Halloween Kills, the newest film in the Halloween franchise, just dropped in theaters and on Peacock. Twelve films strong, and Michael Myers proves that the Halloween films still have that edge. So, to celebrate the Season of the Witch, here is my ranking of the Halloween franchise; counting down from worst to best. Warning, there are spoilers for each of these films.
10. Halloween: Resurrection
When Halloween: H20 did well at the box office, the studio immediately ordered a new film… even though the last film ended with Laurie chopping off Michael’s head. It seems even decapitation can’t keep a good Boogeyman down. The opening of this film where it is revealed that Laurie did not kill Michael, but instead a hapless emergency responder, was even shot along with the rest of H20. So Michael’s survival was all but assured when the studio eventually figured out what story the next film would feature. But the year was 2002, and incorporating the internet was the popular way to keep things fresh at the time. The result was Michael killing teenagers who are spending a night in his childhood home as part of a new reality tv show called “Dangertainment”. Ouch. Throw in some fake looking practical effects, Busta Rhymes as a Kung-Fu loving reality tv host, and BLACK EYELINER on Michael’s iconic mask, and you have a recipe for the goofiest Halloween film to date. Only watch during a drunken party for the LOL’s.
09. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (OR The Origin of Michael Myers)
Halloween 6 tried its hardest to tie up the loose ends left over at the end of the previous film, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. The tattoo, the man with the silver-tipped boots and other questions were left open for this film to answer. And had the original script been used, it might have been a fitting conclusion. But after a change in director and hasty rewrites made on set, this entry just ended up as a mess. So we are left with two very different cuts which try to answer those questions, with VERY difference explanations. The theatrical cut upped the gore, added a sick guitar riff on the classic theme, and changed the entire third act to reveal Smith’s Grove Sanitarium was using Michael for some sort of experiment to create more mindless killing machines. I think (its honestly not clear at all). The fabled Producer’s cut (sometimes subtitled The Origin of Michael Myers) holds back on the gore in favor of the classic style of the franchise. It also explains that Michael’s bloodline has been cursed by the Nordic mark of Thorn and the residents of Smith’s Grove have founded a cult surrounding his supernatural force. Michael has now become a fully fledge supernatural entity. Jamie’s storyline also is given more justice in this cut. Personally, I prefer the Producer’s cut, but neither are peak Halloween franchise material. However, both versions feature some decent kills, the last film performance of Donald Pleasence, and a young Paul Rudd… who hasn’t aged a day since. So it’s at least worth a watch.
08. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
This is where the franchise really started to run out of steam. Five films in, and the writers were running out of ideas. So here we get a sudden psychic connection between Michael and his niece Jamie, a tattoo that seems to have some meaning, and a shadowy man in black silver-tipped boots who arrives simply to break Michael out of prison at the end. It also featured one of Michael’s worst looking masks, and a Myers house that looks nothing like the house in the earlier films. However, French director Dominique Othenin-Girard stuck true to the original style and favors tension over gore. This film also features a truly spooky car chase scene through a tree nursery and a tense hide and seek game in the old Myers home.
07. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
This one is tricky. Deborah Hill and John Carpenter’s original idea was to kill Michael Myers off at the end of Halloween II in order to turn the franchise into an anthology series. A different story of terror each year set on Halloween night. But audiences revolted. Michael had become iconic and synonymous with the name Halloween. So while this film suffers from a lack of Michael (and an honestly goofy plot) it is still fun in its own right. It features a solid lead performance from Tom Atkins, has a killer soundtrack, and ends on a truly chilling downbeat. So while I like it on its own, I do think it sits on the lower end of the spectrum for the franchise as a whole.
06. Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie’s grimy, dirty reboot of the original film in 2007 set the box office ablaze. Which meant a sequel was not far behind. I started off hating this entry. The theatrical cut is a bit of a mess; featuring some bland forgettable characters, and a very muddy ending. But after watching the director’s cut with Rob’s commentary, I have come to appreciate it for what it is: an interesting, but very flawed new vision of where to take the franchise. Rob tries to go etherial by delving into the mind of Michael and how he views his mother, while also focusing on the trauma Laurie has suffered. The director’s cut does a much better job of showcasing this and has a much clearer ending, making it the preferred version to watch. Michael is seriously scary in this one. And that opening sequence in the hospital is a fantastic way to start things off. But even so, it’s still not peak Halloween.
05. Halloween Kills (TIE)
The newest film sits comfortably in the middle of the franchise for me. It starts off with one of the best opening sequences of any Halloween film to date. And it’s ending did an excellent job of making Michael Myers supernatural again… without making him a specifically supernatural entity. Take notes Halloween 6! However, this film isn’t as good as it should have been due to an unfocused and meandering second act. There is probably too much going on here, with FOUR separate storylines that come together by the end. Tightening up the middle by trimming some scenes down, and completely removing others, would have really helped. Some may feel the mob sequences takes away from Michael, but I really liked how that whole storyline played out. Sometimes humanity is the true evil. But Michael is definitely more brutal. This is the most violent and gory Halloween of them all. Side note, the music in this one is awesome. As it stands, this is a fine, but flawed entry in the franchise.
05. Halloween II (1981) (TIE)
The original sequel upped the ante in nearly every department. Michael has more kills, and they're much gorier this time around. This is also the film that gave us the famous twist, revealing Laurie to be Michael’s younger sister. That piece of information would forever change the franchise dynamic between Michael and his intended victims. The only major problem with this sequel is its pacing. At times the film zips by, but at other times it seems to drag on forever. And sadly, Laurie is sort of just stuck in a hospital bed for most of the film; which this year’s film also featured. So again, much like Halloween Kills, tightening up a few scenes would greatly help raise this film from GOOD to GREAT.
04. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (TIE)
This one has always been a favorite of mine. While Halloween II reached the heights of true Slasher Film with an increased focus on gore, Halloween 4 not only brought Michael back to the franchise (after he missed out on Season of the Witch), but director Dwight Little sought to bring back the Hitchcock vibes by focusing more on suspense. He really only used blood and gore to accent certain moments. This film features some truly memorable scenes, like Loomis’ discovery of Michael at the gas station, the rooftop assault, the crazy drunk preacher ("You're huntin' it, ain't ya?"), and the explosive finale. But what really makes it pop is Donald Pleasence's performance as an unhinged Loomis, and a star-making turn from little Danielle Harris as Michael’s niece Jamie Lloyd. Hell, Michael even STABS a girl with a GUN! Add that all together, and you have a recipe for one of the best entries in the franchise.
04. Halloween: H20 - Twenty Years Later (TIE)
The Queen has returned. Twenty years after the original Halloween scared the daylights out of all of us, Jamie Lee Curtis returned to put that final nail in Michael’s coffin. Or so she thought. In fact, Jamie only agreed to return under the condition that this be the final film. The film where Laurie FINALLY beat Michael. And to that end, H20 features one of the most iconic and cheer worthy endings of the franchise. Jamie really gives her all in her performance of a Laurie that has tried her hardest to put the past behind her, but simply cannot shake the fear Michael left her with. One of my favorite moments in all of horror film history comes from this movie: the scene where Laurie sees Michael for the first time in years, closes her eyes to make the hallucination go away… only to open them and see that this Michael is VERY REAL. Simply chilling. Throw in memorable supporting roles by LL Cool J, a young Josh Hartnett, and even a little cameo by baby Joseph Gordon-Levitt… and this entry is hands down one of the very best the franchise has to offer. It’s just a shame the producer’s contract stipulated that Michael CANNOT die, so a scene was shot to be used for the opening of the following film Halloween: Resurrection… and we all know how that turned out. Do yourself a favor and just count THIS as the original finale to the franchise.
03. Halloween (2018)
When Blumhouse announced a new Halloween film that was ignoring the rest of the franchise aside from the original, I was intrigued. Then I found out it was being written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green, and directed by the later. Loving those two’s earlier collaborations (including Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals), I was now full-blown excited. And these two did NOT disappoint. 2018’s Halloween felt like a true return to form. It upped the gore, but still kept things tense. And Jamie came back! Again! This time she gave us a strong, but scary Laurie. A woman who was still traumatized by the events of 1978, but instead of running like she did in H20, this Laurie has gone full-blown Burt Gummer and planned for Michael’s eventual return. Erasing their familiar connection gave Michael a new edge: now NO ONE is safe. And John Carpenter even returned to score the music alongside his son. Bottom line: the soundtrack is fire, the kills are great, and the characters are relatable. This is among the very best the franchise has to offer and in my opinion is the best sequel in the bunch.
02. Halloween (2007)
This may be a very divisive statement. But, personally, I think Rob Zombie’s remake is nearly as good as the original film… just for completely different reasons. Rob brought his signature grimy, nasty style to the franchise; giving us a completely new take on Michael Myers. This is no longer clean and slick, but vulgar and brutal. Rob decided to make Michael the focus of this one instead of Laurie. The result is a film that showcases how the sins of humanity can create a monster. Michael isn’t some supernatural Boogeyman, but a horror that we created ourselves. This film is also quite memorable, with some killer death scenes and iconic lines. “I’m Joe Grizzly, bitch!” Malcom McDowell is probably the only person I would ever accept as the new Loomis and he does a wonderful job. Danielle Harris also returned to the franchise, this time playing Laurie’s friend Annie Brackett. And it features Sheri Moon Zombie’s best film performance to date. Her suicide scene may be one of the saddest moments in the franchise. This was also the first horror film is a long time to actually scare me, with legit jump scares and kills that shock and surprise. So needless to say, it left quite an impression on me. This film is nasty. But I love it.
01. Halloween (1978)
The King. The one that started it all. The film that changed the genre forever. The night HE came home. John Carpenter’s original film will stand the test of time as one of the greatest horror films ever made. Carpenter took cues from master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. With an emphasis on suspense rather than gore (something many of the sequels don’t bother to do), this film remains scary even to this day. Carpenter’s slow burn makes you crawl to the edge of your seat, begging for the tension to break. And when it finally does, Michael is there to greet you with a knife. It’s incredible what Carpenter was able to with so little. There is barely even drop of blood in this film; John leaves everything to your imagination. And his mythology of evil and the Boogeyman remains stark and chilling. Top it off with the introduction of Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis, and a memorable and career changing performance by Donald Pleasence. “I do believe it was the Boogeyman." Horror cinema has been imitating and copying this film ever since its release, but no one has gotten it quite right. Congrats Halloween. Thanks to you and all those involved, Michael Myers, the Boogeyman, will live forever.