Best & Worst: Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!

It’s that time of year when the temperature drops and the leaves on the trees start to change to their fall colors. It’s also the time of year for watching some horror movies. Since today is Halloween, there’s no better time to take a look at the Halloween film franchise!

Over the years, Michael Myers has remained one of the most infamous horror villains of all time. Even for someone who has never seen any of the films, it’s more likely than not that they’d still know who Michael Myers is. The mute (for the most part), faceless killer has hacked and slashed his way into the mainstream and, in all honesty, has one of the better quality track records for a horror villain. That’s not to say that there weren’t a few missteps as well. For the most part, though, the Halloween series is enjoyable and there’s more of a long running plot through the sequels.

So far, there are ten films in the series with six sequels to the original film, a standalone entry, and a reboot with its own sequel. There’s also another reboot in the works for a currently unknown release date. That being said, let’s kick off this list with the biggest flub of the Halloween series.

10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)


Fans of the series waited six long years to find out what exactly happened at the end of Halloween 5 and this is what they received. Michael Myers’ niece, Jamie Lloyd (J.C. Brandy), now much older than in the previous film, has a baby and is killed off in the opening minutes. After two films of establishing the character of Jamie, the filmmakers unceremoniously cut her out to give way to a far less interesting story. Jamie is the daughter of Laurie Strode, Michael’s sister and target from the first two films, which made her an intriguing and logical foe.

Instead, in The Curse of Michael Myers, relatives of the Strode family that adopted Laurie move into the old Myers house and they provide the fodder for Michael. The closest thing to a protagonist is Kara Strode (Marianne Hagan) and her son, Danny (Devin Gardner). There’s very little reason to actually care about them whatsoever though. On top of that, Tommy Doyle (the kid that Laurie babysits in the original film) makes his return as a socially awkward surrogate father for Jamie’s baby whom he finds hidden at a bus station. He’s actually played by a young, fresh-faced Paul Rudd. With the help of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence), Tommy, Kara, and Danny try to survive Michael’s wrath.

With The Curse of Michael Myers, there just aren’t any likable characters and there’s just not anything really interesting about it. The studio, producers, and director Joe Chappelle had massive creative differences on this film which led to the messy, incomprehensible result. Some fans of the series stand by the producer’s cut of the film which finally saw an official release in the Halloween Blu-ray box set. It’s less gory than the theatrical cut and it tries to make sense of the sloppy Thorn cult storyline that carried over after being teased in Halloween 5. However, the producer’s cut is even worse than the theatrical version. Basically, you’re better off avoiding any version of this film. It’s just too bad that this was the final film for Donald Pleasence as he died in February 1995 ahead of the release date.

9. Halloween II (2009)


A lot of people would probably put Halloween: Resurrection in this spot and they wouldn’t be wrong. Yet, this sequel to Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot is absolutely atrocious. Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is having a tough time getting her life back together after the events of the previous film. She lives with her friend, Annie (Danielle Harris), and Annie’s father (Brad Dourif) due to her parents’ deaths. Meanwhile, Michael survives the gunshot he suffered from Laurie and embarks on a journey through the countryside for the majority of the film. Seriously. He walks through fields at great length while taking a pit stop every once in a while to kill someone.

The thing with Zombie’s Halloween II is that it’s extremely vulgar and violent. While these aren’t necessarily bad things, Zombie just doesn’t know when to quit. It’s as if every other word is an f-bomb and there’s simply no reason for it. Also, instead of coming up with creative and unique kills, he chose to have Michael stab each of his victims about ten times each. We get it. Michael is a monster. His use of excessive violence has no rhyme or reason and, after a while, it just doesn’t mean anything. He also tried to introduce a completely made up psychological aspect to Michael’s character that falls completely flat. Don’t try to be psychologically deep if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

Oddly enough, the theatrical cut is better than the director’s cut. In the latter version, Laurie is possibly the most unlikable character ever put on film. Scout Taylor-Compton’s performance is just pitiful. She’s unbelievably cruel to Annie for no reason whatsoever and there’s no reason to root for her at all. The ending is also terrible as Zombie has Michael rip off his mask and yell, “DIE!” at Dr. Loomis in a cringeworthy moment. Speaking of Loomis, he’s just as unlikable as Laurie. The Curse of Michael Myers may be lower on this list but Halloween II is just as messy and destroys any credibility that the series had left. Don’t even bother with this garbage.

8. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)


Upon revisiting this film, it’s really not as bad as most people make it out to be. Is it a good film? Absolutely not. It’s not the worst though. After a final meeting with his sister, Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael returns to his family home. A company called Dangertainment, headed by Freddie Harris (Busta Rhymes… yes, Busta. Rhymes.) is broadcasting a reality show from the Myers house on Halloween. A group of college students are selected to stay in the house for the entire night and figure out why Michael became the renowned maniac of Haddonfield. The group comes to find out that the house contains props set up by Dangertainment. That’s when Michael returns to knock them off one by one.

This film is what it is. It’s a dopey slasher film that unfortunately carries the Halloween title. The kids are stupid, the plot is dumb, and it’s not meant to be taken seriously. If you just take it at face value, it’s watchable but definitely not something that you’ll find yourself coming back to. There are some decent kills and the scenes with Laurie are actually quite good. Rick Rosenthal returned to the series to direct this film after his first go-round with the original Halloween II. 

7. Halloween (2007)


Yikes. More Rob Zombie. Once again, Zombie’s love of white trash characters, vulgarity, and brutality wins out over meaningful character development and suspense. He really had a chance to prove himself as more than a schlock filmmaker after receiving blessing from series creator, John Carpenter, to make this film. Instead, he turned Halloween into an extension of The Devil’s Rejects but not as good.

This reboot sees a young Michael Myers, played by Daeg Faerch, who’s belittled by his mom’s boyfriend, his sister, and kids at school. He develops an affinity for killing animals and excessive swearing. Eventually, he kills his sister Judith (Hanna Hall) before being committed to an asylum. Dr. Loomis returns to the series, this time being played by Malcolm McDowell, who is decent in the role but nowhere near the standard of Donald Pleasence. Tyler Mane plays the adult Michael who breaks out of the asylum and returns home to search for his baby sister, Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton). Mane is an absolute giant of a man and brings a physicality to Michael that’s unique to him in both of Zombie’s films.

The first half of this film is an uncomfortable watch with the trashy language and violence. The director’s cut features an unnecessary rape scene when Michael breaks out of the asylum where the theatrical version had a pretty awesome escape in which Michael simply overpowers some guards. Sometimes less is more, Mr. Zombie. When the film finally gets to the “remake” portion with Laurie and her friends being stalked, it’s actually quite enjoyable. Zombie does a good job recreating some of the more popular scenes from the original movie and it’s much more tolerable than the new material he added in.

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


This one is a bit harder to place as it has nothing to do with Michael Myers. Tom Atkins stars as Dan Challis, a doctor who attends to a man who ends up getting murdered by another man in a hospital room. The only clue left behind is a mask made by Silver Shamrock Novelties. Challis and the murdered man’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), embark on an investigation of her father’s murder. They discover a plot by the Silver Shamrock company to kill children that wear their masks.

Season of the Witch is a bizarre little film that sadly bombed after moviegoers realized that Michael Myers was not in it. In recent years, it has gained some notoriety and has become a cult classic. It’s nothing like the other titles in the Halloween series but it’s not a bad watch. Originally, the goal after Halloween II was to have an anthology type of series all under the Halloween name. Every year, a different story would be told all keeping with an overall theme. Obviously, that idea didn’t pan out and Michael was brought back six years later in Halloween 4. 

Season of the Witch was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace who would later go on to direct the made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. In addition, this was the final film that creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill produced. Carpenter also composed the excellent synth-heavy score along with Alan Howarth.

5. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)


This film doesn’t quite get the love that it deserves from fans of the series. By no means is it perfect but it’s a reasonably well done sequel that’s more of a companion piece to Halloween 4. Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is now mute and in a children’s hospital following the events of the previous film. Michael Myers escapes down the mine shaft he fell through and lives out the year with an old hermit. His murderous rage reawakens as Halloween approaches and he returns to Haddonfield for Jamie. Most of the major characters from the previous film return for this one. Specifically, Ellie Cornell returns as Jamie’s foster sister, Rachel, and brings along new friends, Tina (Wendy Foxworth) and Samantha (Tamara Glynn), for Michael to terrorize.

Dr. Loomis also returns and he’s an absolute nutcase in this movie. He knows that Jamie has newfound powers in which she’s able to find Michael through an established mental link but she frequently refuses to help him out of fear. At one point, Loomis even uses her as bait to trap Michael. It’s actually quite disturbing how his years of trailing the killer have seemingly mentally ravaged him. As always, though, Donald Pleasence is great in the role and is a major bright spot.

One complaint of this film is with Michael’s mask. As you can see from the above image, it’s just weird looking. It kind of looks like an old man mask painted white. This may be a minor complaint but mask used in the first two films was so iconic that it’s depressing how this one deviated. Not to mention, it’s different than the mask in Halloween 4 too. More on that in a bit.

4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)


After seeing how far the series fell off after The Curse of Michael Myers, returning to its roots was probably a good move. Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her role as Laurie Strode AKA Keri Tate for this film which was released 20 years after the original. Now the dean of a private school in California, Keri still isn’t able to let go of the events of that fateful Halloween night. She’s overprotective of her son, John (Josh Hartnett), and has a bit of a drinking problem. Of course, Michael eventually discovers her whereabouts after breaking into Dr. Loomis’s former nurse’s home and the killing spree begins.

The filmmakers did a great job with this film by making it feel like the definitive chapter in the franchise. Obviously, this didn’t end up being the final movie but it definitely should’ve been. The final battle of wits between Michael and Laurie in an empty prep school was a suitable curtain call for the series. There was also a pretty excellent young cast assembled for this film. Alongside the elder Curtis, future stars like Hartnett, Michelle Williams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt had some screen time with Michael. Adam Arkin, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, LL Cool J, and even Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother, Janet Leigh (of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) had roles as well.

Despite Halloween H20 having a decisive climax, of course the studio wouldn’t let the franchise die. Nonetheless, many fans consider this to be the true sequel to Halloween II. The events from the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments aren’t mentioned here. The story strictly focuses on Laurie’s story and serves as a proper bookend to the original movie. It’s nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis back in the role yet one can only wonder how great this sequel would’ve been had Donald Pleasence still been alive to participate.

3. Halloween II (1981)


In all honesty, the second and third ranked films on this list are pretty interchangeable in terms of quality. Halloween II isn’t as good as the original but it’s pretty damn close. It does everything that a good sequel should do. It adds more to the story and further develops the characters. Despite being released three years after the original, Halloween II takes place on the same night. Laurie is taken to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital while Michael disappears after being shot by Dr. Loomis. Loomis spends much of the night searching for Michael with the assistance of Sheriff Leigh Brackett (Charles Cyphers) until he finds out his daughter was killed.

This was also the first film to establish that Laurie was, in fact, Michael Myers’ biological sister. Yes, the first film never made mention as to why Michael stalked the girls that he did. Halloween II added in the family plot line. It truly did seem to give new life to the series. Without it, there would be no Jamie Lloyd for the next few films or an effective finish to Laurie’s story in H20 and Resurrection.

The film was directed by Rick Rosenthal and written/produced by series creators Carpenter and Hill. The hospital setting was a nice touch as it’s an eerie, unfamiliar place for a horror movie and also makes Laurie far more vulnerable due to her sustained injuries. It should also be noted that this film contains much more gore than its predecessor. The first film had very little blood in it and the usage here is not excessive but adds to the brutality of Michael. Halloween II has the look and feel of the original and is easily one of the best sequels.

2. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)


This one is probably a little controversial but hear me out. After the bomb that Season of the Witch was, Halloween 4 was the reintroduction of Michael Myers. This film was released ten years after the original and it very much keeps in tune with its predecessors. Michael is established quickly as an evil killing machine and Jamie Lloyd is refreshing as the prey.

Laurie has supposedly died and left her daughter, Jamie, behind with a foster family. Meanwhile, Michael has been locked up for years after the events of Halloween II but is transported Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. Needless to say, the transport never makes it to its destination. Along with her foster sister, Rachel, Jamie is then hunted by her nefarious uncle who wants to end the Myers bloodline once and for all. Dr. Loomis, again, is back after narrowly escaping death himself in the last film. Essentially, Halloween 4 is a footrace between Michael and Loomis to track down Jamie first with the innocent people of Haddonfield caught in the middle.

This is another entry to the series with some great death scenes. Michael acts more like a machine than man in this film and seemingly nothing can harm him. He crushes a guy’s head, electrocutes someone, and even stabs a girl with a gun. Yes. He forcefully shoves a shotgun through her body to kill her. Like with Halloween 5 though, the mask in this film is awful. It’s quite possibly the worst one of all. It has this blank, cartoonish look to it. It’s actually a different mask storyline-wise but still. There’s no excuse for it to look that bad. Regardless, Halloween 4 reestablishes the direction of the franchise and provides some good suspenseful moments. Jamie is a likable protagonist and breathes new life into the series. After all, what’s more terrifying than a masked psychopath stalking a little girl?

1. Halloween (1978)


Was there any question as to what would be number one? This is the one that started it all. This film spawned so many ripoff slasher villains and it’s easy to understand why. Even Friday the 13th was a glorified ripoff of this movie. The plot is simple. A young boy murders his sister on Halloween in 1963. Then, 15 years later, a 21 year old Michael Myers escapes from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, returns to his home in Haddonfield, and kills off babysitters one by one. There’s no deeper meanings, no underlying story. It’s just a masked killer hunting his prey.

Speaking of the victims, the characters in the film are all memorable and likable. Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode is classic. This film kicked off her reign as the “scream queen” through the early 1980’s. Nancy Loomis and P.J. Soles play Laurie’s friends, Annie and Lynda. Lynda especially has a bit of a cult following due to her persistent use of the word, “totally.” Of course, Donald Pleasence starred in his first appearance as Dr. Sam Loomis. His performance is legendary with some of the greatest quotes of any horror film period. Nick Castle plays Michael Myers, or The Shape as he’s cited in the film’s credits. There have been numerous actors to play the villain over the years but Castle knocks it out of the park. The way he moves is simply perfect for the character and no one else ever came close with their portrayals.

John Carpenter co-wrote the screenplay with Debra Hill and manned the director’s chair for this initial entry. He also composed the classic Halloween theme along with the rest of the score. The theme has become synonymous with the horror genre and the holiday in general at this point. There are plenty of people who are just as terrified by the music as Michael himself. Halloween is one of the most profitable independent films of all time. With only a budget of $300,000, it grossed $70 million worldwide. Halloween also holds the honor of being one of the greatest horror films of all time.

So what’s next for Halloween? There’s currently a planned reboot in the works for an as-yet unspecified release date. Believe it or not, John Carpenter has actually signed on as an executive producer for it. This will be the first time he has returned to the series since Season of the Witch. Since Dimension Films recently lost the rights to the franchise, Carpenter will instead be working with Miramax, Blumhouse Productions, and Trancas International to produce the reboot. While it’s unfortunate that the series will be rebooted yet again, it’s certainly encouraging that Carpenter will be leading the charge.

So that’s all for our list! Do you agree with it? Everyone has their own favorites so let us know your opinion in the comments section below. Again Happy Halloween to everyone! Now get out there and watch some good horror movies.

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