This post is an updated and reworded version my original Rating the Halloween Franchise post from October 2008.
Rating the Halloween Franchise
1978, Compass International Pictures
What can be said about this movie that hasn’t been said already? Though not the first slasher movie, Halloween is the movie that spawned the entire horror sub-genre that blew up during the 1980s. The film’s score is amazing. Right up there with Star Wars, and the atmosphere throughout the film is tense, as are the film’s closing moments. It’s my favorite horror move and one of the my favorite movies period. You can’t call yourself a fan of horror movies if you’ve never seen this one.
out of 5
1981, Universal Pictures
The sequel is a classic in its own right, but a lot of horror fans and film critics don’t agree with me. The movie takes place immediately after the events of Halloween, and director Rick Rosenthal (John Carpenter passed on directing but did co-write & co-produce) hoped to create a similar atmosphere for this movie. The final product of Halloween II ended up being far more violent and gory than its predecessor. This is thanks to the fact that Universal and/or John Carpenter felt the movie needed to be able to compete with other slasher movies of the day and new kill scenes were filmed (supposedly with Carpenter as director).
Yes, the movie is harsher and features a slightly different tone than the original movie because of that, but both movies are a fantastic 1-2 punch. Just as Halloween III: Season of the Witch has grown in stature over the years, it’s high time Halloween II starts getting the credit it deserves. It’s one of the best slasher movies of all time, but it has the misfortune of being the follow up to THE best slasher movie of all time.
out of 5
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
1982, Universal Pictures
The first famous misstep in the franchise’s history is actually a decent sinister little movie. With John Carpenter as co-producer, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was intended to turn the franchise into a horror anthology series as everyone felt the story of Michael Myers was over. Of course, moviegoers were confused and angered by the fact that Michael Myers was not in this film, thus this movie was not very successful and was hated upon its release. Because of this, the franchise would lay dormant for six years before Michael’s comeback in 1988’s Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers.
Still, this movie is violent, creepy, cynical and bleak. What’s not to like? It’s an oddity in the franchise, for sure, but worth watching for fans of horror. In the end, time has been kind to this movie. Halloween III: Season of the Witch has developed a cult following and the Silver Shamrock jingle and masks have become iconic in their own right. 2018’s Halloween even has a scene where some kids are shown wearing masks very similar to the Silver Shamrock masks!
out of 5
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
1988, Galaxy International Releasing
I think a lot of critics will point this movie as when the series took a serious nose-dive, but I love this movie. To me, it’s a slasher classic, but it obviously has a different atmosphere than the first two movies. It’s not in their league, but it’s still a great movie and it’s one I love to watch every Halloween season.
In this one, Michael Myers returns to come after his niece, Jamie Lloyd. Jamie Lee Curtis did not return in this movie and this movie takes place a few months after her character of Laurie Strode/Lloyd died in a car accident. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cop out and it’s weird not having Laurie around but Danielle Harris is fantastic as Jamie and Donald Pleasance is back and turns in a great performance as well, losing his own mind as the obsessed Dr. Loomis.
out of 5
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
1989, Galaxy International Releasing
The story of Jamie vs. Michael continues, but it’s just a step below Halloween 4. After that movie’s twist ending of Jamie stabbing her step-mother (mirroring Michael stabbing his older sister all those years ago), you’d think maybe Michael’s niece would become his murderous sidekick, but that’s not what happens. Jamie has been traumatized and Michael is still out to finish her off. This movie introduces the idea that Jamie and Michael share some sort of psychic link. That’s something that was hinted at in the Halloween 4 but never explored fully, and then completely ignored/forgotten in the next movie.
There’s quite the WTF ending with the infamous “Man In Black” breaking Michael out of jail at the end. I have read there was no real idea for where to go with that. It was just something that was written into this movie with the attitude of “we’ll figure it out in the next one”.
Gorier than the previous movie and a bit more ridiculous, this is definitely the lesser movie of the two, but still an enjoyable ride.
out of 5
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
1995, Dimension Films
An infamous entry into the series, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers introduces the idea that Michael Myers is controlled by a cult of druids and that he is compelled to kill and “sacrifice” his bloodline in order to help cleanse the earth. Or something like that. I much prefer the original answer for why Michael is the way he is. As Doctor Loomis put it, Michael is pure evil.
There are three versions of this movie: the theatrical release, director’s cut (which I’ve never seen), and producer’s cut. The director’s cut and producer’s cut have existed as low-quality bootlegs for over twenty years, but the producer’s cut finally got an official release in 2014 via Scream Factory’s Complete Collection release. The producer’s cut was the original finished film, but after test screenings, the movie studio wanted new scenes filmed and other scenes cut. Unfortunately, Donald Plesance had passed away by this point, thus the new scenes had to be worked around the character of Dr. Loomis.
The theatrical cut is a bit more flashy, a bit more violent and is disjointed. The producer’s cut makes more sense for the story they are trying to tell, but I think it’s the wrong story to tell about Michael Myers. There are differences in both movies such as plot variations as to how Jaime Lloyd (no longer played by Danielle Harris) is handled and movie’s end.
I guess the producer’s cut is a slightly better movie, but I prefer the theatrical cut’s ending. Either way, both cuts are weird and disappointing.
out of 5
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
1998, Dimension Films
Three years after the disappointing convoluted mess that was Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, it was decided a soft reboot was in order. The idiotically titled Halloween H20 (Halloween… Water?) takes place as a sequel to the first two movies. This movie ignores the events of all the other movies.
In this movie, Dr. Loomis has passed away, Laurie Strode faked her death in a car crash and moved to California, where she has a son. Michael has reappeared after twenty years after the events of Halloween II with no explanation, discovers Laurie’s new location and stalks her on the ground of the private school that she runs.
The movie is decent. It’s not great but it’s an okay viewing, but a little silly at times. The ending was pretty final, but this movie turned a profit, therefore not so final…
out of 5
2002, Dimension Films
It turns out Michael pulled the ol’ switcheroo at the end of the last movie and Laurie killed an innocent man! This has lead to a complete breakdown and she has now been living in a mental hospital for the last few years. Michael then shows up at the hospital and a duel on the rooftop between Michael and Laurie ends with Laurie getting stabbed and falling to her death. This all happens in the opening minutes of the film. Yep. A pretty unceremonious killing off of the franchise’s second most important character.
The thin plot is this: horny annoying college kids sign up to stay in the Myers house overnight as part of a live webcam show. Halloween: Resurrection is an idea that has the series looking desperate in an attempt to stay relevant and seem modern. It attempts to simultaneously cash in on “found footage” Blair Witch type of movies that were popular at the time by using grainy webcam footage and reality TV (there’s even some dialogue that references the reality show Survivor).
When you have Busta Rhymes as the hero in Halloween movie something has gone horribly wrong. Busta pulls out karate moves on Michael all while yelling groan-inducing lines like, “Trick or treat, motherfucker!” and “Hey Mikey, happy fucking Halloween!”. Oh, he also electrocutes Michael in the nuts. Yep. Halloween: Resurrection is a disgrace and feels like an episode of Itchy & Scratchy.
This is easily the worst movie in the series. It’s boring. It’s not scary (though it filled with lots of jump scares). Without any connection to a Myers family member, Halloween: Resurrection basically turns into a brainless Friday the 13th movie, except it’s nowhere near as good or fun as those movies can be. By the way, just why didn’t they use John Tate (Laurie’s son from Halloween H20)? Having John hunting down Michael for killing his mom surely would’ve made for a better movie than this one, even if Josh Hartnett couldn’t/wouldn’t return as John, just recast him. Now that could’ve been fairly interesting. Instead of Michael stalking someone, have Michael be the one hanging around Haddonfield and his old home while his nephew is coming after him.
So bad and stupid that it killed the franchise for seven years and necessitated an awful reboot written & directed by Rob Zombie.
out of 5
2007, Dimension Films/MGM
It’s a Rob Zombie film. If you liked House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil’s Rejects, this is basically more of that. It’s over-the-top violent and it’s a love letter to 1970’s grindhouse and white-trash camp.
Most of the movie is essentially an origin story for what Michael Myers would later become. There are a lot of scenes devoted to his childhood and time spent at the Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.
Not awful, but not worth going out of your way for. It’s not really Halloween or anything that pays tribute to that. Rob Zombie has such a distinct style and that it can’t be anything but a Rob Zombie movie (complete with Rob Zombie music used throughout).
out of 5
2009, Dimension Films
More of the same, and even though Rob Zombie’s Halloween was another low-point in the series, the sequel is even worse. A completely forgettable movie (and that’s the reason I don’t have much to say about this one).
out of 5
2018, Universal Pictures
Against all odds, Michael Myers AND Laurie Strode (again portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis) returned in 2018 in what is a sequel to the 1978 movie. True to the franchise being a confusing mess, this movie (the 12th entry overall in the series) shares the same title with the 1978 movie. What? No Halloween H40: Forty Years Later? So now there are THREE movies in this franchise called Halloween. The original, the reboot, and a sequel to the original.
When this idea was announced, I wasn’t expecting much, but I sure did plan on going to the theaters to see it. Buzz building up to this movie was pretty strong and early screenings for critics received a positive response, so I began to get excited as opening weekend word of mouth was pretty good. The movie opened at #1 with $77 million dollars grossed for the weekend, shooting it right to the top as the top grossing movie in the series.
This movie ignores all of the previous sequels. So we now have FOUR different timeline/universes within this series. In this movie, Michael and Laurie not related and Michael was captured after the events of the original movie and has been held at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium for the last forty years. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode has become a reclusive nut-job obsessed with booby trapping her home and stocking up on weapons just in case Michael ever escapes and tries to kill her. Of course, this happens. The movie’s characters put out a few theories as to why Michael wanted to kill Laurie and her friends in 1978 and would return for Laurie now, but there really is no answer. He is “The Shape”, “the boogeyman”, and pure evil.
The movie ratchets up the gore. It’s definitely the most violent in the entire series. You don’t see every kill, but you sure do see the aftermath. From what I have read in interviews with the people behind this movie, the idea was to return to the sense of dread and tension of the original, but I have to be honest and say that they failed for the most part. There’s lot of killing, not so much a lot of stalking like the 1978 movie had. That’s not a bad thing. I just don’t think they achieved what they believe they achieved and the movie is more blunt than atmospheric.
It’s neck-and-neck between this movie and Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers as to what the third-best movie in the franchise is. It’s a really good entry into the series and one that I definitely look forward to buying and viewing again when it is released on video. It isn’t perfect, but I liked it a lot and it’ll be interesting to see how well it holds up on future viewings.
Now, who’s ready for another Halloween II?
out of 5