In 1978, director John Carpenter created not only one of the greatest horror films ever made, he accidentally launched a franchise which has spawned 10 films, and seemingly a million imitators. You know the music, you know the mask, it’s Halloween.
Next year, in time for the original’s 40th anniversary, Carpenter, (as a producer), and star Jamie Lee Curtis are set to return for one more round of Haddonfield highjinks. But before we get to part 11, how do the other films stack up, all these years later? Lets count down the best Halloween films, starting from the very worst to the all-time classics.
#10. Halloween Resurrection (2002)
1998’s H20 was decent enough that it should have been the end of the franchise. I mean, Laurie gets her revenge, Michael finally dies, “The End,” right? Yeah sure. Four years later Resurrection came out, which undid the satisfying ending of the previous film, killed Laurie off in a stupid, contract fulfilling, obligatory cameo, and then spent the rest of the movie in some stupid webcam show plot in the Myers house, and Michael facing off against… Busta Rhymes. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds.
#9. Halloween II (2009)
Everything wrong with the Rob Zombie remake compounded by two. So off-the-rails batshirt crazy that I almost like it. But no, really it’s terrible. Luckily, this was the last Rob Zombie Halloween movie, as the next movie will once again be a sequel to the original two films. I mean, the movie ends with Laurie telling Michael she loves him before stabbing him over and over and taking on his mask. You tell me.
#8. Halloween (2007)
Remakes shouldn’t be exact replicas of the original. What’s the point? But at the same time, they need to honor the core of what the original film is. Rob Zombie’s Halloween strips the original film of everything that made it work — mood, suspense, and the unexplainable origin of Michael Myers, a kid who was pure evil for some unknowable, arcane reason — and gave him the same abusive white trash upbringing that apparently creates any psychopathic killer. The film is competently made, but misses the entire point of Halloween.
#7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
If Halloween 4 was decent schlock, then part 5 is terrible schlock. The filmmakers wanted to get more gory, which is more Friday the 13th than Halloween. The teen characters are all grating and awful, and young Jamie Lloyd is less endearing and more annoying, This movie performed poorly at the box office, so its cliffhanger ending isn’t resolved for six more years.
# 6. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
The first Halloween movie from Dimension films came out nearly six years after the previous installment, and ties to tie up the loose ends from the previous films, plus semi reboot the series. It also made the mistake of trying to explain how and why Michael is what he is with this convoluted story about druids and evil cults, totally demystifying him in the process. At least this movie gave us Paul Rudd.
#5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween 4 isn’t a great movie, but it attempts to evoke some of the mood of the first two films, and mostly succeeds, just in a more schlocky way. Ten years after Laurie Strode’s night of terror, we’re introduced to her 9 year old daughter Jamie Lloyd. Laurie dies offscreen in a car accident, mostly because in 1988 Jamie Lee Curtis’ career had take off and she wanted nothing to do with horror flicks. Michael escapes confinement, goes looking for his last living relative, and lots of people die.
#4. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Otherwise known as “the one without Michael Myers.” This one is beloved by some fans for the movie that attempted to think outside the Michael Myers box and give us something new, in this case, Halloween masks that kill little kids. Had this movie made money, it would have recast Halloween as an anthology series, which is what producer John Carpenter wanted.
#3. Halloween: H20 (1998)
After the success of Scream, slasher movies were back in a big way, so Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the franchise that made her famous. Essentially saying that parts 4-6 didn’t happen, we find that Laurie Strode faked her death, convinced her brother would come back for her someday. 20 years to the day of their last encounter, he does.
H20 wastes too much time with the teen characters (future stars Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams among them), but everything with the broken and terrified Laurie Strode is gold. When she finally decides to stop being afraid and goes after Michael once for all, it’s a fist bump moment. Sadly, they couldn’t leave well enough alone and made another one.
#2. Halloween II (1981)
Make no mistake, Halloween II is nowhere near as good as the first film. Although still written by John Carpenter, the second film relies less on suspense and more on gore. BUT – Halloween II gets major props for being the purest sequel ever made, picking up right where the first one left off and essentially chronicling the rest of Laurie Strode’s worst night ever. And although Carpenter has changed his mind about it, I actually like the “Michael is Laurie’s brother” twist.
#1. Halloween (1978)
The original Halloween is like Jenga — take away the right piece, and it all falls apart. But luckily, all the right pieces came together to make this timeless classic: John Carpenter to write and direct, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence to star, and Carpenter once again to create that iconic and indelible score. Oh, and let’s not forget William Shatner to lend his face, albeit by accident, to create one of the most iconic and memorable images in film history, Michael Myers’ mask. Some people say Halloween doesn’t hold up to modern standards. They are wrong — Halloween is 90 minutes of horror perfection.
Which of the ten Halloween films is your favorite? Let us know down below in the comments.
Images: Trancas International Films