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The “Halloween” Movies: From Worst to Best

August 26, 2009

halloween2rzposterAugust is well under way. The smell of barbecues is in the air, the beaches are packed and the neighborhood kids are just starting to round up their school supplies. This can only mean one thing: It’s time for a new Halloween movie!

Yes, the last three movies featuring the venerable serial killer Michael Myers have all been released during the dog days of summer, and 2009’s entry, Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, is no different; it’ll hit theaters this Friday. If you want to know what I thought of Zombie’s 2007 Halloween remake you can check out this article, but today I’d like to take this occasion to go over the original, pre-remake Halloween series (just as I did with the original, pre-New Line Friday the 13th series) and hopefully show why I, and so many others, have had such affection for a movie series about a soulless murderer.

A quick note for those of you unfamiliar with the original Halloween series, which began in 1978 and ended in 2002: The story revolves around Michael Myers, a mute, masked serial killer who stabbed his sister to death when he was six years old. He was institutionalized but escaped on Halloween night fifteen years later to take part in a series of increasingly outlandish adventures.

So here’s my ranking of the original Halloween films, beginning with the worst one:

8. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995, 6th in the series)

halloween6And yet there are so many things I like about this movie. The cinematography looks good, the music is fine, the acting (featuring Paul Rudd!) is decent… Overall, Halloween 6 sets up a pretty good atmosphere. None of that matters, though, when the script is this incomprehensibly hackneyed and confusing. Seriously, I still don’t know what was going on in this movie. I’ve seen the “Producer’s Cut” alternate version, and it ain’t much better.

Fun fact, though: I always felt bad for director Joe Chappelle, since I thought he did a good job despite the screenplay’s awfulness. Chappelle, however, ended up working as a director and co-executive producer on the greatest TV show of all time, The Wire! I guess happy endings aren’t just for shady massage parlors.

7. Halloween: Resurrection (2002, 8th in the series)

halloween8Resurrection was directed by Rick Rosenthal, who also directed the original Halloween II (and The Birds II), but it’s far lighter in tone than his first entry. That’s the problem. Resurrection (which does not feature any actual resurrection, by the way) tries too hard to milk comedy from its premise (young people set up a Halloween webcast in Myers’ house) and ends up making Myers look kind of like an incompetent buffoon. I’ll admit that this movie has some semi-interesting story ideas and a couple decent jump scares, but that’s it. Plus it ruins Halloween H20‘s perfectly good ending.

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

halloween3III is famous for ditching the Michael Myers storyline altogether and putting forth a new story about an evil corporation run by Druids who sell killer Halloween masks. The movie gets points for ballsiness (whatever SpellCheck, it’s a word now) and for several suspenseful scenes, but overall it’s a little too dull and clichéd to really work. III is also notable for being the last Halloween movie to feature any involvement by John Carpenter, director of the original. (He served as producer.)

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

halloween5I may be alone on this, but I actually like this movie. It’s got several very creepy sequences and locations, including an old barn, an abandoned house and a basement where hanging sheets flap eerily back and forth on clotheslines. Still, the plot is somewhat unsatisfying (especially since it sets up the awful plot of Curse), and in the end I just couldn’t justify putting 5 above any of the following entries on the list. (To be honest, I’m not positive that it should be above III, but sometimes in life you have to make choices.)

4. Halloween II (1981)

halloween2_shot1lHalloween II (the original, I guess I have to say) nicely preserves some of the atmosphere and visual style of the first movie, especially in the early scenes, and it provides a pretty satisfying conclusion to the story. The middle is pretty slow and boring, but I can’t dismiss my fond memories of watching this on TV after trick-or-treating. Also, this is the movie that introduced the now-sacred idea of (spoiler alert?) Michael Myers being Laurie Strode’s brother.

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

halloween4jo03I can never forgive Halloween 4 for having the dumbest-looking Michael Myers mask ever. Seriously, what is that, a department store mannequin? Besides that, though, 4 offers sympathetic characters, a well-structured story and some nail-biting set pieces, so overall I can’t complain. I once saw this in theaters as a double feature with 5; good times.

2. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998, 7th in the series)

halloween7Okay, I’m biased: This was the first slasher movie I ever saw. I watched it at a friend’s house during a Halloween party and was hooked from the first sight of Michael Myers standing ominously in a doorway in the background of a shot, backlit and surrounded by fallen leaves. H20 isn’t perfect, but it’s fun, satisfying and occasionally scary. What more could you ask for?

Okay, I guess there’s an obvious answer to that:

1. Halloween (1978, 1st in the series)

halloween1Without question. As much fun as I’ve gotten out of the Halloween sequels, none of them even come close to matching the craft and sinister beauty of John Carpenter’s original film. Every shot is constructed to increase the audience’s tension, and the musical score has come to represent not just Halloween the movie but also Halloween the holiday. The film is a bit dated now (why doesn’t she just call the police on her cell phone?), but it’ll never cease being captivating and influential.

So that’s my ranking, although I’ll admit that a year from now (or tomorrow) I might disagree with this post. What do you guys think? As always, add your thoughts and criticisms to the comments section.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2009 11:27 am

    Halloween series were really a crap in the beginning but it has now become better

    • arthur permalink
      February 18, 2012 8:16 pm

      shut the fuck up. it’s the complete opposite

  2. Caliber Winfield permalink
    January 9, 2010 9:23 am

    Dude, spot on. I recently did a ranking myself, but I included the films that only had Michael.

    I’ve also seen the Producer’s Cut, and it isn’t very good. People act like it’s one of the best Halloween’s, but uh-uh. The ending is far worse than the theatrical.

    Check out my list if you get a moment.

    http://scrublife.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/the-only-ranking-of-the-halloween-movies-youll-ever-need/

  3. March 4, 2010 1:56 pm

    Ok in all seriousness, in my opinion Halloween 3 is the worst because why the heck would they even make a Halloween movie w/o myers?? It so doesn’t even make sense! Curse and Ressurection are not that great, they were a disappointment. H20 was alright, kinda boring at times. Now 4 and 5 are my favorites, I like Jamie Lloyd. Kinda weird though that Jamie Lee Curtis was supposed to be her mother. Of course 1 and 2 are my next favorites. Seems like the first ones are always the best! As for Rob Zombie editions, I absolutely just love them both! Sucks that Annie died in the second one though. But they were brilliant, mega kudos to Zombie!

  4. Sephit permalink
    May 16, 2010 10:59 pm

    Pretty good list there man but I can’t believe you put part 2 so high up…?

    My quick list from Worst to Best:

    8. Part 3- It’s really boring to me and there is no Michael!
    7. Part5- Can’t stand that blonde guy, Michael CRIES!wtf! and although the mask is better than it looked in part 4 it really isn’t that much better as a movie.
    6. Part 8- Resurrection has a way better mask than part 5 and I agree it really screws with the solid ending for h20, what a cheap way to begin the movie! This film was fun but it also makes me feel just a tiny bit dummer every time I watch Busta Ryhmes scolding Michael and slapping his head.
    5. Part4- Sure the story line is a lot better and it has Jamie Loyd but I can never get over that stupid chinese man looking mask and those shoulder pads! wtf!?
    4. Part 6- Maybe the curse storyline is worse than the storylines from the movies above but I actually thought Michael was pretty badass in this one, my favorite is when he puts the dick dad in the washer after he kills him, classic. The mask is way more badass as well.
    3.Part 7- H20 was and still is one of my favorites, it has all the fun of part 8 but mixes it with smarter screenwriting and actually makes Michael seem pretty badass going against Jamie one last time (in my mind anyway). I really hate how the mask keeps changing though, the CGI mask, really takes me out of the movie in the kitchen scene…
    2. Part 2- Halloween 2 is a classic, sure John carpenter wasn’t as involved as he was in the first film but the fact that they actually used the same mask as they did in the original(Warlock has a wider head so it is shaped different, dirty and they hair is shorter, but same mask) gives it some extra points. Sure Warlock is kind of robotic at times but he sure knows how to drown a naked nurse in a scolding hot tub! Plus this film is part of the same night so everytime I watch the first film, it makes me want to watch the second film right after it.
    1. Halloween- The best looking mask, best storyline, Myers is badass in this film and this film catapulted the careers of many stars as well as sparking a movement in slasher horror (Even though Black Christmas was slightly before). Nothing bad to say about this film, maybe some corny acting at times but who cares its a Horror film, does the acting matter than much?

    This is my list and I’m sticking to it.

    Seph

    • arthur permalink
      February 18, 2012 8:21 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more about Halloween 2…the 1st and 2nd halloweens were the only ones that I even like.

  5. Guest permalink
    October 31, 2011 8:18 pm

    #1 Halloween (1978) The best horror movie of all time!
    #2 Halloween II (1981) A pretty good sequel considering how great the original is.
    #3 Halloween H20 By far the best sequel of the series besides Part II.
    #4 Halloween 4 They did the best they could without having Laurie Strode in this film.
    #5 Halloween 6 Yes it follows the curse of the thorn plot but still some good thrills and kills.
    #6 Halloween (2007) I don’t like remakes period but this one is ok in my book.
    #7 Halloween 5 Just a very bad written film. Plus it starts that curse of the thorn plot.
    #8 Halloween III Think of this film as a 80’s horror/sci-fi movie and its watchable. Not good.
    #9 Halloween 8 Terrible plot, unlikable actors/actresses, makes you want Micheal to kill.
    #10 Halloween II (2009) I can’t explain how bad this film is. A disgrace to the franchise!

  6. arthur permalink
    February 18, 2012 8:33 pm

    1. Halloween (1978) – the best one in the series. Michael Myers is a creepy motherfucker.
    2. Halloween II (1981) – the best sequel, and should’ve been the only sequel.
    3. Halloween H20 (1998) – Unnecessary. but still good.

    There are only 3 good movies…

    The shit List: Halloween 4, 5, 6, 8, and the rob zombie versions. In halloween 4, myers is a big fat robotic motherfucker with a stupid looking mask, and I thought the story just sucked period. In part 5, it just follows part 4 plus brings in this very bad thorn plot, and the mask is still stupid looking. In 6, WTF? I don’t even know what to say about 6. In resurrection, the story is lame, the actors are lame, myers is lame, what more can I say about resurrection? and last the rob zombie versions, the 1st remake is better than the 2nd one but they both suck. Basically it’s not even Michael Myers anymore, It’s Jason in a Michael Myers outfit. The original Michael Myers was scarier…he was sneaky but deadly (he didn’t crash into fucking walls and run at people) I felt Rob Zombie just took the character away, I wouldn’t have given a shit if he changed the mask, I would not fucking care if Michael Myers had a pumpkin on his head, but I was let down that the character just wasn’t there anymore.

    • marry jane permalink
      February 26, 2013 3:10 pm

      my 7 faveirote halloween series are

      1.halloween {2007}
      2.halloween {2009}
      3.halloween 7. H20,my favirote.
      4.halloween 4:the retuene of mikle myires
      5 halloween 5:the revenge of mikle myers
      6.halloween 6:the curse of mikle myires
      7.halloween II {1987}

      so ya theese are my fave halloween films in the sereis of HALLOWEEN

  7. arthur permalink
    February 18, 2012 8:40 pm

    Although she was in the terrible ones…Danielle Harris is still very cute, and she’s not a bad actress 😉

  8. Chili permalink
    November 1, 2012 12:46 am

    Honestly, I’d rank the series as so:

    10. Halloween II (2009)
    09. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
    08. Halloween (2007)
    07. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
    06. Halloween: H2O (1998)
    05. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
    04. Halloween II (1981)
    03. Halloween (1978)
    02. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
    01. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

    Yes, that’s right. I think Season of the Witch is the best one. Captured the time of the year the best.

  9. January 4, 2013 5:18 pm

    I think Halloween 4&5 should be the best I love little Jamie Lloyd sooooo much

  10. elizabeth permalink
    February 26, 2013 2:55 pm

    i think the best 5 halloween films are halloween 20 years later,halloween 2007,halloween 2009,halloween 5 and 4

  11. tony permalink
    October 29, 2014 10:28 pm

    Halloween series best to worst!
    1.Halloween (1978) The original, iconic and best slasher film of all time!
    2.Halloween II (1981)
    3.Halloween H20
    4.Halloween 4
    5.Halloween 6
    6.Halloween (2007)
    7.Halloween III
    8.Halloween 5
    9.Halloween Resurrection
    10.Halloween II (2009) Almost walked out of the movies!!

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