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Friday, May 13, 2022

‘Friday the 13th’: Ranking 15 Different Jason Voorhees Character Designs

Ah, Friday the 13th.

We all have collective ants in our pants wishing and hoping that all of the legal drama surrounding the franchise will dissipate so we can finally see Jason in theaters again. The hope for hearing any kind of good news on a new feature going forward has reached something of a fervor with the fans. Even though the long-lasting lawsuit has finally ended, we’re still probably a long way away from seeing The Big Guy slash up the screen any time soon.

So while we continue to wait, let’s have some fun by ranking all of the character designs for Jason Voorhees throughout the Friday the 13th films. Today is, after all, Jason’s big day…

15. “The boy…Is he dead, too?” – Friday the 13th (1980)

At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to include Sean Cunningham’s original film at all. As iconic as it is I thought, “Does Young Jason REALLY count here? He only shows up as a jump scare at the very end and is only seen for the briefest of moments.”

Then I slapped myself for even asking the question. Of COURSE I had to include the very first appearance of Jason on the list. Also, to exclude Tom Savini’s work would be a sin in and of itself. This ranking isn’t a quality judgment of Savini’s design. I just couldn’t justify placing it anywhere else due to the briefness of the appearance and for the fact that it’s not our Jason yet.

Friday the 13th ranking jason goes to hell

14. “Evil Has Finally Found a Home” – Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

I’m going to be honest here. This list is already shaping up to be more stressful than I thought it would be. Before I sat down to type it up I already had most of my ranking and reasoning figured out. Actually typing the words has me second guessing my choices. Alas, like Jason himself, I must remain single-mindedly determined to achieve my goal.

Adam Marcus’s 9th installment in the franchise is not the most beloved by fans. Yet like every film in the series it does have its defenders. Jason’s design was achieved by Al Magliochetti and KNB Effects. Once again played by fan favorite Kane Hodder, Jason here has seen better days. The rotted zombie look he’s been rocking since Jason Lives is done away with. Now he’s more misshapen mutant freak than undead killer.

It’s a decent look. I love how the flesh on his head is so bloated and distorted it’s basically overtaking the mask. Personally, the light gray jumpsuit and belt look is a bit uninspired and the body suit Hodder wears is a little too bulky. He looks overly padded for the design to secure a higher placement.

13. “Take your best shot, motherf*cker” – Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1988)

I swear I’m not trying to pick on the later entries in the franchise! I love all of these movies to varying degrees. It’s just that the later films have some of the weakest character designs in my opinion.

With make-up by Jamie Brown, Jason looks better here than he does in JGTH. Hodder’s natural physique shines through more, allowing the performance to take center stage. I also dig that Jason is soaking wet with slime and ooze from Crystal Lake. That’s a nice supernatural touch to the character. Outside of that, however, this design is just a toned down and lesser version of Jason’s look in The New Blood. The exposed and rotted flesh isn’t as convincing looking as in the previous film, nor do the design elements make much of an impression.

Jason here is just kind of pale and vaguely dead looking. The make-up for his face is also considered a pretty big misstep by fans. It just doesn’t look congruous with what has come before in the series. I myself don’t hate it. I kind of like the more cartoony aspect to unmasked Jason here. The execution just leaves something to be desired.

12. “If Jason Still Haunts You…You’re Not Alone” – Tommy’s Nightmare Jason from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)

As we all know, Jason is not the killer in this film. We’ll get to that shortly, but Jason does indeed make an appearance in the form of trauma induced nightmares and visions Tommy Jarvis is having.

Simplicity is the key here. While Jason doesn’t look much different than he did in The Final Chapter, there is enough of a distinction to give this ghostly vision his own spot in the ranking. The iconic axe crack in the mask has more prominent blood around it, and because Tommy dreams of Jason rising from the grave, the big ol’ lug is looking a little worse for the wear. The mask is more visibly decayed and aged. Jason is caked in mud and we get a gnarly scene where he’s covered in earthworms as they squiggle and wiggle in his eye sockets.

This isn’t a drastic redesign by any means, but his appearances in the film are menacing and memorable.

11. “Guys it’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!” – Standard Jason from Jason X (2001)

The 10th installment of the franchise saw not one, but two redesigns for Jason. The first being his “standard” look.

At first glance Standard Jason in Jason X is the slasher we all know. Looking at him harder, the design is actually quite radical from what we’ve previously seen. With effects handled by Stephen Dupois, this version of Voorhees is noticeably more human in appearance. Gone is the zombification. We’re back at Jason being a deformed human – just an invincible one. Jason’s peepers are on full display, giving Kane Hodder a chance to really sell Jason’s hate and anger with his eyes as well as his body language.

The mask also gets a tweak in design. The red chevron on the forehead is present, but the nose of the mask is more upturned and angular compared to the past masks. The costuming itself looks a tad cheap looking. The grey shirt and paints remain. This time torn brown shreds of what I assume was a jacket of some kind are draped over Jason’s top half. The chain around his neck from The New Blood is honored, and bullet holes and tears hint at all the past bodily trauma Jason has endured – overall, a decent design.

10. “I guess he used the Jason thing to cover up with.“ – Roy Burns in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

I’m glad fans have started to come around on Roy Burns – the infamous copycat Jason. Once again simplicity is the name of the game. Stuntman Tom Morga performed as Roy-Jason in this film and his taller, slimmer frame is a good change of pace. Roy opts for a pair of dark green coveralls instead of a separate pair of pants and a shirt. I love the big, swooshing blue chevrons on the sides of the mask. It’s a simple and elegant distinction that helps sets Roy apart from real Jason.

You have to give Roy props. He committed to the part, even going so far as to acquire and wear a full prosthetic hood to appear bald. That’s dedication.

Friday the 13th ranking jason x

9. “He’s been modified.” – Uber Jason from Jason X

This is a love it or hate it design. It suffers from looking too padded and hulking much like the design from JGTH. What helps is the novelty of seeing a sci-fi Jason. The heavy contrast of the black and silver body is eye catching. Jason’s demonic red eyes are menacing and the pronounced brow of the metallic mask adds a good dose of personality to the design.

The mask seems to grip his head like a Facehugger from the Alien franchise. Despite being slick and futuristic, Uber Jason is still recognizable as the Jason we know and love. I don’t think I’m alone in saying I wish we could have gotten more of Uber Jason’s exploits on the big screen.

8. “Welcome to Crystal Lake” – Sack Head Jason in Friday the 13th (2009)

An obvious homage to Friday the 13th Part 2, the Jason we see take out a group of campers in the opening prologue of the 2009 reboot is a wonderful update to a classic look. While Jason later dons his hockey mask in the film, I would not have minded one iota if the filmmakers decides to keep Jason in the sack the entire time.

The head covering is more tightly fitted around Jason’s noggin and neck than Part 2, giving him a more intimidating visage. Coupled with Derek Mears giving one hell of an energetic and vicious performance, Sack Head 2.0 is a memorable design for our favorite camp based killer.

Friday the 13th ranking remake

7. “Say Hi to Mommy!” – Friday the 13th (2009)

Now we’re getting into top tier Jason design territory. Effects and make-up designer Chris Gallaher handled Jason for this reboot and he gave use a pretty much perfect update the slasher icon. The aforementioned Derek Mears is a brilliantly physical Jason. He gives the role his all and gives other fan favorite performers a run for their money for Best Jason status.

Jason is more visibly athletic. You can see muscle definition in his torso due to wearing a dirty white shirt underneath a heavy parka. He has a leather machete holster strapped to his leg and once again we get a Jason with hair. He’s a blondie this time around. Its obvious Gallaher took inspiration from previous designs, weaving them into Jason’s overall survivalist look in the film.

This is a perfect modern update for a character you wouldn’t think could be reinvented with some many different looks.

Friday the 13th marathon

6. “I don’t wanna scare anyone… but I’m going to give it to you straight about Jason.” – Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Fans cherish this one and done (in the original series that is) design as it marks the first complete appearance of Jason in the franchise.

There is something undeniably spooky about Jason wearing a simple sack over his head – tied off with a piece of rope around the neck and one roughly cut eye hole on the left side. I always forget just how effective this design is until I rewatch the film. Side stepping the controversy on who really played Jason in the film (R.I.P. Steve Dash), his size is more unassuming here. The matching blue plaid shirt and blue overalls give Jason a decidedly more backwoods killer vibe than the hockey mask does.

Carl Fullerton’s face sculpt for the big reveal at the climax is excellent as well. It appears the look is built off of what Savini did in the first film with one big difference: Jason now has a shock of long red hair instead of being bald. As of yet, the red locks have yet to make a comeback in the franchise. Shame. We need more ginger killers in horror!

Friday the 13th The Final Chapter

5. “Hey Ted!? Where’s the corkscrew?!” – Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter (1984)

The late stuntman and performer Ted White may be the most beloved Jason outside of Kane Hodder and for good reason. The Final Chapter’s Jason isn’t much different than Part 3D’s Jason, aside from the bloody axe wound and a slightly more worn look to the mask.

This is classic Jason through and through, simple and effective. What makes this version work so well is White’s aggressive and genuinely frightening energy as Jason and Tom Savini coming back to handle the make-up and gore. The face reveal and subsequent “death” of Jason by machete to the side of the head is one of the most famous scenes in the series. Savini takes his “mongoloid” design from the original film and extends it here for the adult version of Jason – giving the character one of his most frightening unmasked appearances of the all 12 films.

Friday the 13th ranking jason lives

4. “Wherever the red dot goes…yabang!” – Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

This film is when Jason started to truly stand out from previous looks.

Wearing a dark green long shirt, light grey khakis, and yellow work gloves, this Jason is one of the more colorful of the bunch. This is the first appearance of “survivalist” Jason. He even wears a tactical belt. The mask in this film is great. It has a slightly more rounded appearance, and his eyes are totally blacked out.

Jason Lives marks the beginning of Zombie Jason. He’s full-on undead now, and the make-up by Brian Wade goes all out on the concept. Freshly risen from his grave, Jason is a maggot infested mass of rotted flesh. The skin is decayed, stretched, or downright missing.

Jason Lives has one of the more visually distinct Jasons in the series, both with and without mask.

Friday the 13th ranking freddy vs jason

3. “Dude that goalie was pissed about something.” – Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

I can hear the groans now. There are fans who have strong opinions about everything revolving around Jason in this movie. They hate that Kane Hodder wasn’t offered the role in the film and they don’t like Jason’s appearance, finding it over-designed.

I get it. The Old Hockey Puck is seen stomping around in his very own pair of Frankenstein boots. He also has a lot of layers on. For these reasons I can see why some turn their noses up at this design.

I do not share that opinion. What can I say? This look works wonders for me. Performer Ken Kirzinger imbues Jason with a measured and unfaltering locomotion. He’s not slow, he’s purposeful. He just keeps moving, unleashing his inhumanly violent strength and speed when necessary.

The “movie monster” design of Jason here makes his appearance stand out. We’re back to the guy being undead, and the framework of the narrative gives the character a dose of tragedy not quite seen before this film. Wearing a tattered brown coat, a ragged dark gray long-sleeved shirt underneath, and a dark blue shirt under that, with finishing details such as dark pants and gloves.

Wispy white hair adorns his dark purple/blue scalp and the mask has all three red chevrons present again, something we haven’t seen since Part 3D. All of this detail gives FvJ Jason a sense of backwoods wraith, a revenant.

We don’t get a full face reveal, which is kind of a bummer, but what we do get is still a Jason design for the ages.

friday the 13th marathon amc

2. “You can’t be alive!” – Friday the 13th Part 3D (1982)

Clean white mask. Bright red chevrons. Green shirt, white undershirt, grey pants. This is the first appearance of Jason as we all know and love him and they nailed the look right off the bat.

The late Richard Brooker’s performance as Jason matched Ted White’s in animalistic ferocity. Doug White’s sculpt of the unmasked Jason is startling thanks to an inspired make-up design coupled with Brooker’s intense performance.

This is quintessential Jason.

Friday the 13th ranking masks

1. “On Friday the 13th, Jason is back. But someone is waiting.” – Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

The late John Carl Buechler not only directed but spearheaded the incredible make-up work for Kane Hodder’s first foray as Jason Voorhees.

This is peak “movie monster” Jason. Not one element of his design in this film feels out of place or cheap. Having been rotting at the bottom of Crystal Lake for…well, a long time, Jason is resurrected by Carrie stand-in Tina.

He erupts from the lake a walking hulk of dead meat and protruding bone. His spinal cord, knees, knuckles, and jawline are all visible where his flesh has been chopped, hacked, stabbed, and eaten away over the years. The chain Tommy Jarvis used to sink him in the previous film still rattles around his neck and his clothing is nothing but torn shreds that hang from his frame.

The face reveal is an all-timer. The sculpt and application of the make-up is wonderful, allowing Hodder to really emote underneath it all. As far as I’m concerned, this is Uber Jason.

Please feel free to fight my Friday the 13th ranking tooth and nail in the comments below…

The post ‘Friday the 13th’: Ranking 15 Different Jason Voorhees Character Designs appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

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