The Halloween movie franchise has finally come to an end… again with David Gordon Green’s third and last instalment of the legacy sequel trilogy, Halloween Ends (check out my full review right here).
The franchise goes way back to 1978 (that’s 44 years ago!) when then-young John Carpenter directed the then-unknown 19-year-old, Jamie Lee Curtis, in Halloween on a shoestring budget. It became a huge box-office hit and it spawned a number of sequels in varying degrees of success, beginning with Halloween II in 1981 and up until the ill-fated sixth film of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in 1995.
Then came Halloween H20 (also known as Halloween H20: 20 Years Later), where the seventh film made a bold decision by making it a direct sequel to Halloween II while ignoring the rest after that. Even though it offers a satisfying closure, money and greed prevail with the continuation-that-shouldn’t-have-happen Halloween: Resurrection in 2002.
The year 2007 and 2009 sees Rob Zombie attempting to re-introduce the flagging Halloween franchise to the modern generation, starting with a 2007 reboot and followed by the weak 2009 sequel.
Below are all 13 Halloween movies released from 1978 to 2022, all ranked from worst to best.
13) Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie takes a cue from Rick Rosenthal’s 1981 version of Halloween II — the hospital scene, that is — and made it his own by giving us an unexpectedly bold twist. Well, if only the rest of this wretched sequel to Zombie’s 2007 reboot is as good as the first 20 minutes. He even added a supernatural element in his sequel, complete with bizarre dream sequences of a white horse and the ghost of Deborah Myers played by Sheri Moon Zombie. He figures that throwing in repetitive gore, violence and profanities would help but seriously, what we have here is a terribly misguided sequel and it’s easily the worst Halloween movie ever made.
12) Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
The word “clueless” is best described for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, a tepid sequel to the reasonably effective Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Blame it on Dominique Othehin-Girard’s insipid direction with lame killing scenes while Danielle Harris annoys the most in her mute performance as Jamie Lloyd. If that’s not bad enough, I’m not sure why is it necessary for the director to add the awkwardly-misplaced cartoony sound effect whenever the two goofy cops appeared in the movie.
11) Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
First things first, Larry Brand and Sean Hood’s screenplay does try their best to resurrect (no pun intended) the seemingly neverending Halloween franchise with a (then-) refreshing reality-show angle. But despite Halloween II‘s Rick Rosenthal returning to the director’s chair, Halloween: Resurrection is sadly a huge disappointment. The killing scenes are mostly uninspired and it doesn’t help that the movie suffers from dimly-lit cinematography.
10) Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Haphazard editing, a disjointed storyline and halfhearted subplots (the introduction of the enigmatic Man in Black comes to mind) are some of the ill-fated reasons that plagued the notoriously troubled Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Director Joe Chappelle does try to elevate the sixth Halloween movie with distinctive visual aesthetics, albeit with Billy Dickson’s dimly-lit cinematography. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers also marked the final appearance of Donald Pleasance as Dr Loomis and believe it or not, this movie happens to be pre-Ant-Man Paul Rudd’s big-screen debut.
9) Halloween (2007)
I have to admit that Rob Zombie made a bold move by rebooting John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher movie classic. Besides, the original Halloween is already more than good enough that it should have been left alone. But Zombie does justify his otherwise ill-advised reboot with a solid first 40 minutes of the movie by giving us the backstory of Michael Myers from his troubled childhood era to the time when he ends up in a psychiatric facility following a massacre. And for a while there, the Halloween reboot seems to be heading in the right direction, complete with Daeg Faerch’s breakout turn as the 10-year-old Michael Myers and Malcolm McDowell stepping into the late Donald Pleasance’s shoes as Dr Loomis.
Sadly, Zombie botches the rest of his movie by the time the second half takes place with the adult Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) breaks out of the facility and starts killing people. His unfortunate penchant for utilising shaky cam and dim lighting is a far cry from what John Carpenter did so successfully in the original version.
8) Halloween Ends (2022)
After a step-down effort in Halloween Kills, I was expecting a rebound from David Gordon Green in the third and final movie of the Halloween legacy sequel trilogy. Well, the movie does have a promising pre-credits opening sequence that leads to murder. But at nearly two-hour long, I’m not sure why David Gordon Green figured it’s a good idea to sideline Laurie Strode for most parts of the movie and focuses more on building the new character, Corey Cunningham played by Rohan Campbell. This, in turn, made the supposedly long battle between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers feels like an afterthought. And by the time the movie picks up the pace in the brutal third act, it’s all too little and too late.
7) Halloween Kills (2021)
Following the better-than-expected 2018 legacy sequel of Halloween, returning director David Gordon Green took a bold detour from focusing on the Laurie Strode vs Michael Myers angle in favour of addressing the fate of the supporting characters from the past Halloween movies. The result is a mixed bag as Halloween Kills suffers from an inconsistent pace and the fact that the supporting characters aren’t as interesting as Laurie Strode. It does have a few brutal kills while Jamie Lee Curtis still made quite an impression in her otherwise limited performance as Laurie Strode and Anthony Michael Hall does a good job portraying the vengeful Tommy Doyle.
6) Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
The fourth Halloween entry may be structured like an action thriller under the direction of Dwight H. Little (best known for his later ’90s action movies in Steven Seagal’s Marked for Death and Brandon Lee’s Rapid Fire). But it remains a fairly effective slasher movie and most of all, it’s nice to see the unstoppable Michael Myers back in the franchise after six years’ absence since the highly divisive non-traditional sequel of 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
5) Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The only Halloween movie that it’s not connected to Laurie Strode or Michael Myers whatsoever. Instead, it was more of a standalone movie that features a Twilight Zone-like premise about an Irish madman, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy, who delivers a creepy performance here) attempting to brainwash every kid in America. His intention is to kill every one of them with a microchip implanted in his top-selling rubber Halloween masks that will be activated during a Silver Shamrock TV commercial on Halloween night. The unexpected mix of horror and sci-fi elements may have been far from the usual Halloween movies that we have grown accustomed to. But somehow the radical approach directed by then-first-time director Tommy Lee Wallace actually works better than I expected after revisiting the movie (yes, I didn’t like it the first time around).
4) Halloween II (1981)
Rick Rosenthal’s direct sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween may have lacked the novelty and sheer intensity of the 1978 original. But it was good enough for a sequel, complete with a few brutal murders and of course, the shocking twist involving Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. It also helps that Jamie Lee Curtis does an overall good job reprising her role as Laurie Strode.
3) Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
For the record, David Gordon Green wasn’t the first director who chose to erase the existing timeline — well, most of them anyway — of the previous Halloween movies. Steve Miner of Friday the 13th fame got there first in 1998’s Halloween H20, which served as a direct sequel to Halloween II and ignored the fourth, fifth and sixth films. Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her role as Laurie Strode is the MVP of the movie here and Steve Miner knows well how to ratchet up some effective thrills and suspense. And most of all, the ending where Laurie finally kills Michael Myers for good and seriously, it should have ended here. Too bad that didn’t happen when Halloween: Resurrection arrived four years later.
2) Halloween (2018)
David Gordon Green’s Halloween may have boldly ignored every sequel (from 1981’s Halloween II to 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection) and Rob Zombie’s reboot as non-canons and positioned his 2018 movie as the official sequel to John Carpenter’s 1978 original. I was initially worried about the whole retconned approach but David Gordon Green manages to craft a good sequel here. He effectively combines the original’s stripped-down narrative style with some well-staged killing scenes and a dose of comedy, even though the subplot is more of a filler. Not to mention it’s nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her iconic role as the older but wiser Laurie Strode.
1) Halloween (1978)
No matter how many sequels, reboots and even legacy sequels, John Carpenter’s 1978 original remains unsurpassed in terms of its narrative and technical prowess (the latter’s opening POV sequence comes to mind). The plot is actually simple enough — the adult Michael Myers (Nick Castle) escapes from the mental hospital and returns to the (fictional) Haddonfield on Halloween night to stalk and kill the teenagers in addition to Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). But the beauty of its simplicity works so well in its favour, thanks to Carpenter’s efficient direction. The then-young Jamie Lee Curtis’ engaging big-screen debut as Laurie Strode along with the introduction of Michael Myers, the silent and seemingly unstoppable masked serial killer that forever etched our memory as one of the most memorable horror movie villains ever created.