Out of all the icon-driven horror series, Halloween ranks among my favorite. Unlike series such as Friday the 13th, Halloween actively sought out reinvention (rather than doing it in response to another, more popular horror film at the time). From Pagan rituals to the embodiment of evil to a (sadly) failed attempt at removing Michael Myers entirely, there is no crystal clear direction the Halloween series goes. Which gives the series its greatest strength: variety. Something that can make a huge difference when you’re on movie 11 and in desperate need of a cinematic fill if you will. Much like my previous ranking with Friday the 13th, if your favorite Halloween movie isn’t ranked as high as another – go make your own list! Here are MY favorite Halloween movies.
13. (Tied) Halloween Ends & Halloween: Resurrection
In dead last is a tie between what I consider to be the corporate crapshoot and the way to not end an ongoing story. Which if you’re reading which is which I have a surprise for you…it’s both! Halloween Ends is riddled with interesting ideas but it is so jam packed it never accomplishes any of them. In reality, if they pulled a Halloween III and removed it entirely from the world built in the prior two David Gordon Green movies, I’d probably rank it much higher. But it tried too hard wanting to be serious and campy while never establishing either feel. It also feels like a dismissal of character arcs established in the 2018 Halloween and Halloween Kills. As well as a piss poor way to end the Michael Myers story.
With Halloween: Resurrection, you get the worst writing with some of the best camp in the series. It is just so atrociously bad but also so hilarious. This is that movie you watch with a bunch of friends to laugh at. Busta Rhymes is the goofiest actor in this, he is so bad it’s good. But what saves this from being THE dead last movie on this list is that it knows what it wants to be. As much of a trainwreck as it is, Halloween: Resurrection at least gets to be mildly entertaining.
11: Halloween Kills
From this point forward, every movie is good. Halloween Kills isn’t as good as the other movies on this list, but it has many redeeming qualities. What made Halloween Kills so interesting is that it attempts to personify the town of Haddonfield as well as show it as this town that is in shambles. The fragility of the towns folk catches up to them as they turn into the monster they intend to extinguish. It treads on the same ground as Halloween II (1981), for better or worse. Its common relation is that it is immensely boring in parts. Which in the law of slasher movies, a boring slasher is a felonious act. A tighter execution, and maybe the removal of the flashbacks would’ve made this a much better movie.
10. Halloween (2007)
The Rob Zombie movies accomplish probably one of my favorite ideas in horror: environment. Without a solid environment to base your horror on, the effect of the film can get muddy. This town feels vile before the killing even begins, unlike DGG’s entries as they felt more like a crescendo into violence. What I respect most about Halloween (2007) is that it shoves your face in the mud with this deeply disturbed and brutal Michael Myers.
However, it gets sluggish due to its lengthy runtime and undercooked script. Furthermore, the script itself is uneven. The first half is working to humanize Michael. The second half is nearly a 1:1 remake of the 1978 original. You can’t do both together because the ideas are vastly different. The first half needed to conform to the second half or vice versa. But the kills were deliciously gnarly and I’ve never felt more terrified of Michael Myers.
9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
It’s kind of hard to rank this one this high. Personally speaking, I struggle as to whether this is better than Halloween (2007). However, it has a crystal clear sense of identity that the later movies seemed to never settle on. This entry has a lot of fun kills and has a lot more drive than the previous entries on this list. It’s a good, market-tested, inoffensive slasher that was designed to exceed box office expectations regardless of what was to come of it.
8: Halloween II (1981)
I’m sure the Halloween fans are gathering their pitchforks currently, but this movie is a BORE. The writing is tight and does a good job following up the first movie’s story, but after that, it stews on its ideas for too long. We don’t need Halloween on Soap Network – just cut to the chase. Luckily when we were given kills they were pretty sweet. If the script was more compelling (much like the first movie’s script), I’d rank this higher. I know I said in the Halloween Kills entry the rest of the list is good, but I appreciate this more than I enjoy it.
7: Halloween II (2009)
(This listing is in reference to the Director’s Cut)
This movie is MEAN AS HELL. Feels very close to something like Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but WAY messier (in a good way). Halloween II (2009) has some of the most interesting and abstract visuals in the series. Laurie Strode is on a self-destruction bender, and her brother Michael is on a destruction bender. All culminating to a depressive final shot that leaves the viewer cold and desolate. This shit is awesome – top to bottom.
6: Halloween (2018)
This movie is fine and does a really good job setting up the next two movies. Halloween (2018) is essentially a sequel of the first movie while also acting as a remake of the first movie. Since it’s pretty 1:1 to the original 1978 movie, it feels pretty safe. There are some neat kills, Michael is hell-bent on destruction, and Jamie Lee Curtis does an excellent job. I only rank this higher than Halloween II (2009) based on merit alone, after that it really depends on the day as to where I’d rank this movie.
5: Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
This movie feels like Halloween meets Scream. Which is a safe bet considering how good Scream is. What I really enjoy about this entry is just how aggressive it is. From start to finish it is just ramming through its runtime. And at some points, it feels kind of hard to breathe because of how intense it can get. It never dives into the meta-commentary that Scream did, but it’s the closest thing to a Scream movie since Scream. Which might be a comment on the Scream series itself, but that’s another ranking altogether. All in all, this is a killer (pun intended) entry in the Halloween franchise.
4: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
(This listing is in reference to the Producer’s Cut)
While I don’t think all of the Pagan ritual ideas landed, it was probably the biggest swing the Halloween franchise could make creatively. To add, it’s a really enjoyable slasher that has Paul Rudd in it. Immediately, as soon as you include Paul Rudd in anything, its quality already goes up. The ritual scene is so goofy, but I was so enthralled from start to finish. The sixth entry in the Halloween franchise, and ending to the Thorn trilogy, is a solid film overall with some exciting kills to boot.
In Third Place: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
A dude gets stabbed with a chainsaw. A chainsaw that wasn’t running. That alone makes this movie a slam dunk.
In Second Pla…
(I’d like to emphasize that this is my list and not yours)
(I’m serious, don’t be coming in the comments calling me a dickhead or else I’m gonna turn around and call you Thaddeus Dipshiticus)
In Second Place: Halloween (1978)
Look, as a fan of horror, it would be a cardinal sin to speak ill of John Carpenter. But I don’t enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the number one entry on this list. I don’t really need to say much about Halloween – the movie and the heavy amount of praise it has speaks for itself. It is the right amount of campy, it has a phenomenal score, and the idea of horror always lurking – even in your safest place – is just as interesting today as it was in 1978. Without this movie, we probably wouldn’t have had the renaissance of slashers we got in the 1980s. I think it’s a masterwork in horror, but the number one movie on this list has the best commercial jingle ever.
TAKING THE GOLD: Halloween III: Season of the Witch
I absolutely adore this movie. When I started watching this I was nervous that the lack of the Halloween mainstays would weaken this movie. But it absolutely blew me away. This gnarly mishmash of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien, and weirdly The Parallax View makes Halloween III a masterwork in paranoia horror. When you first see the evil that is lurking in this movie, it is plain disgusting. I was shocked by what I was watching. It set itself out to make Halloween day terrifying, rather than a brooding figure that kills on Halloween. The juxtaposition between the jolly Silver Shamrock jingle to Silver Shamrock’s true intentions is delightful. And that final scene, just stellar work overall. *chef’s kiss*
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