At this point, it’s pretty apparent that I love Halloween. I mean, I love it so much that I even have a ranking of the masks used in the franchise along with a ranking of the different timelines. All of that may be very well and dandy, but as you can tell, there’s something missing here. Yes, I haven’t done my definitive ranking of the franchise. It might be because, although I might dislike some of the entries that have been spit out, I never find myself outright hating them (okay, I might hate some of them).
I’ve grown up with these films, and to me, they’re very comforting to watch. The first time I laid eyes on Michael Myers was back when I was around five or six years old at my babysitter’s of all places. There was something about what was on the screen that just drew me in and never let me go. I could never place what drew me in, I think it might’ve been the overall atmosphere of the movies, especially the original.
Now, here we are. I’m about to rank all of the movies in the franchise and it’s like picking a favorite kid. Well, maybe not exactly like that because the top three are pretty easy for me to choose, but you get the idea. Without further ado, here is my personal (don’t kill me for it) ranking of the Halloween franchise, from worst to best.
11. Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009)
If you know me, you know that this pick is a no-brainer for me. I always hear fans of this movie saying “Well, at least Rob tried something different!” and, okay, but, it’s not good? Just because you try something different doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically make any wrong-doing less of a wrong-doing. The characters are abysmal, you’re not cheering for anybody, there’s no connection at all, and, worst of all, the best part of the movie never actually happens—it’s a dream!
As a regular old slasher flick? It’s watchable. As an entry into the Halloween franchise, it’s a complete mess and almost feels like it’s making fun of the characters so much that they become a caricature of themselves from the previous movie.
10. Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
I find myself coming back to Halloween V every so often with the hope that maybe my feelings will change about it—they don’t. Michael looks like Nicolas Cage and it just feels so disjointed that it’s hard to take this movie seriously. I know that most fans will understand what I’m saying when I only say this one name—Tina. On top of that, Rachel’s death felt cheap, like a middle finger to the fans who actually liked her in Halloween IV.
The Man in Black is also a glaring issue to me as it was thrown into the movie with no real purpose other than “mystery.” That’s it. No plan or anything, just…thrown in there for the next movie to sort out. To be honest, I’m just not a fan of director Dominique Othenin-Girard’s choices when it came to how to treat the franchise. Also, Jamie was annoying in this one. Love Danielle Harris, hate this Jamie.
9. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
What happened with this one? Why do we need to dig into Michael’s past and make him a stereotypical psychopath/serial killer? What’s with the trashy, unlikeable characters and the crude dialogue that seems so out of place? Honestly, the only good part about this movie and the reason why it’s not switched with Halloween V is because of the second half. Although it’s almost a rushed, shot-for-shot remake of the original, it’s not too bad…right?
Tyler Mane plays a superbly menacing Michael and brings gravity to the role that was only hinted at with Halloween VI (more on that one later), but it’s not enough to save the film. You could tell that Rob Zombie has some appreciation for the original, but you can also get a slight smell of what’s to come in the sequel. Definitely a mixed bag, but it’s more like going trick-or-treating and only getting everything but your favorite candy.
8. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
This is around the part of the ranking where I don’t hate them anymore. I have some fun with Halloween: Resurrection. There, I said it. Is it horrible? Oh my god, yes. Is it some dumb fun that I can throw on and be entertained for 90 minutes? You bet. Look, the way they killed Laurie was probably the laziest way they could do it, and that might be because Jamie Lee Curtis was done with the character and wanted out as quickly as possible—no blame is thrown here.
Now, there can be an argument made that Michael is actually the hero in this movie, and it’s something that I might agree with. Either way, it has its flaws, but it’s a fun, light-hearted slasher that I throw on from time to time and enjoy it for what it’s worth. Also, you can’t beat Kung-Fu Busta Rhymes. I dare you. Try it—you can’t.
7. Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
I can’t lie here—I used to absolutely hate this movie. It’s a massive mess and it feels like it has no idea what to do with itself. Then again, Halloween V didn’t really set this one up for success, did it? Regardless of how insane the story gets with the Cult of Thorne, Halloween VI isn’t all that bad. Michael has a little grit and bruteness to him that I mentioned earlier while talking about Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, and the use of the color blue in this movie has always stuck with me.
At the end of the day, with what they had handed to them by Halloween V, Halloween VI didn’t do too bad. It’s insane, it’s ridiculous, and it’s absolutely all over the place, but it’s surprisingly not horrible. Plus, it has a young, crazy Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t want to see (probably) his most embarrassing role? I know I do.
6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
This one was a hard one to include as it doesn’t have Michael in it, but hey, it’s a franchise ranking, and this is technically a Halloween movie. What is there to say about it? Honestly, not much. It’s a well-made horror flick with some good effects and some pretty decent acting. They wanted to try something different, and that’s okay. The difference between Halloween III and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II is that this one is actually pretty good.
The masks look great, and again the effects are still pretty good, in my opinion. Not to mention the Silver Shamrock song. How can you hate the Silver Shamrock song? Overall, I don’t think there’s much to say about Halloween III other than it’s a rock-solid horror flick and it’s definitely of better quality than the previous movies listed in this ranking.
5. Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
I will always defend Halloween H20 because it felt like it really tried to get Michael right. It actually does for the most part, but sometimes they forget that Michael isn’t supernatural anymore. For example, why can Michael support his whole body with one arm as he slowly lowers himself from a pipe above Laurie? Laurie’s trauma is shown in the form of alcoholism and paranoia (sound familiar?), and, although at times it does seem a bit forced, it does its job well enough.
And yes, I know it screams (get it?) the ’90s, but I honestly don’t have an issue with that. You can see Scream playing on the TV at a point, and some music from Scream is also used in the movie, but that’s fine with me. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but Halloween H20 is a movie that I hold near and dear, with no regrets.
4. Halloween II (1981)
I appreciate Halloween II almost for the same reason I appreciate Halloween H20. You can tell that they really tried to capture some of the magic of the original, and they sort of did. Although the mask is slightly altered because Dick Warlock’s head is a little too wide for the fit of the mask, he does a damn good job at being Michael. The setting is spooky and somehow empty, but it does feel like a logical jump for Laurie to end up in the hospital and for Michael to come after her.
It does show some gore and fall into that ’80s slasher type of movie, but that’s to be expected and it doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of this sequel at all. Of course, this movie started the brother/sister relationship that carried on and influenced the franchise for years after this movie’s release, but hindsight is 20/20, and if not for that decision, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
3. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Bad mask and Michael appearance aside, my fondness for Halloween IV has grown quite a bit over the years. The opening sequence has to be the most Halloweenish (the holiday) atmosphere of the franchise. The characters are likable, and Michael has that stalker-quality to him that harkens back to the original. It’s fun, it has some gore, it has some good suspense, and like the others, it really tries. Jamie is a great character, and Danielle Harris absolutely crushes it in the role to bring a real down-to-earth type of character that we can root for/sympathize with.
Rachel is also a really well-constructed character that is most definitely—other than Laurie—is the best final girl in the series. The ending is also greatly appreciated and feels satisfying to watch.
2. Halloween (2018)
There is no doubt in my mind that Halloween (2018) is the best sequel this series has ever produced. The way they treat Laurie’s trauma is a hell of a lot more mature and focused than that of Halloween H20, and it feels real. This movie is first and foremost a story about trauma and how a person deals with and processes it. It has a great blend of stalker/brutal Michael, the charm from the original is there, the score is incredible, and the care that is put into those little moments makes that much of a difference.
James Jude Courtney does Michael justice as he has that “glide” that Michael is known for in his movement, and his mannerisms closely resemble the Michael we all know and love from the 1978 original. Speaking of that…
1. Halloween (1978)
You knew this was coming from the start, right? Well, if you didn’t, here it is: Halloween absolutely has to top this list. John Carpenter is masterful with the suspense, and the “less is more” mantra is sprinkled throughout every scene in this damn-near perfect film. Carpenter proves that you don’t need blood and gore to tell a compelling and scary story. It’s simple, but that’s only because it doesn’t need to be anything but.
The use of lighting, framing, and the viewer’s imagination is outstanding and yet to be matched by any entry into the series to this day. It might be showing a little bit of its age in terms of the acting/dialogue, but it’ll be forever timeless in terms of suspense and effective timing.
Well, that’s my ranking of the Halloween franchise. Again, this is a personal ranking, and I mean no harm to any fans of my lower ranked films. It’s all subjective, and I think that’s what’s amazing about horror and film; we all have our own tastes, and that’s okay. Do you disagree with my ranking? Where would you rank the Rob Zombie take on your list? Let me know either on social media or in the comments.
Stay safe, friends.