‘Halloween’ Films Ranked

A beloved horror franchise, the Halloween movies have certainly had their ups and downs. The series has gone through sequels, retcons, remakes, and more, yet Michael Myers has remained an icon in cinema through all the changes. Let’s take a look at the entire series, beginning with an explanation of how to view the films do to the confusing timelines because of retcons and re-imaginings. Then I’ll give you my ranking of every film in the series from worst to first. Happy Halloween!

Series Timelines:

Timeline 1 (Cult of Thorn Timeline):

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween II (1981)
  3. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
  4. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
  5. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Timeline 2 (Michael-less Timeline):

  1. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Timeline 3 (Laurie Strode-centric Timeline):

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween II (1981)
  3. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
  4. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Timeline 4 (Rob Zombie Remake Timeline):

  1. Halloween (2007)
  2. Halloween II (2009)

Timeline 5 (2018 Reinvention Timeline):

  1. Halloween (1978)
  2. Halloween (2018)

Films Ranked:

11.  HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION  (2002)

Oh, Halloween: Resurrection, how I love you. The current low point of the series, Halloween: Resurrection is still highly entertaining in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. After ruining the ending of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) within its first few minutes, it then goes on to a moronic high-concept plot involving a webcam show taking place in the Myers house. Michael shows up — of course — and kills the contestants, but he’s no match for the show’s host, Freddie, played by an energetic Busta Rhymes. Why? Cause he’s a massive shit-talker and knows kung fu. Grade: D

10.  HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS  (1995)

Continuing the downfall in the series started by Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), the sixth entry, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, is a convoluted, choppy picture that tries to give backstory to how Michael Myers can’t die. Aside from containing the first starring role of Paul Rudd and having a couple of brutal and intense kills, this one is a stinker in many ways. The more rock-centric music score and hollow sound effects are terrible, the flashy quick-cut editing is ineffective, the acting is uninspired, and the story is dull even as it tries to make Michael more complex — which in turn also strips away some of his mystique. Supposedly the “Producer’s Cut,” originally discovered by fans as a bootleg workprint and officially released in 2014, fixes some of the film’s issues. My ranking here reflects my thoughts on the theatrical cut though as I have not seen that other version and can not weigh in on it. Grade: D+

9.  HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS  (1989)

The first major drop in quality for the franchise, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers not only wipes away the interesting twist of the fourth film but also features numerous other issues. Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is strangely rendered mute and given telepathic powers, there are bumbling cops with silly music that plays behind them, and our new protagonist Tina (Wendy Kaplan) is unbearably annoying. The first half takes forever to get going too, with things only getting somewhat suspenseful when a spooky barn setting is introduced in the middle. The film is still functional in ways, but it is a disappointing followup to the events of the fourth entry. Grade: C-

8.  HALLOWEEN II  (2009)

Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is a frustrating followup to his 2007 remake of the original. The things I love about it (the terrific 16mm cinematography, the opening hospital scene, Brad Dourif’s emotional performance), I really love. And the things I hate about it (the misguided changes to core characters, the jumbled dream sequences, Michael Myers looking like a mountain man and grunting a lot), I really hate. The film certainly goes on a unique route, but not without many head-scratching choices. Grade: C+

7.  HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH  (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the one entry in the series that does not include Michael Myers as the antagonist (though he does appear on a background TV set). The goal was to take the series in a different direction with the film but critics and audiences didn’t take to it at the time. However, “Season of the Witch” has gained more popularity over the years, which is cool because it’s a pretty fun little horror flick. It’s a bit of a mess in deciding what kind of horror film it wants to be, but it features a quick pace, a creepy performance by Dan O’Herlihy, and some effective gross-out moments. Also, good luck trying to get the “Silver Shamrock” song out of your head. Grade: B-

6.  HALLOWEEN II  (1981)

Halloween II contains a lot of the same levels of quiet menace that the first film has, only now placing the story in a hospital and upping the kill factor. This time, though, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is basically sidelined in favor of Michael Myers killing a bunch of random hospital staff members we know nothing about. There are some chilling kills — including one involving a hot tub — but the film feels repetitive and without purpose at times as the body count gets higher. However, the sister-brother reveal is somewhat interesting and the fiery showdown between Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and Michael is intense. Nitpick: the music score is less effective in this one on the synthesizer organ than it is in the original on the piano. Grade: B-

5.  HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS  (1988)

After audiences and critics didn’t initially take to the Michael-less Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), producers took a six-year break from the series before bringing it back with Michael again as the antagonist in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. While the mask here is arguably the worst one in the series and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is disappointingly killed off-screen in a car accident in this story line, the fourth film still has a lot going for it. Danielle Harris is excellent as the young Jamie Lloyd (niece of Laurie) as the story takes new directions to focus on her. It also features a core group of characters who refreshingly make smart decisions for the most part when dealing with the killer. Director Dwight H. Little does a good job of building the suspense of situations and holding off on a lot of the killing until the third act, but making the kills quick and effective when they are dealt out; one of the slayings involving a shotgun, however, is unintentionally hilarious. For a late-80s slasher flick and a film going back to the well for its fourth entry, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is better than one would expect it to be. Grade: B

4.  HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER  (1998)

A Halloween film for the era of Scream (1996) popularity, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later feels more like a studio horror product than any other film in the franchise. It has flashier and faster camerawork, more emphasis on thrills than kills, a grander music score, and Kevin Williamson-like dialogue for the teen characters. Despite it feeling closer to a Scream film than a Halloween film at times, it still mostly works and is quite a bit of fun. Jamie Lee Curtis is dynamite in her return as Laurie Strode, and she is surrounded by a game cast including future stars Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams. The pacing is also brisk (maybe too much so at times) and the ending is a knockout. Why does Michael Myers have four different masks — including a CGI one — throughout the film though? Grade: B

3.  HALLOWEEN  (2018)

The latest revival of the series, lazily just named Halloween, ignores all of the other sequels and the remakes and acts as a standalone sequel to the original 1978 film. This allows director David Gordon Green and his team to work from a clean slate as they bring Michael Myers back for a new generation. The film pays its respects to the series (it even has a mask nod to the non-Michael third film in the series) while making Michael fierce again and capturing a similar atmosphere to the first film. Jamie Lee Curtis also effortlessly slips into the shoes of Laurie Strode again, giving us the most driven version of the character yet. The biggest issue, however, is that many of the plot turns feel contrived in how they get characters to be in certain places at certain times. Some of the humor also feels out of place and there is one big twist that feels unearned. Despite some disappointing elements, Halloween is still a solid horror outing overall for both long-time fans and relative newcomers to the series. Grade: B

2.  HALLOWEEN  (2007)

A polarizing film upon release, Rob Zombie’s Halloween has only gained in stature over the years as it has a level of craftsmanship most modern horror remakes lack. For better and/or worse, Zombie puts a fascinating spin on Michael Myers by giving the character a childhood backstory before re-imagining the events of the original film. The results are uneven, but there’s a darkness and brutality in the film that gives it an edge the series had been missing for a while. Halloween also has a killer soundtrack and a great supporting cast full of icons in the horror genre. There is too much focus on pointless vulgarity at times and the movie lacks the mysteriousness of the original, but it has an intense atmosphere and skillful filmmaking behind it overall. Grade: B

1.  HALLOWEEN  (1978)

The godfather of slasher films, the original Halloween has had myriad sequels and clones, yet it remains in a class of its own. Despite its reputation, the film is actually more suspenseful, shadowy, and quiet than bloody. John Carpenter’s less-is-more approach makes it so every death scene memorably pops. The music, the wide camera angles that make the audience search, the performances by Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, the look of Michael Myers, and so much more are aces. Halloween is a genuine horror classic, only marred by a few weak supporting performances (notably Nancy Kyes as Annie). Grade: A

Written by
Daniel Rester is one of the administrators and lead writers on the We Live Film portion of We Live Entertainment. He is a Southern Oregon University alumnus and has a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Communication (Film, Television, and Convergent Media) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts. He has been involved with writing and directing shorts for years, and even wrote and directed a feature-length film for his capstone. Daniel also won 2nd place in the Feature Screenplay Competition in the 2015 Oregon Film Awards for his screenplay "Emma Was Here."

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