Last week, we took a look at all of the men to don the infamous flesh mask of Leatherface from the 7 TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE movies. This week, we decided to shift to another one of the most iconic movie maniacs to terrify us by the mere sight of his visage. I’m talking about Jason Voorhees!
And sure, when you hear Jason, you think immediately of that white hockey mask. But over the course of 12 movies, Jason has gone through many incarnations. Let’s roll through the franchise film by film and analyze all those that have played Voorhees to determine our personal favorite!
When we first meet Jason Voorhees in the original FRIDAY THE 13TH, he’s merely a young boy and we see him primarily through flashbacks to events described by the murderous Mrs. Voorhees. It isn’t until the grand finale of the movie, when Alice is seeking refuge in the middle of the lake, that the deformed and rotting corpse of Jason pops out of the water and drags her down into that sweet abyss. Was that really Jason? Did Alice dream the whole thing? Regardless, played by Ari Lehman, our first impression of Jason is a terrifying one!
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is where things start to get a little tricky. Jason is now front and center as the film’s antagonist, but it’s really 2 actors that play him in his creepy sack-masked incarnation. The role is credited to Warrington Gillette, although stuntman Steve Dash has taken credit for playing Jason through the majority of the film. As best as we know it, Warrington is the maskless Jason at the movie’s climax, whereas Dash is Jason in the mask for the rest of the picture. So we’ll separate this one into two categories – with or without mask.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 is infamous for 2 reasons. It’s the first (and still only) entry in the franchise to be in 3D. And it’s also the first movie in which Jason dons his famous hockey mask. It’s nice and shiny and new, courtesy of practical trickster Shelly (Larry Zerner). Richard Brooker plays him in the 3rd film in the series and, as instructed by director Steve Miner, he’s just the shark from JAWS. No motivation. He’s fairly calm, cool and collected when it comes to offing this particular group of kids until he takes an axe right to the forehead.
By FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE FINAL CHAPTER, Jason Voorhees is pissed off! This is by far the angriest, most mean spirited version of the character we’ve seen yet, this time brought to life by Ted White and for a lot of us, it was the most indelible portrayal. I was Tommy Jarvis’ age when this movie hit home video, so I was equally as scared as Tommy, but thrilled that he was the one after 4 movies to finally defeat Jason. That is until….
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING! Now, I know a lot of people would cry foul that this isn’t really Jason. But Tom Morga (who also played Michael Myers in portions of HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS) plays Jason both in Tommy’s hallucinations, which technically is the real Jason, and the imposter version with the blue arrows on the hockey mask. Dick Weiland plays Roy, the paramedic who it turns out is behind this new version of Jason after seeing the body of his long lost son hacked to pieces in the opening. But since it’s just a 2 second face reveal, I’m sticking with Morga as the sole Jason of this much undeservingly maligned sequel.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES was the sequel to breathe new life into the franchise, literally! This is the one where Tommy inadvertently resurrects Jason from the dead Frankenstein style when he digs up his grave and Jason is struck by lightening. Originally Dan Bradley was cast as Jason, but after the first few days of shooting, he was replaced by CJ Graham. (Bradley is only in the paintball scene.) Graham also reprised the role for the Alice Cooper video “He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask),” which was the theme song for this entry.
And now we move onto the Kane Hodder years! Kane is the one performer most significantly known for his portrayal of Jason, primarily because he’s the only actor to play the role more than once, but also because he embraced and immediately owned it. His first shot at Jason came in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD, which gives us one of the freakiest versions of Jason yet. Under the direction of John Carl Buechler, who was already a well established FX artist in his own right, he wanted to see all the wear and tear on Jason from all the previous movies. And so in this flick, he’s been through the ringer and looks his most terrifying and bad-ass yet! Kane also returned as Jason for the follow-up JASON TAKES MANHATTAN, as well as JASON GOES TO HELL and JASON X. Because of the various & unique looks in all 4 appearances, we shall list them all in our poll for you to decide your favorite of the bunch.
For FREDDY VS JASON, fans were disappointed that New Line and director Ronny Yu opted not to bring back Kane for the role his made infamous, but we got Ken Kirzinger, a Canadian stuntman that appeared in a small role in PART 8 and later in other genre fare such as WRONG TURN 2 and JOY RIDE 3. When pitted against Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, this version of Jason is a giant comparable to Frankenstein’s monster, and more than capable of putting that dream demon through hell in their battle.
After the VS movie, the only place left to go was back to the beginning! And so with Platinum Dunes, New Line agreed to “remake” (or more appropriately “reimagine”) the FRIDAY THE 13TH 2009 version as an amalgamation of the first 4 chapters. This time, Derek Mears filled out the Jason mask, both the sack and the hockey mask versions! And as a life long Jason fan, it was a dream come true, both for the performer and the audience, as he brought the best of all the Jasons to his interpretation. Whether you like the movie or not, you have to admit that Derek did a great job as Jason.
And there you have it! So many Jason’s to choose from! But it’s time for them to duke it out with you guys as the judges. Who was YOUR favorite Jason Voorhees?