Halloween Film Series: 10 Films, Worst to Best
By Rob Watts @RobWattsOnline
It’s just my opinion, but being a life-long fan of the classic film series—John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was my first ever viewing of a horror film at a young age, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with many of the sequels that have followed over the years. With very few exceptions, I actually despise movie sequels with a passion—particularly horror film sequels. They are money grabs in my opinion, and unlike films such as The Godfather, Rocky (Part 2), Star Wars (the original trilogy) and a small handful of others, there is very little need for continuations of a film, other than the obvious desire to cash in on movie goers’ willingness to sit through crappy third-rate reproductions of great films that’ve preceded them. The horror genre is notorious for this practice. I mean, seriously, how many Saw and Paranormal Activity follow-ups did we need? I’ll say the same about the Holloween film franchise. At some point during the run of this film series, it took a sad and desperate turn—snowballing to a point of no return; or did it? Again, this is just my opinion on the matter, but let’s see if you agree. Feel free to comment or Tweet me your thoughts.
Worst to Best
10- Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks and a slathering of nameless, crappy actors (including one of the actors from American Pie) make this a terrible film from the get-go. If you need more reasons, how about the beaten to death found-footage style of camera work, the cringe-worthy dialogue, the embarrassing “acting” and the overal poor storyline? Directed by Rick Rosenthal—director of Halloween 2, was brought back to the franchise fold in hopes of giving the series a back-to-basics treatment, but instead he managed to deliver one of the biggest turds in movie history; not just horror movie history. Oh by the way, Jamie Lee Curtis appears in this movie during the first act. The trailer led fans to believe that Curtis had a much more prominent role in this film, but of course, the trick—not treat, was on us.
9- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
This was considered to be the absolute worst (not just by me) in the series, at least until Halloween Resurrection came about. It’s a tight race, however, because this film is just God awful and in all honesty, an insult to fans of the series and to John Carpenter himself. It is apparent that this film’s script was written over the course of a weekend and that the casting director was clearly on drugs. Rushed into production and released just one year after the previous film, Halloween 5 is a shitty mess. It’s a continuation of Part 4, however, this movie bares very little resemblance to everything we loved about part 4—the charm, the ambiance, the style, the acting, the subtlety (much like the original), and it just gets worse and worse as the film goes on. (Spoilers ahead) – If you felt ripped off by the plot of 1982s Halloween 3 by virtue of the fact that it wasn’t a Michael Myers film, then you should have been undeniably disgusted by the plot line of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. First of all, at the end of Halloween 4, the film series threw a considerable twist our way by killing off (once again) the masked villain and revealing young Jamie Lloyd (Michael’s niece—see my take on Part 4 below) to be the new killer, due to the fact that her evil uncle’s curse had now been passed on to the adorable little 11 year old. Well, after much anticipation among eagerly awaiting fans—anxious to find out how the series was going to play this storyline out, we had come to find out that the Filmmakers basically threw this plot point away like a greasy McDonalds sandwich wrapper. Michael’s niece was not to be the new killer; instead, they brought him back in the most ridiculous way and threw his niece in a hospital bed (much like Laurie Strode in Halloween 2) throughout, almost, the entire film and gave her very little dialogue (again, much like Laurie Strode in Halloween 2—which I disliked about that film btw.) Summing the rest of this mess up in short-order, many of the things I found fault with was the fact that they killed off Jamie’s older step-sister, Rachel, in the first act of the film—why would we want her around—she was only one of the most likable characters in the previous film. She was replaced by the most irritating cast of characters (and actors), among them, the character of Tina, the most ANNOYING character thus far in the series franchise and universally hated within the Halloween Film Series fanbase. What else? Well, how about the Myers house? It looks NOTHING like the home used in the original film. This house looked like something out of a Dracula film or Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It was simply ridiculous. The character of Dr. Loomis had now become a parody of himself—just crazed, delivering the same tired lines—it had just become very sad for me. The overall style of the film was campy and clearly, Swiss director Dominique Othenin-Girard had zero clue about the established fanbase of this series. I don’t know who he thought he was aiming this film at, but it wasn’t the true devotees, that’s for certain. We mustn’t leave out the fans of The Omen film series. They are still up in arms over his directorial duties of The Omen IV: The Awakening.
8- Halloween : The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Not quite as bad as its predecessor but still a terrible film in my opinion. Produced for the first time by a major studio, Miramax / Dimension Films, this film proves the all-too-well-known-fact that there truly can be too many cooks in the kitchen. With all the re-writes, re-shoots, re-castings—it’s amazing that this film even got made, and perhaps that should have been this movie’s ultimate fate. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (AKA Halloween 6) reveals that Michael Myers is part of an evil, secret cult known as the curse of Thorn. Ugh! This apparently is where he gets his evil superpowers from. Remember the man in black with the odd symbol tattooed on his writs in Part 5? Well, this storyline reveals what that hokey mystery was all about in that film. The problem was, the Filmmakers in part 5 had no clue what any of that meant; they just went ahead and through some mystery man in the film with absolutely no idea where the storyline was going to go or who the character was. Great filmmaking! Okay, I’ll dispense with any further criticism about Halloween 5. I’ll save it for this pathetic excuse for a film. So, we learn that Michael is part of a cult and his niece, Jamie (who they replaced with a new actress—enough said) is pregnant (who the father is is left ambiguous—Michael perhaps? Eww…) and is introduced in the film on a delivery table as she gives birth to a baby boy; a baby boy who I guess was intended to eventually follow in the footsteps of Michael Myers—how awesome. Not! Everything that follows is just crap. A new family (Laurie Strode’s and Jamie Lloyd’s relatives) now live in the Myers house (which seemed to have shrunk in size since the last film—oh gheeed!) and the father, a discount John Goodman character, is basically a miserable jerk and is a POS to his family. We knew exactly who we wanted killed off by Michael immediately. The mom was played by the mom in Better Off Dead (“it’s got raisins in it”) and the daughter was played by Maryanne Hagan; probably the most likable character in this film. Rounding out the rest of the cast is the always creepy Paul Rudd; this was his debut film role and his character of Tommy Doyle (yes, the little boy from the original) is highly ridiculous and just as creepy as Rudd in real life—perhaps creepier. We have a grunge loving, flannel wearing college student, a creepy as hell little boy, a cartoonish shock jock and of course, Donald Pleasence, returning for one last hurrah as Dr. Loomis. Pleasence was very ill at the time of filming and this clearly shows throughout the movie. Though, through no fault of his own, his character was greatly diminished in his final film before his death just prior to this film’s release. The deaths are gratuitous, the pacing is awful, the acting is terrible—it’s just all over the place. It’s no shock that the producers of the film series shied away from this particular storyline (starting with part 4) and took it in another direction. I do, however, applaud screenwriter, Daniel Farrands’ efforts in continuing the stupid storyline laid out in Part 5. I mean, how much could be done with that pile of garbage left at your doorstep. Farrands at least tried to bring it back to familiar territory; somewhat, because in the end, the geniuses at Miramax and Dimension demanded more gore, more needless action sequences and apparently the insertion of “And Fools Shine On” by the band Brother Cane. The original cut of this film, known as “The Producers Cut” has been long circulated on bootleg copies for years until recently, when it saw a proper release on DVD in 2014 as it was included in the Halloween: The Complete Collection Box Set. This version is a watchable version of the film and shows the scope of where the screenwriter intended the film to go. Of course, the film that’s released in theaters is the film that counts. If only they went with this version instead.
7- Halloween H2O (1998)
20 years later, we had the return of Jamie Lee Curtis once again portraying the character of Laurie Strode (although she’s hiding and living under an assumed name) and I will say, although this isn’t one of my favorites, it is a watchable entry in the series. It’s paced well, establishes the plot in short-order and the actor (Chris Durand) who portrays the character of Michael Myers is, in my honest opinion, the best since Nick Castle’s portrayal in the original film. He brings an ominous and menacing tone to Myers that hasn’t been duplicated since. There are some drawbacks, however—the cast for starters. Aside from Curtis’ return, I didn’t appreciate the teen stars dujour being pushed down my throat; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michelle Williams, Josh Hartnett—they all may or may not be fine actors today, but at the time of this film, their inclusion was very force-fed and contrived. L.L. Cool J—a fine actor and tremendous musician, seemed like stunt casting to me. Although his character was likeable and had added comic relief, it had become obvious that this sort of casting was to become an annoying trend. Maybe they should have cast Busta Rhymes instead—oh wait, that’s right, they did in the following installment. Even though I felt as though I was watching a bad Dawson’s Creek episode at times—the teens had to work out their rich white people problems—I did enjoy Jamie Lee’s performance and there were some thrilling action scenes at times. At 81 minutes, there is hardly any fat on this film. It moves right along. It was a box office success and it pretty much guaranteed that a sequel would be soon on the way. Sadly, that sequel was Halloween: Ressurection.
6- Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
If there ever was a film that DID NOT need to be remade, it’s John Carpenter’s Halloween. Unfortunately, the film series had taken far too many turns into back alley’s and another generic sequel was sure to bury this franchise once and for all. With that in mind, it’s understandable why the powers to be decided upon a remake rather than a pointless continuation. I was up in arms when I heard that it was being remade; I was a bit relieved when I learned that musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie would be at the helm. After all, Zombie, while not the best filmmaker (The Devil’s Rejects was great, though), he does possess the elements of everything horror fans love and he has often cited the original Halloween as one of his favorite horror films, so how badly could he botch it up? Well, let’s see. The opening 10 minutes of dialogue (when I say dialogue, I mean screaming) is simply stressful and unnecessary. It’s revealed that young Michael Myers comes from a family comprised of white trash. A stripper mom (of course played by Zombie’s wife, Sherry Moon-Zombie), an out of work father (actually, I think it was just his mom’s boyfriend) and a slutty older sister. The entire set up is just depressing. I didn’t particularly care for Michael Myers origin story—it’s not knowing about the killer that makes it more intense and scary. Regardless, we were given a gratuitously violent backstory tied together with a remake of the original movie, following Laurie Strode and her annoying friends. Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal of Dr. Loomis was well done as was the performance of Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) but the stunt casting of Dee Wallace (she’s become the female Tony Todd in my opinion) and Danielle Harris—returning to the series, but now as Laurie’s best friend, Annie, was particularly hard to swallow. And nothing against Harris, but it was clearly a sympathy casting as a way of repaying Harris for screwing her out of her role in part 6 (actually, I’d say they did her a favor in that regard.) Visually, Zombie nails his films. They look great. The storyline and much of the over acting in this movie was off-putting. I do like this movie, but it’s not something I’d reach for very often.
5- Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 (2009)
I know you’re scratching your head asking yourself why I’d place Rob Zombie’s follow-up higher on the list. Well, even though it just squeaks ahead of his first film, there were things I found better about this film than his first film. For starters, I knew going in that Zombie’s portrayal of Haddonfield was that of trashy degenerates. This is confirmed in the opening scene with the ambulance drivers. I was prepared for this. While I could live without the overused ghostly images of a white horse and once again, Sherry Moon-Zombie, I found that the storyline was much improved. Where Zombie was confined to remaking the original the first time around, he had room to stretch his wings a bit more this time and tell more of a standalone story. It might not be the best storyline, but it’s original nonetheless and really takes the series into a more ominous and darker territory. Scout Taylor-Compton’s portrayal of a now crazed and disturbed Laurie Strode was terrific (but she did come off obnoxious at times) and I found Danielle Harris’s performance in this film so much better than the previous. Lots of fans complain about Dr. Loomis being a total jackass in this movie, but I find this to be a highlight. Malcolm McDowell is very entertaining as a formerly compassionate child psychiatrist, now a fame-hungry, book promoting celebrity. We all know this is exactly how it would happen in real life. Oprah Winfrey would give him a daily show of his own for Christ sake. All in all, I do enjoy this film. And although I can’t count films other than the theatrical version, I highly recommend the extended directors cut. It’s so much better and it closes any storyline gaps that the theatrical release left open.
4- Halloween 2 (1981)
Most fans site this as the next best film in the Halloween film series, usually because it still has John Carpenter and Debra Hill ‘s involvement and because the action picks up immediately after the original film. Those reasons have never really cut it for me. First of all, I hate that Halloween had a sequel featuring Michael Myers at all. I don’t need things explained to me and I don’t possess the need for more, more, more when in-fact, the original film was as satisfying as a horror film could get—even by today’s standards. But—understandable, it’s not up to me; these are just my feelings and I won’t complain—much. I’ll start off with what I disliked about this movie. The continuity errors for one; the first film clearly shows SIX gunshots being fired at Michael Myers at the hand of Dr. Loomis. In the opening flashback scene, he’s now shot SEVEN times, yet, all throught this film, Loomis keeps screaming that he shot him six times and he’s still on the loose. Speaking of Loomis, his dialogue was basically recycled from the last film and his character really offered nothing in the end. He just delivers a series of speeches, including a classroom scene where he continuously mispronounces ‘Samhain.’ It’s pronounced Sowin / SOW-in. And Yay, Jamie Lee Curtis came back to reprise her role as Laurie Strode; unfortunately, she is filmed in a hospital bed nearly the entirety of the film armed with a terrible wig and very little dialogue. The setting is in a nearly empty hospital (where are all the other patients?) and the new cast is, umm, okay. Nothing about them is very memorable but they aren’t bad either; not as bad as future sequels would offer. The kills are much more graphic and some are very unnecessary. It’s overly gratuitous at times. The music has changed, but not for the better. It’s far more gothic sounding than the first film and it lacks the understated elegance that the original offered. The only action worth bragging about is during the final 20 min of the film, where Laurie tries to outrun Myers.
3- Halloween 4 (1988)
I really enjoyed this entry in the Halloween series. Although it’s not without its flaws, it’s a terrific attempt at capturing the original spirit of the original. Taking the Michael Myers storyline back after the ill-fated attempt to move the series into a string of one-off Halloween themed films on a yearly basis, starting with Halloween 3: The Season of the. Witch (Which I was all for by the way), we find our serial killer lying comatose in a mental institution for the last decade, while Dr. Loomis (who we all assumed was dead after the ending of part 2) is left badly burned and scarred and still rocking his beige trench coat and waving his gun around while trailing Michael back to Haddonfield. While Michael and his mask look rather goofy and un-menacing, the storyline itself was pretty well thought out. Laurie Strode is now dead (at least as far as this film is concerned) and now her daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is the object of Michaels psychotic affection. Rounded out by a likable and decent cast, including Ellie Cornell, Kathleen Kinmont and Sasha Jenson, this return to the original concept was on the right track—until they poisoned the franchise with part 5 only a year later—undoing everything that was fresh and distinctive about this film. This was the last good film in the series and if you’ve never watched any of the films and are considering giving them a try, watch the first four and stop there. This is a good film to end your run.
2- Halloween 3 (1982)
I know, I know…it’s not a real “Halloween” movie, it doesn’t have Michael Myers, it’s crap, bla bla bla—I don’t care, it’s a great movie and I’m standing by it as one of my favorites. Let me explain my reasoning; as far as I’m concerned, the original Halloween is a perfect stand-alone horror film—it didn’t need a sequel—the killer was shot, fell off a second story balcony, was believed to be dead, until it was revealed that he got up and walked away. That’s how the movie ended, it was incredible, theater of the mind came into play and we were all left imagining our own version of how the killer lived, where he might have gone, would he kill again—I don’t need continuations or half-assed concocted back stories spelling things out for me that quite frankly, I’m not looking for. As far as I’m concerned, the rest of the films and their attempts at bigger and more shocking story lines, simply don’t exist. So—although part 3 is non-related to the Michael Myers world, I think it’s a very good attempt to make a fresh start in what was to become a batch of one-off Halloween films released every year. That obviously never happened, although imagine if you will; Halloween 4: Prince of Darkness, Halloween 5: They Live, etc.. It might have happened that way if part 3 had made a greater impact at the box office. While I won’t summize the film, what I loved about it was the filming locations—they were simplistic much like the original film and offered up the same type of eerie vibe. It had a likable (sometimes laughable) cast of characters and although the storyline was very simple, it was effectively creepy. Let’s not forget the film’s score; probably some of the best work John Carpenter has ever done. Remove the annoying Halloween Mask jingle, and you have a perfect soundtrack!
1- Halloween (1978)
Hands down—never mind in the Halloween franchise, but in the rhelm of the horror film world—one of the absolute greatest horror films to ever be made. For a film that was made on practically a whim, with a minuscule budget, with much of an unknown cast, during a time when horror movies were considered passé, by a virtually unknown director, John Carpenter’s Halloween was a happy accident and lives on as one of the most creative, well-directed, memorably acted and perfectly scored horror films ever made. From the pan and glide POV filming techniques, to the this could happen anywhere filming locations, to the well-placed (yet modest) jump-scares, the tension building, the likable characters, the dialog and of course the spine tingling, suspense inducing film score, you simply can’t find a better recipe for a scarier horror film. Many films have tried over the years but have never truly captured the essence and uniqueness that made the original Halloween great—not even close!
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