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Ranking the Halloween Franchise
It's time to rank the Halloween 13.
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The Halloween movies make up my favorite horror franchise.
I watched them young, way before I should've been watching movies like that. And they've stuck with me ever since.
With the conclusion of the latest Halloween saga hitting theaters last week, now is a great time to rewatch and rank them all.
Find my ranking below. And feel free to disagree with me in the comments.
13. Halloween Ends (2022)
I said this before in our review of The Batman, but I'm really tired of filmmakers/studios/whatever taking properties that mean something to me (and maybe you) and just doing whatever they want with it because they already got my money.
There are Halloween entries that I'm not crazy about, but overall I like these movies. Sure, I could do without Busta Rhymes, but I'll take it. Starting over four times? It's what slasher series do, I guess. I'm not the biggest fan of the Rob Zombie timeline, but at least he likes the same things about Michael Myers we all like: the presence of pure evil, the iconography, the rules of the game. I'm not sure that David Gordon Green and company like those things about these movies. In fact, I'm really not sure if they like these movies at all. So unfortunately, I just don't like their movies. And this is the worst of the bunch - largely because they ignore all of the things that make these movies great. Like, ya know, Michael Myers.
12. Halloween Kills (2021)
This is like Halloween fan fiction. And steals a shocking amount from the fifth and sixth entries in the franchise.
It only beats out Ends because at least it has Michael doing what he does best.
11. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Halloween: Resurrection was supposed to be a standalone Michael Myers story until it was attached to H20 during the development process. That's iffy for two reasons:
1 - H20 is a really great legacy-sequel (spoilers for this ranked list) that ended it all. Michael was literally decapitated. Series over.
2 - Michael doesn't work in standalone movies in the same way that Jason or Freddy does. He is after specific people and will take down anyone in his way. Sure, maybe he'll have some fun here or there, but he doesn't just haunt - he hunts.
So this sequel never stood a chance on paper and the execution didn't do them any favors.
10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Michael as the symbol of a druid cult conspiracy.
Paul Rudd as an incel.
The unfair demise to the beloved Jamie character.
Two very clearly different-heighted men playing Michael.
The graceless memorial to Donald Pleasance.
No, even the Producer's Cut can't even save this one.
9. Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Halloween IV gives us the second-best ending in the entire franchise, with young Jamie carrying the torch and becoming the family's new killer.
Halloween V says...sike! That didn't actually happen the way you thought it did!
It could have gone down a great path, but instead just decided to give us another forgettable entry. It does at least give us Donald Pleasance's most unhinged performance, which is saying something.
8. Halloween II (2009)
7. Halloween (2007)
I would like to make it clear that I like Rob Zombie's movies. His version of The Munsters got an unreasonable amount of hate. House of 1000 Corpses is one of my favorite horror movies. I like his stuff.
But he wanted to make Halloween his own thing. John Carpenter told him to make it his own thing. And that's fine. But this is my personal ranking and even though I like Zombie's stuff (and unlike David Gordon Green, you can tell he actually likes the original series), his version is so unlike that series that I love so much. They're ultraviolent, they care about Michael's evil more than anything else, they're heavy metal through and through. That's fine, it's just not at all the original style.
I get the whole Rob Zombie makes Hollywood budget films with new millennium sensibilities that are spiritually just 70s small indie flicks but Halloween was literally made in 1978 on a budget of twelve dollars in rolls of nickels.
6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Just like many Halloween fans, I dismissed Season of the Witch at first glance. And at first watch. It kinda feels like a chore for Michael Myers fans to check it off the watchlist.
If that's you, I think you should give it another shot. The idea of making a series about Halloween an anthology series, using that night of tricks and treats to tell any kind of story is a good idea. Michael Myers is better.
This sci-fi heavy flick about evil corporations, brain-washing Halloween masks, and too many Tom Atkins sex scenes, is plenty scary. But if you were to compare ice cream flavors and had to include one frozen yogurt flavor, you could only place it so high because it's just not the same. Season of the Witch is frozen yogurt.
5. Halloween (2018)
This is the only entry of the new trilogy worth its salt. It is a perfectly-fine standalone sequel, with enough homage to the original and worthwhile lega-sequel decision-making - and that competency lands it a decent spot on this list.
However, the follow-ups in 2021 and 2022 just made this one look worse and worse - a guilty-by-association example. Decisions that were made in this first entry regarding Michael, Laurie, Haddonfield, and the entire Halloween universe were solid ideas, but then tainted by going too far, jumping the shark, or changing their minds later on. That's not this movie's fault, but it does make you second-guess some of this movie's ideas.
4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
When you watch the new Halloween trilogy (I promise this is the last time I'll bash those movies...wait...that's not true, allow me one more later), you can't help but ask questions like: Laurie Strode, the nerdy girl from school, is supposed to be a KILLING MACHINE? Wait, why does Laurie even STILL LIVE IN HADDONFIELD?
These are basic things that don't make any sense.
H20 makes all the right decisions when it comes to where Laurie would be twenty years later. She doesn't still live in Haddonfield, she changed her name and moved to California. She's still a nerd, as now she's the headmistress of a private school. These are logical next steps for her character.
And then Michael finds her anyway.
On top of just respecting the franchise (well, it retcons some stuff, but what else are you supposed to do when you can bring back Jamie Lee Curtis?), it's also just a solid slasher film. Fun kills, lasting images, legitimate suspense. It's just a good movie on top of being a good Halloween movie.
3. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
I think that Halloween 4 is a good slasher movie - which is more than you can say about most entries in the franchise.
I also think it's a good Halloween movie - I, like most fans, like Danielle Harris' young Jamie, Michael's new niece. Donald Pleasance is taking Loomis into full camp territory. Ellie Cornell as Rachel is a great final girl. And director Dwight H. Little does a lot with a little, keeping the vibes from the first two entries without making it seem forced.
It is a good, rewatchable movie.
But it is catapulted to top three status in my eyes thanks to the final few minutes. Yes, that controversial twist ending that most fans (and Halloween 5) hate, but I love. Michael is dead, but his need to kill is transported to young Jamie, who immediately goes and kills her mother, all while donning a clown costume, an homage to the original.
Evil doesn't die tonight. It can never really die. I think that’s what they were going for in Halloween Kills - right?
2. Halloween II (1981)
When I think of Halloween (1978), I think of Halloween II every single time. That's how much I like this sequel - I think of it as one long movie. Two parts that make up a whole.
As Laurie Strode finds herself in the hospital following the attack, Michael heads through Haddonfield to track her down. Along the way, Dr. Loomis scours the city in search of his patient. Picking up immediately where the first film lets off, it's just more of that movie's fun! From the hot tub attack to the fiery explosion of not-Michael to the discovery that Laurie and her attacker are related - I love it all. It's all a part of my personal Halloween lore. This movie is awesome and actually happened and no other timeline can convince me otherwise.
1. Halloween (1978)
The following is from my 2021 piece Free Films You Can Stream This Halloween:
Halloween is so special because it was so groundbreaking. It played such a large part in creating the slasher genre as we know it today. If you’ve grown up on a steady diet of modern-day slashers, Halloween might seem tame to you. In this original flick, Michael Myers only kills five people. Compare that to the Halloween Kills - which has a kill count that reaches 25.
But that simplicity is a part of its charm. Maybe it won’t scare the pants off of a modern-day audience, but it will create the perfect spooky season vibe: the iconic score, inventive slashings, and impressive low-budget filmmaking will all contribute to that classic fall feeling you’re looking for this October.
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