By George Bate and Josh Reilly B.
Michael Myers has been an enduring fixture of the spooky season since his debut in 1978’s Halloween. The latest installment, Halloween Ends, was the third in the ‘H40 Trilogy’ of movies and debuted in theaters on Peacock last October. Giving spooky season is in full gear, now is perfect time to look back at the Halloween franchise and rank its installments.
Here is a breakdown of the films in the Halloween franchise, ranked from worst to best.
13. Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie’s approach to the Halloween films was initially derided, but is probably now best summarized as divisive. Halloween II is a stark departure from the style and tone that John Carpenter established with the 1978 original, even more so than Zombie’s first outing. Halloween II can be commended for its boldness, features an incredible performance from Brad Dourif as the tragic Sheriff Brackett, and features an unpredictable first act twist. Despite this, Zombie’s film is relentlessly dark and loses the spirit of what makes Halloween such a terrific franchise. The characterization of Laurie Strode varies greatly depending on whether one watches the theatrical cut or Zombie’s director’s cut, but, regardless, this is a far cry from the empathic Laurie brought to life by Jamie Lee Curtis. Michael Myers, initially presented as a wandering, unmasked homeless person, is too discrepant from the character in every other film. The barrage of hallucinations and unconventional choice of costume make for a Myers that is more strange than scary. All in all, Halloween II (2009) is the worst Halloween film.
12. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
After the long-awaited return of Michael Myers in Halloween 4, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers was rushed, releasing just one year after its predecessor. Perhaps most fatally, Halloween 5 diverts away from Halloween 4’s stunning ending with Jamie killing Darlene and potentially being a new Michael Myers. Instead, Halloween 5 ignores the potential with this twist ending and explores a supernatural element, forging a connection between Jamie and Michael that inadvisably attempts to evoke a sense of sympathy toward Michael. Outside of the Zombie films, Halloween 5 is the poorest installment aesthetically, best reflected by the horrendous Michael Myers mask used in the film. That being said, some of the kills are fun, Donald Pleasance is great (and unintentionally hilarious) as an increasingly unhinged Loomis, and, at the end of the day, Halloween 5 still feels like a Halloween film, albeit one that is quite a bit worse than its predecessors.
11. Halloween: Resurrection
If this was a ranking of the funniest Halloween movies, Resurrection would be at the very top. From start to finish, Halloween: Resurrection features a seemingly endless string of unintentionally funny moments and lines. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode for a cringe-worthy first scene, in which she meets her death after kissing her brother Michael. The film that proceeds is anchored by a solid premise straight out of the early 2000s: what if a TV crew filmed a documentary in the Myers home? Unfortunately, even with Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal at the helm, Resurrection is a comedy of errors. Michael Myers is laughable, far from the stalking menace introduced in 1978. And, while Busta Rhymes is a hilarious scene-stealer, it doesn’t feel right for a Halloween movie.
10. Halloween Ends
David Gordon Green’s H40 trilogy concluded in admirably bold, yet unfortunately misguided fashion.
9. Halloween (2007)
Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake certainly wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Regardless of where one stands on his film, it is undoubtedly unique when compared to Carpenter’s original. The film demystifies Michael Myers by dedicating so much of the film to providing a backstory for the Haddonfield slasher, but this element ultimately proves to be where Zombie’s film excels. Instead, the film’s second half becomes a lackluster remake of Carpenter’s slasher. Malcolm McDowell is fantastic and breathes new life into Dr. Loomis, as is Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett.
8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The Halloween franchise has had its fair share of director’s cuts and extended cuts, but the difference between the theatrical cut and the producer’s cut of Halloween 6 marks the biggest difference in quality between editions. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers explored the supernatural element of Michael Myers more than ever, explaining his murderous instincts as the product of a long-standing curse at the hands of the Cult of Thorn. The producer’s cut makes a number of narrative and stylistic changes that improve the film considerably, making the theatrical edition tame and misguided in comparison. Paul Rudd as a creepy Tommy Doyle and Donald Pleasance’s final turn as Dr. Loomis are highlights.
7. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the franchise 20 years after his original turn as Laurie Strode. This time, the events of Halloween 4-6 are ignored and Laurie’s story picks up years after Halloween II. Halloween H20 was a much needed reset for the franchise that had evidently lost its way by the time of Halloween 6, and there’s a lot to like about the film. Curtis is fantastic as a damaged Laurie, who still struggles with the demons related to Michael Myers. The boarding school setting offers a different take on the typical Halloween film. And executive producer Kevin Williamson clearly brought some of his Scream sensibilities to the project. On the downside, Halloween H20 doesn’t feel like a Halloween film. The setting, while unique, lacks that spooky autumn atmosphere captured by virtually every other installment of the franchise. Halloween H20 also flies by at record pace and doesn’t really have much to say, other than Laurie and Michael’s battle isn’t over yet. Also, the film features arguably the worst Michael Myers look to date.
6. Halloween (2018)
A film that borrows from Halloween H20 and improves upon it immensely, David Gordon Green’s sequel to the original Halloween by ignoring all other installments except the 1978 film, meaning Laurie and Michael are not siblings in this continuity. Green adopts a Star Wars: The Force Awakens approach to his Halloween as he rigidly follows the structure of the original. This makes for a film that is lacking in novelty, but excels in a number of other areas. Jamie Lee Curtis delivers her best performance as a version of Laurie Strode that is traumatized and hardened from the events of 1978. Director Green also crafts a movie that feels more like Carpenter’s original than arguably any installment since 1981’s Halloween II. The twist involving Dr. Sartain has been identified as a weak point, but it provides a solid explanation for Michael’s return to Haddonfield. And the film features a number of parallels to the 1978 original that swap the roles of Laurie and Michael in interesting ways.
5. Halloween Kills
Halloween Kills is, in many ways, the ultimate slasher film. After the nostalgia-heavy Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills shifts focus away from Laurie to the town of Haddonfield and its enduring battle with Michael Myers. Halloween Kills is brutal and intense, featuring some of the series’ best kills. The flashbacks to 1978 provide an unexpected depth to the film and to Sheriff Hawkins. And the film’s ending is unpredictable to say the least. It was unclear what direction David Gordon Green and company could go in with Halloween Kills, given their firm stance on abolishing the sibling plot that dominated so many of the sequels in the 1980s and 1990s. The decision to make Michael Myers indestructible is surprising given the grounded feeling of the film and its execution, with Michael chopping down Tommy Doyle, Sheriff Brackett and virtually every other citizen of Haddonfield, is perfectly delivered
4. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
The franchise was in a strange place after the release of Halloween III. It was clear fans wanted more of Michael Myers, especially in the slasher-dominated decade of the 1980s that saw the likes of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger rise to stardom. Halloween 4 underwent various scripts and revisions before eventually landing in theaters in 1988, and the film holds up extremely well. Director Dwight H. Little and cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister deliver a Halloween film that genuinely feels like a Halloween film. The setting, production design, and atmosphere are perfect. Donald Pleasance is fantastic as a hardened Dr. Loomis, who wears the scars of his previous encounters with Michael as a warning sign to those who fail to take the Shape seriously. Halloween 4 is perhaps best known for its introduction of Danielle Harris as Jamie Lloyd, the centerpiece of the Thorn trilogy that would comprise Halloween 4-6. Harris is excellent as Jamie Lloyd in brilliantly stepping into the mammoth shoes of the franchise left by Jamie Lee Curtis. And the film caps off with perhaps the best ending of any installment in the series. Recreating the opening of Halloween (1978) with Jamie committing cold blooded murder is still haunting to this day. Donald Pleasance’s heartbreaking performance in this scene arguably makes the movie.
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Once derided, but now lauded as a cult classic, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, is certainly the black sheep of the Halloween franchise. The decision to abandon Michael Myers and move the franchise forward in an anthology style ultimately failed, although Halloween III has aged very well. Halloween III isn’t a slasher, instead a mystical sci-fi horror movie that incorporates killer robots, witchcraft, ancient Celtic rituals, and a theme tune that you will be stuck in your head for a very long. Halloween III is fun and mysterious, with the plot slowly unfolding and culminating in a tense, abstract finale.
2. Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II may be the best sequel in the entire horror genre. Controversial for its decision to make Michael and Laurie siblings, Halloween II arguably set the course for the entire trajectory of the franchise until the 2018 reset. Rick Rosenthal directs a film that picks up right after Carpenter’s original and seamlessly feels like an extension of the story. The kills are bloodier and Michael Myers is deadlier. Speaking of Myers, Rosenthal intelligently chooses to set the film largely in a hospital and has long gaps without Myers seen on screen, making the presence and absence of the masked killer equally frightening.
1. Halloween (1978)
Was there any other film that could top this list? John Carpenter’s classic is not only the best Halloween movie, it’s the best horror film of all time. It’s also one of the greatest and most influential films of all time in general. The original Halloween is raw and masterfully crafted from start to finish. The music, the performances, the atmosphere, and the three lead characters are all superb. Nothing beats the night he came home in 1978.