Michael Myers is one of the most iconic faces in horror up there with Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. The franchise is currently up to 11 films with the 12th instalment titled Halloween Kills was released in cinemas on October 15th 2021 following its year long delay due to COVID-19.
The franchise is then set to end the following October in 2022 with Halloween Ends claiming to be the final Halloween film but if that’s really going to be the final ever Halloween film we can’t say for certain. There’s always a good chance we see yet another revival of the franchise. Over the years so much has happened in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois (named after a very real Haddonfield in New Jersey where producer and screenwriter Debra Hill grew up) and Michael Myers will always be haunting the town.
The franchise has seen everything from retcons and soft reboots to standalone films and re-imaginings. It can be quite hard to keep up with the series, especially given how poorly named they all are. A film released in 2018 simply titled Halloween is actually a sequel to 1978’s Halloween but bears no connection to 2007’s Halloween. And despite the 2018 film named Halloween being a direct sequel, it’s most certainly not called Halloween II as that’s already been done. Twice. In both 1981 and 2009 there were film’s called Halloween II. You can definitely be forgiven for not having any idea where to start with the franchise if you’re new and so I’m going to count down all 11 Halloween films from worst to best to fill you in and to remind you of the franchise, ready to return to Haddonfield once again this Halloween.
11. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Horror franchises are well known for running the series into the ground as they go on with the quality dropping greatly with each instalment. And Halloween: Resurrection really proves this to be the case. It was the final Halloween film before Rob Zombie rebooted the franchise in 2007 and before David Gordon Green retconned it out of existence in 2018 and it really scrapes the very bottom of the barrel. The filmmakers were clearly all out of ideas by the time they got around to making it.
Even John Carpenter, the writer and director of the original 1978 film has admitted to cringing at Resurrection. Jamie Lee Curtis really didn’t want to return as Laurie Strode but ultimately did only for her to be killed off in the film’s opening. Resurrection is anything but memorable as it sees Michael Myers’ old childhood home being used for a live internet reality show. It is worth noting though that this film does see American rapper Busta Rhymes kung fu kick Michael Myers out of a window, something that you won’t see in any other films. I’ll leave you to decide if that’s a good thing or not.
10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Much like Resurrection, The Curse of Michael Myers is not a particularly good film. One of the most noteworthy things about it is the cast. Not only was it one of final films of Halloween series regular Donald Pleasance, who plays psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis, with it being released a few months after he passed away, but The Curse of Michael Myers was also one of Paul Rudd’s very first acting performances as the film came out in the same year as his first film Clueless (although Halloween was filmed before Clueless). Rudd plays an adult version of Tommy Doyle, the eight-year-old boy that Laurie babysits for in the original film, but not even Rudd can save the film from being dull and a complete disaster. It’s the lowest ranked Halloween film of them all according to Rotten Tomatoes sitting with a very low score of 9% on the Tomatometer.
9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
The fifth instalment in the franchise is all too familiar for it to be any good. Whilst there isn’t anything that’s outright awful about it like there is with Resurrection and The Curse of Michael Myers, it’s far too basic to provide any half-decent scares or shocks. It follows the same well-trodden story where Michael Myers, after being presumed dead at the end of the previous film was somehow secretly nursed back to full health, and once again, he returns on Halloween to track down his niece and Laurie Strode’s daughter Jamie. The characters are fairly bland and uninteresting this time around and there aren’t any particularly exciting kills. Everything about Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers is too familiar and too samey to make this an interesting entry in the franchise.
8. Halloween (2007)
The 9th Halloween film and a remake of the original film, directed by Rob Zombie, takes the franchise in a whole new direction. Zombie spends much more time focussing on Michael Myers as a child and looking deeper into his psyche. All credit to Zombie for trying something different with the franchise, particularly as by 2007 we’d seen countless sequels that do nothing with the material and with the characters, but in doing so, he makes Myers too sympathetic. When part of the terror of the character is that he just kills people and we don’t exactly know why, creating sympathy for a killer isn’t something that feels right. In addition to this, another one of the things that made the original so impactful was just how tense it was. It was completely gripping from start to finish, whereas in Rob Zombie’s film, he instead opts for lots of violence and gore in place of suspense and tension which makes the film feel rather cheap.
7. Halloween II (2009)
After Rob Zombie’s first Halloween film was a box office hit grossing over $80 million, he came back to do a sequel. Zombie’s follow up is in fact slightly better than the first one. It doubles down on the violence getting even more brutal than the first. Zombie gets more inventive and creative with the franchise with this one. The film begins right where the previous film left off with Laurie heading to the hospital after shooting Michael Myers. We then jump forward two years and we get to witness Laurie dealing with the aftermath of what happened and dealing with the trauma that she’s now plagued with. It’s still not an especially good film and it’s far from being one of the better Halloween films in the series, but Zombie’s unique visual style helps provide at least some level of entertainment to this slasher flick.
6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Halloween H20 was the 7th film in the franchise to be released and it was the first time they decided to retcon certain films and to pretty much pretend that they never existed. It chooses to ignore films 4,5 and 6 and the entire character of Jamie Lloyd, the daughter of Laurie Strode. Instead H20 brings back Jamie Lee Curtis and serves as a direct sequel to the first two films with Laurie now working at a private school in California under a new name when Michael Myers returns, and she must stop him from killing her and her son. H20 brought a much-needed new breath of life to the series. The cast not only sees Jamie Lee Curtis returning but it also saw the addition of Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in one of his earlier film roles. Whilst it’s still not a perfect slasher film and defies logic in a lot of places, H20 is an enjoyable film to watch.
5. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The biggest problem with Halloween III: Season of the Witch is that it’s not really a Halloween film. It’s certainly a very entertaining horror film, but it just doesn’t really fit with the rest of the franchise. The film doesn’t feature Michael Myers, it doesn’t feature Laurie Strode, or even Dr. Loomis. It’s completely standalone. It was made when they were considering turning the Halloween franchise into an anthology series that focused on different stories all taking place around the night of Halloween- although this was the only anthology film they made. Whist it’s disappointing that this Halloween film isn’t really a Halloween film, it’s actually a very fun and entertaining movie which is why it ranks so highly in this list. It sees the Silver Shamrock Halloween mask company creating masks for children to wear on Halloween that will lead to death and destruction all around the country. And despite going a bit more supernatural than the rest of the franchise with the idea of witchcraft, there’s a lot of fun to be had if you suspend your disbelief.
4. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
After Season of the Witch saw everyone’s favourite masked murderer Michael Myers mysteriously missing, he’s back in Halloween 4 as we get the return of the crazed killer in what’s a really entertaining slasher film. It ignores Season of the Witch’s story entirely and instead returns to Haddonfield and returns to Michael and Dr Loomis. This film is the first time we meet Jamie Lloyd, and the film in which she’s first introduced as the franchise’s new main protagonist. The film feels much more contained and on a smaller scale then both Season of the Witch and many of the sequels that followed making it all the more tense and gripping. Whilst Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is far from an excellent film, it’s really entertaining and fits into the franchise very well.
3. Halloween II (1981)
Picking up right where we left off in 1978 at the end of the original film, Halloween II sees Michael follow Laurie to the hospital in another desperate attempt to kill her. The most notable thing about the sequel is that it reveals that Laurie Strode is in fact the sister of Michael Myers. It’s a twist that adds a bit more- perhaps unnecessary- context to the first film. It clears up the rather ambiguous motive behind Michael, adding some reason to why exactly he wants to kill Laurie so badly. It’s a plot point that forms the narrative for many of the films that follow. Many people aren’t a fan of this twist including Quentin Tarantino as well as John Carpenter himself who says it’s “awful”.
However, looking beyond this reveal, Halloween II is tense and scary, just like its predecessor. It immediately throws you right back into the dark town of Haddonfield and right from the start it grabs you and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. It’s not as tense and suspenseful as the original, not by a long shot, but it’s a gripping film, something that many of the other sequels unfortunately aren’t.
2. Halloween (2018)
In 2018 the franchise saw a triumphant return in what was probably one of the best decisions they could have made. The new film would disregard all previous sequels and instead is a direct continuation of the original…only 40 years later. The film makes it clear that Laurie is not Michael Myers’ sister and that she never was. This time around, four decades after they last met, Laurie and Michael will have another showdown in the town of Haddonfield. It brings together three generations of Strodes with not just Jamie Lee Curtis, but Judy Greer joins the cast as her daughter and Andi Matichak plays Laurie’s granddaughter.
Produced by Blumhouse, a company that are constantly putting out really good horror films, 2018’s Halloween is no exception. It’s smart and it’s got some great kills. The film managed to feel fresh and modern whilst also paying homage to the original. It retained an incredibly tense atmosphere to it, something that the original film did so well. And most importantly, it managed to provide a fresh start for the franchise without being bogged down by terrible sequels, bad plot points and character relations.
And, as a result of all this, in combination with excellent direction from David Gordon Green, it meant that there was finally another outstanding edition to the franchise. Halloween is one of the best horror films of the 21st century which is even more of a remarkable feat when you look at the rocky history of Halloween sequels. It’s set the franchise up to be in a really good position for this year’s Halloween Kills and if that film delivers in the same way as its predecessor, Halloween Ends in 2022 is going to be one hell of a film.
1. Halloween (1978)
Despite there having been ten other Halloween films since the original in 1978, it will always be the very first one that’s the best. The film will be considered a classic until the end of time; it’s one of the most notable and influential slasher films ever made and many people, including myself, consider it to be the greatest horror film ever made.
The reason why it’s still such a great film after all these years is because of the simplicity of it all. It didn’t need a huge budget or a lot of CGI, in fact it was made with a tiny budget of around $300,000. And the small budget is what led to a very curious piece of costume design. The Michael Myers mask itself is instantly recognisable and already starts to terrify you. But funnily enough because of the low budget, the Michael Myers mask used is actually a mask of William Shatner’s Captain Kirk from Star Trek that the production bought for $1.98 from a costume shop that was then spray-painted white.
Halloween is still so terrifying today because of the simplicity of it all. It’s only 91 minutes long and yet every single second is full of suspense. From the opening credits with John Carpenter’s iconic score as names flash up on screen next to a creepy pumpkin, followed by the tracking shot of a young Michael killing his teen sister right up until the very ending, it will have you on edge and get right under your skin. The whole film is scary and thrilling with it setting a precedent for what horror films that follow should be like.
Every single minute of the film is doing something, whether that’s building a terrifying atmosphere, filling you with dread or showing you a brutal murder, everything is needed. It’s an absolute masterclass in creating and sustaining tension. No other film can grip you in the same was as John Carpenters’ Halloween. Within minutes you’re hooked, and you cannot tear your eyes away from the screen for the next hour and half which is why not only is the original Halloween film the best in the franchise but it’s the best horror film ever made.