(By Matt Konopka) Finally, it's here! This weekend, we saw the release of the new Halloween film, and with that, it means it's time for an updated ranking of the franchise!...
...It's been nine years since the last film in the Halloween franchise, Rob Zombie's Halloween II (2009). We've waited a long time for the return of slasher icon, Michael Myers, but thanks to Blumhouse, John Carpenter, director David Gordon Green, and writers Green and Danny McBride, Michael arrived back in theaters this weekend, along with franchise star Jamie Lee Curtis! So, how did the long awaited film turn out? Check out a NEW rankings list of the entire Halloween franchise below (excluding Halloween III since it is not related to the Michael Myers story):
1. Halloween (1978)
Most fans will agree, there's not much that needs to be said here. Carpenter and Debra Hill single-handedly changed Halloween as we know it by creating an icon that still lives on, maybe stronger than ever, forty years later. This original film was unlike anything audiences had seen before, which many use as the basic blueprint for a quality slasher movie. Through expert cinematography, new film techniques, an unforgettable villain, and a score played nearly everywhere during October now, Carpenter and Hill created a classic which has stood defiantly against the test of time and, like Michael Myers, refuses to die.
2. Halloween 2 (1981)
While Carpenter's classic first film was an incredible horror film that not only kicked off the slasher craze, but changed the holiday of Halloween as we know it, Halloween 2 is much more violent and intense. Master cinematographer Dean Cundey returns to peak form (I mean just look at the shot above). It also features a ridiculously creepy setting in a nearly empty hospital on Halloween night, as well as a deliciously dark, grimy tone that gives a far more sinister vibe to Michael. Not to mention, Halloween 2 features one of my favorite horror finales of all time. Donald Pleasance and Jamie's final showdown with Michael, which involves Jamie shooting both of his eyes out and Pleasance sacrificing himself by setting them both on fire, is by far the most entertaining, tension-filled ending in the franchise.
3. Halloween 4 (1988)
And this is where the quality of the franchise begins to go down. With the poor response to Halloween III (I still love it), producers decided that the only way to make another Halloween film was to bring Michael Myers back from the dead. While the quality of the film isn't exactly superb, writer Alan B. McElroy and director Dwight H. Little intelligently approach the sequel by choosing to follow a young Danielle Harris as Jamie, the daughter of Laurie Strode. Harris brings a strong performance to the role, (I once listed her as one of the greatest scream queens ever), and by doing so, gives the audience an incredibly sympathetic heroine who, because of her age, automatically instills fear in the audience. The filmmakers wouldn't possibly show us Michael stabbing a little girl, would they? It's the relationship between Jamie and her sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell) that really carries the film. Coupled with some fun kills and an always pleasantly unhinged Dr. Loomis, Halloween 4 doesn't come close to the level of the first two films, but it is still a worthy piece of entertainment. Now if only there was an alternate ending that wasn't as ridiculous as a drunk firing squad blasting Michael into an abandoned well...
4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Having been born in 1987, this was the first Halloween film I had the privelage of seeing in theaters. Halloween H20 is one of the more interesting films in the franchise, because this is the first in the series which does not include Donald Pleasance (he sadly passed during the making of Halloween 6). Instead, there's a sort of trade-off here, since Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode for "one last" confrontation with Michael. Despite the absolutely irritating glazing over of the other sequels and what is easily the worst mask in the franchise (those eye holes, my god), Halloween H20 is a decently enjoyable sequel. The kills are few though brutal, and LL Cool J provides a level of comedic relief not seen in the films up to this point, while also not becoming too distracting. Curtis is also fascinating as a woman dealing with PTSD over that fateful night in a way which is much more relatable and realistic than the newer version. It's an interesting idea, with Michael returning to finish what he started with Jamie all those years ago, and the way in which Jamie ends Michael, while simplistic, is satisfying and seems like a fitting end.
5. Halloween (2018)
As much as I would love to be one of those who was blown away by the most recent entry into the Halloween franchise, I was not. Director David Gordon Green does a great job with recapturing the look of Michael Myers, and presents us with a more vicious, angry version of the character that feels like a mix between Carpenter's classic and Rob Zombie's version. Carpenter also delivers a beyond excellent score that should have fans rolling in nostalgia. The problem is, nostalgia is all the filmmakers seem focused on, as the new Halloween is full of pacing issues, cringe-worthy melodrama, atrocious dialogue, misplaced comedy, and enough plotholes to shut down the 101 highway in California. Still, there is something to be said for the solid cast and an old school style B-movie, but I'll take H20 Laurie any day over this laughable Terminator version. How many 60yr old women do you know who could take a stabbing, get thrown off a second story balcony, and still go full force in taking on Michael Myers?
6. Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Ah, the bastard child of the franchise. Halloween 6 takes on a refreshingly sinister tone unmatched by the rest of the original franchise (not including Rob Zombie's films). I mean come on, the film opens with the audience realizing that Michael has impregnated his niece, Jamie, and is now hunting her down, eventually pinning her to a gruesome looking farming machine. You can't get much darker than that. While some fans may appreciate the ballsy approach, many were (and still are) upset by the film's attempt to explain away Michael Myers' origin, which involves a Temple of Doom esque cult and some wavy-handed concept of mind-controlling runes and harvest sacrifices and creepy men in black. Here's the thing: I get it. Halloween 6 is not good. BUT, I'm also one of the few who doesn't have a problem with the attempted ideas in the film. Is the Pagan cult properly handled? No, the production was held captive by the laziness of director Joe Chappelle who supposedly, depending on who you talk to, had no interest in the film and was simply doing it as an assignment. That being said, the Pagan cult is an interesting concept which I believe makes sense for Michael, especially when you look back all the way to the first film and Donald Pleasance declares that someone at the institution must have given Michael driving lessons. Makes sense now if we imagine an underground cult which has looked out for Michael since he was a kid, yeah? Besides, where else were they going to go with the film six movies in?
7. Halloween Remake (2007)
I specifically remember the excitement around Rob Zombie's remake as it was coming out. We heard all the right things. Rob is a huge fan of the original film and wants to go back to it's roots. Rob wants to make Michael scary again. Blah blah blah. What we didn't know was that Rob was going to take his characters which worked so well in Devil's Rejects and that environment, and transport them into a slasher film as people we're supposed to somehow care about. The cast here is so crude, obnoxious, and morally reprehensible, that it's impossible to feel much of anything for any of them. And while I'll always respect Zombie for trying something different, the HOUR LONG backstory behind Michael feels unecessary and misguided. Not only does it take the mystique out of Michael, which made him such a fascinating character originally, but the audience does not want to "feel for" a vicious murderer. As Carpenter said, Michael is the embodiment of evil. That's it. To Zombie's credit though, despite the film's many flaws, the film's aggressive nature and ugly tone gives it the modern update that many would argue Michael needed, and did indeed make the character scary again.
8. Halloween 5 (1989)
They say it's "the night he came home", but what Halloween 5 really is is the night Dr. Loomis lost his mind and became a senile old man running around and traumatizing children. This film sees the return of Pleasance as the good doctor, as well as Danielle Harris as Michael's niece, Jamie. Part 4 leaves off with what SHOULD have been the next route in the franchise, aka Jamie as the next Halloween night killer, but instead, Jamie is thrown into a mental institution, where she now (somehow) has a psychic connection to Michael. Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis spends every waking second either yelling at Jamie, yelling at some other kids, or shaking Jamie and declaring she has to help him now that all of her friends are dead. It's as if he is TRYING to turn Jamie into the next Michael, the girl goes through so many tears in this film. Add into that Michael's illogical year long nap in a bum's house and the WAY too early killing off of Rachel, a primary character from the 4th film, and Halloween 5 is a sloppy mess that is rightfully regarded as the worst film featuring Dr. Loomis.
9. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
There's really not much I have to say here. No Dr. Loomis. An early death of Laurie Strode after her perfectly fine resolution with Michael in H20 was erased by the most ludicrous of plot twists to begin Resurrection. A bunch of dumbasses running around Michael's house with cameras for a reality show. Zero connection to any of the previous films. And Busta Rhymes kung-fu fighting Michael Myers while shouting "trick or treat, motherfucker". This movie is so bad, I'd be more likely to get my house teepeed handing out copies of this on Halloween night instead of tooth brushes.
10. Halloween II Remake (2009)
Look at the above photo, and it basically symbolizes Rob Zombie's version of Michael Myers in a nutshell: trash. Here we have Michael appearing as a worn down bum in the midst of Laurie's (Scout Taylor-Compton) imagination. I do give credit to what Zombie was trying, an attempt to transition Laurie into the new Michael Myers, but the film is simply too strange and uneven to bring many viewers along for the ride. Visions of white horses, while inspired, becomes too much to make Halloween II watchable when combined with Zombie's standard of unrelatable, white trash characters.
What are your rankings for the franchise? Let us know your thoughts below!
By Matt Konopka