Ranking the Halloween Franchise

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‘Tis the season for Halloween. It’s the holiday on every horror fan’s mind, and with the 31st quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to revisit the horror franchise that shares its namesake. The original Halloween – which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year – is an indisputable classic of the genre, but its sequels are uneven, to say the least. Here is how I rank all ten films in the series, from worst to best.

10. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Halloween: Resurrection is an easy pick for the worst entry in the series. Although it was rather ingenious how they brought Michael Myers back, the film is essentially ruined in the first 10 minutes with the death of the original final girl, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). Things only get worse from there, with the introduction of Busta Rhymes as a main character who practices kung-fu. I will say, however, that its online reality show concept and first-person camera angles were ahead of its time. Furthermore, the movie is a hoot in a so-bad-it’s-good way – but that’s no way to treat a cinematic icon.


9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Considering that Halloween 4 is an above-average sequel and Halloween 5 is a direct follow-up, its poor quality is both unexpected and disappointing. The Revenge of Michael Myers’ biggest flaw is the silly “Man in Black” subplot, but there is plenty wrong beyond that: Michael spending a year with a hermit, Jamie Lloyd being a mute, humanizing Michael by having him remove off his mask (one of the worst in the series) and cry… The movie isn’t all bad, but it’s mediocre – which, often times, is even worse.

8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was a troubled production from the get-go. Following the open ending of Halloween 5, the sixth installment was left with the task of making sense of things, settling on the half-baked Curse of Thorn mythology. A classic example of “too many cooks,” the film suffered from numerous re-shoots and re-edits, leaving the final theatrical cut a mess. The oft-bootlegged Producer’s Cut is an improvement but still subpar. It’s nice to see a young Paul Rudd – bringing back the character of Tommy Doyle from the original film, no less – but, sadly, this was also Donald Pleasence’s final film before his death. On the plus side, it has a great Halloween atmosphere.


7. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20 is celebrated by many fans as one of the best sequels in the series, but I’m not entirely convinced. Although it’s certainly not bad movie – on the contrary, I actually quite enjoy it – it doesn’t hold up as well under scrutiny. It was made in the post-Scream slasher boom, and that glossy, Hollywood feel is all over it. It’s a treat to see Jamie Lee Curtis return to her first role, but, on the whole, the film feels like a cash grab. You’d think a movie this high-profile could get the details right, but Michael Myers has four different masks in the movie, none of which look particularly good. H2O also ignores the events of the previous Halloween installments, for better or worse.

6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Let’s get this out of the way right now: No, Halloween III does not have Michael Myers. But it does have Tom Atkins and his legendary mustache, along with killer Halloween masks. Yes, it’s a completely different story, unrelated to the first two. As much as I love the Michael character, I think John Carpenter’s idea of having anthological Halloween-themed movies under the Halloween umbrella was a neat idea. Clearly, viewers did not agree, as it was received poorly by fans and critics alike, but over time Season of the Witch has found an audience to appreciate it as the fun ’80s flick it is.


5. Halloween II (2009)

Although Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake was a huge box office success, he wasn’t too pleased with the studio interference. For the sequel, both Zombie and the studio no longer felt bound to John Carpenter’s original film, allowing him to explore more original ideas. Rather than a Halloween movie, Halloween II feels more like a Rob Zombie movie. Sure, there are plenty of questionable aspects – Deborah Myers and the white horse are the first to come to mind – but it also does a lot right. The film is not afraid to take risks, delivering the most realistic and brutally violent entry in the series. If you’re not sold on this one, I recommend watching the Director’s Cut and listening to Zombie’s commentary, in which he clarifies some of his controversial decisions; it will give you a new appreciation for his effort.

4. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Following viewer outcry over Halloween III’s different story, Halloween 4 – as its subtitled states – marks the high-anticipated return of Michael Myers. It was a successful return to form for the franchise, marking not only one of the better sequels but also the introduction of fan-favorite character Jamie Lloyd (and fan-favorite actress Danielle Harris) as Michael’s niece. Against the odds, the addition of a child as the protagonist proved to be an interesting and exciting one; look no further than the thrilling rooftop chase scene for proof.


3. Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake is one of the most polarizing genre films in recent memory, perhaps of all time. Some champion it as superior to the original, while others detest every frame of it. While nothing touches the original for me, I do think the remake is a good film. The first half serves as a prequel, showing Michael Myers’ troubled childhood that turned him into the monster we’ve come to know. While the original sequels demonstrated that trying to explain why Michael is evil is entirely unnecessary – and Zombie’s choice of a white trash upbringing is hackneyed – it’s a compelling story anchored by strong performances. For the latter half, Zombie essentially crams the entire original film into half its runtime. It gets jumbled at times, but the source material is strong enough to carry it. I understand why it has its detractors, but I believe it’s about as good of a Halloween remake for which we could ever ask.

2. Halloween II (1981)

Halloween II picks up immediately where Halloween left off, which I think is one of its strong suits. You can essentially watch the first two movies back-to-back as one long film. The sequel maintains the style of the original but also reflects the growing emphasis on gore of the time. Sure, the hospital is humorously understaffed, but the film also introduces the brother-sister angle (which would later play a large role in H20). Director Rick Rosenthal successfully recreated many of the elements that made the first film so successful, expanding on John Carpenter’s exercise in suspense and horror.


1. Halloween (1978)

Halloween is my all-time favorite film, so placing it at the top of the list is a no-brainer. The movie’s influence can still be felt to this day in genre films both big and small. John Carpenter not only created a haunting character in Michael Myers, but also the quintessential final girl in Lauria Strode. In addition to his stylish direction, Carpenter’s score remains iconic. I could go on and on about what makes Halloween the perfect horror film, but the best proof I can offer is the fact that the picture still holds up well 35 years later.

What do you think? Are you a big supporter of what Rob Zombie did with the series? Do you hate how Halloween III doesn’t have Michael Myers? Leave your own ranking in the replies.

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