Every Halloween Movie, Ranked From Awful To Amazing
By Chris E. Hayner on
A movie franchise doesn't last 40 years without being great. However, it also doesn't last 40 years without at least a few duds mixed in. If ever you needed proof of that, look no further than the Halloween films.
Some entries in the franchise that follow the psychotic killer Michael Myers are wonderful, others… not so much. After all, for every Laurie Strode, there's a Busta Rhymes, ready to roundhouse kick Michael because, evidently, the rapper is also secretly a ninja.
With Halloween headed back to theaters, I undertook the insane task of rewatching all 10 of the original films, including Rob Zombie's two remakes, to give them a definitive ranking. The new movie is even included for good measure, giving you the opportunity to see just where each entry in the Halloween franchise ranks, as far as quality is concerned.
If you're looking for even more Halloween content, make sure to check out our review of the new film, as well as an explanation of why it's ignoring all of the sequels, regardless of their quality. Additionally, you should definitely take a look at what star Jamie Lee Curtis has to say about the unsung hero on the franchise, producer and co-writer Debra Hill.
11. Halloween: Resurrection
It's the movie that killed a franchise, in a way. Halloween: Resurrection was the last stand of the original Michael Myers until the 2018 film. This movie is trash and should be regarded as such. When a Halloween movie resorts to having Michael Myers battling Kung Fu master Busta Rhymes, it's time to call it a day and move on.
There are a couple moments that might make you think there's something to this film--its focus on young people hunting for fame, or the rising obsession with reality TV, for instance--but this is just a brainless end of a once-great franchise. Trick or treat, mother f***er, indeed.
10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
There's no way around this. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is bad. It's not just bad, it's awful. It's not Busta Rhymes awful, but it did make a jump to the supernatural realm by linking Michael's inability to be killed to a cult that wants to control him. Guess how well that goes?
By this point, it was overwhelmingly clear that the Halloween franchise was running on fumes. This is a film so convoluted that, if not for Myers, it would make no sense that it's set in the Halloween franchise. It makes it easy to see why the next movie retconned all of its events, along with two other films.
9. Halloween II (2009)
If Rob Zombie knows how to make anything, it's a Rob Zombie movie. His second Halloween, which picks up two years after the first, introduced the idea of Michael having visions of his mother telling him he has to kill Laurie to reunite the Myers family once and for all.
In doing so, the movie is loaded with even more grisly murders and the same dark and dirty look of the first film. It also gave Laurie the same hallucinations Michael was having, right down to their mother appearing with a white horse. Whether that means she's simply having the same psychotic visions she is or if something supernatural is at play, who knows?
The film ends with Michael dead and Laurie in a psychiatric hospital, continuing to have visions of her mother. Rob Zombie doesn't do happy endings, even if we've suffered through a truly disturbing movie that has none of the fun of a Halloween movie anywhere in sight.
8. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
One of the biggest sins of Halloween 5 was completely disregarding the twist at the end of the fourth movie, in which Jamie becomes a killer herself after surviving the attacks of her deranged uncle Michael Myers.
Instead, Revenge picks up a year later after Jamie has become mute and committed to a psychiatric hospital following everything that happened in the first film. She did, however, somehow gain a psychic link with Michael.
This film was the first sign, really, that the franchise was running out of steam. By 1989, the slasher subgenre was starting to dwindle, and Halloween was going with it. Granted, Michael never went to space or Manhattan like his Friday the 13th counterpart Jason Voorhees, but Revenge is just an uninspired film that doesn't really breathe any new life into the series.
7. Halloween (2007)
What is there to say about Rob Zombie's Halloween reboot? It did the only thing nobody really asked for in giving Michael Myers a lengthy backstory, explaining how he became the unstoppable killer--an abusive family, bullies, and a generally awful life for a child. This humanized Michael in a way no other movie in the franchise had, which ruins a lot of the mystique surrounding him.
Still, it included some creative kills and interesting moments--as well as a young boy's obsession with masks--and turned them into a movie that was so vicious that it was often hard to watch. And if you're keeping track, Zombie also worked in the plot of Michael and Laurie being siblings, first introduced in the original Halloween II.
6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
There's a lot to love about H20. The most important thing being the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. However, it's also the first Halloween movie to arrive after Scream changed the game and reignited the slasher subgenre's popularity. This movie features a young and popular cast--Michelle Williams, Josh Hartnett, and LL Cool J--all appear and a song by Creed pops up during the end credits. This is an incredibly late-'90s movie.
It's the return of Laurie, though, essentially erasing Halloween 4-6, that makes H20 interesting. In a way, it's a template for what the 2018 film is doing, showing the world what became of Laurie after the events of the first film. Now she's an alcoholic living under an assumed identity, waiting for the day Michael comes back.
Unfortunately, outside of Curtis, there's nothing truly remarkable about the movie. It's a fairly by-the-numbers slasher film that fixed a lot of the issues in previous franchise entries, but without bringing enough to the table that was new.
5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
After the world was less than impressed with a Halloween movie featuring no Michael Myers--in Season of the Witch--it's hard to blame anyone for resurrecting the character. Unfortunately, the one thing working against the film was a complete lack of Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode.
Instead, Halloween 4 introduced a little girl named Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), who was the daughter of a now-dead Laurie that had been adopted. It essentially kicked off a Halloween tale for a new generation, 10 years after the first film. And, honestly, it's not bad. Michael hunting a child as the last link to his family is an interesting hook and the movie manages to have some creative kills and truly scary moments. It was also the last bit of good Halloweens before things for bad for nearly a decade.
4. Halloween II (1981)
Halloween II is an interesting film. While it was written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, it sometimes feels like a sequel to their movie is the last thing either of them were interested in. It's an angrier movie than the first Halloween and relies on a lot of the over-the-top gore, making it feel very out of step with the original. Halloween II also introduced an element that could go on to play a role in the nine films that followed--Laurie is Michael's sister.
Still, even though it's far more extreme in tone than the original, Halloween II feels truer to the first movie than any of the sequels that followed. That's likely due, in no small part, to Hill and Carpenter's involvement. That said, the movie seemingly blows Michael up at the end, killing him once and for all. Given how uninterested the pair were in doing a sequel, it makes sense that they'd want to finally dispatch him before a potential third Michael Myers movie was ordered--not that any of his deaths ever stopped him.
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Season of the Witch is the true oddity. It's the only film that doesn't feature Michael Myers--outside of a commercial for the original Halloween seen on a TV--and instead follows the incredibly realistic story of a novelty mask company using mystic powers from Stonehenge to create masks that kill the children who wear them on Halloween.
Alright, it's an admittedly weird movie. It's the right kind of weird, though, as producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill attempted to create something entirely new with the Halloween franchise, shifting it into more of an anthology series.
Instead of a slasher like its predecessors, Season of the Witch relies on science fiction elements--yes, there are robots--and other horror elements for its scares, creating something entirely new. Without Michael Myers, though, audiences simply didn't care, which is a major disappointment. Season of the Witch is a great horror film and easily one of the Halloween franchises best entries.
2. Halloween (2018)
Don't ask us how, but they actually did it. Resurrecting a long-dead franchise should be impossible, but the new Halloween did it so well that it's actually the second best entry of the bunch. It achieves that by simply ignoring all of the bad that came in the litany of Halloween films over the years.
In the new Halloween, Michael never fought Busta Rhymes, Laurie was never his sister, the thorn mark doesn't exist, and Laurie never had a kid named Jamie--or John for that matter. This film returns the franchise to what it was, a psychopathic killer on the loose that leaves nobody safe. That is, of course, until he crosses paths with Laurie one more time, 40 years after they first met, and setting them up for quite a showdown.
The new Halloween is everything so many of us wished any of the seven original sequels would be. It's scary, true to the original film, and forwards the story in a realistic way--at least, realistic by Halloween standards. After all, while Freddy Krueger hunts his prey in the dream world and Jason Voorhees just might be an immortal who can also teleport, Michael was based in reality at first. He was simply a psychopath with a knife, and that's what the new film makes him once again.
1. Halloween (1978)
Honestly, the original Halloween gave birth to the slasher craze. It wasn't the first film in the subgenre, but it was the one that launched a million knockoffs and copycats. None of them though, not even the subsequent Halloween films, were able to match it. It introduced Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a realistic teenage girl fighting against the randomness and chaos that was her attacker Michael Myers.
While the movies that followed muddied that idea by deciding Michael was Laurie's sister, what makes this movie so scary is they have no connection. Michael is simply a psychopath whose goal is to kill, and Laurie is in his way. The 1978 installment of Halloween isn't just the gold standard of the franchise, it's the gold standard of slasher cinema as a whole.