Thursday, 31 October 2019

Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs Leatherface: The Ultimate Showdown!

We've just gotten through our countdown of the best to worst films in the A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises, but we're not quite done yet! We may have gotten through the films based on their quality alone, but there are plenty of other things to take into account for these franchises. I've put together a number of categories and am going to compare how each franchise does in each and then I'll add up all the points to determine which slasher franchise wins the ultimate showdown. So, without further adieu, it's time to put our slasher icons head-to-head one last time to see who can come out on top!

Most Iconic Weapon
What is a slasher without an iconic murder weapon? Sure, some have more methods to kill than others, but there are certain slashers who are synonymous with their preferred method of murder. With that in mind, let's take a look at our competitors and see whose weapon of choice is most iconic.


4th place (1 point): Jason Voorhees' Machete
Of all the slashers out there, Jason is by far the most creative and versatile, killing with whatever he can find on hand, from spears, to bows, barrels of toxic waste, open vats of liquid nitrogen and even his own bare hands if needed. However, he is perhaps most synonymous with his machete (best demonstrated by the hilarious "Guys, he just wanted his machete back!" line from Jason X). However, it's not a particularly creative murder weapon and it's not even used by Jason all that much, so it brings up the rear in this competition.


3rd place (2 points): Michael Myers' Chef Knife
Props to Michael Myers for always sticking with such a mundane murder weapon and making it work so well. Plus, he's frequently able to stab people with them so hard that they get pinned to the wall, impressive! A kitchen knife is a little more distinct than a machete too much helps make it stand out as being distinctly "Michael Myers", giving him the edge over Jason in this category.


2nd place (3 points): Leatherface's Chainsaw
One of the originators of the "household tools as murder weapons" trope, Leatherface's chainsaw is so iconic that it's even in the title of his franchise. It's a brutal, unsubtle weapon, but it suits its wielder well. What makes it even more iconic is that Leatherface doesn't even tend to get that many kills with his chainsaw, so it's not like there are particular scenes that people are even associating it with - it's just that associated with Leatherface that they just assume he gets way more chainsaw kills than he actually does.


Winner (4 points): Freddy Krueger's Razor Gloves
It really had to go to Freddy Krueger here, especially since his weapon is the only one that was home-made and therefore not used by anyone else. What's even more impressive is that Freddy kills in all sorts of creative ways due to his dream powers, but the razor glove is still totally iconic as his murder weapon.

Best Setting
A killer's got to do his dirty work somewhere and our slashers all have their own centralized playgrounds where you can expect to find them. That said, some of these locations are more memorable than others, so let's see who has the most interesting killing grounds.


4th place (1 point): Haddonfield/The Myers House
Michael's stomping grounds are going to be taking up the bottom rung of the list here because Haddonfield is pretty non-descript. It's a slice of suburbia with a few houses that Michael has chosen to kill in. While Myers' house itself has been the most consistent of these, it was actually changed in Halloween 5, showing just how expendable it is. And, to put the cherry on top, the two best Halloween sequels don't even take place at the Myers' house, while H20 straight-up ditches Haddonfield entirely.


3rd place (2 points): Sawyer House/Rural Texas
The Chainsaw series doesn't really tend to have a consistent location for its action other than just rural Texas in general, which hurts its ranking here somewhat. However, much like the most iconic weapon, the titular Texas is inextricably linked with the Chainsaw franchise, to the point where you can tell which movies in the franchise were filmed there and which weren't just by the way the landscape looks. As for the Sawyer house, it's cool but it's a shame that it's different in almost every film, otherwise it would probably rank higher.


2nd place (3 points): Elm Street/Elm Street House
The Elm Street house makes its way onto this list through brute force - New Line Cinema shoehorned this freaking house into the plot of basically every Nightmare film, no matter how little sense it made. After all, it's not like we really care about the house or that Freddy really has any connection to it, but they'll be damned if it isn't in every movie anyway. As a result, we get a certain amount of familiarity with the place, even if it probably wasn't done all that organically.


Winner (4 points): Camp Crystal Lake
The winner has to be Camp Crystal Lake (and its surrounding areas). Jason hacking teenagers up at summer camp is so iconic that it wasn't until the eighth film in the franchise when they finally decided to dramatically shake up the setting. Camp Crystal Lake is also probably just straight-up the most memorable location in any of these films - like, the only reason the average Joe even knows where Freddy does his killing is because it's in the movie's title, but I'm willing to bet nearly as many people know about Camp Crystal Lake. I'd say that gives Friday the 13th the clear victory here.

Best Final Girl
Sure, any old slasher can kill boatloads of teenagers and chase after helpless damsels in distress. However, what really separates the wheat from the chaff is when the killer get put up against a grade A badass final girl who isn't going to take any more of his shit. We're not just looking at pure strength here though, but how well-rounded and likeable the character is as well - what good is it to have a strong final girl that no one is rooting for, after all? These are the characters you want to see survive and kick the crap out of the bad guys while doing it. With that said, let's take a look at our best final girls...


4th place (1 point): Stretch (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
I like Stretch quite a bit. She's got a lot of ingenuity and smarts on her side, realizing that she can manipulate Leatherface into keeping her alive by preying on his affections. She also manages to slink around the Sawyer's crazy labyrinth of a home fairly well, although she does get spotted while doing so. Then, at the end of the film, she chainsaws Chop Top to death, but goes crazy in the process. Again, I like Stretch, but she's also just the best final girl in a franchise full of pretty mediocre final girls who don't fight back.
Honourable Mention: Chrissie from The Beginning missed the cut because, while she's able to survive being thrown out of a car and is ridiculously stealthy, the character has basically no depth.


3rd place (2 points): Chris (Friday the 13th Part III)
Friday the 13th suffers in this category somewhat for a few reasons. First, the only recurring final girl, Alice from the original, gets killed immediately in the sequel... also, she's a pretty poor final girl anyway. Furthermore, the only other recurring hero of note is Tommy Jarvis, who certainly doesn't count as a final girl. So, we're stuck picking which final girl managed stand out the most in her only film. Personally, I have to give this pick to Chris from Part III. Despite the fact that I hate that movie quite a bit, I have to give Chris major props for being the only good part about it. Giving Chris a history with Jason is pretty contrived, but it makes Chris one of the few characters in the franchise with a real sense of connection to the villain. Furthermore, she actually manages to fight back and hold her own against Jason in several showdowns, constantly outsmarting him and then beating the shit out of him with a book case, knife, log and a shovel, then hangs him from a noose and embeds an axe in his freaking head! Considering that she's just a normal woman, everyone else going up against Jason is getting their asses handed to them almost immediately and most other final girls in this franchise just spend the last twenty minutes running away, it's an extremely impressive showing.
Honourable Mentions: Ginny from Part II deserves some note for managing to use her smarts to defeat Jason... which shouldn't be that difficult, but barely anyone actually tries in this franchise. Tina from Part VII is also by far the strongest final girl in any of these films, but I just couldn't justify giving her this spot because she is, otherwise, not that interesting until she starts going wild with her psychic powers. Blame that one on the writers of Part VII for squandering so much of that film's potential.


2nd place (3 points): Nancy Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
I kind of feel like I have to give this one to Nancy, especially considering that she came back tougher than ever in Dream Warriors and that a fictionalized Heather Langenkamp had to channel her most famous character again to succeed in Wes Craven's New Nightmare. While Langenkamp's acting is a bit flat at times, that doesn't take away from how clever and tough Nancy is, being able to figure out how to overcome Freddy in a seemingly impossible situation and learning to become brave enough of him to face him head-on. It's to the point where even Freddy recognizes her and seems to have some begrudging respect for her, so she's a pretty understandable pick for our second place slot.
Honourable Mentions: Both Kris from Dream Warriors and Alice from The Dream Master and The Dream Child are reasonably good final girls as well, but neither of them are as capable or memorable as Nancy.


Winner (4 points): Laurie Strode (Halloween)
It had to be Laurie, right? She's the primo final girl, and if Halloween didn't convince you then H20 and Halloween 2018 sure as hell cemented it. Even before she got upgraded to a full-on, Michael Myers-hunting badass, she was still a pretty great babysitter who not only fought back well against the masked intruder, but kept her responsibilities over the kids in check too! That's just straight-up impressive.

Most Kills on Average Per Film
You know the saying, quality over quantity, but there is a certain quality to quantity now isn't there? With that in mind, let's take a look at the body counts per film and compare them, shall we? We're not only going to count the victims killed by the iconic slashers (otherwise movies like Season of the Witch or the original Friday the 13th will have to be left off), but suffice to say that they do make up the bulk of the murdering.


4th place (1 point): A Nightmare on Elm Street
This one was kind of expected, since Freddy is definitely more of a quality over quantity kind of guy. Even with Freddy vs Jason considerably inflating the average with its whopping 23 deaths, the Elm Street franchise still only averages out at 7.67 deaths per film, far below any of its competitors.


3rd place (2 points): The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
I also kind of expected this placement on the list, although Leatherface and his family have been steadily increasing their number of kills over the years. For example, Texas Chainsaw 3D and Leatherface have a pretty respectable 19 and 21 kills respectively. However, the earlier films are closer to Elm Street levels in terms of numbers and with the least entries of any franchise on this list, it's more or less unavoidable for it to end up in the middle of the pack. Still, 11.13 average deaths per film is nothing to be ashamed of.


2nd place (3 points): Halloween
Michael Myers racks up some pretty impressive body counts in his films, especially in all of the sequels that I really don't like (again, quantity is a quality of its own). He has two entries alone with at least 20 kills, Halloween 5 (20) and the Rob Zombie remake (23). Even then, there are only two entries with less than double digits, the original film and H20. These consistently high numbers give Halloween a very strong 14.36 deaths per film on average!


Winner (4 points): Friday the 13th
I had a feeling Friday the 13th was going to win this category, but I didn't really realize by how much. Jason just mows through victims like a madman, with five films with at least 20 kills in them (Part 5, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, Jason X and Freddy vs Jason)! In fact, the only film in the franchise under double digits is Part II, which just barely missed the mark with 9 kills (and, hell, could have hit 10 if we counted the missing in action Paul as likely dead).

Best Kill
Okay, I know I just got over saying that there was a quality to quantity, but there's really something about an especially good kill. After all, you'll forget all those random nobodies who get shot or stabbed in movies, but when someone dies a really elaborate death, it sticks with you. So, with that in mind, let's take a look at the most memorable kills in these franchises.


4th place (1 point): Pinning a Guy to the Wall With a Chef's Knife (Halloween)
The Halloween franchise is strangely bereft of particularly interesting kills - some of the newer films have expanded Michael's modus operandi somewhat (H20 has Joseph Gordon Levitt taking a hockey skate to the face and Halloween 2018 has a dude's head get stomped to mush), but for the most part it's just broken necks and lots of stabbings. Hell, the most interesting kills are probably in Season of the Witch, which features a guy getting his head torn right off of his shoulders, but I don't feel like I can really use that here since the movie was more or less disowned by its franchise. That said, the most replicated kill in the entire franchise is when Michael stabs Bob so hard with a chef's knife that he gets pinned to the wall and suspended above the ground. It's kind of insane that a knife is able to hold up that much weight by itself, but it's also just another stabbing in a franchise full of stabbings.


3rd place (2 points): Bludgeoning Kirk With a Hammer (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Similarly to Halloween, the Chainsaw franchise's kills don't tend to be very creative. However, what they lack in creativity, they make up for in swiftness and brutality. I was kind of tempted to give this award to Sheriff Hartman's death in Texas Chainsaw 3D, where he gets minced up in a meat grinder since that is easily the most elaborate death in the franchise. However, it is kind of ruined by the awful CGI involved in the kill so I can't really pick it in good faith. I also can't pick the various meat hook scenes from the franchise because, while they're certainly iconic, none of them are actual kill scenes. So, with that out of the way, I would say that the most distinctive kill is when Kirk gets bludgeoned in the first Chainsaw film. It's so sudden, brutal and it comes out of nowhere, which makes it an actually scary moment.


2nd place (3 points): Liquid Nitrogen (Jason X)
The Friday the 13th franchise is absolutely spoiled for amazing kills. You've got Kevin Bacon taking an arrow to the back of the neck in the original, the machete to the face wheelchair kill in Part II and the sleeping bag kill in Part VII, among many, many others. However, I have to personally give the edge to the liquid nitrogen kill from Jason X, where a newly-resuscitated Jason grabs a doctor and sticks her face into a convenient vat of liquid nitrogen. We get to see her look of terror freeze onto her face before Jason pulls it back out, admires his handiwork and then smashes the frozen face against the table top. It's brutal, funny and really gets across Jason's style.


Winner (4 points): Marionette (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors)
Again, the Elm Street franchise is totally spoiled for amazing kills, especially since many of the films in the series are basically built around setting up these elaborate scenes. The first film's ceiling kill and Johnny Depp getting pulled into the bed in a geyser of blood are both totally iconic and I really love the cockroach metamorphosis kill in The Dream Master and the "Take on Me" kill in The Dream Child. Hell, I even love Carlos' Looney Tunes-style hearing aid kill from the otherwise abysmal Freddy's Dead. However, I have to give the award to Phillip's death in Dream Warriors for its combination of brutality, creativity and fantastic special effects. We get to see Freddy slash open Phillip's arms and legs and then pull his tendons out, turning him into a human marionette before cutting the strings to have him fall out of a bell tower. It's an unforgettable kill to be sure, easily as good as any from the original film.

Most Consistently Good Franchise
Slasher franchises have a pretty bad reputation. Most of the time, the original will be well-regarded whereas every follow-up has a legitimate shot at being on the IMDb bottom 100. With that said, I've looked through the countdown and averaged out the placements of all of the movies from each franchise to determine which franchise is strongest. To confirm the accuracy of this metric, I have also assigned each film on the list a quality rating between 10 and 1, and then averaged out this number to determine the average rating (this is the number that I'm going to use to determine how many points the franchise will take for this category). So, with that in mind, let's get to the numbers...


4th place: Halloween
Halloween suffered GREATLY on this list for having such widely polarizing releases. Sure, it has an impressive showing of 3 films in the top 10 (Halloween, Halloween 2018, H20), but it also has an abysmal 4 films in the bottom 9, all of which I would give a 2/10 (Halloween 6, Halloween: Resurrection, Halloween 2 2009, Halloween 5). Even with the other 4 films in the franchise averaging middling scores, there was no way that they could overcome the sheer awfulness of so many bottom-dwellers.
Average score: 4.45/10


3rd place: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Chainsaw franchise was a bit of an interesting case for this list. For one thing, it has the least films of any of these franchises at only 8 entries. Furthermore, it only has 1 film in the bottom 9 (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation), but the original film also topped the countdown, which helps offset that. However, the other 6 films are nothing to write home about with only 1 other film managing to crack the top 15 (Leatherface). In this regard, the Chainsaw franchise might be the most consistent overall, although consistently mediocre isn't much of a thing to boast about.
Average score: 4.63/10


2nd place: Friday the 13th
With the most entries of any franchise on this list at 12, Friday the 13th puts in a pretty solid showing. Sure, 3 entries cracked the bottom 9 (Jason Goes to Hell, Jason Takes Manhattan and Friday the 13th Part III), but 6 of the movies in this franchise scored a pretty solid 5/10 or higher which really helped to even out the average. Friday the 13th rarely hits the heights of quality that the other franchises do, but they do tend to be consistently entertaining.
Average score: 5.63/10


Winner: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Going in, I definitely knew that the Elm Street franchise was going to top this list, it was mostly just a question of how many points it would get. The big question mark is that the Elm Street franchise also "boasts" the worst film of the whole countdown, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which drags down the overall quality of the franchise. Other than that, only the remake and The Dream Master score lower than a 5/10, and Dream Warriors, Wes Craven's New Nightmare and the original film all boast a very solid 8/10 rating. Add in Freddy's Revenge with a 7/10 and you have 4 Elm Street films in the top 10, which made it pretty obvious that this franchise was the most consistently good.
Average score: 6/10

Who Would Win in a Fight?
And, last on our list, we have the classic playground scenario: Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs Leatherface. Who comes out on top in a head-to-head battle for the ages? I've gone through what we know of each character and compared their various incarnations to try to come up with the answer to this age-old question.


4th place (1 point): Freddy Krueger
This one might seem surprising, because at first glance Freddy has all the advantages: he can kill you in your dreams with little vulnerability to himself and it's not like any of his opponents are smart enough to figure out how to kill him. Hell, he's also clearly the smartest person in this showdown. However, the problem comes in where Freddy's powers are involved. As far as the series shows, Freddy seems to be only able to invade the dreams of children and teenagers. Sure, Freddy vs Jason ignored this, but it also claimed that Jason is afraid of water among other things, so its authority on canon is dubious (not to mention that Jason wins the matchup anyway). Furthermore, in the real world, Freddy is going to be no match for any of his opponents - I mean, the guy gets regularly trounced by regular teenage girls, so I can't see him lasting against any of his opponents. So that's the issue here - either Freddy stays trapped in the dream realm and gets DQ'd because he can't even fight, or he gets pulled into the real world and gets the tar beat out of him. Either way, he loses.


3rd place (2 points): Leatherface
This was actually a really difficult placement for me for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike most slashers, Leatherface has actually gone up against some really badass fighters at least somewhat comparable to a Michael or a Jason. On the one hand, in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, he goes up against 6'4" survivalist Benny (played by Ken Foree) multiple times and comes out on top each time. However, on the other hand, in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, he fights against a crazed Dennis Hopper in a chainsaw duel and is bested. Other than that, the only other times Leatherface has actually been beaten in a fight are in Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and the remake where he loses an arm in a surprise attack, but in both cases he still got back up and was ready to fight again in short order. This actually puts him in an interesting position, because while Jason and Michael are semi-immortal, they tend to be "killed" by regular people all the time. In contrast, Leatherface is just a very big, very durable, very dumb guy that no one seems to be able to overcome.

Leatherface's other big advantage is that he's never really alone, he's usually got backup from the Sawyer clan. While I can see Tink, Chop Top, Tex or Sheriff Hoyt being pretty handy to have around in most cases, I don't think any of them are going to be much use against Jason or Michael, who we have already see kill rednecks on the reg. His weapon of choice is also pretty handy because, while Jason and Michael are extremely tough and semi-immortal, they don't really seem to have any way to come back from lost limbs or a decapitation. Therefore, if Leatherface can get in, maybe stick his enemy on a meat hook and then cut them up, he could do some serious damage. However, this also means that he's just as vulnerable to getting stabbed or grappled by Michael or Jason and I'm not so certain he'd win that confrontation more often than not. That's the problem, I can certainly see scenarios where Leatherface would actually win this four-way showdown, but it's highly dependent on him being smart enough to do the right things.


2nd place (3 points): Michael Myers
Like I said for Leatherface, Michael Myers largely comes out on top here for being semi-invulnerable. He's been shot, stabbed and lit on fire so many times, but after lying dead for a few minutes, he always gets back up as if nothing happened. What also helps his cause is that he doesn't even let these injuries slow him down - in Halloween 2018, he gets half his hand blown off with a shotgun and it doesn't dampen his resolve to keep fighting. He's also incredibly strong, capable of crushing people's heads and snapping their necks with his bare hands. However, Michael has a couple of big issues that could cripple him in a fight. First of all, he is painfully slow. In the original Halloween II, he has Laurie cornered in an elevator that takes forever to close. If he had just quickened his pace a tiny bit he would have had her dead to rights, but no, he just has to be a slow mofo and make everything harder on himself. A lot of his technique comes from being able to stalk his victim beforehand and get an idea of the terrain before he goes in for a stealthy kill. If he has to just go head-to-head with a foe then he'll probably still be able to manage, but it blunts some of his killing potential. Really, Michael's biggest problems come when his victims finally realize he's after him, because it's at this point that he'll get subjected to well-laid traps and kung fu kicks to the face. But, at the end of it all, that semi-invulnerable status really is a huge difference-maker. I can see Leatherface thinking he has Michael dead, but then he stands up and gets the killing blow when it's least expected.


Winner (4 points): Jason Voorhees
It kind of had to be Jason here, right? If it was just redneck Jason from the first four movies and the remake then I'd probably have put him much lower, but zombie Jason is just insane. Like Michael, his semi-immortality puts him over the top compared to other slashers, as he'll just constantly die and then come back. We've even seen two different instances where Jason gets blown apart and still comes back for more (Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X), a feat which I sincerely doubt Michael Myers could replicate. He's as strong or stronger than Michael Myers, able to crush heads with his bare hands, punch straight through people and kill a person in a sleeping bad with one crack against a tree. Jason also has the distinction of having not only beating Freddy Krueger one-on-one, but also going head-to-head with easily the strongest final girl ever, psychic girl Tina in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. She absolutely pummelled him with her psychic powers but he just kept coming back for more, ultimately only being defeated when her zombie dad finally dragged him back down to the depths of Crystal Lake (which he would eventually escape from again, of course). With all of this taken into account, Jason Voorhees is the clear winner of this showdown.

Totals
Alright, the numbers have been counted, so let's get to our totals and see who wins out in this no-holds-barred showdown...


4th place: Leatherface (16.63 points)
3rd place: Michael Myers (18.45 points)
2nd place: Freddy Krueger (22 points)
Winner: Jason Voorhees (23.63 points)

Thank you all for reading and going through this journey with me! Happy Halloween everyone and stay safe!

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