Ranking The Paramount Era Friday The 13th VHS Covers

Friday The 13th films began being released on VHS during the 1980's, which was the golden age of video stores, and became part of a home video revolution that created it's own culture. Even today, with the dwindling amount of stores that still rent out physical media, there is a devoted following of yesteryear. For those readers that grew up during that time with no Internet or iMdb to reference what movies were about or how good they were, box cover art could either sell you on watching a film or simply passing it by.

Of course, box cover art wouldn't deter a Friday The 13th fan from renting a new film upon release, but other film aficionados who were not devoted fans of the franchise might have viewed particular releases in a different light based on the box cover art. With that in mind, we are going to rank to the Paramount era films according to their VHS box art and their appeal to the casual movie fan.

8. Friday The 13th: A New Beginning

The theatrical poster for the film was much different that the VHS box cover as the poster was just text with the film title. The VHS cover that was chosen for this film is completely nonsensical and misplaced as it does not represent anything that happens in the film. Not only is the mask used on the cover not even found in the film, but the whole thing comes across as cartoonish and would make a lot of people viewing the cover for the first time even wonder if this was a real Friday The 13th movie.

7. Friday The 13th Part 2

This was another film where the initial theatrical poster featured only the tagline and the title (Theaters would later receive a Pressbook with the eventual VHS cover art). In a move that echoed the film production of Part 2, the original 1980 movie's poster concept was copied for the sequel's VHS cover art, implementing a silhouette around Part 2's film title. What resulted is a bland representation of the film and signaled this film as simply a retread of the previous entry in the franchise.


6. Friday The 13th Part 3

The hype surrounding the release of Part 3 in theaters with new 3-D technology launched the franchise into pop culture permanently, however, the home video release on VHS was unable to transfer over the 3-D effect. Thankfully, the poster art created for the theatrical run used more effective imagery to sell the film, and that was translated over to the VHS cover art. Although Jason is still shown as a silhouette, he is more defined in his action as he stabs through a shower curtain coming right into your living room!


5. Friday The 13th 1980

The original film in the franchise had beautiful artwork created for the poster which was designed by Spiros Angelikas and painted by Alex Ebel. The poster was translated over to the VHS cover and utilizes the killer's silhouette to perfection as it surrounds the would-be victim camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake.

4. Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood

The runner-up storyline to Freddy vs Jason definitely had marketability as the poster's simple yet powerful imagery of Jason's hockey mask and Tina Shepard's menacing face are separated by a knife dripping with blood. Thankfully the poster was ported over to the VHS box cover and even though the image of the duo is centered over a black background, fans get the full impression that these two are going to have one hell of a fight.

3. Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part 6

With Jason being resurrected for the fifth sequel, it was smart to use a cemetery backdrop as a key component of the film's theatrical poster. Throw in a grave stone with 'Jason Lives' on it and the hockey mask in the background and this poster-to-VHS cover pops out at a would-be viewer as a must watch

2. Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan

There isn't too much to say on pointing out the obvious with this cover at the number two spot. Although the theatrical poster went through numerous changes before the Part 8's release, the final version still hits a home-run as you need to see is Jason hovering over New York City with a knife to get excited to watch this film. Opinions on the quality of the film, of course, vary among the fans.

1. Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter

The initial theatrical poster for The Final Chapter was not very appealing as it was full of tag lines and just the film title (Theaters would later receive a Pressbook and other materials using the hockey mask). However, the eventual VHS box cover choice is gold, and among the other films listed at the top of our ranking, this simple imagery hits a big home-run in selling the movie. Whereas other Friday The 13th films that ranked high in our list utilized illustrations or Photoshop wizardry, the very simple use of a battered hockey mask with a knife in the eye whole and blood running underneath the mask conveys the message that this supposed franchise finale was going to be a bloody mess!