“I met him, 15 years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding in even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong.”
John Carpenter’s Halloween was released 45 years ago today, and with All Hallow’s Ever right around the corner, what better time to take a look back at one of the most popular and iconic horror franchises out there?
Though we’re sure Michael Myers will return at some point (there’s already talk of a small-screen reboot), last year’s Halloween Ends was marketed as the conclusion of the long-running film series. So, to celebrate the spooky season, we’re ranking all 13 entries from worst to best.
Though Halloween 2018 (wisely?) ignored all but Carpenter’s classic, there actually were a few bright spots among the various sequels, reboots and re-imaginings over the years – including one installment that didn’t even feature “The Boogeyman.”
Below, we take a closer look at every one of ‘em, starting with the absolute worst of the worst.
Quite a few of the movies on this list have at least some redeeming qualities, but it’s hard to think of any positives when it comes to the eighth installment in the Halloween franchise, Resurrection.
Even putting aside how badly made, written and acted it is, the film kills off Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) within the first few minutes, and then hilariously attempts to bring Myers into the modern age by making his childhood home the setting for a live internet horror show.
That fact that Busta Rhymes roundhouse kicking Michael Myers in the head is the most memorable thing about this nonsense says it all.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Looked at as a guilty pleasure by some fans, Halloween 6 is far too messy and incoherent to score a higher place on this list. A Producer’s Cut of the movie was released back in 2014, but that did little to restore any sense to the plot, which introduces an ancient Celtic curse as the driving force behind Myers’ rampages.
Notable only for Donald Pleasence’s final turn as Dr. Loomis before he died during production and a very young Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle, The Curse of Michael Myers isn’t even gory enough to sit through for some cheap thrills.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Honestly, there wasn’t much between this and Resurrection, but at least Halloween 5 had the sense to bring Danielle Harris back as Jamie – even if they do make her mute for most of the running time.
The Revenge of Michael Myers is just a bonkers movie… and not in a good way. From slapstick cops with comedic music to a batshit crazy Loomis and a mysterious Man in Black busting Myers out of prison, this succeeds in undoing everything that was good about the largely underrated Halloween 4.
Oh yeah, and at one point, Michael Myers, aka The Shape, aka evil on two legs, weeps.
H2: Halloween II (2009)
For many, Rob Zombie’s second Halloween movie was a vast improvement over the first, but while there are a few kernels of interesting ideas splattered around the bloodshed, it falls short for several reasons.
The filmmaker ups the gore quota and does at least attempt to delve deeper into the fractured psyche of both Michael and his sister Laurie, but the ham-fisted dialogue and rather silly imagery bog the movie down to the point that it becomes little more than a brutally violent slog.
Zombie also cynically commits character assassination on Samuel Loomis, who was depicted as a far more selfless and heroic figure in the previous movie.
Rob Zombie probably shouldn’t have gone near Halloween, but he did, and the results were… nowhere near as bad as they could have been.
Granted, the monumentally ill-advised decision to give Michael Myers a backstory complete with Zombie’s trademark depravity and woefully unsubtle scumbag characters plays out about as tediously as you’d imagine, but once little Mikey grows up and Laurie Strode (a very impressive Taylor Scout Compton) is introduced, it becomes a pretty effective – if still completely pointless – remake with several memorable slasher scares and brutal kills.
Halloween Kills proved to be highly divisive, and it’s easy to see why. Though the movie does feature some downright twisted kills and strong performances from Curtis, Greer and Matichak, it ends up having more in common with the sequels on this list that have now been ret-conned out of existence than the iconic original.
Kills has its moments, and manages to showcase the sheer brutality of Michael Myers before his inevitable final confrontation with Laurie Strode in Ends, but the subplot involving Tommy Doyle, Lindsey Wallace and their support group attempting to hunt down their Boogeyman is laughably mishandled (“evil dies tonight!”).
Not the disaster some paint it as, but Kills does have to be considered a disappointing instalment after the promise of the last film.
Some of you will no doubt be shocked to see Halloween Ends ranked so high, but despite the many missteps David Gordon Green and his fellow writers make with this final chapter in the revival trilogy, the fact that they at least made some attempt to subvert expectation and try something a little different does go a long way – even if the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
The decision to sideline Myers and focus on a new killer, Corey Cunningham, meant a lot of people wrote the movie off before giving it a proper chance, but the idea does work to some extent – although mileage will vary when it comes to the suggestion that Myers supernaturally influences Corey to commit murder.
All-in-all, a more interesting film than many give it credit for. If you’ve only seen it once, give it another go this Halloween – you might be surprised by how much you don’t hate it after a second watch.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
How can the Halloween movie without Michael Myers rank so high on this list? Well, because it’s still a pretty damn good little horror flick.
Season of the Witch was originally envisioned as a re-imagining of the franchise as an anthology, but fan outcry forced the studio to bring Myers back for the fourth installment. Because of this, SOTW is often ignored, but there’s a lot to like in this very odd, often unsettling tale of killer masks, ancient Celtic festivals and… robots? Yep, robots.
If you’ve never seen it, give it a shot.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
The Shape returned for the fourth Halloween movie, which is probably quite a bit better than you remember.
Though it never gets near Carpenter’s original – or its follow-up, for that matter – TROMM still has some genuine moments of tension, thanks in no small part to a terrific debut performance from young Danielle Harris as Michael’s niece, Jamie.
Plus, the ending still remains among the most shocking of the entire franchise.
Halloween II (1981)
The follow-up to the first Halloween was not helmed by John Carpenter (and it shows), but the horror maestro did produce and co-write the script, so it does at least bear his fingerprints to a degree.
Picking up directly where the original left off, we follow Myers on a killing spree through the hospital where Laurie is being treated, with Loomis hot on his trail.
It’s a solid slasher with a lot more blood than its relatively restrained predecessor, but first-time director Rick Rosenthal doesn’t quite capture the atmosphere or dread that comes so effortlessly to Carpenter, and you’ll likely feel a sense of déjà vu before the credits roll.
The highly-underrated seventh entry in the series brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and was supposed to serve as the final nail in Michael Myers’ coffin until his wretched Resurrection.
David Gordon Green and Danny McBride may never admit it, but they clearly took inspiration from the premise of H2O for their revival, even if the execution of the story plays out (a little) differently.
The movie is far from perfect (there’s the usual irritating cannon fodder and Myers’ mask is appallingly, laughably awful), but overall, it’s a terrific entry in the franchise, and is worth watching for Laurie’s final stand against her murderous brother alone.
Because the follow-ups are generally viewed as sub-par, it might be easy to forget just how good Green’s first Halloween movie really is.
There are problems (the Dr. Sartain twist is silly and a lot of the humor falls flat), but overall, Halloween 2018 comes the closest to replicating the atmosphere of the original while also serving as a satisfying continuation (that really should have been a conclusion) to Laurie Strode and Michael Myers’ twisted story.
Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent, and she’s backed up by a solid supporting cast which includes the always watchable Judy Greer and newcomer Andi Matichak as Laurie’s granddaughter.
Tense, gory, funny, even moving at times, it’s difficult to imagine any fans of the franchise being disappointed.
As great as Halloween 2018 is, it was never going to touch the original!
What can one say about John Carpenter’s master-class in suspense that hasn’t been said already? The movie may have dated a little in some respects, but it still retains its power to unsettle, unnerve and downright terrify at times.
There’s an atmosphere of dread that pervades Halloween that has arguably yet to be matched by any modern-day horror film, with Carpenter’s iconic score doing a lot of the heavy lifting.
Do yourself a favor and dim the lights, stick the jack o’ lantern on the fireplace, and revisit a true classic this weekend.