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[Debate] – Halloween Vs Friday the 13th: The FilmDebate Franchise Smackdown!

 

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Posted September 17, 2017 by

 
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It’s the eternal debate amongst horror fans: which is better, the Halloween or Friday the 13th franchises? It’s certainly a lot to take on as well- ten Halloween flicks and counting (another one is expected next year, this time with more direct involvement from creator John Carpenter) and a whopping twelve Friday the 13th films, plus a spin-off TV show to boot, which ran for three seasons.

For the purposes of this debate, we won’t be dealing with the FTT TV series, as it is only tangentially related, anyway. But everything else is fair game, including the one-off films that don’t deal with Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, as both franchises have them. Plus, it’s just more fun to throw a wrench into things, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m going to be judging each series in a number of areas, including things like originality, gore, durability, and so on. Maybe you’ll agree with my final assessment, maybe you won’t, but it should be a lot of fun nonetheless. Let’s get it started!

The Original

This one’s no contest, really. Though not without precedent- see movies like Thirteen Women, Psycho and Black Christmas, just to name but a few- there’s no denying that the original Halloween jump-started the slasher subgenre in earnest.

It’s the virtual definition of a word-of-mouth box office hit, grossing a whopping $70 million on a reported $300,000 budget, making it one of the most profitable independent films of all time, going by ratio of budget-to-box-office gross. (It was later dethroned by the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, sadly.)

Even beyond all that, it’s quite simply one of the most effective horror films ever made, thanks to ace direction from John Carpenter, excellent cinematography by then-future Spielberg/Zemeckis collaborator Dean Cundey, an endearing cast and super-quotable script, as well as a starkly evocative and heart-pounding, effective score by Carpenter himself.

All this and the fantastically creepy William Shatner-gone-horribly-wrong mask Michael wears, one of the all-time great Final Girls in Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and the novelty of the holiday setting, which remarkably, hadn’t yet been exploited by horror until then add up to one of the best horror movies ever made.

There’s a reason many horror fans, myself included, watch this one over and over, typically around the holiday itself- it just plain holds up to repeat viewings, which not all slasher movies do.

Meanwhile, there’s Friday the 13th. By director Sean S. Cunningham’s own admission, it was created as a total cash-in on Halloween itself, down to the title, which came before the movie itself was even written. Though not technically a holiday, it was the next best thing to Halloween in Cunningham’s eyes, so he ran with it, hiring soap opera scribe Victor Miller to hammer out a screenplay.

The end result isn’t bad, thanks to effective gore FX by guru Tom Savini and the then-novel twist of the killer being a woman, as Drew Barrymore learned the hard way when her character was duped by the killer in Scream, after failing to pass his horror quiz question on the subject. As he points out, Jason didn’t really show up until the sequel, though he makes a memorable appearance in the film’s “shock” ending, which is still one of the best in horror history.

The film made some $59 million at the box office, on a measly $550,000 budget. Not too shabby, but not quite Halloween numbers, either. Unlike Halloween, though, Cunningham didn’t waste any time commissioning future sequels, striking while the iron was hot with FTT Part II the very next year and reaping the benefits accordingly, so points for business acumen.

On the negative side, the pace is often slow and there’s really no way of telling who the killer is in the first place, making the mystery element a bit of a bust. You can’t solve a murder mystery if the character isn’t introduced until right before they are revealed as the killer! I still love it, and the finale is spectacular, but it can be slow-going at times.

Granted, Friday the 13th probably did inspire the then-burgeoning slasher subgenre to become gorier and more explicit, and it did prove to be the more durable of the franchises, in terms of length of time it’s gone on- twelve films vs. the former franchise’s ten- but this isn’t about that, it’s about the overall quality of the first film.

Bluntly put, Halloween is just plain the better crafted film, and not simply because it got there first and made more money. It holds up, and it’s just a more aesthetically-pleasing film on the whole, in every conceivable way- save maybe the gore quotient. But even there, Carpenter wasn’t going for a gore-fest in the first place, but something more akin to Hitchcock, so it’s kind of a moot point.

No doubt about it: Halloween wins this round fair and square, IMHO.

The First Round of Sequels

For the purposes of this category, we’re going to deal with Halloween II, IV & V and Friday the 13th II-IV. First up, Halloween. John Carpenter hadn’t initially intended to even do a sequel to his film, but eventually caved to pressure from the studio and came up with one, although he opted not to direct- though he would later do reshoots to soup-up the gore to better fit in with the competition at the time.

Somewhat ironically, director Rick Rosenthal tried to emulate Carpenter’s style by intentionally not including graphic gore, and wasn’t too happy when he saw what Carpenter had done in his wake. However, the gambit worked and the film was a massive hit, making about $25 million on a $2.5 million budget.

What makes H2 a novel sequel is that it takes place on the same night as the original, making for a great double-feature on or around Halloween, the holiday. Though the “sister” twist is a bit dubious (the timeline established by the original doesn’t quite line up), it does at least establish a “motive” for why Michael is so persistent in his pursuit of Laurie, which works if you forgive the plot hole.

At the end, Michael Myers is definitively killed, but after the following film in the franchise- more on that in a minute- tanked at the box office, Myers was back for more in IV. The less said about the how, the better, but basically, he wakes up from a coma after hearing he has a niece, Jamie, played by horror favorite Danielle Harris, and goes to hunt her down, a la Laurie before her. (Laurie would have to wait her turn until Part 7, aka H2O, rolled around.)

As with the previous installments, Michael stalks and slashes anyone who gets in the way of his ultimate goal, which continues in the next film, despite an odd bit at the end, which implies that Jamie might take his place, in terms of doing the killing. Even odder is the next installment, which renders Jamie mute and ends on a ludicrous cliffhanger that pretty much ruins the film- not that it needed much help in that department, IMHO.

Meanwhile, in FTT Parts II-IV, we have undeniable slasher movie goodness, through and through. Director Steve Miner takes over for Cunningham, resulting in two tightly-edited, no-holds-barred sequels that pile on the gore and add Jason Voorhees to the mix in earnest, with the killer sporting an Elephant Man-style gunny sack in Part II and his now-iconic hockey mask in Part III.

Part IV: The Final Chapter (yeah, right) brings back OG FX man Savini to ostensibly “kill off” Jason once and for all, with effective direction from Joe Zito, of Missing in Action and the slasher flick The Prowler (which Savini also worked on). It also boasts a relatively name cast, with apologies to Kevin Bacon of FTT, including child star Corey Feldman (Gremlins, The Lost Boys), wacky indie fave Crispin Glover (best-known for Back to the Future), Lawrence Monoson (The Last American Virgin), and Peter Barton (Hell Night).

This one is a tougher call, as H2 is essential viewing, and plays practically like part of the same film as the original Halloween, and features the through-line of several of the original characters from the first film, unlike most of the FTT films (with apologies to the quickly-dispatched Alice). It also sports prime-Argento-level cinematography, once again courtesy of Cundey, and some seriously memorable kills, even if the gore isn’t in keeping with the original.

However, though H4 isn’t bad at all, and is actually more along the lines of the original in its approach- arguably for the last time in the franchise- H5 is a borderline embarrassment, what with Michael rolling around in a different mask, picking up chicks and the like. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get my drift- it’s the first one that gets silly at times. And that ending!

Meanwhile, these three FTT films all but cemented the franchise itself in earnest, established the iconic hockey mask- within in a 3D film, no less- and Jason as one of the greatest slasher villains of all time. Plus, the rewatchability is pretty off the charts. I admittedly watch H2 pretty much every year, usually in tandem with the first one, but I rarely rewatch H4 & 5, save once in a blue moon.

Whereas, I would happily watch any of these three particular FTT flicks anytime. Therefore, I have to give it to Friday the 13th this round.

The Odd One Out

After Halloween II, Carpenter decided to go in a new direction with the franchise, what with Michael Myers finally down for the count, seemingly for good. He came up with the novel idea of doing a Halloween-themed film every year, sort of like an ongoing anthology. If it had worked, there would have been a new one every year, presumably until it stopped working. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and it was back to the Myers well from Part 4 onward.

Here’s the thing, though. Roundly condemned by critics and fans alike at the time, the main reason H3: Season of the Witch tanked was because the filmmakers didn’t make it clear that Meyers wasn’t involved, save to perhaps Fangoria readers. As such, word of mouth spread like wildfire that this was something else altogether and audiences stayed away in droves.

Keep in mind, this was long before the internet, so people were less informed about such things at the time, but, even now, I still see people bitching about it online and on social media, as if there aren’t nine freaking films with Michael Meyers they can still watch. What’s the big deal?

Thankfully, more open-minded fans have since given the movie a fair shake, and it has emerged as a bit of a cult classic, thanks in no small part to the originality of the premise, the overall darkness of the proceedings (that ending!), the presence of the stalwart Dean Cundey behind the camera lens, gory, oft-insane FX and a wonderfully brooding synth-driven score by Carpenter and associate Alan Howarth.

Throw in genre fave Tom Atkins (The Fog, Creepshow) and it all adds up to a bit of an overlooked classic. Granted, it owes more than a little bit to the likes of Invasion of the Body Snatchers– note the name of the town the main action takes part in- but, if you’re a horror fan, it’s hard to beat a diabolical plot by a warlock to kill off the children of the world on Halloween night!

Meanwhile, in the other corner, you’ve got Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, the only installment of the franchise- mild spoiler alert- to not feature Jason in some form or another. It’s basically business as usual, and plays a bit like a derisive cash-in by the filmmakers that all but screams contempt for its viewers.

By this point, it was readily apparent that Paramount, the company that produced the film series, was pretty embarrassed by the franchise, a factor which would ultimately lead to them selling it off to New Line in the early 90’s, after the vicious reviews of the eighth installment, and the waning popularity of the slasher film in general.

What’s more, the ratings board, the MPAA, was cracking down on violence in horror films at the time- this was around the mid-80’s- causing many slasher films to end up watered down and borderline pointless, as the FX were a large part of the appeal. As a direct result of this, ANB actually features more sex and nudity than violence- probably not just by default, either, as the director used to do porn.

The end result was one of the lowest-grossing films in the franchise ever, and the “twist” ending certainly didn’t do it any favors with fans, who felt cheated. Though, like H3, the film has been reassessed and has garnered more favorable reviews in retrospect, there’s still no denying it’s not one of the stronger entries, or that H3, if taken out of the series and judged on its own strengths as a non-Myers entry, is far more original. Therefore, Halloween easily wins this round.

The Plot Thickens

After striking out with oddball entries, both franchises got back to basics with, respectively, Halloween 4 & 5, and Friday the 13th, Part VI-VIII. However, with Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, the series went completely off the rails, after that mental ending of Part 5 necessitated a bit of ret-conning to explain that mysterious man in black that let Michael Myers loose at the conclusion of the film.

Good luck trying to explain what the hell was going on in Part 6, which is anyone’s guess. As far as I can tell, a cult was responsible for setting Michael free, in order to use him to impregnate his own niece (!) and, I guess, spawn a new evil minion to, um, bring forth the apocalypse or something?

There was a six-year gap between this and the last installment and this was the best they could come up with? No wonder Danielle Harris stayed away, not caring for what they did with her character. Sadly, it was also Donald Pleasance’s last appearance in the series, which is all the more heartbreaking when one considers that the next film in the series, H2O, was a vast improvement which could have reunited him with original star Jamie Lee Curtis.

To be fair, the film does have the novelty of a pre-stardom Paul Rudd, as Tommy Loomis, a character from the original film, and the film is much better in its now-readily-available so-called “Producer’s Cut.” It also boasts a solid score by Alan Howarth and decent cinematography from Billy Dickson, but the plot is still pretty ridiculous, so overall, it doesn’t really work.

As aforementioned, H2O, aka Halloween: 20 Years Later, was a genuine return to form, thanks to input from an uncredited Kevin Williamson (the Scream films) and the renewed involvement of Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as a back-to-basics approach and solid cast that includes a more or less pre-stardom Michelle Williams (then-known for Dawson’s Creek) and Josh Hartnett (Westworld), plus Adam Arkin, Janet Leigh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and LL Cool J.

Unfortunately, the series then once again undoes all that good will with the abysmal Halloween: Resurrection, which is almost certainly the worst in the series, and that’s including Rob Zombie’s bottom-of-the-barrel Halloween II. In addition to the opening scene, which will not be spoken of, there’s also supermodel Tyra Banks and her forehead of doom and rapper Busta Rhymes, making LL Cool J look like Robert De Niro by comparison.

The less spoken of the Rhymes’ Kung-Fu fight with Myers, the better. How this was directed by Rick Rosenthal, who made the far more superior Halloween II, is completely beyond me. The whole found-footage angle doesn’t do it any favors, either. It’s by far the most skippable of the entire franchise and honestly, I like to pretend it doesn’t exist at all.

Meanwhile, Friday the 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives, wisely brought back everyone’s fave killer, by means that were positively Frankenstein-ian. As with Part V, Tommy Jarvis, formerly played by Corey Feldman, was the main character, but this time, he was played by a stronger actor than in that film (not counting the Feldman cameo at the beginning, John Sheperd did the honors in V), Thom Mathews, of Return of the Living Dead fame.

What’s more, the film has a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, making it one of the more fun entries in the franchise. Just as good, if not better, was Part VI: The New Blood, which offered up the high-concept idea of having Jason face down a girl with telekinetic powers! Basically, it’s Jason vs. Carrie, in other words.

In theory, Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan, could have been a blast, and some of it absolutely is (hello, kid getting his head knocked off by Jason in one punch!), but, as far are all too aware, most of the film takes place on a freaking boat! Now there’s a sea cruise one should take a hard pass on. Who knew there was a route from Camp Crystal Lake to NYC? Only in the movies, folks.

This is another tough one, as I do love FTT Parts VI & VII in particular, as well as H2O. But, while the “Producer’s Cut” of H6 is indeed an improvement, the plotline is still pretty ridiculous, and the less spoke about Resurrection, the better. And while FTT VIII is mostly a wash, those final minutes in NYC make a good case for watching it, even if more would have been appreciated and Jason’s look is pretty silly.

As such, I have to give this round to FTT, by a hair- or more correctly, by a New York minute. It’s pretty neck-and-neck and some might argue that the last appearances of both Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis equal a win, but H6 is hardly DP’s finest hour and the way JLC goes out in Resurrection is a crime against horror movie fandom, so I just can’t do it.

The Reboots

This is a tricky category, as technically, Friday the 13th has been rebooted several times, since switching over to New Line. There’s the nutty-even-by-this-series’-standards Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (sure it is); the Jason-goes-to-space-saga Jason X; the long-awaited opus Freddy vs. Jason; and, finally, the most recent entry, 2009’s full-on reboot, simply-titled Friday the 13th, which is about as original as it sounds.

By contrast, Halloween only has the one reboot, followed by a direct sequel. That’s four-against-two, which is a bit unfair, but it is what it is. Fortunately, it’s not that hard of a battle, and the bad far outweighs the good, so this should be a quick round overall, though not without some controversy.

JGTH: TFF is mental from start to finish, Honestly, this is the entry that should be judged against H3, on this ground alone, as it is far and away the more out-there entry in the franchise, and, lest you forget, Jason goes to freaking outer space in the next one. It’s basically FTT-meets-The Hidden, or, if you prefer, Fallen, though, technically it came before that film.

To wit, Jason is blown to bits in an admittedly bravura opening sequence that makes one wonder where they’re headed with all this. What amounts to Jason’s spirit possesses someone, then bounces from person-to-person as needed, in search of a related-by-blood person he can jump into to restore his full powers- killing as he goes, naturally.

It’s certainly original, but it’s also not entirely for FTT fans, either, what with Jason leaving the proceedings pretty early on. It’s almost a FTT film for horror fans that hate the series, really. One could say the same, to a certain extent, about Jason X, which is like a FTT film for sci-fi fans, but the man himself is present in that one, so it’s not quite the same. That “holodeck”-type sequence, the frozen head sequence and the presence of, of all people, writer/director David Cronenberg make that one a must-see, though.

Freddy vs. Jason is easily one of the most fun entries, amounting to a live-action cartoon battle between two slasher favorites- which makes sense, as it was directed by Ronny Yu, who worked similar wonders for the Child’s Play franchise with Bride of Chucky. There’s no real winner here- save the viewer, maybe. It’s easily one of my faves in the series, hands down.

Unfortunately, the powers that be promptly decided to reboot the franchise around six years later with the dismal, by-the-numbers Friday the 13th, which is just the pits. It’s as if the fun has been sucked right out of the franchise. It’s no wonder no one has been able to get another one off the ground since, and mind you, the next one is the THIRTEENTH entry, which is such an easy sell, you’d think they would have knocked one out on general principle by now. (Yes, I’m aware of the legal battles going on, so I know there’s good reason, but still…)

Meanwhile, Rob Zombie rebooted Halloween with the divisive film of the same name, which tried to ground Michael Myers in reality, by seemingly checking off the boxes on every serial killer cliché imaginable. What made the original Myers scary was that we didn’t know what made him tick- he was just “purely, simply evil.” That and the statement that he is, as they say in the original, “The Boogeyman,” is all you really need.

Don’t get me wrong. I like some of Zombie’s work, especially his first two films and the underrated Lords of Salem, which is almost like the sort of avant-garde horror film Ken Russell used to make. (Heavy emphasis on that “almost.”) But Zombie has made no attempt to hide his overall contempt for what he’s constantly derided as “dead teenager” movies, and it shows.

The characters are obnoxious and unlikable, save maybe the welcome return (and survival!) of series mainstay Danielle Harris. The film itself has that rustic look that way too many horror films had at the time- see also the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Nightmare on Elm Street reboots- and it is just plain joyless overall. Not even the legendary Malcolm McDowell can save this one, or a decent, classic-rock driven soundtrack.

That said, it’s positively the Citizen Kane of slasher movies compared to the unadulterated cash grab that is Zombie’s Halloween II. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more grating, soulless franchise sequel than this one. It is, to paraphrase an aforementioned quote, purely and simply, awful. I’d rather watch the three-hour making of Zombie’s first one on the DVD than watch this one again. And what’s with the white horse? David Lynch, Zombie is not.

As such, for sheer audacity, I got to give this one to Friday the 13th, by far, even with the crappy reboot in 2009. Sorry, Zombie lovers. I had to do it.

The Music

Is there a more iconic horror score than the theme from Halloween? Probably not. For years, it was the go-to tune that kids fooling around on the piano would play, right up there with the even simpler Jaws theme. I suppose one could definitely make a case for the original Psycho theme, but, aside from the screeching violins during the shower scenes, it’s more of a standard Hollywood score. A great one, mind you, but it wouldn’t be at all out of place in the classical music section.

Halloween, though, is simplistic in the best of ways, and that definitely includes the rest of the score. The “Shape Stalks” theme is the film’s equivalent to the Psycho theme, and the direct sequel doubles down on it to arguably even better effect, adding some great synth work to boot on the rest of the score.

Halloween III is arguably the best of the bunch, thanks to an ambitious approach by Carpenter and associate Alan Howarth that sounds like it could be a lost Tangerine Dream or Vangelis score, and I definitely mean that as a compliment. Howarth’s work on H6 tosses an electric guitar type refrain into the mix, and the rest of the scores are also fairly unique.

As for Friday the 13th, speaking of classical scores, Harry Manfredini’s is easily one of the best of its type in all of slasher movie history. Inspired in part by Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and the unnerving sounds of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick favorite Krzysztof Penderecki, the score is an admittedly pretty unnerving listen, and easily more complex than the more basic Halloween ones.

Factor in that iconic “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” refrain- technically Manfredini cutting off the phrase “Kill her mommy” at the knees and adding an echo effect, as inspired by, appropriately enough, prog-rock legends Pink Floyd’s “Careful with that Axe, Eugene,” and you have an equally iconic score.

The problem is, aside from an amusing disco-fied Part 3 theme, credited to Hot Ice on the album, Manfredini basically doesn’t screw with the winning formula from there on out. Yes, there are some unique cues here and there, but Carpenter and Howarth, among others, get downright experimental with their approaches, and early on in the franchise. Manfredini is more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type.

I suppose you could give FTT some bonus points for the Alice Cooper tunes and the excellent use of Pseudo Echo in Part V, but even there, you have Halloween’s use of the mighty Blue Öyster Cult’s cowbell-happy “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” to contend with, not to mention Rob Zombie’s excellent classic rock-heavy soundtracks, which are arguably better than the films they come from.

As such, Halloween wins this round, hands down- making for a tie, as we head into the final battle.

Death Toll/FX Quality

It’s only right that the final round should be a look at the variety and inventiveness of the overall kills in each series, as well as the overall quantity. Obviously, we would be in for a time if I had to tally up only Michael and Jason’s kills alone, but thankfully, we’re doing them as a whole.

However, even that presents us with anomalies and general weirdness, i.e. just how many people ended up dying at the end of Halloween III, given that the hero didn’t quite stop what was going on? Or, how many people were killed in the space station explosion in Jason X? You get the idea.

So, as best as I could figure, using various internet sources, including the Halloween and Friday the 13th Wikis, the kill count seems to be around 151 for Michael (not including dogs) and factoring in the general events of H3 (not counting what happens next after the film ends). On Jason’s end, including the events of the first film (his mother being the killer), and the fifth (a random paramedic being the killer), but not including stuff like the space station thing, it’s around 212.

Even if you take out the other killers/whatever that aren’t Michael or Jason, Jason still wins the overall body count between him and Michael. But what about variation? On the surface, Jason’s methods of murder are way more diverse, what with Michael’s instrument of death of choice being the butcher knife.

But you also could make a case for Jason with the machete, and, even so, it’s not as if either one didn’t use other methods throughout the series, so both are fairly varied, when you come down to it, adopting the “whatever’s handy” method of killing overall. To that end, then, let’s look at things from a more iconic point of view.

When it comes to iconic, few things are more iconic in horror movie history than that attention-getting opening sequence in Halloween. Shot in impressive POV fashion to look like one flowing cut- though fans know there are actually a few hidden edits in there in key places- that first kill puts you in the killer’s driver’s seat, making you, the viewer, almost complicit in the actions. That’s a pretty neat gambit, and it works like gangbusters, immediately putting the viewer’s head into the world of the movie.

Meanwhile, in the first Friday the 13th, we get the death of two rando camp counselors that aren’t really connected to the main story. In Halloween, it’s not only Michael’s sister that gets killed, we later get the twist of Michael only being a kid at the time. As such, there’s a LOT going on here and it’s all pretty unnerving. No doubt about it: Halloween aces this round, in terms of iconic opening kills.

After that, Halloween has two more iconic sequences: the death of Bob, as Michael stabs him with a butcher knife, leaving him hanging on the closet door as Michael cocks his head to admire his handiwork; and the sequence that kicks off the ending of the film, beginning with Laurie opening the door to the bedroom in the house across the street from her to find her friend Annie lying dead on the bed, Judith Myers’ tombstone placed behind her, then subsequently finding her other friends. The film never lets up after that.

Friday the 13th features lots of bloody, memorable sequences as well, though- and they are far grislier than anything in Halloween. Annie gets her throat slashed, Jack gets an arrow through the neck from underneath a bed, Marcie gets an axe to the face, and Bill is shot with multiple arrows. All of them are pretty impressive.

At the end of Halloween, Michael is simply shot six times- and lives to kill another day in the sequel. As much as it’s hard to top that, least of all including the iconic “boogeyman” line, Friday the 13th features a definitive kill of the murderer at hand by spectacular decapitation, plus a fantastic “shock” ending that ranks among the best such scares of all time.

I’m tempted to give it to FT13, and yet… it’s hard to top the lingering fear of Michael “The Boogeyman” Myers still being out there, ready to kill again. That one caused me plenty of sleepless nights back in the day when I first saw it on cable. Sure, FT13 is memorable as you’re watching it, and that ending is a grabber, but Halloween really sticks with you because the killer gets away- not what’s typically expected in a movie like that. So, Halloween wins this round, too.

It would be ridiculous going through every kill, so let’s just take a look at some of my favorites throughout both series. H2 has the hammer kill of the security cop, the hypodermic in the eyes of two characters, the disturbingly sexy hot tub sequence, the visually impressive blood drain scene and, of course, the “death” by fire of Myers himself.

H3 is bat-sh*t crazy throughout, so I’d be hard-pressed to name a kill that wasn’t memorable in that one, but my faves are likely the death by logo button zap in the hotel of the saleswoman and the family that “tests” the Halloween night TV special out.

After that, Michael returns and it’s all fairly standard from there on out, save the occasional surprise kill: the forehead thumb drill-kill and neck rip in H4, the pitchfork kills in H5, the spike impalement, head crush and death by tractor of H6, the ice skate to the face and decapitation by Laurie in H2O, the death by tripod, decapitation and skull crush of H8, and all manners of gruesome, bludgeoning death in the Zombie flicks.

Jason, on the other hand, has all sorts of kills throughout the series that are infinitely more memorable. In FTT2, there’s the wheelchair death and the couple ke-bob, in FTT3, there’s the spear-gun, the body cut in half and especially the eye pop- all in impressive 3D- and in FTT4, there’s the spear-gun to the groin, spear through the chest, corkscrew/meat cleaver combo, head crush and, best of all, Jason’s “death” by machete, which is all kinds of awesome.

Roy takes over in FTT5 and does plenty of damage, but a lot of it doesn’t make it onto the screen, because of censors, including a reported death by machete to the vag for Violet, which was totally pulled from the film, so, we’ll skip that one. FTT6 features a heart torn out, lots of impalements, decapitations, head crushes and the like, while FTT7 has Jason plunging his hand through someone’s back, death by party horn (!), and the fan favorite sleeping bag against the tree kill.

FTT8 has death by electric guitar- the most metal death ever? – and the epic head punch; JGTH: TFF has the opening slaughter of Jason, which is also pretty epic, and a whole lot of bashing, crushing and impaling, plus, there’s an unrated cut of that one, so you get the Full Monty of death if you check that one out. Jason X has the awe-inspiring liquid nitrogen kill, which is alone worth the price of admission, especially if you throw in that holodeck sequence.

Jason vs. Freddy is business as usual, but it does have that multiple kill rave sequence going for it, which is something I’ve always wanted to see in a slasher flick, and rarely do. Not ravers getting killed, but multiple people getting killed at once, a la The Burning– it’s usually one by one, obviously. The FTT reboot is pretty standard, but I did enjoy the antler impalement- shades of Silent Night, Deadly Night– and the poker in the eye.

So, in the grand scheme of things, even taking into account the fact that there’s more FTT movies than Halloweens, it’s really no contest: Jason’s kills are way more inventive. Of course, one could easily make the case that they’re also more cartoonish, but, in a very real way, that’s part of their charm. Besides, what do you expect in a franchise built on an impossibility- Jason being resurrected in the first place?

Sure, you could say the same about Michael Myers, but overall, his series- H3 notwithstanding- is far more grounded in reality than the FTT ones. But we’re judging by inventiveness, not how realistic they are, and Jason wins this round, hands down.

Conclusion

It’s all pretty neck and neck throughout, but ultimately, it comes down to this major factor: the Halloween films are more or less more consistent, in terms of being well-made and acted and so forth, but the FTT saga is, for all its faults and inconsistencies, a lot more fun overall, with loads of inventive, gory kills and oddball plotlines that veer wildly away from reality and into borderline cartoonish territory.

I can see where someone might argue that the latter isn’t exactly a compliment, and yet, I’d almost certainly rather have a FTT marathon over a few days than a Halloween one. Too many of the Halloweens are just meh or downright blech for one to have to watch them all in one fell swoop.

Whereas, FTT, even with its wonkier entries, still has a lot more going for it- namely a good sense of humor after a certain point (certainly from Part V on), a sense of adventure that makes Halloween look by-the-numbers in comparison, and far more inventive kills. Even with a whopping twelve entries, I’d much rather have a FTT binge-watch session of all those films than trudging through just ten of the Halloween movies.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the first Halloween is arguably better than the entire FTT series put together. But we’re judging the entire series as a whole, not just the individual entries, so the fact remains that one too many crap entries drag the Halloween series down, even at a lesser number. FTT is just plain more fun, you know?

So, somewhat surprisingly to me, given that I was leaning towards Halloween when I started, the winner is… the Friday the 13th series!

Agree? Disagree? That’s fine. Leave your comments down below and make your own case, by all means. Regardless, thanks for reading, and join me for another debate on down the line. I welcome your suggestions as to what I should tackle next down below as well: Freddy Kruger vs. Leatherface? Norman Bates vs. Hannibal Lecter? The possibilities are endless!

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Written by:

Mark Trammell
@rip_mr_gordo
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One Comment


  1.  

    The original Halloween is greater than the rest, but, yeah, the Friday the 13th series is far superior as a whole. Parts 1-7 are just good fun, and while 8, 9, and 10 are pretty bad, they’re still more entertaining than Halloween 5 or Resurrection.





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