If the Friday the 13th franchise is to be remembered for anything, other than the iconic hockey mask, then it will be the elaborate and graphic special effects, which were created by various different artists and workshops, from the legendary Tom Savini and Stan Winston to the likes of Martin Becker and Greg Nicotero. Twelve movies, hundreds of victims – it would be impossible to narrow their gory highlights down to just a few but here’s thirteen of Jason’s most memorable kills.
I couldn’t decide which one should claim the top spot so instead these are listed in chronological order. No doubt you’ll have your own favourites so tell us which you would have included.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), Jack (Kevin Bacon)
Long before the awards and critical acclaim, Kevin Bacon’s claim to fame was his iconic death in the original Friday the 13th. Storyboarded by associate producer Steve Miner (who would later direct the first two sequels) and executed by special make-up effects artist Tom Savini, the sequence saw an arrow being driven through Bacon’s throat from underneath the bed. This relatively complex gag would be created by designing a cast of the actor’s torso, whilst his real body was hidden underneath the bed. With a neck cast attached to Bacon, a hand belonging to stills photographer Richard Feury (who would later be credited as second assistant director on Part 2) reached up from under the bed to pull Bacon’s head down whilst the arrow was pushed through the neck cast. But when the tube that ran the blood from a bag to the neck cast came loose Taso N. Stavrakis, Savini’s assistant, improvised and blew hard down the tube, causing the blood to spray out from the open wound. Although not a Jason kill, this is still a favourite amongst fans.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981) – Mark (Tom McBride)
To prove that Jason Voorhees was an equal rights serial killer, Part 2 saw him dispatch of the franchise’s sole wheelchair-bound victim. Having seemingly scored with pretty-yet-naïve Vickie (Lauren-Marie Taylor), Mark (Tom McBride) waits patiently before heading outside the house, where he is suddenly struck in the face by a machete and sent hurtling backwards down a set of steps. For this highly effective sequence, special make-up effects artist Carl Fullerton designed a mask for McBride to wear, which the balsa wood machete was then attached to. Pulling the blade away from the actor’s face, the footage was then played back in reverse to create the illusion that Mark had been hit in the face by the machete. McBride was then replaced by stuntman Tony Farentino (who would later work on the underrated slasher Alone in the Dark the following year), who was sent backwards down the stairs using a rig to avoid the wheelchair losing control.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (1982) – Vera (Catherine Parks)
Having rebuffed the advances of shy practical joker Shelly (Larry Zerner), Vera (Catherine Parks) finds his wallet in the water and looks through the contents, before realising that a masked figure has appeared from behind the house. Believing it to be Shelly, who had previously scared her whilst wearing his hockey mask, Jason (Richard Brooker) raises a speargun towards her and fires a shot directly into her eye. Yet another gag played back in reverse, the sequence began with Parks reacting to the arrow being pressed against her eye, before the arrow was retracted via a wire and rod. Cutting away, the next shot saw Parks with an arrow attached to her eye as she fell backwards into the water, although this could only be shot once as the prosthetics that the make-up crew had created would fall to pieces when wet. This scene has an important place in the history of the franchise as it would be the first on-screen kill committed by Jason after obtaining his infamous mask.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 (1982) – Rick (Paul Kratka)
Accommodating for the 3-D effects that would be the selling point for Friday the 13th Part 3, director Steve Miner took every opportunity he could to have objects jumping or reaching out at the camera; from yo-yos and joints to spears and even eyeballs. The latter would be used for the death scene of Rick (Paul Kratka), the lumberjack boyfriend of heroine Chris (Dana Kimmell). Having returned to find the house deserted, Chris searches for her friends whilst Rick heads outside, only to be accosted by Jason. Grabbing his head from behind and crushing his skull, Rick’s eyeballs burst literally from their sockets under the pressure and leap out at the audience. Weeks before principal photography had begun, Kratka was brought to the FX workshop to have his upper torso and head cast in plaster to create a life-size dummy that would be used for the majority of the sequence. With a mark having been set between the two lenses that were used to capture the images in 3-D, the eyeballs were sent out of the fake skull using wires after several attempts using compressed air had failed to achieve the desired result.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984) – Axel (Bruce Mahler)
Despite having launched his career on the back of his work on the first Friday the 13th movie, Savini had declined the chance to return for the subsequent two sequels, instead choosing to work on other splatter flicks like The Burning and Creepshow. Yet when the possibility to end what he had helped create by killing off Jason once and for all for 1984′s The Final Chapter arose he found the offer too tempting. After two relatively tame sequels, Savini was determined to outdo his own work on the original by creating some of his most brutal set pieces since The Prowler in 1981 (which, coincidentally, was also directed by Joseph Zito). Aside from Jason’s own demise, the stand out death scene was awarded to Axel (Police Academy‘s Bruce Mahler), an obnoxious orderly whose failed seduction attempts with a nurse (Lisa Freeman) results in him watching aerobics on television. Jason (Ted White), having awoken from the slab after believing to have died from his wounds endured at the end of Part 3, sneaks up behind Axel and grabs him by his head, before taking a surgical hacksaw used for cutting through bone and slices deep into his throat. A dummy was created using a cast of Mahler and a saw, whose blade was filled with blood, was placed against the throat, which also allowed for the head to be violently turned as Jason sunk deep into his neck.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING (1985) – Joey (Dominick Brascia)
Sweet-yet-simple loner Joey (Dominick Brascia) is often dismissed by his fellow patients at the relatively laxed Pinehurst mental institution and, after an attempt at helping two of the girls with the laundry results in the clean clothes being covered in chocolate, tries to make friends with resident psychotic Victor (Mark Venturini, also known to splatter fans for his turn in Return of the Living Dead, released the same year). Angered by his persistence, Victor swings his axe down on Joey’s back and begins to hack him to pieces as the other patients watch in horror. Some time later, an ambulance arrives on the scene and one of the paramedics (Caskey Swaim) pulls back the sheet that is covering his corpse to reveal hacked-up body parts. Whilst the murder itself is shown off screen (with only a brief reaction shot from Brascia at the point of impact), it is the following scene when the state of the body is revealed that showed the gruesome handiwork of the special effects team. Not technically a Jason kill, but the murder would become the catalyst for the Jason copycat murders that followed.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 6: JASON LIVES (1986) – Sheriff Garris (David Kagan)
Sheriff Garris (David Kagan) would prove to be the archetypal authority figure of the slasher film. Much like A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Lt. Donald Thompson (John Saxon), who would also refuse to believe the fact that a seemingly dead killer was responsible for a recent series of grizzly murders, Garris’ ignorance and refusal to accept the warning from former mental patient Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews, Venturini’s Return of the Living Dead co-star) would eventually cost him his life. Having made his way with his deputies to Camp Forest Green – formerly Camp Crystal Lake, the scene of countless murders at the hands of Jason (C.J. Graham) – Garris soon finds himself alone and takes shelter in the bushes as he watches Jason from afar. But when his daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), arrives at the camp with Tommy, Jason heads back out of the woods to kill them both, forcing the sheriff to finally face the truth and fight back, resulting in him being literally broken in two. Although heavily censored by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) prior to release, the sequence was achieved by fake legs being bent back over Kagan’s shoulders as Jason breaks his back. In an effort to avoid the same kind of problems with the censors that the previous movies had encountered, director Tom McLoughlin would shoot several versions of the scene, including one which would be relatively gruesome, although sadly this would not be used in the finished print.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD (1988) – Judy (Debora Kessler)
Unlike his contemporaries, namely A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s Leatherface, Jason Voorhees has never taken much pleasure in torturing his victims, instead opting for the fastest way to dispatch them. Kane Hodder, who would be cast in the role at the insistence of director John Carl Buechler, would take the character of Jason to new heights by creating a unique body language that he would use through the subsequent three sequels. With Buechler also being a renowned special effects artist, many of the set pieces in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood would be extremely elaborate and graphic, this was until the MPAA ordered drastic cuts to many of the film’s highlights. One sequence would see one of the young vacationers, Judy (Debora Kessler), dragged across the ground by Jason in her sleeping bag and swung against a tree, killing her instantly. Originally, Jason was to have thrown her against the trunk several times but the MPAA ordered the filmmakers to reduce the number of hits, resulting in Jason simply swinging her against the tree once and then tossing her body aside. Ironically, this would make the sequence all the more effective.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN (1989) – Jules (V.C. Dupree)
Although ultimately defeated at the end of each movie, Jason rarely faced a character who was able to match him physically, with his victims often resorting to weapons, water or even telekinesis. In 1989′s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, the latest graduating class embark on a cruise from Crystal Lake to New York City, which soon turns into a fight for survival as Jason (Kane Hodder) makes his way onboard and begins to dispatch each of the teens one-by-one. Although the majority of the deaths would be relatively blood-free (again, due to strict regulations from the MPAA), one that would stand out would be that of Julius (V.C. Dupree), undefeated high school boxing champion who, tired of running, faces off against Jason on top of a building in a rough neighbourhood of New York. With bloody knuckles and gasping for breath, Julius in unable to fight Jason any longer and challenges him to punch him back. In one swing, Jason sends Julius’ head from his shoulders, down the side of the building and into a dumpster in the street below. Showcasing his sick sense of humour, Jason later left Julius’ head on the dashboard of a police car as the other students attempt to escape.
JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993) – Deborah (Michelle Clunie)
With Paramount having eventually sold the rights to the Friday the 13th franchise to rival studio New Line Cinema (the home of A Nightmare on Elm Street), the series received a makeover in 1993 with Adam Marcus’ Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Ostensibly a rip-off of Jack Sholder’s 1987 science fiction thriller The Hidden (also distributed by New Line), the movie boasted impressive special effects by the always reliable KNB EFX, although predictably these would be heavily censored for the theatrical print. Thankfully, Marcus’ original cut was later released on video and featured in all its glory the murders of horny young campers Deborah (Michelle Clunie) and Luke (Michael B. Silver). With their friend Alexis (Kathryn Atwood) having allowed them to keep the tent for the night whilst she sleeps outside, the couple had begun to make out before moving onto sex, whilst a coroner (Richard Gant) from a hospital who has been possessed by the spirit of Jason appears at the tent, thrusting his weapon through the material and into Deborah’s stomach, before violently thrusting it upwards, tearing her torso in two.
JASON X (2001) – Adrienne (Kristi Angus)
With the regular setting of Camp Crystal Lake having grown stale over several installments, filmmakers had been forced to try new locations in which Jason could continue his bloodbath. New York had failed to impress the fans and so the makers of Jason X, in a last attempt to rejuvenate the formula, sent their antagonist into twenty-fifth century deep space. This new science fiction location would allow for an array of possibilities; some of which would be exploited, whilst others were sadly neglected. The film’s best death would go to scientist Adrienne (Kristi Angus), who is given the responsibility of performing an autopsy on the recently thawed out Jason (Kane Hodder), whose body was found in an abandoned space station. Whilst distracted, Adrienne is unaware that Jason has awoken behind her and grabs her by her hair, forcing her face-first into a sink filled with liquid nitrogen, causing her head to immediately freeze. Removing her and looking at his handiwork, Jason would smash her head against the work surface, shattering her face, before tossing her corpse aside.
FREDDY VS. JASON (2003) – Trey (Jesse Hutch)
Freddy vs. Jason had been fifteen years in the making, pitching the villains from the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises against each other in a fight to the death. Having gone through numerous writers and directors, the task of bringing the concept to the big screen fell to Ronny Yu, who had previously given the Child’s Play series a postmodern makeover with 1998′s Bride of Chucky. The story that was eventually selected saw both antagonists trapped in the bowels of Hell, with Freddy desperate to escape so he can continue his killing spree at his old stomping ground, Elm Street. Allowing Jason (Ken Kirzinger) to escape Hell, he lures him to Elm Street in an effort to evoke enough fear in the town’s teenagers so that he will be able to break free from his restraints and control the dream world once again. Jason makes his way to the former home of Lt. Donald Thompson and his daughter, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp), a house which Freddy is strangely drawn to time and time again. Finding a group of teens partying without the supervision of parents, Jason appears over the bed of obnoxious jock Trey (Jesse Hutch) and begins to butcher him with his machete to the point that the bed breaks in half, crushing Trey’s lifeless body.
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009) – Nolan (Ryan Hansen)
Having made a suitable impression on the executives at New Line with their script for Freddy vs. Jason, writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were given the task of resurrecting the Friday the 13th franchise for Michael Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes (previously responsible for the all-style-no-substance remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hitcher). Taking elements from the first four movies, arguably favourites among fans, the reboot saw Jason (Derek Mears) reinvented as a hunter, who kidnaps a young woman (Amanda Righetti) who resembles his dead mother, prompting the girl’s brother (Jared Padalecki) to head out to Crystal Lake in search of her. Whilst the characterisation would be lacking, even for a slasher film, and the acting would be subpar (with the exception of Mears and Danielle Panabaker, the film’s only truly sympathetic character), some of the murders would be gruesome enough to delight fans of the series. The most memorable of which was the death of Nolan (Ryan Hansen) who, whilst out on the lake with his girlfriend (Willa Ford), is suddenly shot in the head by an arrow.