With the second part of the Blumhouse rebooted „Halloween“ trilogy, „Halloween Kills“, hitting the theaters this week, we are taking a walk down the memory lane and ranking almost all of the previous 11 films (the third film, „Season of the Witch“ was omitted due to the stand alone storyline that has nothing to do with Michael Myers). At the time of it’s release, back in 1978, John Carpenter’s „Halloween“ was one of the most successful independent films ever made, and that kicked off the golden era of slasher film. After it’s staggering 47 million $ domestic box-office, it became a springboard for another two successful franchises – „Friday the 13th“ and „A Nightmare on Elm Street“. Let’s take a closer look at the list.
1. „Halloween“ (1978)
The first film in the series still serves as one of the finest examples of horror movies, that established both writer/director John Carpenter and it’s female lead, the original “Scream queen”, Jamie Lee Curtis, and propelled them to stardom. This low budget masterpiece is also responsible for the creation of one of the best antagonists in film history – Michael Myers.
In this one, although a slasher, the body count of Michael’s victims is relatively low – 5, including his sister Judith. However, the chilling atmosphere and creepy score (also composed by Carpenter) boosted by Michael’s cold bloodedness are enough to secure this classic the top spot on the list, and as such it’s a must watch, not just this, but any following Halloween.
2. “Halloween II” (1981)
It’s rare to have a sequel that matches the original, and “Halloween” is no exception to that. With all its flaws, “Halloween II” has more than enough good things going for it. It’s set on the same night where the first one ended and moves its terror to the hospital, where Michael relentlessly haunts down Laurie (portrayed by Curtis) leaving dead bodies all over the place, from a parking lot to a bathtub. This was the last time Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence played their iconic characters, Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis, together. The franchise went downhill from this point on, but some of the sequels had creepy moments.
3. “Halloween: H20” (1998)
Set 20 years after the events that occurred in the original, “Halloween: H20” served as a first attempt at the franchise's reboot. And it was a successful one, both at the box-office and with critics, who praised Curtis' comeback after 4 mostly unsuccessful installments. The film included some of the familiar names, such as Josh Hartnett, later very critically acclaimed Michelle Williams, and the late mother of Jamie Lee Curtis – Janet Leigh, in one of her final roles. The film’s biggest criticism was Michael’s mask. It’s simply cringe-worthy, but the overall scares and atmosphere are more than satisfying for fans. Some would say the franchise should’ve ended with this one. I’m still scratching my head, though.
4. “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (1995)
This one is probably only placed this high on my list, but I don’t care. After significantly less successful parts 3,4 and 5, the sixth film in “Halloween” series came with an unexpected twist – Michael Myers is connected to a Druid-like cult. The film underwent multiple reshoots, and one of the versions – Producer’s Cut, which includes 45 minutes of almost brand-new material with a different ending, gained a cult following. This film was Pleasence’s final role. The movie itself continued to prove that the franchise was in demise, since it bombed at the box-office and was panned by critics. but interestingly – it has some of the goriest murders in the entire series. “Curse of Michael Myers” tried to elaborate more on the topics of his immortality and served as the final installment in “Thorn trilogy” story arc, that, in all honesty, left everyone confused. Reboot or remake was inevitable at this point as one of the ideas for the next film was to send Michael to space, which producer Moustapha Akkad declined. Ironically, the rejected premise was used for a new “Friday the 13th” film – “Jason X”.
5. “Halloween” (2018)
Commercially, this “Halloween” reboot is the most successful horror reboot of all time, by grossing 255 million $ on a 10 million $ budget (around 45 million $ after P&A). Critics, however, were divided. It was praised for acting, particularly Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as the more serious tone it took, but heavily criticized for its not-so-smart subplots. Also, this is the second time the authors have disregarded the entire storyline after the original, including Michael-Laurie’s brother-sister plot. And there is no Jamie, but there’s Karen, and her granddaughter Allyson. At times, it feels like the film’s screenplay was patched or combined with another. Blumhouse went full force on marketing for this one, and at the time of its release it looked larger than life. It was also the first of three films that David Gordon Green directed, while James Carpenter composed most of the film’s score. Regardless of its polarizing status, it brought the franchise back to life, and remains the second best reviewed film, right after Carpenter’s original.
6. “Haloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” (1988)
“Halloween 4” marked the franchise’s return to its story’s roots – Michael Myers was brought back as the main villain, after his absence in the third film (titled “Season of the Witch” and had nothing to do with the storyline from the first two movies).
Unfortunately, Jamie Lee Curtis did not come back for this one, but the film incorporated the Strode family plot. Jamie Lloyd, Laurie Strode’s daughter, and Michael’s niece, became the protagonist of this and the following two films that formed a trilogy within the, now, 13-films long slasher series. This plotline was, expectedly, disregarded in the future; therefore, “Halloween: H20” was called a direct sequel to the events in the original two.
7. “Halloween Kills” (2021)
Oh Lord, where to begin with this one? The story is set on the same night as the previous one from 2018, and with Laurie (Curtis) being wounded and stuck to a hospital bed, her offspring went to get Michael. The entire screenplay is a mess. There is a lot of unnecessary new characters, cringe-worthy dialogues, stereotypical depictions of minorities (to fit the entire inclusion slash-diversity nonsense), and another set of original characters, which were brought from the original “Halloween”. Speaking of old characters, it’s interesting to note that Kyle Richards who plays Lyndsay Wallace (little girl from the 1978’s film) does the most regarding acting, which says a lot about the entire cast, and the storyline which gives Jamie Lee Curtis roughly 15 minutes of screen time (and for the first time, Jamie fails to deliver). “Evil dies tonight” is chanted throughout the movie countless times, as the whole mob mentality subplot develops into something that seems awkwardly familiar – the happenings in Capitol from January this year. The creative team claims it was shot in 2019, before it happened, but I’m taking a wild guess this was a part of the reshoots. Michael owns this one, as he’s the only one who looks like his old self. If you decide to watch this one, you must leave any sense of logic and cynicism outside the theatre.
8. “Halloween” (2007)
It is still unknown, to this day, what was Rob Zombie trying to do with “Halloween”, but whatever he had on his mind did not work. After “Halloween: Resurrection” that will forever be at the bottom of the list, regardless of what producers do with Michael’s character, Zombie was brought in to revive the franchise, once again. Only this time Michael’s hair was longer, and the entire aesthetics of the film went too far with Zombie’s heavy metal influence, and there were barely any scares. Even though the reception was mixed, the film remains as the third most profitable film, only behind “Halloween” (2018) and “Haloween Kills” (2021). And as I am writing this, I realize that commercial success was the only reason Zombie was allowed to come back for one more film in 2009. Unless they wanted to push “Halloween” past the point of no return.
9. “Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” (1989)
The fifth part (or fourth, if we exclude the third film) of “Halloween” saga continues where the previous one left, but still represents the weakest link in the story. After traumatizing and almost killing Jamie, Michael comes back, once again to hunt her down. Jamie almost killed her mother by that point and started developing a telepathic link to Michael. As if that wasn’t enough, Michael had the second worst mask in this one, and managed to bore us all. Yes, the fifth film is the definition of sucking the life out of something that was at least supposed to be scary. The dialogs were unintentionally comic, almost like they were borrowed from daytime TV soap operas. The film gave us nothing new but more confusion over Michael’s identity, and his motives for the never-ending killings.
10. “Halloween 2” (2009)
If there is one good thing to be said about this soulless Zombie’s sequel, it must be – “It’s still better than Halloween: Resurrection”. That statement alone, of course, doesn’t really work in its favor; it only highlights the fact that something even more pointless was made in the past. There is a lot of gore and brutal violence, and there are shots of a white horse that Michael’s mother gives to him. Yes, Zombie really tried to give this one a deeper meaning and some symbolism. The best part of this movie is a hospital scene, which is, in all fairness, a butchered version of the hospital scene from 1981's “Halloween II”. Overall, pretentious, and unnecessarily violent in all the wrong ways, Zombie’s “Halloween 2” could simply be labeled as silly.
11. “Halloween: Resurrection” (2002) Everyone, we have a winner. The worst one of them all belongs to this Rick Rosenthal’s tired attempt to bridge the gap from “Halloween: H20” to present, by throwing Busta Rhymes in, to play internet reality show director, who decides to place cameras all over Michael’s abandoned childhood home, so he can observe a bunch of college students get scared, and later, of course, slaughtered. Understanding that this time around Jamie Lee Curtis is not going to settle for an actual lead role, Rosenthal decided to kill her in the beginning, when she’s having, yet another, and now final smackdown. Michael really didn’t have it easy since he had to deal with Rob Zombie’s reinvention right after being “resurrected” by Rosenthal. Grade: F
Author: Viktor Vilotijevic