I’m around, it’s going to be Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Anyway, as of October 24th, having just finished the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th (not bad!) I have completed this goal.
So, what do I do with this new knowledge? At first the answer was, “I guess nothing.” But the more I thought about it, the more I did want to write something about the experience. Though I didn’t want to just rank the movies straight up, or whatever. Instead, I thought it would be fun to rank each individual chapter against the other. So it would be the first Halloween vs. the first Friday the 13th, then the second installments and so on and so on. The only problem is there are 13 Halloween movies now and 12 Friday the 13th movies. (It really should be the opposite, right?) So here’s what I came up with. I’m throwing out Freddy vs. Jason because that’s kind of its own thing and isn’t quite fair in a straight-up competition with poor Michael on his own. And I’m going to consolidate the David Gordon Green Halloween movies into one entity. Frankly, because they all seem so recent I really don’t feel like rehashing each one individually again. So that means David Gordon Green’s direct sequels to the first Halloween go against the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot and that gives us 11 entries on each side. So, alright, anyway, let’s do this.
Halloween (1978) vs. Friday the 13th (1980)
I mean, look, of course John Carpenter’s Halloween is going to win this. Not to mention Friday the 13th only exists because of Halloween. Though, I do love the shock people still have when they watch the first Friday the 13th for the first time and find out Jason Vorhees – you know, the famous character people watch these movies for – isn’t even in this movie. (I mean, technically he is for about three seconds, but whatever. Also, it’s remarkable how many of these movies Jason isn’t really even in.) It has to be much more shocking now than it was then because people didn’t even know who Jason was then and now it’s the only reason people are watching this movie. Anyway, yes, here’s your Pamela Vorhees movie. Also, Kevin Bacon is in this. I’m not going to do a deep breakdown of the first Halloween, but I will say when I was a little kid, Michael Myers just standing there with the ghost sheet on with P.J. Soles was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life at the time.
Halloween II (1981) vs. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
This is tough. Halloween II is still the better movie here even though Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode spends the whole movie in a hospital. Oh, and we find out Michael And Laurie are siblings, which frames a lot of future movies but also doesn’t really work. I do appreciate, at the time, it was meant to wrap up the series and kill Michael Myers once and for all. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but at least it was the intent. Though Friday the 13th Part 2 does have some great kills, even though it’s pretty much the same movie as the first one … well, except now Jason Vorhees is the killer, only in this movie he’s somewhat slender and has a bag over his head. And Jason has some pretty great kills in this one. A friend of mine, watching this movie for the first time a couple of weeks ago, texted me, “Hey so when does Jason get a hockey mask? I’m halfway through this movie.” To which I had to explain he is still a full movie away from that.
Winner: Halloween II
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) vs. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
I am forlorn that this winds up being the matchup here because I love Friday the 13th Part III. It’s so ridiculous! And originally released in 3D, there are just so many dumb scenes of things poking out at the audience and I love all of it. Plus, one of the kids in this movie, Shelly Finkelstein, for some reason, carries around props with him for pranks. One of these props happens to be a hockey mask that Jason Vorhees takes an interest in keeping. I truly love that that’s it. No deeper lore there, just some kid had the mask. But Halloween III: Season of the Witch just happens to be one of my favorite movies ever. No one can out ridiculous this movie, not even Friday the 13th Part III, a movie in which Michael Myers does not appear other than in a commercial Dr. Dan Challis is watching (we’ll get to him). A novelty company called Silver Shamrock is going to murder millions of kids on Halloween night who happen to be wearing their masks while the Silver Shamrock commercial plays. Actually, the kids’ heads turn into killer bugs that also kill whoever happen to be around. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details but, somehow, Stonehenge is involved. Also, our hero is Dr. Dan Challis who loves beer, he loves the ladies, and he thinks something fishy is going on at the Silver Shamrock factory. (He is correct.) Often, when I’m watching this with someone who has never seen it, I have to remind them that Dr. Can Challis is not a cop investigating all this. No, he is a doctor.
Winner: Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) vs. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)
Unfortunately, people in 1982 did not see the nuances of Season of the Witch like I, and many others, do now and demanded the return of Michael Myers and, as you see in the title, they got their wish. This kicks off a trilogy of lore about Michael Myers and his family and they get bogged down in this stuff instead of just having Micheal Myers stab people. Laurie is gone, so now we have Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s daughter and Michael’s niece. Michael is after Jamie and … that’s pretty much the gist. The two can sense each other’s feelings, to the point it’s strongly suggested Jamie will one day become a killer but that’s all dropped by the fifth movie. On the other hand, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is terrific. The first full movie with Jason wearing his hockey mask, plus we get Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover in this. And Glover, as you might expect, is going for it. There’s one scene in particular in which Glover has to dance at a party and I would bet good money this is not at all what directer Joseph Zito expected or wanted, but this is what he got.
Winner: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) vs. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Yikes. Okay, so, for a while, Halloween 5 was my least favorite Halloween movie, that is until I got deeper into the franchise and, well, now it isn’t my least favorite. It’s just kind of dull and also feels like we are doing the fourth movie all over again. Even Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis just feels like he’s spouting the same nonsense over and over that we heard in the fourth movie. As for A New Beginning, the franchise took a different direction in a couple of big ways. First, Jason, once again, isn’t in this movie. But there’s a new guy wearing the hockey mask, tormenting Corey Feldman’s character from the first movie, Tommy Jarvis. (We see Feldman briefly before we jump ahead a few years and Tommy is now played by John Shepherd). Another significant change is they hired a director with a background in pornography and … yeah it shows. This movie really blurs the line of “campy slasher movie” and “porn.” But, I’ll give it this: it is certainly not boring. Frankly, this might be the craziest of all the Friday the 13th movies and that’s including the one in which Jason goes to space. Also, we get to meet a character named Demon. RIP, Demon.
Winner: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) vs. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
The Curse of Michael Myers is my favorite Halloween of these last three, mostly because it stars Paul Rudd who is trying to be deathly serious, but now, in retrospect, it’s hilarious. This would be the last Halloween movie in this particular timeline before the series sort of reboots in the next one. What’s kind of wild is, the last ever fight for this particular Michael Myers is against Paul Rudd, and Paul Rudd wins the fight using a pipe. I don’t know why Paul Rudd doesn’t talk about this more, “Hey, I beat Michael Myers in his last fight.” However, the last two movies made us get invested in Jamie Lloyd and she’s dropped very early in this movie to focus on her kid. Anyway, unfortunately for The Curse of Michael Myers, it’s going up against a movie in which Jason opens the movie like James Bond, walking across the screen, then stopping and throwing a machete at us. This very much sets a fun tone as Jason is very much back in this one – his body gets hit by lightning, so, yes, of course he’s alive again – fighting Tommy Jarvis one last time and killing Tony Goldwyn. After an early Halloween 3-0 lead, Friday the 13th has tied this up at 3-3.
Winner: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) vs. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
It’s surprising how many people don’t really like Halloween H20 because I found it … pretty good! Especially right after watching the previous three Halloween movies. What’s not to like? Jamie Lee Curtis is back. LL Cool J is in this. Michelle Williams is in this. Josh Hartnett is in this. Good fun! Though, it does begin a trend of Halloween movies telling us to forget prior movies, something Friday the 13th doesn’t really do until the very end. Halloween is the DC of continuity and Friday the 13th is Marvel. In this case, we are told this takes place after the events of Halloween II and to ignore the whole Jamie Lloyd stuff. Alright, easy enough. The New Blood is fine. Someone decided, “What would happen if Jason Vorhees met Carrie?” And this is the result.
Winner: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) vs. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
People complain Jason Takes Manhattan mostly takes place on a boat, which is true, but that’s also interesting. Maybe the title should have been Jason Stabs People on a Boat, what’s wrong with that? I do think I enjoy this one more than most people. I mean, he does wind up in New York City (which looks a lot like Vancouver). And, look, Jason literally punches a guy’s head off. Right there is worth the price of admission. Then Jason is killed in New York City’s famous toxic sewer sludge. I know every time I step outside I need to avoid that stuff. But all of this is moot because Resurrection is abysmal. Everything fun about H20 is retconned in the first 15 minutes, including killing off Laurie Strode, before becoming a movie about reality TV. It’s The Rise of Skywalker of Halloween movies and, once again, killed a timeline.
Winner: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Halloween (2007) vs. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Yikes again. I truly found Rob Zombie’s Halloween to be very unpleasant. Plus I do not at all need to know what Michael Myers was like as a kid, and this movie spends almost 40 minutes showing us that. But I do have to admit it’s better made than Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Mostly because the misleading title here is much more egregious than Jason Takes Manhattan. Again, Jason goes to Manhattan. He punches a guy’s head off in Manhattan. We never once see Jason in Hell during the events of Jason Goes to Hell. Sure, once he’s killed by bounty hunter Creighton Duke at the beginning of this movie, I’m sure that’s where he is, but we don’t see it. Instead, we see Jason possessing a handful pf different people over the course of this movie which means, yes, once again, Jason himself is barely in this movie. (Not counting the original movie, I truly don’t get why people think this is a good idea.) So, begrudgingly…
Halloween II (2009) vs. Jason X (2002)
If Rob Zombie’s Halloween was Zombie’s attempt to make a John Carpenter movie in his own image, Halloween II is just a Rob Zombie movie. I realize people do enjoy his aesthetics, but, again, I find them unpleasant and this one goes all in. Michael Myers eats a dog and there’s an extended scene of paramedics discussing having sex with corpses. These movies are supposed to still be fun and there’s just nothing fun about this movie except Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis, at least before he gets his face hacked up. Oh, and Weird Al is in this, which is kind of fun but I wish he’d have been in a different Halloween movie. Hey look, Jason goes to space and kills a bunch of people on a spaceship. It’s truly insane this movie exists and I kind of love it for that. All I want out of these movies is some October scary fun and this one delivers fun. Again, it’s Jason Vorhees in space and there’s a scene where they trick him with a hologram of naked ladies at a lake.
Winner: Jason X
Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021), Halloween Ends (2022) vs. Friday the 13th 2009
You know, I kind of liked the Friday the 13th reboot more than I thought I would. Jason is very sinister in this movie. And instead of polite stabs, he really winds up before he delivers a blow. But there’s nothing inherently interesting about it either. It just kind of exists all alone by itself. And due to complicated rights issues, this truly was the end for Jason Vorhees for, still, the foreseeable future. And this reboot made a lot of money! There should be five more of these by now. I have a soft spot for the David Gordon Green Halloween movies. I think people try to attach too much to them and pretend they are trying to make some grand statement that fails. Halloween Kills is the most cited, pointing to its mob violence approach. But they also did the angry mob thing in The Return of Michael Myers. I take these all as just throwbacks to ’80s slasher movies and people aren’t really used to seeing that right now, which I find interesting. I was asked on social media if I’d rather watch the Rob Zombie Halloween movies for all eternity or these three movies? Oh, that’s easy, I’ll take hanging out with Corey Cunningham for all eternity any day of the week.
Winner: Halloween, Halloween Kills, Halloween Ends
Okay, so the final tally is … Halloween wins this five to four. (By the way, that should be the name of the next Halloween movie, Halloween Wins. You’re welcome.) Here’s what I find interesting about all this: Looking at both series as a whole, I for sure enjoy the Friday the 13th movies more consistently than I do the Halloween movies. There are less duds. But I’d rank the original 1978 Halloween and Halloween III: Season of the Witch over any Friday the 13th movie. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really looked at which movie would coincide with each on this list other than the first couple before I wrote this and I kind of assumed Friday the 13th would win. But, it didn’t, because life is full of mysteries. And apparently full of supernatural, mostly immortal masked serial killers with family issues who don’t even appear in all their own movies.
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