Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ranking EVERY Friday the 13th Main Theme!

It's no secret that I am a huge Friday the 13th fan. As I slowly fill my arms with tattoos, I've got a space saved to commemorate Jason Voorhees, I'm that big of a fan.

And I'm always looking for new and (hopefully) unique ways to incorporate Jason into the website. April 29th is officially the halfway point to Halloween, so let's get into the season by ranking all of the main themes to the Friday the 13th Franchise! Excluding Freddy vs. Jason (which has an ass-kicking soundtrack) for the simple fact that I couldn't find Jason's orchestration theme on YouTube.

From worst to best here is what I think of the music of Friday the 13th!

11.) Friday the 13th: Part V -- A New Beginning
My least favorite film in the franchise also stakes claim to having the worst opening theme. Like the movie itself, the theme to "A New Beginning" really suffers from lack of direction. The track is all over the place with nothing in particular being especially good.

Final Verdict: A hodgepodge of ideas cut to a (near) three minute mess you should pass on.

10.) Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday
Another meandering pile of bad ideas, this feels less like a Friday the 13th theme and more akin to one of those spooky sound effects cassette tapes the local pharmacy used to sell in the early 1990s come Halloween time.

If the plot of the film is supposed to be Jason Voorhees being sent to hell, then I'd have taken it in a darker Gothic Horror / Industrial Sound. Not sure how (or why) they landed on generic synth sounds... but good grief it is awful!

Final Verdict: Pass like a bad prom date!

9.) Friday the 13th: Part VII -- The New Blood
Seven entries into any film franchise and movie studios are bound to start trying new things just for the hell of it. "The New Blood" has a drastically different theme than any of the prior films and I'd have to imagine that was done by design. It is called new blood for a reason.

It's a cool theme and I dig it a lot. Kind of gives off a weird Aliens sort of vibe to it, ironic considering Jason would later be sent into outerspace. I dunno, I like how weirdly science fiction it sounds.

So it's a fun theme but not necessarily a good Friday the 13th theme. Holy shit studios must hate fans. We are so hard to please. Give me something new that sounds similar to exactly what we had before, why is that so hard to do?

Final Verdict: Cool but probably not on Jason's iPod playlist.

8.) Friday the 13th: Part VIII -- Jason Takes Manhattan
Oh boy, I love this one. "Jason Takes Manhattan" is a total guilty pleasure of mine. It's such a fun concept for a Friday Film, that even if it wasn't executed in the way we'd all have hopped... fuck it, everything was worth it for that one shot of Jason Voorhees standing in Times Square.

Oh and the boombox scene. I love that shit.

"Jason Takes Manhattan" has a shitty sounding 80's hair metal / power ballad track as it's opening theme. Because of course it does. It's terrible and I love it. Give it a listen and then make it your ring tone on your cellphone.

Final Verdict: This track is so bad it's good... but also isn't really a proper "theme" for a Jason film. I love it all the same.

7.) Friday the 13th (2009)
Fans hate remakes. Even if said remakes are actually good. Point in case, the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th. It's a great Friday Film that doesn't get the proper credit it deserves. Derek Mears was honestly pretty terrifying as Jason Voorhees and totally deserves a chance to continue to play the character in future installments.

If you've somehow avoided the film simply because it's a remake, stop it Go buy yourself a cheap copy come Halloween time (we are halfway there!) and thank yourself later.

For the remake, they went with an interesting and creepy take on the Friday the 13th theme as well. It's definable in it's moody atmosphere, of which it's oozing. I also dig the top notch sounding production, having clearly benefited from a studio actually caring about the product it was putting forward.

Final Verdict: Goes for style over substance but lacks a certain "omph" of some of the truly great Friday Films. Great Halloween mood music, though!

6.) Jaxon X
Until recently it felt like everyone within the horror community hated "Jason X"... and I mean passionately hated "Jason X". I remember seeing this film when it came out in a near empty theater, it was myself and perhaps three other folks. And I loved every minute of the film right from the very start.

I've always had a soft spot for late entry slasher films that give zero fucks about continuity and do strange things like sticking Jason Voorhees into outerspace. No specific reason why, just Space Jason. It's why I think horror franchises should just go on forever, you didn't know that you wanted to see Jason in space... and yet here we are and we have finally come to love it.

Yes, "Jason X" has finally obtained the "cult classic" status it deserves. It really has. After all the lifeless and dull reboots that have came out (I'm looking at you, Nightmare on Elm Street) I think a lot of fans went back and realized that shit like "Jason X" is just... fun. Horror is supposed to be a lot of obvious things; scary, bloody, violent. Sometimes we all forget that above all else, horror is supposed to be fun.

It's interesting that in away, the theme for "A New Blood" sounds more like a theme for a science fiction / alien film than "Jason X" does. Whenever I listen to this track, I cannot help but feel like for some reason the whole damn thing was influenced by the opening score to "Clive Barker's: Hellraiser"

It's the wispy sounding bells and the slight Gothic influence that does it. Plus the odd satanic chants at the very start of the track. Shitballs, this is an interesting theme that ... wait, Hellraiser influence?

Both Pinhead and Jason went to outerspace in subsequent movie sequels. Conspiracy... or missed opportunity for crossover. I'm going with the latter.

Final Verdict: Like the movie itself the first time though, you'll probably wonder what in the fuck you just subjected yourself to. The more you listen the more you'll uncover and the cooler it becomes. +1 points for possible Hellraiser ties.

5.) Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
My personal favorite film in the franchise, in large part because Ted White is a total badass as Jason. Kane Hodder gets all of the fan service and love for his portrayal of Jason, but it was really Ted who helped take the character to the next level.

Plus, Ted openly admitted to finding Corey Feldman more than a little irritating on set. The scene near the end of the flick in which Jason breaks through a large window and grabs ahold of Feldman's character is now infamous for going a bit off script: "I thought I had ahold of the little bastard for the first time and I put the arm choke on him. And he was so horrified. If you look at his face, that's true horror 'cause he knew that I had him and two seconds later he threw up all over the place."

Yeah, any Jason that can make Corey Feldman throw up for real is pretty much the definitive version in my book. "Final Chapter" is such a great film, almost making me wish (but not really) they actually had ended the series then and their.

For the soundtrack, it's a combination of all the best parts of the first three flicks. Exactly what it needed to be and should have been. It's an awesome soundtrack. When I think "Friday the 13th" this is the songs and sounds that I attribute with the movies.

Final Verdict: The best parts of the original soundtracks mixed and matched together. Yep, it's as good as you'd expect it to be!

4.) Friday the 13th: Part 2
The second film in the franchise serves as our first real introduction to adult Jason Voorhees, who would take over as the series man antagonist from this point forward. Sack Head Jason is quite underrated in my opinion. I've always enjoyed my version of Jason to be a bit more hillbilly backwoods folk and less supernatural, zombie Jason.

Later incarnations serve the intended purpose just fine, have to get the character back on the screen somehow. And giving him mutant powers of regeneration are basically the only way in.

But here in Part 2, Jason is still more like your crazy inbred uncle nobody talks about. And his theme reflects that. It's basically the same tune used in the first, but a bit more frantic.

Final Verdict: Suits the switch from Mrs. Voorhees to Jason as the main killer and the quicker tempo reflects this slight change in direction.

3.) Friday the 13th: Part VI -- Jason Lives
This was the "Friday the 13th" film that had the daunting task of righting the wrongs left by "A New Beginning." I feel like "A New Beginning" tried to re-invent the franchise in the worst possible way, by not really doing anything different yet somehow completely fucking up basically everything that made it fun in the first place.

"Jason Lives" is a true return to form, and it's a pretty good movie too. How can you go wrong with Jason killing Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter within the opening 10 minutes of the flick? Basically any movie could be improved by that.

The theme for "Jason Lives" also brings the series back to its roots and it's better off for it. It feels somehow punchier than the original, like it's got the perfect amount of "omph" to it. No filler moments, either. Straight up slash and shriek... exactly what the series needed!

Final Verdict: Great rendition of the classic theme, punched up to 11.

2.) Friday the 13th (1980)
The original! The movie that started it all. Michael Myers came first but Jason has always done it better (and bloodier) in my opinion. Composed by Harry Manfredini, who did a lot of the scores for subsequent Friday Films, I've always felt that "Friday the 13th" was pretty heavily inspired by the sounds of Alfred Hitchcock. In particular Psycho.

It's just sort of got that classic Hollywood feel to it, in the best possible way. Beyond just the main theme, a lot of Manfredini's work throughout the series is downright beautiful. It's part of what makes him such a great composer, the ability to blend different styles and mix and match parts.

Make no mistake about it, though. The opening theme to "Friday the 13th" is downright terrifying! Somehow, it just feels like being slashed with a knife. Plus, outside of the hockey mask... "Ki-Ki-Ki-Ma-Ma-Ma" ... a combination of the words "kill" and "ma" come directly from Manfredini, who spoke them "harshly, distinctly and rhythmically into a microphone" and then ran them into an echo reverberation machine to achieve the iconic sound!

Final Verdict: Among the best in the series and a Top 10 Horror Movie Theme of All Time!

1.) Friday the 13th: Part III
Much like "Jason X", I was not aware that I needed an up tempo, funk version of the "Friday the 13th" theme, and yet here we are. It's the coolest thing ever. Dispute me if you wish, but know that you are wrong.

The remix was done by, I believe, Michael Zager. A member of the jazz rock band Ten Wheel Drive. Commonly referred to as "The Disco Theme" (though I think it's more funk oriented) it's holy-shit-good on so many levels.

And it's also proof that just because something is different doesn't automatically mean it's a bad thing. This is seriously one of the coolest horror movie themes around, not only for the "Friday the 13th" franchise but horror movies in general.

Final Verdict: Unconventional and extremely cool. Like a surprise Christmas gift you didn't know you wanted!

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