It’s been a while, but I’m back with another “By The Numbers” breakdown (You can click HERE to see my previous Friday the 13th list). As you may remember, I absolutely love horror films, though I’m particular to the slasher flicks. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me since I grew up during the genre’s heyday of the 80s. Sadly the form has died a slow painful death, being brought back occasionally with a viable remake.
But I digress. It’s the perfect time of year to discuss one of the first and most famous of the slasher flicks, John Carpenter’s Halloween. We’re also celebrating 40 years of the franchise. And finally, we’re being treated to another entry in the classic franchise, which just so happens to star the scream queen from the original. So literally there is no better time to analyze the movies.
Today I’m going to rank the eleven films in the Halloween franchise, from worst to best. My rankings are purely based on my opinion and viewing pleasure. Some I love, others I hate. Most are just there, rehashing the old tried and true, lacking any kind of originality. I will say the final rankings I thought I had, were not the same as the ones you see below. As I rewatched them, I realized I enjoyed some more than I first thought, while others had faults I had forgotten. As a side note, I have seen every one of these films more times than I can remember, except for Halloween 2018. I have only seen it once and have taken that into account with the ranking.
I’d love to hear what you, my fellow horror buffs, have to say. So please comment below with what you think of my list!
And without further ado, Halloween!
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – I hate this movie for one simple reason. There is no Michael Myers. I know it’s a very stupid reason, but it is my reason. I am also aware that John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to use the Halloween series as an anthology of stories wrapped around the holiday. Unfortunately for them everyone wanted Michael back, so this is the only one of its kind in the franchise.
I fully admit that if this film was simple titled Season of the Witch (not to be confused with George A. Romero’s film of the same name), I would like it a lot because it’s a quality film. But it’s named Halloween. And Michael Myers is still not in it, so it’s absolutely my least favorite film in the franchise.
2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – It’s hard to think there’s a film worse than this in the franchise because not only does it basically rehash the fourth film, but it also introduces other stupid played out horror tricks used underwhelming in other horror franchises. Namely Laurie Strode’s daughter from the previous film, Jamie Lloyd, is now mute and mildly telepathic. Again, not terribly original, but I guess the writers get points for combining the two in one character.
So an idiot hermit nurses Michael back to death after the town of Haddonfield shot Michael through and through, knocking him down a mine shaft. As if that weren’t enough, they retconned the ending of Halloween 4 by adding a scene where the mob throws dynamite down the mine shaft, ostensibly blowing Michael. Yeah, he slipped away to find the previously mentioned hermit. After that incredibly believable opening, it’s basically the same exact plot of the previous movie. Michael needs to kill his niece while Dr. Loomis tries to stop his arch-nemesis. Just to mix it up a bit, they added a mysterious “Man in Black” figure that isn’t explained until the next film, but apparently frees Michael from his jail cell.
It’s not a very creative movie, and we are also introduced to a new side of Dr. Loomis as he uses Jamie to lure Michael into a death trap. He definitely seems willing to sacrifice the child for another shot at his nemesis. All in all, it’s hard to watch this entry.
1 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – This is the last film in the franchise to include the whole of the storyline to date. I’m certainly not saying it makes sense, but it keeps the continuity alive from the first film. This movie never made much sense to me. Even as a kid. I found it so lackluster that I never found the need to watch the Producer’s Cut. I did revisit this film for this article, and still don’t understand why they took a coherent franchise and garbled it up with some mumbo jumbo cult as the source of Michael’s evil, the so called Thorn. Sure, why not go way back to the Druids and blame them for pure evil. Obviously as Michael gets older, the cult needs to find a new source to place this evil, so why not his grandnephew Steven. Oddly, as I write this, the story feels very similar with the likes of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). Maybe Daniel Farrands, the screenwriter of this flick, found fantastic inspiration in those other failed attempts to explain evil. Who knows. The cult fails as Michael refuses to be replaced. He wipes them out and faces Dr. Loomis one last time. Sadly the studio saw the writing on the wall that Halloween 5 sucked. But they decided to make this jumbled mess of nonsense as opposed to something good. The only reason it is ahead of it’s predecessor on this list is because they tried something. But in truth both films suck.
There are only really two interesting tidbits from this movie. It’s the first starring role for future Ant-Man, Paul Rudd. And sadly it is also the final film appearance of Donald Pleasance. I literally can’t think of anyone else who could have played Dr. Loomis with such honesty and believability. He’s the reason the franchise made it to five Michael Myers centric films. I wish the film was better as it was dedicated to him. And he deserved much better.
1 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) – This is a goofy sequel that somehow does entertain at times. It’s also the last of the reimagined sequel storyline, meaning it discounts the events of Halloween 3 through 6, but does include 1, 2, and 7. It was directed by Rick Rosenthal, who also directed the 1981 sequel. Although a 2002 release, it definitely continues the feel of a ’90s horror flick with stupid sound effects, popular music and themes of the time. Case in point, the whole movie is based around a live internet broadcast of contestants staying the night in the old Michael Myers home. I give them points for originality at the time, but it doesn’t hold up so well with all the advancements in technology. It also the first and only time Laurie Strode dies onscreen. Jamie Lee Curtis returns due to contractual obligations and quickly succumbs to her brother’s death wish in the opening sequence. They obviously retconned the ending to Halloween: H20 so that they could continue the franchise. It doesn’t make much sense, but I guess there is something to the fact they tried to explain how Michael is still alive after being decapitated. There’s a lot of goofiness, including Busta Rhymes going supreme martial artist on Michael. It’s obvious why the franchise was completely rebooted after this film.
My favorite fun fact to come out of this movie is from actress Bianca Kajlich (Rules of Engagement, Undateable) , who played Sara Moyer in the film. She was cast in a horror film as the lead “scream queen.” Ironically, Bianca could not scream, so all her terrified screams had to be dubbed in post production.
1 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween II (2009) – I really enjoy how this film starts and repurposes some of the same story from the first sequel. I was also happy to see Tyler Mane as Michael again. I thought his brutal portrayal of the killer was incredibly accurate. And selfishly, I was also happy to see more cameos from what I consider to be Rob Zombie’s go to list of actors. I have no clue if they are, but actors like Dayton Callie, Howard Hesseman, Margot Kidder, Mark Boone Junior and others just seem to be Zombie’s kind of people.
Unfortunately the film itself devolves into Rob Zombie craziness and weird supernatural visions. Michael’s motivations now come from his mom, who is coaching him from the dead. I don’t fault him for doing this, but the story struck me as a forced reason to make sure his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, would be in the story. It’s not that she’s a terrible actress or anything, it’s more that she died in the first one and really had no reason to be in this one, other than possible flashbacks. Regardless, she plays a pivotal role, which as it turns out, could be seen as a big middle finger to the studio. They really put the handcuffs on Zombie by jerking him around with director duties and releasing the film with little promotion. I remember at the time thinking that the studio obviously had to release some kind of Halloween movie in order to keep the rights. Despite that, it’s not a terrible film. Michael Myers is brutal once again. And it’s interesting to see Dr. Loomis deal with his celebrity by profiting off the misery of others. Plus we continue the storyline of Michael Myers sister, Laurie Strode. I didn’t realize until I saw the new one how much I relied on that point of motivation for all the Michael Myers films. Without it, there really is no point to what he does.
Oh yeah, it also has an appearance by Bill Fagerbakke, aka, Patrick Star from SpongeBob Squarepants. That alone makes it better.
2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween 2018 – I had high hopes for this film. I acknowledge that I’ve only seen it once opening day, but it did not live up to my expectations. The opening started pretty strong. I liked the new take. I like the idea of picking up 40 years after the first film, thus negating any of the prior storylines. The franchise obviously needed fresh ideas, and new blood so to speak. I also really liked the idea of a Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and how that affected the rest of her life. This is portrayed perfectly by her daughter Karen, (played by Judy Greer) who is just trying to live a normal life while dealing with her mom’s issues.
But dear god, the final result was not good. I lost interest about halfway through the film. It was just plain boring after the gas station scene where the podcasters are brutally dispatched. And not only was it lacking in the entertainment department, it crossed the line on the absurd. I literally had flashbacks to some of the worst horror films I have ever seen when Dr. Sartain (played by Haluk Bilginer), Dr. Loomis’s supposed great understudy, kills Officer Hawkins (played by Will Patton) so that Michael can live. The good doctor then puts on Michael’s mask and intimidates Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (played by Andi Matichak). Maybe people have mentioned they loved this twist in the film. It’s not a fucking twist, it’s lame as hell storytelling. It completely took me out of any story that had been holding my attention. From there it just became more and more predictable. I’m even more saddened that they are working on a sequel to this. But most of all, I’m devastated that this film replaces one of the greatest sequels of all time in Halloween II (1981), which of course denies the existence of Laurie Strode as Michael’s sister. That to me is a key to the franchise.
2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) – Before this film came out, the franchise was stuck in the unknown. Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis were presumably blown up after Halloween II and the idea behind Season of the Witch was not successfully received. This fourth film was originally to be a ghost story continuing the anthology idea, but people demanded the return of Michael Myers, so that’s what we got. And I have to say, we got a pretty good film out of it.
There’s no retconning or rebooting, we just pick up 10 years later with Michael comatose from his wounds and Dr. Loomis semi-retired. Michael is being transferred because he is not seen as a threat anymore. During his transfer the two ambulance drivers discuss the case, specifically Laurie Strode’s death in a car accident and her daughter, who is still alive, Jamie Lloyd. This of course awakens Michael as he learns of his niece. He causes an accident because he absolutely must be reunited with her. I say all this in jest, but at the time of the movie, it really was a pretty cool way to get Michael motivated to murder again as well as travel back to the old stomping grounds of Haddonfield. Upon his return death and destruction follows. His legacy is well known by now and people in the town are just trying to forget him. Once again, Dr. Loomis is hot on his trail once he learns of the accident and subsequent missing Michael Myers. There is a little more mystique added into the mythos of the franchise like Michael’s visiting the elementary school and utilizing Samhain to describe the evil involved with his famous patient. Donald Pleasance explains it rather nicely with his unique gravely voice. Michael also displays a little more cunning in this movie. Sure we see him outsmart cops in the previous installments, but this time around he does that as well as sneaks aboard a truck filled lynch mob wanting his head. He dispatches them and comes face to face with his niece. That was another pleasant surprise. Danielle Harris plays Jamie Lloyd incredibly well. The scene that leads to Michael’s ultimate ending (in this film) starts with a rather touching moment between Jamie and her uncle. She leans over to touch his hand and he comes back to life for the final time. It’s a different kind of sentimentality that we really haven’t seen. But it’s not meant to be as the remaining cops and lynch mob shoot Michael with every bullet Haddonfield has to offer. He falls down an abandoned mind shaft to his ultimate demise. But wait, there’s more!
I go back and forth on the final ending. They essentially replay the beginning of the original Halloween by having Jamie Lloyd, still in her
trick or treating costume, grab a pair of scissors, don the clown mask, and stab her adopted mother. Dr. Loomis runs upstairs to see the source of the commotion and realizes what has happened. He screams no and tries to shoot Jamie, but is stopped by the sheriff and Mr. Lloyd. Ostensibly the idea was for Jamie to continue the evil that Michael started. Unfortunately, as we saw with films like Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, people don’t want to substitute their evil. In this case the audience wanted Michael Myers.
3 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) – Thankfully we have the return of Laurie Strode! Now living in California. We also see an interesting thing happen to the legitimacy of the franchise. This movie discounts everything that happened after Halloween II. So in way it’s a reboot. But it keeps alive the original storyline. Kind of cool considering the first two movies are just about perfect. Unfortunately it is also the first Michael Myers movie that doesn’t have Dr. Loomis. Donald Pleasance passed away shortly after filming the sixth movie. Luckily they did not recast him. But they did use a voice actor to imitate his voice for the opening scene. That was disappointing.
As the title, and real life release date suggests, this takes place 20 years after the events of the first two. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie, now going by Keri Tate, and is joined by a pretty impressive cast that include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, and best of all, her real life mom Janet Leigh. The film is not terribly imaginative, but does have some moments of creativity, like when Michael quietly lower’s himself from a pipe as he was hiding above his sister. I still enjoy their first reunion through the door window as her son barely escapes his uncle. There are several cool easter eggs too, like when Janet Leigh, playing Laurie’s secretary, leaves for the day. Her car is the same car she had in the movie Psycho, and the license plate, NFB 418, is from the car she buys on her way to the Bates Motel. Sadly, Leigh enjoys the same fate she had in that movie. She doesn’t make it to the end.
After the old formula of run, hide, chase, stabby, stabby, we have a final confrontation with Laurie and Michael. Honestly, a surprising number of people survive in this film. But Laurie has had enough of her brother. She steals the coroner’s van holding his body and drives like a crazy woman through the hills of Southern California. Of course Michael isn’t dead. After Laurie wrecks the van, Michael gets pinned between a tree and the vehicle. Laurie tries one last time to connect with her brother. Instead he tries to grab for an axe. Laurie uses said axe to separate Michael from his head.
I do enjoy this movie, but the prevailing use of ’90s tropes gets really old. I enjoyed them when seeing it in the theater upon release, but in 2018, a lot of those gimmicks just don’t hold up. It’s mainly sounds effects used to get a jump scare as well as the heavy use of popular music of the time to portray a mood. The settings, casting, and cinematography also make more for a teen soap opera than a classic horror film at times. I never realized how reliant ’90s horror films were on these things until I started rewatching them. It sucks.
3 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween (2007) – I honestly can’t remember my first impressions of this Halloween reboot. I know there was a lot of excitement and anticipation. I’m sure I thought it was just okay. After rewatching it, I really enjoy this interpretation.
Rob Zombie, coming off his success of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, took the reigns of the franchise. His goal was to make Michael a more complete psychopath by adding in a realistic backstory. Honestly, I’m usually not a fan of explaining my evil characters, but in this case I really enjoyed it. It’s obviously a departure from what is implied in the original, but it does give an idea as to how and why Michael Myers would become the killer of Haddonfield. Daeg Faerch plays this young version of Michael and we see a very realistic relationship with him and his mom (played by Sheri Moon Zombie). As a young boy, we are introduced to the idea that Michael enjoys torturing and killing animals. We also see that Michael is bullied at home by his mom’s loser boyfriend (played by William Forsythe), and at school by Wesley (played by Daryl Sabara). He’s finally had enough and lashes out at his bullies. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes onto murder anyone who did him wrong, which is where his older sister finds her demise. She wouldn’t take him trick or treating. Instead she chose to stay home and fool around with her boyfriend. Big mistake. We are also introduced to baby Myers, conveniently named Angel. Mrs. Myers returns from her day job at a strip joint to find Michael outside the house cradling his baby sister. Not too long after, Michael finds himself living at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (played by Malcolm McDowell). It’s an interesting look behind the curtain so to speak as Michael’s early years are spent trying to help him. His mother visits him weekly. Dr. Loomis tries to get to the heart of the problem. Michael has no recollection of the murders he committed. He does, however, continue to make and live behind masks. Finally, for no reason whatsoever, Michael kills again. A nurse innocently watching him becomes his latest victim. This seems to put everything over the edge as his mom finally sees him for the monster he is and takes her own life. Michael decides to become so introverted that he doesn’t talk again. Michael’s downward spiral continues until years later when he escapes by massacring the guards at the sanitarium, as well as killing his only “friend,” a near retired janitor played by Danny Trejo.
Now that he’s free, Michael obviously wants to reconnect with his long lost baby sister. Sadly for Laurie, she has no clue of this relationship. Much of the film returns to the events of the original with Laurie babysitting while her friends ditch her to make out with boys. The main difference is the raw brutality depicted with the violence. Michael Myers, now played by Tyler Mane, is savage. He is truly a psychopath who does not know how to interact within society. He is a blunt instrument doing the only thing he knows how to do. It is a very realistic look at a very popular slasher character. And that makes him a little more scarier than he was in the originals. Perhaps one of the most interesting scenes is with this versions Annie Brackett (played by Halloween alumnus Danielle Harris). He relentless beats her to near death, but uses her to lure his sister closer. Annie lives this time around, which makes for an even more brutal downfall in the sequel.
Michael finally confronts his little sister. Their may or may not be malice behind his intentions towards her, unfortunately she doesn’t know who he is and only sees the death and destruction that follows him. Dr. Loomis is only able to stall Michael this time around as he suffers his own ass kicking at the hands of his former patient. After a couple more chases, Michael finally tackles Laurie out of a second story window, knocking them both unconscious. She wakes up first to find herself lying on top of her brother. She has Dr. Loomis’s gun. She shoots him in the face.
After rewatching this re-imaging, I thoroughly enjoyed it. More so than I remember when I saw it in the theater. This is one of those examples where my memory did not do the film justice. I like Zombie’s brutal depiction of a horror icon as well as the new backstory. I also really enjoyed seeing a lot of familiar faces from Zombie’s past movies show up in cameos, including Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook, Tom Towles, Ken Foree, and of course Sid Haig. And that’s not even counting the fantastic performances by the main cast, including Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Scout Taylor-Compton, and Danielle Harris, who returned to the franchise she helped reinvent in Halloween 4 and 5.
3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween II (1981) – There are days I would put this film as my favorite. You obviously need the first film to make this one, but it’s in this movie that we learn the whole reason for Michael’s behavior. And it’s one heck of a twist once we learn the truth. It also became such a staple in the franchise, that it’s easy to forget it was once a simple revelation in a sequel. As an audience, we find out at the same time as Dr. Loomis that Laurie Strode is Michael Myers’s sister and that’s why she is the target of his attention. It is one of the best uses of retconning as it is revealed that documents were sealed to protect Laurie’s true identity. She was put up for adoption as a baby after the deaths of her and Michael’s parents. In my opinion, it’s such a good plot twist that it makes the first film even better.
This sequel takes place immediately after the events of the first film. Laurie Strode is taken to the hospital as the community of Haddonfield discovers the massacre that has just occurred. Dr. Loomis continues his crusade to find Michael while Sheriff Bracket discovers his daughter Annie was one of the victims. It’s a pretty good description of chaos. Michael finds his way to the hospital were he continues his mayhem. Laurie, who could easily escape a man recovering from six gunshot wound under normal circumstances, is under the influence of medication and severe blood loss. The tension is high as Michael catches up with his sister. Dr. Loomis arrives in time to stop him from killer her. It’s pretty obvious this was meant to be the last installment of the Myers clan as John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote an ending that would ensure and end of two of the major characters. Dr. Loomis uses oxygen tanks to literally blow himself and Michael up. The Shape somehow survives long enough to make one last painful, fiery walk towards his sister. But he collapses and continues to smolder in front of her. Laurie is now safe to live her life without the horror of big brother.
4.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Halloween (1978) – You really can’t beat the original. And by original I mean the film itself, but truly one of the first slasher films to hit the mainstream. Nowadays it seems commonplace to have a masked dude terrorize teenagers in a small town. And the formula of targeting sinful teens has become a joke within later horror movies. But in 1978, it was all relatively new and scary. This was “Anytown, USA” and it was being attacked by someone who didn’t want to play by the unwritten rules.
Who is this someone who doesn’t want to live within societal norms, why it’s little Michael Myers of course. The boy who killed his big sister for no reason on Halloween day in 1963. Well she had just fooled around with her boyfriend, so perhaps that’s reason enough.
After years of incarceration at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium under the care of Dr. Sam Loomis (played by Donald Pleasence), he escapes. His goal is to return home in time for Halloween of course. Dr. Loomis gives pursuit, telling anyone who will listen that Michael personifies evil. There is literally no redemption to be found. Unfortunately for a shy bookworm named Laurie Strode, her dad asks her to drop off keys to the old Myer’s house because someone is interested in buying the abandoned home. As she drops of said key, she gains the attention of Michael who watches from within the house. This is literally the first interaction between the two. And at this point it is his curiosity that leads to him following her. As Michael is introduced to Laurie’s friends, he realizes they are not as wholesome as Laurie. One by one he tracks them down, sometimes immediately after being sinful, and exacts the same justice he once did on his big sister. His infatuation with his sister also continues as he steal her headstone and arranges his victims in an impressive mise en scene for Laurie to find. To her credit, Laurie perfectly happens upon the arrangement and discovers each of her murdered friends in perfect order. Again I jest, but at the time this really was new territory. The tension at finding each victim with John Carpenter’s music beautifully accentuating the darkness is pure perfection. Laurie barely escapes Michael and let’s the cat out of the bag. Being the perfect babysitter she runs back to the young children left in her care and ensures their safety. Dr. Loomis becomes aware of the chaos and runs to help. Michael again terrorized Laurie, but she fights back with several inventive weapons, like a knitting needle and a wire clothes hangar. Michael is dispatched several times, but does get some good shots to Laurie along the way. Finally Dr. Loomis arrives to shoot Michael six times. The last shot forces Michael to fall off the balcony of the two story home. He lands, apparently dead, on the grassy lawn. Dr. Loomis checks on Laurie to ensure she is okay. But when he goes to find Michael’s dead body, it is gone. The film ends showing various shots of Haddonfield overlayed with Michael’s breathing. Again, setting up sequels in horror films is an absolute must in today’s day and age. But back in 1978, sequels were not a big thing yet.
So all in all, John Carpenter and Debra Hill introduced us to a lot of new devices that would become mainstays in the horror genre for years to come. That’s why this original has to top the list.
5 out of 5 Nerdskulls
So there you have it. From start to finish, the Halloween franchise. I will admit this list will probably fluctuate over time. Case in point, I have only seen Halloween 2018 once. No clue when I’ll see it again, but it may move up or down depending. I did not like it upon first viewing, but I had high expectations and I don’t think it delivered. And of course new films will always be added to the franchise. Before rewatching all the other films, I had an idea of what this article would look like. As you can see below, several of the movies changed positions:
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers
Halloween 2 (2009)
Halloween 8: Resurrection
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Michael Myers will always be one of my favorite slasher characters. And I will continue to watch with enthusiasm every new addition that comes out. Feel free to hit us up with your list of favorites for the Halloween franchise, or let me know that this is the worst order you could possible imagine for the franchise.
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