Back in 2012, I compiled a ranking of all the Halloween films minus the Rob Zombie installments. With Michael Myers now slashing up the box office once again, I thought it’d be a great time to reconsider the list and re-rank the films with a fresh pair of eyeballs. I have since rewatched the entire franchise and caught the latest 2018 sequel, so I’m ready to shake up my original list and drop some serious truth bombs on all things Myers.
And by “all things,” I mean minus the Zombie movies again. While I respect that Zombie had a vision that was both original and specific, I can’t say I’m a big fan. If I was including them in this list, they’d no question be the bottom two, so let’s just not and say we did, K? I will, however, be including Halloween III: Season of the Witch this time, which I have since bought on Blu-ray and learned to appreciate. The horror community really embraces that one, and I think that’s mostly a good thing. So let’s get to it!
9. Halloween: Resurrection
I’ve recently gone into detail about why I intensely dislike this movie, so I’ll keep this one brief. Kudos for getting Rick Rosenthal, director of Halloween II, on board, but that wasn’t enough to save this completely silly and superfluous sequel. Halloween H20 didn’t need a follow-up and this Busta Rhymes-led movie was clunky, lame and didn’t do anything to further the legacy of Michael Myers. It’s bottom-of-the-barrel horror that I wish was never made.
8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Halloween 6, AKA, the one with Paul Rudd. I finally bought a copy of the Producer’s Cut of this movie hoping it would better its spot in the ranking. Instead, I’m dropping it lower. Curse is confused. It has no idea what story it wants to tell and no clue what tone it’s going for. The Producer’s Cut is just as messy, but a different kind of mess. It swaps out the gore and brutality of the Theatrical Cut for more backstory on the Cult of Thorns. Explaining Michael’s evil by wrapping it up as the product of a cult? It slaps every single film that came before it right across the face. I don’t even know how this one could be salvaged. It seems between the producers and the studio and the director, there were just too many cooks.
7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Continuing the story of Laurie Strode’s daughter Jamie (Danielle Harris), Halloween 5 is too similar and basically a knock-off rush job of 4. Jamie’s foster sister Rachel is killed far too soon, and while it has some decent suspense, it gets minus points for the character Tina being such a snooze. Also, that ending!? No, thanks. If I want to rewatch any installment of the Jamie Lloyd saga, 5 isn’t my go-to. Also, I find all mask debates to be pretty tiresome, but come on. It’s not the best lewk for Mikey.
6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Halloween III is a charming side-step from the Myers tale and a risky choice considering the successes of the first two movies. Though it left audiences rather confused in the early ’80s, it’s a fun movie that doles out a creepy Halloween story on its own terms. That Silver Shamrock commercial will burn itself into your brain for the rest of your God-given life. Although I’ve grown fond of it over time, I can’t in good faith place it ahead of this list’s Top 5.
5. Halloween II
A direct sequel to the events of the original, Halloween II takes place on the very same night of October 31,1978. Michael is still in pursuit of Laurie Strode, who is now revealed to be his sister, a glaring narrative mistake as we all now know. Laurie is relocated to a hospital giving Michael plenty of forgettable new bodies to cut down. Though the body count is higher and gorier, it’s not as urgent or tight as its predecessor. I used to place this one much higher, but under closer consideration, it’s fallen in the ranks for me. Plus, the movie doesn’t give Jamie Lee Curtis much to work with at all besides a really terrible wig.
4. Halloween H20
Good ol’ 9021H20. Yes, H20 sort of plays like a Halloween-themed episode of Dawson’s Creek at times, but I loved Curtis’ return as Laurie Strode, a trauma survivor who changed her name and started a new life to escape the clutches of Michael once and for all. There are some great chase sequences (the knife through the gate bit, in particular) and a phenomenal ending that should’ve been the end of this particular timeline. It skews a little too close to the other fare Dimension Films was producing at the time, but I dug all of that too, #sorrynotsorry. It’ll never crack the Top 3, but H20 secures a comfortable fourth spot for me.
3. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
No Halloween sequel is free from criticism and Halloween 4 gets no special treatment. If anyone out there has a bone to pick with my countdown, it’s probably the fact that I’m placing 4 above 2. And I get it. But not only did it introduce us to the Scream-Queen-in-the-Making Danielle Harris, but shit always gets crazy when a small child is involved. Watching a masked serial killer chase down an eight year old adds an extra layer of terror and suspense. Ellie Cornell, who played Rachel Carruthers, is a huge plus as well. The movie is fast-paced, giving us a real sense of the danger that Rachel and Jamie face. Again, the mask is a bit odd and it runs into some pretty obvious slasher tropes, but hey, it’s all part of the fun of being a horror fan.
2. Halloween (2018)
I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Forty years later, Curtis is back as Laurie in a movie that retcons all the other sequels that came before it. Laurie proves that she’s a survivor, though she also shows signs of PTSD that greatly affected her life since we last saw her in 1978. Director David Gordon Green is incredibly respectful of the source material, often taking cues from the legendary John Carpenter who paved the way. It’s a blast of a film that feels fresh, while winking backwards in time at the classicism of the original. It’s the sequel we all deserve after so many years. (Read TLW’s review here.)
1. Halloween (1978)
In this case, the original takes the cake. Halloween mainstreamed the slasher film and was a true inspiration to so many movies that came after it. John Carpenter’s chilling score…Michael’s terrifying debut…it’s all so very perfect. Fans of Leatherface, Norman Bates and Black Christmas can leave their complaints in the comments section – Halloween is the true Granddaddy of the slasher film, bringing the horror genre in an entirely different direction. It even introduced us to Jamie Lee Curtis, who went on to star in plenty of other excellent 70’s/80’s horror movies such as Terror Train, The Fog and Prom Night. Yasss, (Scream) Kween.