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Halloween Vs. Friday the 13th

Slasher vs. Slasher. You Decide.

By Matt Hoffman     October 15, 2010


Halloween Vs. Friday the 13th
© Bob Trate

 

In the sordid history of slasher movies, two films can take credit (or blame, depending on your point of view) for being the foundation upon which the rest of the genre was built: 1978’s Halloween, which introduced the world to the seemingly unstoppable serial killer Michael Myers, and 1980’s Friday the 13th, which brought forth the mother-obsessed mongoloid Jason Voorhees. Both of these movies have achieved lasting recognition, and enjoying one in no way hinders one’s ability to enjoy the other. But since we love an argument, we have to ask: Which is better? Specifically, which one left a greater legacy? To answer this question we must consider several criteria, beginning with perhaps the shallowest indicators:

1. COMMERCIAL SUCCESS

HALLOWEEN: Grossed around $70 million worldwide off of a $325,000 budget, making it the most successful independent film ever made at the time of its release.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: Cost $550,000 and brought in around $60 million worldwide.

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Halloween. Both films were smash hits, but Halloween smashed a little harder.

2. GORE

HALLOWEEN: You can kind of see a little blood in the opening scene, if you look really closely.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: Throat-slitting! Neck-spearing! Decapitation! An axe embedded in a woman's face! If Halloween invented the slasher flick, Friday the 13th's cringingly convincing gore effects (created by now-legendary goremeister Tom Savini) added the graphic bloodshed which would come to be seen as an essential ingredient of the subgenre.

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Friday the 13th. One doesn't have to judge a horror movie by its gore, but if one does, Halloween doesn't have much to offer.

3. ICON STATUS

HALLOWEEN: Michael Myers was the first masked slasher to stalk the screen, and his eerily pale mask has undoubtedly popped up in countless nightmares since his debut. Also, the film's theme music (composed by writer/director John Carpenter) has more or less become the anthem of the entire Halloween season.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: After 1980, summer camp never seemed quite as innocent or safe. Perhaps more important, however, is Jason's appropriation of the vintage full-face fiberglass hockey mask (which, to be fair, didn't come into play until 1982's Friday the 13th Part III). The hockey mask became an almost omnipresent pop cultural symbol of slasher movies, and came to be associated more with serial murder than with goaltending.

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Friday the 13th, if we can count the hockey mask. The Friday the 13th series took a sporting accessory and made it synonymous with homicidal mayhem; despite the Halloween series' best efforts, William Shatner's face remains synonymous with comically overblown egotism.

4. INFLUENCE

HALLOWEEN: Popularized almost all of the major elements now associated with slasher movies (many of which would show up in Friday the 13th two years after Halloween's release): Tracking shots filmed from the killer's point of view, horny teenagers, the innocent Final Girl who ends up having to confront the killer on her own, etc. On the other hand, many of these elements actually originated in the little-known (but excellent) 1974 film Black Christmas, which seems to have inspired many of Carpenter's directorial choices.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: As stated earlier, Friday the 13th began the trend towards graphic onscreen gore. Also, the series as a whole managed to produce new entries on an almost yearly basis throughout the 1980s, establishing the template for long-running horror franchises like the Saw films. (We're not saying this was necessarily a good thing, but still...)

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Tie

5. CRITICAL ACCLAIM

HALLOWEEN: Wasn't universally praised upon its release, but did receive enthusiastic support from some prominent critics, including Roger Ebert, who called the film "an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to 'Psycho.'" Halloween currently holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is often listed as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

FRIDAY THE 13TH: Always more popular with audiences than with critics, some of whom (including Ebert) objected to the film morally as well as aesthetically due to its depiction of violence. Its reputation hasn't particularly improved with age; it now stands at 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Halloween

Taking these criteria into account, we now present our final verdict:

OVERALL WINNER: Halloween. Both films are giants in slasher history, but Halloween is simply a better movie. Meticulously and intelligently constructed on almost every level, it still functions as a persuasive demonstration of the genre's value and potential.

Of course, there's still one question we haven't addressed which has nothing to do with cinematic quality, and yet is integral to our discussion:

6. WHO WOULD WIN IN A FIGHT?

MICHAEL MYERS: Characterized as an embodiment of "the boogeyman," Michael may or may not be a demon created by a Druidic cult, depending on how seriously you take Halloween 6. Either way, he appears to be basically unkillable and sometimes demonstrates superhuman strength by smashing through glass and/or people with his bare hands.

JASON VOORHEES: A hulking mutant hermit, Jason's death-defying resilience seems to be more genetic than supernatural. Nonetheless, he's arguably more imposing and athletic than Michael and seems to take even more sadistic pleasure in destruction.

Michael Myers vs. Jason Voorhees


WINNER: Michael would kill Jason. Jason would get struck by lightning and come back shortly thereafter, but regardless…

We still consider you very scary, though, Jason. Seriously, no offense. Put the machete down, please…

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 24
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Jonblaze1107 10/15/2010 8:52:32 AM

 Myers FTW!!!

creamygnome 10/15/2010 9:09:02 AM

Heyo, Hoffman, when ya gonna make another BMX game?!

morbidpeeches 10/15/2010 9:12:08 AM

 To be honest, I always found both figured pretty boring, but I suppose I prefer my horror more supernatural than slasher. Big fan of Freddy, though.

krathwardroid 10/15/2010 9:29:04 AM

Jason Voorhees is more genetic than supernatural? Really? What's all that we saw in the ninth film with his soul leaping from person to person? He seemed a tad bit more supernatural than Michael Myers. 

LooneyBinJIm 10/15/2010 10:00:10 AM

They said Jason was a demon in Jason goes to Hell.

jedibanner 10/15/2010 10:09:31 AM

Jason should've win this like a million times over Michael.

AND, in a fight, Jason is stronger, faster and pretty can't die...so how the hell can Michael win I don't get it.

Jason all the way, Halloween might be scary a bit but, Friday the 13th is a legacy that anyone knows and loves (sure some movies sucks but still).

JarrodSarafin 10/15/2010 11:37:51 AM

Have to disagree with you, Jedibanner, in that I think Michael Myers is a lot more sinister due to his sneaky factor. While I understand your loyalty towards Jason, I have to agree that he's just too blunt. The dude armed with his machete will just stalk some unsuspecting future victim heads-up while Myers won't even allow the victim to see him coming.

Or maybe I just prefer Carpenter over Cunningham? :)

Truthfully, I like both slashers and would have loved them two fight in a film over Freddy vs. Jason....If only New Line had the rights to Myers.

todd890 10/15/2010 11:46:59 AM

Sorry I can't judge, I like them both. If I was asked to judge between Freddy and Chucky, I would say Freddy.

BionicSlime 10/15/2010 2:31:18 PM

What a joke, Jason would kick the CRAP out of Myers. Jason is immortal, unstoppable and has survived everything from being electrocuted, hanged, drowned, frozen, blown up, sent to Hell, head blown off etc. Myers is the most human of the big infamous slasher characters. He bleeds and dies FAR easier then say Freddy or Chucky. Jason can never die and even getting getting his heart ripped out and eyes stabbed in, he still keeps coming. Let's see how Myers would bounce back from that and Jason's resilience has always been more UNDEAD then alive based. he's a frigging zombie for crying out loud, he killed one person by dragging her under the lake and just WALKED under the lake carrying her, genetic....right.

Flint521466 10/15/2010 2:39:04 PM

Halloween.  Period.

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