43 Years Of ‘Halloween’ Ranked

With the latest Halloween Kills reportedly heading toward the $100 million mark, I’m looking at all the Halloween movies and ranking them. I’m also including the third one as well as will be give away some spoilers. The list is going worst to first.

Halloween II (2009) – Rob Zombie’s follow-up to his 2007 remake is just pure garbage. There is nothing here but senseless overkill and obnoxious characters screaming “fuck” whenever the plot stalls. It’s been reported that Zombie only made the movie because he didn’t want Bob and Harvey Weinstein to ruin his vision. They then rushed it into production in the winter of 2009 and shorted Zombie two months of post-production releasing it in August rather than the more appropriate October.

Every character is this movie is deplorable especially the two characters we’re supposed to care about the most. Scout-Taylor Compton portrays Laurie Strode in a disgusting form that I didn’t care for her at all. Her hair is nappy and she looks like a skank with a tramp stamp. And Malcolm McDowell, who was good in the first one, comes off as a narcissistic jerk on a book tour making money off the people killed. Worse, Zombie has to throw in Sherri Moon Zombie, whose character died in the first one, as some spiritual character who appears with a white horse in dream sequences of whatever.

Thankfully, this movie was such as disaster that neither the Weinsteins nor the Zombies were allowed anywhere near the franchise again.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) – The above sentence applies especially to this movie. At the end of Halloween H20, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) thinks she has chopped the head off of Michael Myers. Nope. It was some paramedic who arrived at the crime scene that Michael crushed his throat and put the mask and coveralls on him. Laurie has gone mad as Michael has escaped and follows her to a mental hospital where he kills her. Considering the whole premise of the franchise has been based on Michael wanting to kill his family members, the movie should’ve ended after 15 minutes, right?

No, Michael just returns to his childhood home in Haddonfield, Ill. to live happily ever after, but there is a reality TV show livestreaming on the Internet. The cast includes Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks as the ones behind the show and Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sean Patrick Thomas and Katee Sackhoff as college students and potential victims of Michael. There’s also some kids watching the livestream who surprisingly survive.

But this is really a cash grab to keep the franchise alive and like the 2009 Halloween II, it fails miserably and should be easily forgotten.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) – There is only one good thing about this movie. We were introduced to Paul Rudd, who like Michael Myers seems to be immortal. This movie production was cursed itself as it reportedly chopped up, reshot and re-edited to include more graphic violence and an ending that doesn’t even make sense David Lynch is probably scratching his head.

It’s supposed to be the end of the “Thorn Trilogy” or the “Jamie Lloyd Trilogy” even though Jamie is killed within the first 15 minutes or so. Rudd is playing Tommy Doyle, all grown up and paranoid. He lives in a boarding house across from the Myers house in which relatives of Laurie Strode live because they haven’t been able to sell it. Bradford English plays an obnoxious angry hateful person you’re actually glad Michael kills him off so early. But Kara (Marianne Hagan) is Laurie’s cousin or something. I’m not really sure, and she has a son, Danny (Devin Gardner) who is 6 and is targeted by Michael. We finally learn who the Man in Black is from the previous movie and it follows the Law of the Most Extraneous Character. Donald Pleasence in his final role as Dr. Samuel Loomis looks tired and can barely get through his role.

There’s some plot about the Druids and a ritual leading to Michael’s immortality. I’m referring to the theatrical version. I know a producer’s cut was released on DVD several years ago and I haven’t seen it. Kim Darby appears in a supporting role and it was her first one since Teen Wolf Too. She had once appeared with John Wayne in True Grit. I hope she fired her agent after this movie.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) – Picking up one year after where the last one left off, Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is in a children’s clinic and gone mute. Michael Myers himself after being hit with more gunfire than Sonny Corleone is able to fall down a mine shaft and shack up with a hermit who cares for him while he’s in a coma for a year. Jamie is having nightmares as she is able to have clairvoyance to detect what he’s up to.

The plot just follows the same as it introduces some new horny one-dimensional teenagers played by actors in their 20s who are quickly picked off and killed. We see the introduction of the mysterious Man in Black, an ominous figure who walks around Haddonfield. There’s not much thrills or originality here. Since it is a Halloween movie, they have to follow a tradition of killing off a female character who survived the previous movie rather early. Rachel Carruthers (Ellie Cornell) who is Jamie’s adopted sister (not step-sister as they say) is killed off within the first third of the movie.

Michael does wear another mask for a brief part. I heard it was supposed to be a Ronald Reagan mask but they changed it at the last minute out of fear of making the movie political.

Halloween (2007) – Rob Zombie made a great horror movie with The Devil’s Rejects, so I was curious to see what his take on the movie would be, even though I was expected the worse. While McDowell does a good job as Dr. Sam Loomis, the rest of the cast leaves a lot to be desired and it’s mostly stunt casting considering that many of them appeared in Zombie’s previous movies.

Danny Trejo, William Forsythe, Sherri, Leslie Easterbrook, Ken Foree, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, and Sig Haig, who all appeared in Zombie’s previous movies, pop up for one scene or two before most of them are killed by Michael, playing as a hulking madman by Tyler Mane. While the plot follows the basic premise of the 1978 original, there is way too much backstory featuring Daeg Faerch as the younger Michael.

When Michael escapes, he never does seem to the be the foreboding boogeyman John Carpenter and Debra Hill made him out to be. Instead, he seems to kill everyone who comes within a five-foot radius of him with no reason. Zombie reportedly didn’t have a good experience working with the Weinsteins and was ready to put this behind him, but I don’t know if anything could’ve helped this movie.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) – Despite a popular myth, this movie had been hopping around for a few years until the success of Scream fast-tracked it. Robert Zappia had been shopping around a script before the Weinsteins got Kevin Williamson to work on it, brining back Laurie and Curtis after many years. While it’s nice to see Curtis after a series of career highs and lows return to her horror movie roots, the movie looks the same as many other horror movies in the late 1990s starring actors from the WB Channel.

You can’t make a slasher movie without teenagers and while Josh Hartnett (with awful bedhead) and Michelle Williams are top pedigree actors compared to the other actors in the franchise, the movie is much ado about nothing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt pops up in a small role only to be killed but the middle part of the movie is boring. Curtis said the movie was rewritten as it was supposed to focus on Laurie’s post-traumatic stress disorder and how she’s become an alcoholic. But a lot of stuff was left out and she said she did it for money. It’s the shortest Halloween movie and it feels like it was rushed to be released so they could capitalize on the 20th anniversary, hence the title.

In the end, the movie is a big let down. It needed to be longer. It needed to have more fleshed out characters. They also shouldn’t have retconned the Thorn Trilogy but I think they were afraid of making Laurie not as sympathetic if she faked her own death and left Jamie with other people only to have a son later.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – Making an anthology out of a franchise would probably work today if you cast the same actors the way the American Horror Story series does. It was supposed to be this way, a yearly or whatever series of Halloween movies focusing on original story ideas. With the slasher story fulfilled with Michael Myers, Tommy Lee Wallace, who worked on the first Halloween, wrote and directed a movie about a Celtic cult working under the guise of a corporation to kill people with popular masks.

The plot is more of a detective story as Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin go to a northern California town to investigate some deaths they’re connected to, only to discover Conal Cochran (Daniel O’Herlihy), the head of Silver Shamrock is actually involved in witchcraft and using the popular masks to cause young kids’ head to collapse triggered by a popular flashing lights commercial. People either love this or hate it and it’s popularity as a cult classic has grown over the years. While it does provide some thrills, there’s no Michael Myers or Laurie Strode except on TV screens that people watch.

Halloween (2018) – This movie could’ve been better had it not seemed like a middle finger to previous movies. David Gordon Green and Danny McBride revived the franchise along with producer Jason Blum. Retconning every other Halloween movie, the movie picks up 40 years after the events of the first one. Laurie is again struggling with alcohol. But rather than rebuild her life under a new identity, she has gone full Sarah Connor and lives on a compound on the outskirts of Haddonfield and has an armory that would make any NRA member proud.

Michael, now in his 60s, is due to be transferred from Smith’s Grove to a more maximum security hospital but escapes and returns to Haddonfield and you guessed it, he goes on a killing spree again. Now, we’re introduced to Laurie’s daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). While it does have some good Easter eggs and the production is better, like Halloween H20, it should’ve been better.

Halloween Kills (2021) – The recently released sequel to the 2018 version picks up where it left off and focuses on how the effects of Michael Myers has affected the rest of Haddonfield. I like the change of not just focusing on Laurie or her family. Other people were terrorized by Michael Myers. Anthony Michael Hall plays Tommy as a middle-aged man who organizes vigilante groups to help law enforcement track him down. Kyle Richards reprises her role as Lindsey Wallace and Nancy Stephens is alive again as Marian.

Curtis may have top billing but she is in more of a supporting role as the movie also focuses on Deputy Frank Hawkins (Will Patton) who helped arrest and capture Michael in 1978 and the guilt and trauma he’s been suffering. As I wrote about in a previous post, the way the movie gives us character going wild on misinformation seems topical, the story goes in a different way than what we’ve seen before.

The movie has already raised controversy with Michael killing a same-sex couple as well as a scene involving first responders. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first and only time Michael Myers kills someone by gunfire even though he doesn’t wield a firearm himself. There’s reports that Halloween Ends is already in the works so hopefully the people of Haddonfield got the memo that Myers can’t be killed by conventional weapons.

Halloween II (1981) – Again like the above mentioned movie, this one immediately picks up where we left out and Laurie is taken to a hospital where she spins most of the time lying in a hospital bed in a hospital that is surprisingly mostly empty. There were some continuity problems as Carpenter was brought in to film some extra scenes to add some violence. This leads to one of the biggest flubs where Sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) hears about the murdered people from the previous movie with one of them his daughter, but earlier, we hear a news report within minutes of the end of the first one about the same thing.

Michael follows Laurie to the hospital where he stalks the staff, killing them off one by one. The staff appear in a few scenes before they are picked off. At the same time, Dr. Loomis is having to deal with the politics behind the escape of Michael leading to a confrontation with him at the hospital. This was supposed to end the storyline and I don’t know how anyone can survive being in a hospital room that explodes due to the oxygen being released, but somehow Loomis and Michael both survived with minimum scarring.

The emptiness of the hospital does add to the horror as it becomes almost a haunted house story. I remember an old hospital in the town where I went to college that reminded me of it. Carpenter and Hill wrote the screenplay while Rick Rosenthal directed. I don’t know if their script was weaker or Rosenthal just didn’t have the touch, but it’s an inferior follow-up to the classic. Yet, it’s far better than much of the sequels that followed.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) – By the end of the 1980s, slasher movies were all but gone reduced to cheap theaters and straight to video. Even the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies were losing steam. But as long as there’s still a little bit of juice left in a genre, you milk it until it runs dry. Moustapha Akkad who had bought the rights from Carpenter and Hill actually produced a very well lower budget movie.

Set 10 years after the events of the first two movies, we’re introduced to Jamie, Laurie’s daughter, played by the very cute and adorable Harris in her her first movie role. She also has a nice set of lungs on her for being so young at the time. Again, Michael is being transferred back to Smith Grove after spending years in a coma at a mental hospital and yes he escapes again. This time, he’s stalking Jamie and anyone in between them.

Director Dwight Little and writer Alan B. McElroy actually do a good job here. And this was the first Halloween movie I ever saw. They know the material and just like in Halloween Kills, a vigilante mob forms to track down Michael. It’s hard to believe now but back in 1988, it was possible to be in trouble with the long-distance phone lines were down and police departments weren’t as militarized so Michael with his super strength do away with the force easier.

The movie also does have a final scary ending in which Jamie possessed by the spirit of Michael attacks her adoptive mother and leaves everyone else frightened. The movie would forever immortalize Harris as a scream queen for many movies and years to come.

Halloween (1978) – The original is still and by far the best of the franchise and a template of the slasher horror genre. Originally conceived as a cheap exploitation horror movie, Carpenter and Hill were able to tap into the terror of America at that time. By 1978, America was trying to return back to his false Normal Rockwell ideals after the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. The suburbs and small-towns of America were seen more as solace but also as a shelter for refuge. But no on is safe.

Carpenter and Hill were able to make what would be a cheap drive-in theater movie into a horror classic with cinema and camera techniques that today still are amazing. Nick Castle who played the Shape gave one of the best silent performances as a creature on a mission of violence. In many way, Michael or the Shape is the personification of the lurking horrors in all towns. I’ve often said the scariest moment is when Laurie seeks help from a neighbor but doesn’t get it. Like I said, suburbia was supposed to be the haven as opposed to the crime-ridden urban metropolitan areas. But people are just not wanting to get involved. Out of sight means out of mind.

It’s a scary movie that is still terrorizing now more than it was 43 years ago. There are many Michael Myers out there, ready to snap at any time. People go on killing sprees almost every week nowadays. While some of us are Dr. Loomis telling everyone of the lurking terror, everyone else is just calling us paranoid. And unfortunately, it takes more deaths for people to finally listen to them. I’ll probably do a more in-depth post over the weekend.

What’s your favorite Halloween movie? Do you agree with my rankings? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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