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‘Friday The 13th’ Movie Posters, Ranked » TrendFlow
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Jason Voorhees

The posters that took a stab at promoting the iconic horror franchise.

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Ch ch ch, ah ah ah, or ki ki ki, ma ma ma. The most chilling six syllables in the history of horror film. No matter which side of the pronunciation debate you are on, the eerie whisper immediately brings to mind one Jason Voorhees, the slasher icon of the Friday the 13th films, who has done more to instill friggatriskaidekaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th, in the hearts of people than any cracked mirror or black cat (unless you count Church from Pet Sematary… that’s one freaky cat). You know his story: drowned in Crystal Lake in 1957 due to camp counselors more interested in sex than safety, appears at the end of the first film, kills, picks up a goalie mask in Friday the 13th: Part III, kills some more, dies, lives again, kill kill kill, visits Broadway, goes to hell, goes to space, stab stab stab, fights fellow horror icon Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), and gets rebooted. Just your average, run-of-the-mill life, documented over the course of 12 films. With rumors that a 13th entry in the franchise could be on its way in 2023 (the latest of many similar rumors, but there is a Friday the 13th in October 2023…), let’s take a look at the posters that heralded Jason’s many, many returns, from worst to first.

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Two months after the events of the original film, sole survivor Alice Hardy (Adrienne King) opens her refrigerator, sees the severed head of Pamela Voorhees, and is promptly offed with an ice pick to the temple. Five years after that, a school for camp counselors is opened on the shore of Crystal Lake, where leader Paul Holt (John Furey) assures the group that the legend of Jason living in the woods is just that – legend. Sorry, Paul. Maybe you should have looked Camp Crystal Lake over before purchase, ‘cuz Jason (Steve Daskewisz), in a saucy burlap mask, is indeed very much alive, and now your counselors are not. The poster for the film is a rehash of the one for the first film, with only the picture inside the silhouette and the fact it says “Part 2” the only thing that separates it. Just lazy and unimaginative.

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Jason (Tom Morga) has been dead for a while, but Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) can’t stop having nightmares about him. He is eventually admitted to the Pinehurst Halfway House where he meets some other troubled teens. Soon after a patient in the hospital kills one of the teens, Joey (Dominick Brascia), more murders take place, with all signs pointing to a resurrected Jason. But killers coming back to life? That’s just ridiculous. It turns out Jason isn’t Jason at all, but paramedic Roy Burns (Dick Wieand), Joey’s dad, who goes a little off the tracks after the death of his son. The poster for the film? Lame. If it didn’t say Friday the 13th Part V on it, you’d be forgiven for assuming it to be the poster for NHL’s Greatest Goaltenders, or something of its ilk. It isn’t Jason’s mask for starters, the red lights look, well, lame, and nothing about it says “look at me, I’m a horror movie!”

After a houseboat’s anchor damages some underwater cables, Jason (Kane Hodder), chained at the bottom of the lake, is shocked back to life – you can’t write this stuff, folks – and kills the couple on board. The next day, Jason boards the SS Lazarus, bound for the city so nice they named it twice, along with a high school graduating class. No going to college for most of them, but a small group are able to get to shore aboard a life raft. Life raft? Jason don’t need no stinkin’ life raft, and stalks the survivors through the streets of New York until meeting his most recent demise in the toxic waste waters of the sewers. While the marketing department at least showed some creativity, the end result comes across as incredibly cheesy. There is a great poster hiding in there, but with the “I’ll get you, my pretties” Wicked Witch hands and a large knife that just looks strange against the Manhattan skyline, the poster fails miserably.

RELATED: Can We All Just Admit That ‘Friday the 13th’ Is the Best Slasher Franchise?

Where it all started. A distraught mother, Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), exacts revenge on the camp counselors of Camp Crystal Lake for the drowning death of her son, Jason. Oops, forgot to add “SPOILER”. Let’s try again. So someone is killing the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake, and while it’s believed to be Jason Voorhees, a boy who drowned in 1957 because counselors were to busy doing the nasty and not supervising, it turns out to be (SPOILER) his mother, Pamela! Final girl Alice stops her, decapitating Pamela with a machete, and falls asleep in a canoe, only for (ANOTHER SPOILER) the decomposing corpse of Jason (Ari Lehman) to rise out of the water and attack her. The poster for the film is not terribly interesting, with a picture of camp counselors in the woods surrounded by the silhouette of a killer holding a bloody knife. Sure, it’s iconic, but just meh.

Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) still sees Jason (C.J. Graham) in hallucinations, but is released from the Hospital for the Criminally Insane nevertheless. To stop the visions, he and a friend head back to Crystal Lake (only now it’s called Forest Green, like it’s gonna matter), dig up Jason’s corpse, and stab it repeatedly with a metal fence post. Bad call, Tommy. Lightning strikes the post twice, and resurrects Jason as the superhuman, unstoppable force he would become for the rest of the franchise. Jason kills the counselors of Camp Forest Green, but not the kids. Maybe, just maybe, his heart grew three sizes that day. Tommy heads out on the lake, calls Jason out, and chains a boulder around Jason’s neck, sinking the monster to the lake floor. Alive. Jason Lives is one of the highest rated films in the franchise, bringing with it degrees of humor, fourth-wall breaking, and action (and a killer (no pun intended) Alice Cooper song, “The Man Behind The Mask”). The poster isn’t bad, with the “Jason Lives” gravestone and Jason’s mask behind it, like a full-moon (which the Jason Takes Manhattan poster should have gone with), the lights glowing through the holes a tease of the supernatural element the film initiates with Jason.

Picking up after the events of the previous film, Jason (Richard Brooker), injured and maskless, picks up a change of clothes at a store near Crystal Lake, but having left his wallet in his other pants he just kills the store owner and his wife. He hides out in a barn behind Higgins Haven, a home on Crystal Lake where a group of teenagers have come to spend the weekend. Much death, a final girl that stops Jason with an axe to his head, and leaving off with the sight of Jason’s body still lying in the barn. Friday the 13th Part III is a pivotal entry in the franchise. It’s the first film where Jason picks up his legendary hockey mask, and it’s the only film in the franchise to be released in 3D. The poster does a really good job of promoting that fact, with a clever tagline that reads A New Dimension In Terror, and the killer’s silhouette from the first two posters stabbing through a shower curtain with a machete that looks like it’s coming off the page.

Years after accidentally killing her father with her telekinetic abilities, Tina (Lar Park Lincoln) revisits the lakeside home with her mother and psychiatrist as part of her treatment. Guess which lakeside? Good old Forest Green Crystal Lake, and her powers free Jason (Kane Hodder) from his watery prison. Naturally, a group of teens is in the house next door. But not for long. Kill, kill, chainsaw kill, and the iconic sleeping bag kill, leaving Tina to unleash her powers on Jason. She still can’t stop Jason, but the spirit of her father, who had drowned in the lake, drags Jason to the bottom and chains him up once again. One of the stranger entries in the franchise, but the poster is on point, separating the two leads’ faces on each side of a vertical knife, and keeping the glow from the Jason Lives poster to again subtly refer to the supernatural traits of the two.

Jason (Kane Hodder) in space? Sure, why not? Cryogenically frozen by the US government on Earth in 2008, the Jason-sicle is brought aboard a spaceship in 2455 by a group of students on a field trip from Earth II. He awakens and kills almost everyone (including a wicked liquid nitrogen frozen face into a counter kill) before being knocked into a nanite-equipped medical station. The nanites proceed to upgrade Jason into a cyborg, aka “Uber Jason”, who is propelled through space towards the escape craft the survivors are in. At the last moment, Sargeant Brodski (Peter Mensah) intercepts the robo-killer and both are incinerated upon entry into Earth II’s atmosphere. The film knows how ridiculous the whole premise is, poking fun at itself and the series in general, and the poster mirrors that, with regular Jason on one side and Uber Jason on the other side of a large knife (and the screaming victim’s reflection in the knife… that’s some great polish on that thing). It’s a beautifully campy poster for a campy film, with another catchy tagline – Evil Gets An Upgrade – to go with it.

Not the final Friday, but closer, being the ninth entry into the franchise. After taking Broadway by storm, Jason (Kane Hodder) is again resurrected and returns to Camp Crystal Lake, where an undercover FBI agent lures Jason into an area where FBI and SWAT agents, armed to the max, await him. Jason is finally taken down with an airstrike – you can’t make this stuff up – and his remains brought to a morgue. The remains include the still-beating heart of Jason, which successfully tempts the coroner to eat it, allowing the coroner to be possessed by Jason’s soul. The soul flits from person to person, merrily killing along the way. There’s a bit of urgency, however, as only members of the Voorhees bloodline can truly kill him once and for all, but if he possesses a family member he returns to the invincible slasher we all know and love. He finds that family member in half-sister Diana (Erin Gray), but is killed by her daughter Jessica (Kari Keegan), allowing the souls Jason’s taken over the years to be freed, and sees the killer dragged into hell by demonic hands (and his mask being dragged down by the gloved hand of one Freddy Krueger). It’s not a great film, but the poster is the most vibrant of them all, with Jason’s mask amid the fires of Hell, while a horrific snake-like thing is woven through the eyeholes.

Finally, the showdown that was teased at the end of Jason Goes to Hell comes to fruition as the two horror icons battle it out. It seems that Freddy is on the ropes, weakened and forgotten now that the people of Springwood have medication that represses dreams. Yet he’s a crafty one, and he resurrects Jason to stir up fear in the community, knowing that murders would be attributed to him, not Jason (Ken Kirzinger), and restore his strength. Jason is nobody’s puppet though, and murders all randomly and stuff. A wise group of teens have a plan, however: they pull Freddy out into the physical world, setting up the showdown of the century. It’s a little odd to be cheering for Jason, but a great battle nevertheless. The poster for the film is simple but fantastic, set up like any poster you might see for a UFC event, where the two competitors are on opposite sides, staring each other down (but the inclusion of the weapons du jour aren’t often seen in the UFC).

Jason (Ted White), believed dead after Part III, is taken to the morgue, but shockingly is not dead. There’s nothing that sets this film apart from the others, really. Group of teens, Crystal Lake, lots of murders, and Jason’s “death” at the hands of Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) at the end of the film. The poster, though, is magnificent. It finally steps away from the silhouettes of the first three films with a visceral image of Jason’s mask with a knife protruding from the eyehole. It’s simple but effective, an image that manages to stay with you longer than most of the others.

A reboot of the franchise sees Jason’s (Derek Mears) origin tweaked slightly, where Jason actually sees his mother Pamela (Nana Visitor) beheaded by a camp counselor, ending her murder spree in 1980. Flash forward thirty years, and an adult Jason kills four friends on a camping trip at Crystal Lake, while taking a fourth, Whitney (Amanda Righetti), hostage as she looks much like his mother at a young age. Six weeks later, another group of teens arrive to stay at a cabin on the lakeshore, which means another group of teens get killed. At least Whitney’s brother Clay (Jared Padalecki) finds and frees her, and the two stop Jason and dump him into the lake. Except he bursts through the wooden dock and grabs Whitney. Bummer. The poster for the film is far and away the best of the bunch, with Jason striking a similar pose as the silhouette from the first three film posters, but a full-on view of the legendary killer, eerily staring right at you, standing tall. Awesome.

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