The long running Halloween franchise has just reached its 12th instalment with Halloween Kills. The series had humble beginnings with the low budget John Carpenter directed original film, focusing on a silent killer escaping from a mental institution returning to his hometown to kill once again. It was a massive hit upon its release, but also had a tremendous effect on the horror genre on the whole, leading to countless imitators.
It would also lead to the creation of one of the biggest horror franchises, with a series full of sequels, reboots and remakes. With the release of Halloween Kills, I wanted to rank these movies from worst to best.
12. Halloween: Resurrection
Halloween: Resurrection is generally known universally as the worst Halloween movie, and for very good reason. Halloween H20: 20 Years Ago brought back the Halloween series with a reboot of sorts, but it seemed to have been in vain given what Resurrection did right afterwards. The bad signs already started when the film kills off the lead character of Laurie Strode right at the beginning, and it just felt like a lazy way of dealing with that loose end and so they could have Michael Myers killing random teenagers in the main plot. The film’s problems don’t end with that opening, with the rest of the movie being a 70 minute reality TV movie that felt like a parody without being a parody. The story choices are misguided at best, and having the plot be a reality show set inside the Myers house where college students are sent in and Michael Myers kills them just didn’t make for a particularly good plot. It feels incredibly dated, it has aged poorly especially with the found footage camera gimmicks, as well as the typical horror tropes and cliches. The characters are really dumb and impossible to care about, even the bad dialogue is worse than usual for the series. By the end you are rooting for Michael Myers, which would be fine if that was the intent of the movie but it’s very much not the case.
One good thing about Halloween Resurrection is that it is entertaining at least. There are ridiculous moments, including Busta Rhymes in a Michael Myers costume and mask verbally tearing into the real Myers to his face, and Busta Rhymes defeating Michael Myers with kung fu and some electricity to the crotch. There are even some surprisingly decent technical aspects, with the production design of the main house being appropriately worn down and gritty, it’s generally well shot, and the attempts of suspense at least work better than Halloween H20. Even the score here is among the better Halloween scores in the series. Unfortunately, these few alright aspects aren’t enough to make up for the rest of the movie, and the completely silly choices aren’t enough to make it a “so bad it’s good” movie. These ridiculous moments are sprinkled throughout, but for the most part it’s a dull, occasionally annoying and just all-around bad horror movie. Even as someone who generally enjoys these movies, I can really only recommend this movie to Halloween completionists and very curious people.
11. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Halloween: Resurrection may be worse than Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, but at least Resurrection had some entertainment factor to it, on the whole I dislike watching 5 more. Its previous movie Halloween 4 wasn’t that good but it ended well with some potential for the sequel. Halloween 5 however doesn’t take advantage of that potential, and it’s also bad by its own standards. The cliff-hanger of 4 is retconned in some ludicrous way and instead introduces some weird psychic connection between Michael Myers and lead character Jamie Lloyd, a connection which isn’t really explained at all. Not only that, Halloween 5 is pretty much just a worse version of the previous movie, and is just a generic slasher movie. The story isn’t interesting at all, not helped by the rather slow pace. The characters mostly range from dull to obnoxious, and unfortunately the film focuses way too much attention on the annoying horror movie characters that are already positioned to be killed off, getting twice the screentime that they would normally receive. The direction of the movie wasn’t that good either, the kill scenes are fine but not memorable, it’s not very scary, and the attempts at being atmospheric don’t work.
There are only a few parts I liked, and even some of those aspects are flawed. The acting is good from the leads, Danielle Harris is once again good as Jamie Lloyd but in this movie is reduced to being mute, having convulsions, and having visions about Michael Myers. Donald Pleasence is good as always but his character of Dr. Loomis in this movie is a raving madman most of the time he’s on screen, and he’s hard to like. Aside from that, there is a scene involving a laundry chute in the last act, which is genuinely good and tense, and was the highlight of the whole film. Sadly the small bright spots can’t make up for the rest of the movie. By the end, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers just feels like a 90-minute long trailer for Halloween 6. Definitely one of the worst movies in the series and the one that I would least like to revisit, and that’s saying a lot.
10. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (Producer’s Cut)
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers is often regarded as one of the worst movies in the series, and while it’s certainly on the lower end of the franchise, I don’t dislike it nearly as much as some other people do. I watched the Producer’s Cut, and while I heard this and the Theatrical Cut differ, I don’t think I would like one much more than the other. It clearly went through issues during filming, with reshoots, rewrites and changes, and with no one on the same page. Those certainly comes across in the final movie, it really does feel like a mess throughout. This is the movie that culminates everything that was set up throughout Halloween 5 with the hints of the Cult of Thorn that play a major part in this 6th movie. The plot starts out somewhat interesting as it’s a bit different than what we are expecting, but it’s a mess by the end. There are plenty of exposition dumps and the more you think about the overall story, the less it makes sense. It’s a very weird movie from the use of runes and telepathy, to the fact that there’s a cult with a connection to Michael Myers, and more. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite get into so weird it’s entertaining territory, nor was it able to be weird enough to sustain my interest all the way to the end like Rob Zombie’s Halloween II was for me. While I wouldn’t say it was boring, I wasn’t that invested.
Not that there aren’t some good elements in the movie. For one, despite Michael Myers being reworked into a killing instrument by the cult (at least in this cut of the movie), I liked his portrayal here, especially when compared to some the previous movies. He feels like such a massive threat and presence whenever he’s on screen, and even when he’s not. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Loomis for the last time. His performance was good and the worn down portrayal of the character actually works quite well, although it does make it a little bittersweet. Some of the direction is pretty good, once again Michael Myers is shown to be a menacing threat, there are some bloody and memorable kills with great special effects, and the score was quite effective. With all that being said, I still understand why The Curse of Michael Myers is known as one of the worst Halloween movies. While it’s at least better than The Revenge of Michael Myers, all the build-up for the following movie was seemingly pointless given the resulting movie is just mediocre at best. You can see why the Halloween franchise retconned this movie and decided to reboot.
9. Halloween 4: The Return of Micchael Myers
Halloween 4 was intended to return Michael Myers to the big screen after Halloween 3 tried to do something new and the audience really not liking that approach. It ended up being better than expected but wasn’t exactly that good. Much of it was a mixed bag, with a bland story, and rather bland direction. It’s not bad but it felt rather on autopilot. The kills at times can be gloriously over the top and silly but most of the time they weren’t particularly memorable. Outside of a couple scenes, the tension and atmosphere just weren’t there. The plot is pretty predictable, and the third act is mostly underwhelming. Even Michael Myers is not intimidating at all here. Bad costume and mask aside, he just doesn’t have that menace that he had in some of his other movie appearances. Even the attempts at returning Michael Myers back into the storyline after the end of Halloween II was pretty clunky, especially with the explanations of how he and Dr Loomis are still alive. Honestly though the most disappointing aspect of Halloween 4 was all the wasted potential. While it was interesting seeing a Myers that is returning to kill again and seeing how the town reacts to it, the story is mostly going through the motions. There was a chance for them to change things up with the formula, even for Michael Myers. However, the first thing that Myers does when he escapes is to go back and gets the exact same costume and mask he worse in the first two films, and that if anything should signify that no change would be happening with him for a while.
Generally, it’s just an okay slasher movie but not a bad one at that. It wasn’t very engaging, but I was willing to watch the story play out. The lead character of Jamie Lloyd is introduced in this movie, she’s played well by Danielle Harris, giving a different sort of dynamic against Myers as she’s a child not an adult like Laurie Strode in the original film. Donald Pleasance is always nice to see back as Dr Loomis, especially in the film’s final moments. Speaking of which, the ending is great and one of the best parts of the movie, leaving it open for a great lead on for the sequel which Halloween 5 absolutely did not take advantage of. Overall, Halloween 4 was not the glorious return to form that it was intended to be, but it could’ve been a lot worse all things considering.
8. Halloween (2007)
The Rob Zombie Halloween movies have gathered a mixed response from critics and audiences alike. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t think his first Halloween movie was that good. It’s got some good stuff but also things that don’t work for me. It is a film of two halves, the first being the Michael Myers origin story, and the second half basically the remake of the original Halloween. I don’t have an issue with the idea of an origin story for Michael Myers, but the origin story wasn’t that good. He’s basically just a kid who grew up in a broken home, with a cartoonishly horrible childhood. In this segment there are some moments of nuance, and it was interesting seeing Zombie’s take on it, but much of that is just overshadowed by so many poorly done moments and writing. The second half is just a remake of the original film. While it’s much less messy and more focused than the first half, it is literally just Rob Zombie remaking Halloween 1 with some slight changes to the plot. It doesn’t fit in with the serial killer origin story that the first half consisted of. I think the worst part about the movie is that it feels like Rob Zombie is very restricted here. The origin stuff is very mixed and messy, and the remake stuff is okay but not that interesting and more on repeat. The actual horror and tension are not there, and Zombie pays homage to the original a little too much with the way moments are played out.
With that said I don’t dislike the movie. Even if it was pretty much a repeat of the original, I enjoyed the remake half of the movie. There were some scenes that genuinely worked, and again some of the Michael Myers origin stuff is played more nuanced than I expected. Although the acting is a mixed bag, some of the performances from actors like Malcolm McDowell and Brad Dourif are quite good. Rob Zombie’s style is very much present throughout and while it does hinder the movie in some ways, it at least makes it distinct as his movie. I love how he made Michael Myers an absolute force to be reckoned with, with aggressive and loud attacks and brutal kills (even if it makes some moments unintentionally funny). Overall though, Rob Zombie’s Halloween really is a mixed bag. For those who watched the original it might be interesting to check out but that’s it. While it’s not without its issues, I enjoyed his follow up more (but more on that later).
7. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Halloween H20 is another Halloween movie that ignores some of the previous movies, in this case only acknowledging the first two and being a direct sequel to Halloween II set 20 years later, forgetting the movies from 4-6. As far as the Halloween movies go, it’s not quite as successful. Despite some interesting aspects of the story, it’s dragged down by the very slow pacing where we are just watching characters interacting in an unengaging way. Setting the scene in the first act is one thing but the second act is like that too, in fact it’s a whole hour into the movie before Michael Myers even begins killing. The annoying influence of Scream is felt throughout, with all the references to other horror movies making it feel out of place, and the movie feels so 90s that it actually dates the movie. The plot feels loose, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose and the movie meanders for at least the first half. Even the direction isn’t exactly the best, looking more like an episode of Dawson’s Creek instead of a horror movie or a Halloween movie. It never takes advantage of the setting and never feels claustrophobic or tense throughout. Putting aside the 4 very different versions of the same mask that he wears across the movie, Michael Myers doesn’t feel scary at all, and all the kills are forgettable. Even the score does not fit the movie at all, distractingly so.
Despite what I just said, I don’t dislike H20, in fact I think it’s okay, and I liked some of the decisions. While I feel like it doesn’t take advantage of the setting enough, the new location and setting at a school does give it a distinct feel from the other Halloween movies (along with making sense plotwise). Ultimately there are two main things that raise the film to above average for me. First of all is Jamie Lee Curtis who returns as Laurie Strode, and she is great here. We see the effect that the events of the first two movies had on Laurie. It explores the PTSD she had from it and it was one of the strongest aspects of the film. The other standout was the entire third act, where the Michael Myers aspect is not only the most prominent and features direct fights between him and Laurie, but the movie also ends on a note that would’ve been a fitting end to conclude the whole series (until they changed it). Overall Halloween H20 is a mixed bag of a movie that should’ve been way better. I liked some of the changes, disliked some of the other changes. However Jamie Lee Curtis and the climax is what ultimately allows me to say with confidence that I liked the movie.
6. Halloween Kills
The most recent entry in the Halloween franchise makes it at about the halfway point in the ranking. I can’t deny that I found it rather disappointing. After the ending of Halloween (2018), the conclusion was drawn out into two movies with Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. Unfortunately Kills doesn’t do enough to really justify its existence, with not a lot actually happening. The Strode family are sidelined in favour of a plot about mob mentality which doesn’t exactly work. The attempt at social commentary is admirable but ultimately misguided. Even the emphasis on Michael Myers killing somehow loses its impact. None of these elements work together well, and we’re left with a very dull plot and it only entertains in parts. It just can’t decide whether it wants to be campy and silly with the jokes and bloody violence, or if it wants to be serious. Halloween Kills is a movie that’s on autopilot mode yet is full of baffling decisions. Even as a simple slasher movie it doesn’t succeed fully, it has the brutality and the gore but no atmosphere or suspense.
However I still do enjoy the movie and it still has some parts that I like. Although he’s comically unstoppable here, Michael Myers is strong here in one of his most ruthless portrayals. Some of the ideas are interesting like the possibility that Michael Myers is turning people into monsters with his presence (even if the movie doesn’t commit to it). While his direction isn’t as strong as in Halloween (2018), David Gordon Green’s direction is solid, visually gorgeous and with some good sequences, and John Carpenter’s score again impresses. Despite the issues with the movie, I am still interested to see how Halloween Ends concludes this storyline, and I hope they take the right lessons from Halloween Kills.
5. Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II is a natural continuation of what happened in the original Halloween, which really does feel like it was only made because the original was successful. It is a very by the numbers slasher flick that doesn’t work quite as well as the first movie. It is over the top, less serious and not as creepy or atmospheric. There are some leaps in logic in the plot, nothing too absurd but enough that makes it noticeably different from the first movie. Aside from Laurie and Loomis, all the characters are just bodies for Michael Myers to stab through, as if it turned into a Friday the 13th movie. Speaking of which, Halloween II ramped up the level of violence to being bloody and gory which was popular in the 80s, in contrast to the late 70s original which kept blood to a minimum. It just feels like an okay slasher movie.
However for what its worth, some of the entries in the series are basically just okay slasher flicks, and Halloween II is better than most of those. It does have some good aspects that I liked. For example, the setting of the hospital is a classic horror slasher setting which was quite a good place for Michael Myers to stalk. Despite some of the visible changes in direction with regard to the violence for instance, it does try to stay true to the John Carpenter original with the way it’s directed, even if it’s not on the same level. It is very well shot, with great tracking shots, colour and lighting. Some of the kills are memorable and towards the third act it does get entertaining and thrilling. On top of that, credit to Carpenter and co. for actually trying to conclude the Michael Myers story with the ending of the movie (before it was revived again). Overall the movie is not bad, it is relatively decent and once again it works as an immediate continuation of the previous movie. It’s a standard slasher with issues relating to the story, characters and direction. However it has some good moments and deserves some credit.
4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Halloween II killed off Michael Myers in its ending in an attempt to conclude that storyline, and John Carpenter and co. then wanted to move on with different stories. The idea was to turn the Halloween franchise into an anthology series, with each instalment being completely different and unrelated to the others. This attempt was started with Halloween III: Season of the Witch, which really didn’t stick with people as audiences wanted Michael Myers back, so the anthology idea didn’t last beyond that. With all that being said, Season of the Witch has been receiving a bit of a cult following over the past decades and for good reason. I wouldn’t say that it’s one of the best horror movies (even for the 80s) by any means, but at the very least it was an entertaining watch.
Season of the Witch was different for the Halloween series, along with being unconnected to the Michael Myers movies, it plays more as a mystery thriller than a horror movie at times. The movie is also campy and has a B movie feel to it, with classic 80s horror tropes including robots that look like humans and Bond-like villains. The cheesiness and camp make the movie even more entertaining and it is rather creative. Despite the cheesiness, it still has a good amount of horror, suspense and dread throughout, as well as some particularly gory and grotesque scenes that are quite memorable. Even the score is distinctly unique from John Carpenter compared to his composed work on the Halloween series, still synth but one that’s much darker and slower and fitting the vibe of the movie. Despite some issues including some uneven pacing at times, it is quite good. If it was just titled Season of the Witch and was a standalone movie, it would’ve got a lot more love back when it released. Give it a chance, even if you haven’t seen any of the other Halloween movies, you can just jump right into it. However, if you’re wanting to see Michael Myers in this or only interested in the movies he appears in, you won’t be interested in this one.
3. Halloween (2018)
Halloween 2018 was a direct sequel to Halloween, ignoring all the sequels and only acknowledging the original film as canon. Out of all the retcons and reboots (Halloween 4 and Halloween H20), Halloween 2018 was the most successful. It is set 40 years later after the original movie, while it does on paper seem very similar to Halloween H20 (especially with the focus on Laurie’s trauma from the events of the first film), it manages to feel fresh enough. There are definitely some issues with the movie. For one, while the added humour feels very out of place in the movie and doesn’t work. The movie does fall into some typical horror and slasher cliches, and it was annoying to see those occasionally appear. Plotwise, there is a subplot and reveal involving a doctor character which comes out of nowhere and doesn’t add anything to the movie and instead distracts quite a bit. Finally, Halloween 2018 didn’t scare me at all, and despite the attempts, the movie wasn’t that creepy or tense. I wouldn’t put that down as a major criticism considering that the original wasn’t that scary to me, but I still was expecting something more from this one.
On the whole though, I was quite satisfied with the movie. It was a straightforward story with Michael Myers returning to kill again but I liked how it played out. Jamie Lee Curtis is once again great as Laurie Strode, with this version being hardened, strong and capable, yet vulnerable. David Gordon Green’s direction was also top notch, with it being shot similar to the first movie, and having some particularly well handled sequences. Michael Myers feels once again like a force of nature, as if it was the original Michael Myers from the first film but just slightly more violent. Even the score is fantastic and I might even say on part with the score of the original. Halloween 2018 was a great follow up to the original movie, some aspects could’ve been handled better for sure but on the whole it turned out to be one of the best movies in the series.
2. Halloween II (2009)
It took me a very long time to realise that Rob Zombie’s Halloween II was my favourite Halloween movie aside from the original. It is by far the most divisive movie in the entire franchise and it’s not hard to see why, it is an incredibly weird movie. This time the shackles are off, and Rob Zombie is doing his own movie without thinking too much about the original film from the 70s, which will work for some people and will really not work for others. It’s the least Halloween-like movie of the series, despite a hospital scene which turns out to be a nightmare sequence, it uses nothing from the original Halloween II. Some choices are weird and strange, such as having Michael Myers having visions about his mother and a white horse, which doesn’t quite mix with the grounded nature of the rest of the movie. It’s also quite an unpleasant movie, some of the over-the-top harsh dialogue is here from the first movie, and it’s an incredibly brutal and dark movie even by Halloween standards. So it’s not a very easy movie to get into.
With that said, I was incredibly intrigued throughout this movie, especially with many of the choices that were made, and that’s not something I can say about any of the other Halloween movies. As I said earlier, Zombie going all in with his vision will work for some, and I am one of those people. Halloween II is basically the aftermath of the previous Rob Zombie Halloween movie, following Laurie who is traumatised, Loomis capitalising on the events with a book, and Michael Myers having visions and wandering around. Much of the movie is just following these three characters doing their own things until the climax happened, and somehow this worked for me. I was surprisingly invested, more than I thought I would be. The movie is not subtle at all with its themes and can get a little pretentious (for lack of a better word), but some moments are surprisingly nuanced. Rob Zombie doesn’t hold back at all, and it feels even more his movie than the last one did. There is such a grainy and gritty look to it which pairs well with the bleak and nihilistic story, and the violence and gore is ramped up to new heights. In fact this bleakness and feeling of dread is what makes the movie stand out above all the others, making the scenes of violence hit even harder. If nothing else, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is the most unique entry in the Halloween franchise with what it tries to do.
1. Halloween (1978)
Unsurprisingly, the original classic is still my favourite of the series. It’s hard to talk about this movie because everything that can be said about this movie has already been said. It was revolutionary for cinema, especially for lower budget horror films, and its impact is immeasurable. In some ways it does contain many of the tropes and cliches, but to a degree many of those tropes and cliches exist because of this movie. So that, the occasionally bad dialogue and the simplicity makes it work in a throwback 70s way. Yet it’s still impressive in its simplicity, largely because of its marvellous execution.
The premise is simple, the killer is straightforward, the movie makes use of limited locations, and the film utilised them all incredibly well. John Carpenter’s direction is a big reason why it works as well as it does. Despite the lower budget, he does so much with it, and the smaller scale adds so much to the feel of the movie. The cinematography is masterful, especially with the use of wide shots. The score is simple yet absolutely iconic, and probably one of the most recognisable themes ever, especially in horror movies. All of these come together to form a fantastic and well built horror atmosphere. Another simple yet iconic aspect of the movie was the use of a William Shatner mask and jumpsuit for Michael Myers, and it was so effective that none of the sequels decided to every change that design and continually tried to replicate it. Speaking of Myers, Carpenter and co. manages to make him feel like a presence throughout the whole movie, even when he’s not on screen. Overall, the original Halloween still remains a timeless horror classic to this day.
What is your thoughts on the Halloween franchise? How would you rank them?