For a lot of horror fans, October is their favorite month of the year, giving us 31 full days to watch even more horror movies than we do throughout the rest of the year, including films that are set on the holiday that ends the month: Halloween. Of course, the Halloween-set horror movies that get the most views are the slasher movies that share their name with the holiday. So with fresh viewings of every Halloween movie taken in, we have assembled a list: Halloween Movies Ranked, from worst to best. Check it out:
HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002)
Director Rick Rosenthal did such a good job emulating the style of John Carpenter when he made Halloween II, bringing him back to direct the follow-up to H20 seemed like a great idea. It turned out to be a mistake. Rosenthal didn’t have great material to work with: the movie walks back the ending of H20 and kills off Laurie Strode in the first 15 minutes, then dives into a story that does make sense for our modern world – a group of college students are gathered together in the old Myers house for a livestream event – but didn’t really need to be a Halloween movie. The director brought an odd sense of humor to this sequel, making any dramatic scene come off as campy and allowing actors to deliver silly, over-the-top performances. The worst offender is Busta Rhymes, who gives such a ridiculous performance filled with goofy ad libs that it’s clear he didn’t take this movie or anything about the Halloween franchise seriously at all. They ignored sequels to make H20, then went on to make the worst sequel of the bunch.
HALLOWEEN ENDS (2022)
The final confrontation between Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode and the masked slasher Michael Myers is almost an afterthought in this story about a bullied babysitter who becomes a slasher himself. While Myers was securely locked up for 40 years, Laurie let her trauma and fear rule her life. But since he disappeared after slashing his way through Haddonfield and killing her daughter, Laurie found peace and has been carrying on a normal life for 4 years. Director David Gordon Green and his co-writers present the idea that Myers gains strength with each murder he commits (sort of like Freddy Krueger gathering souls), but it seems that strength doesn’t last long, because after his 2018 killing spree he ended up a broken down sewer dweller. The movie also plays with the idea that Myers’ evil can be passed on to someone else, which could be interesting… but the execution in Halloween Ends is lacking, dull, and often cringe-inducing. I didn’t need to see Michael Myers go out killing with a sidekick, or get knocked around by his protégé.
HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995)
Fans had to wait six years to see the resolution to the Halloween 5 cliffhanger… and what a reward we got for our patience. A compromised mess packed with ideas that never should have been brought into the franchise. Jamie Lloyd, no longer played by Danielle Harris, has been kept in captivity for years and impregnated against her will. She’s around just long enough to give birth and get killed. Myers is now associated with a Druid cult, only kills when a certain constellation shows in the sky, and can be stopped by magical stones. At least, that’s what we’re told in the Producer’s Cut of this Joe Chappelle-directed letdown. In the Dimension Films theatrical cut, the cult is played down in favor of references to genetic experiments and shots of Myers oozing a green substance from his face. At least we get Paul Rudd as hero Tommy Doyle, no matter which version you watch. The Jamie Lloyd trilogy gets such an upsetting, wrongheaded conclusion, I want a retcon sequel that brings back Danielle Harris and the burn-scarred Michael Myers of this era so we can finish this story right. (And film it in Salt Lake City, of course.)
HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021)
Picking up exactly where Halloween 2018 ended, this one could sport the tagline The Night Everyone in Haddonfield Acts Like an Idiot. Obviously a movie called Halloween Kills has to have a large body count, but the fact that almost everyone Michael Myers comes across just stumbles into their demise through pure buffoonery (firing all of their bullets at nothing, sitting back and watching their pals get killed, holding a knife but not trying to defend themselves, etc.) takes some of the enjoyment out of it. Then there’s the idiocy of the townsfolk who form a mob, run around chanting “Evil dies tonight” and persecute an innocent man who looks like The Penguin, figuring he must be Myers. It was fun to see director David Gordon Green try to recreate Halloween 1978 for some flashbacks (replacing the events of the original Halloween II), but the characters in this movie are so stupid that it becomes very irritating and borderline insulting to sit through. At least Jamie Lee Curtis got paid to spend most of another movie relaxing in a hospital bed.
HALLOWEEN II (2009)
Rob Zombie has gone on record as saying that working with Dimension Films heads the Weinsteins when he was making his Halloween movies was a nightmare. Apparently he dealt with even more studio interference on Halloween II than on the previous movie – which is surprising, because the movie plays like he had more creative freedom this time around. He got to shoot it on grainy 16mm film and packed it with bizarre hallucinations: a white horse, a ghostly mother, a pumpkinheaded royal. This sequel feels like even less of a Halloween movie than its predecessor and almost every character in it (other than Brad Dourif’s Sheriff Brackett) comes off horribly. After finding teen heroine Laurie Strode (played in these movies by Scout Taylor Compton) boring to write in the remake, Zombie livened her up in the sequel by making her deeply traumatized and struggling with her own sanity. In the process of dealing with her trauma, Laurie has gotten just as foul as the average Zombie character. There are some good ideas in here, some ideas that will make you wonder what Zombie was thinking, some nice slasher moments, and an excessively long nightmare sequence that gives a nod to the hospital setting of the original Halloween II. This isn’t my idea of a Halloween movie, but at least Zombie was trying to do something interesting with it.
Writer/director Rob Zombie’s Halloween is an odd beast, pairing nearly an hour of prequel material – which turns the formerly mysterious force of evil Michael Myers into your typical serial killer with a lousy childhood (the treatment even said he lives in “White Trash Heaven”) – with remake material that plays like watching John Carpenter’s Halloween at 1.5 speed… and with a lot of vulgarity added in. Any time Zombie tries to replicate a moment from Carpenter’s film, his movie pales in comparison, but outside of those moments he was successful at putting his own stamp on / bringing his own style to the Halloween brand. A hulking version of masked slasher Michael Myers may be present, but he’s not the same Myers we knew before, and the movie has a different feel to it than other Halloweens have – it’s more along the lines of sleazier movies like Silent Night, Deadly Night. As an entry in the franchise, it doesn’t quite fit in. Taken on its own as a slasher movie, it has its moments.
HALLOWEEN 5 (1989)
Halloween 5 is a sequel I like more and more as time goes on. It’s not the ideal follow-up to Halloween 4, the hermit nursing Michael Myers back to life is weird, it has the annoying Tina character, returning heroine Rachel is killed off too early, the Man in Black that was randomly dropped into the film during production never should have been added… It has plenty of problems. But I love Halloween 4, and while director Dominique Othenin-Girard brought a different style (and questionable ideas) to this follow-up, it is the closest any other sequel has come to being like Halloween 4, since it’s a direct follow-up. So it has that goodwill going for it. Danielle Harris continues to be great as Myers’ niece Jamie Lloyd, even though her character’s voice is taken away for most of the movie, and Donald Pleasence‘s Dr. Loomis continues to be awesome to watch. The franchise really lost an important element when he passed away. I want to get a glimpse into a universe where Jeff Burr got to make the Halloween 5 he was going to direct that would have been set on the same night as 4, but the Halloween 5 we got does include some great moments – most notably the laundry chute sequence.
HALLOWEEN II (1981)
The first Halloween sequel scores points with the fact that director Rick Rosenthal was trying to replicate the tone and style of the first film. The story picks up right where the previous film left off, taking us back to Halloween night 1978, and it feels perfect. The opening 30 minutes or so, with Michael Myers roaming around the town of Haddonfield while Dr. Loomis and the police force deal with the aftermath of the first movie, is terrific. But once the film settles in at the hospital it starts to feel like a missed opportunity. It becomes an empty kill fest, despite John Carpenter’s desperate attempt to add substance to the script by awkwardly dropping in the “Myers and Laurie Strode are siblings” twist, something I wish he hadn’t done. (Really could have done without the “Samhain” graffiti, too.) Jamie Lee Curtis is wasted, as Laurie Strode spends most of the movie unconscious or groggy in her hospital bed. The way Halloween H20 and Halloween 2018, or even Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, show Laurie dealing with post-traumatic issues make me wish they had done something like that in 1981 instead of slapping together a movie that’s only about Myers walking around in a hospital, looking for a sleepy Laurie.
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)
Feeling the Michael Myers story had been run into the ground, producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill thought they should turn Halloween into an anthology series. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is so different from the other films, I considered giving it an “honorable mention” and just ranking the Myers entries. But it is part of the series, and I do enjoy it more than some of the Myers movies. Tasked with writing a “witchcraft meets the computer age” story, Nigel Kneale came up with the idea (then filtered through Wallace and Carpenter rewrites) of a toymaker who decides to play a prank / make human sacrifices by harnessing the power of Stonehenge to melt the heads of any kids wearing Halloween masks made by his company, Silver Shamrock. Dan O’Herlihy delivers a Bond villain performance as toymaker Conal Cochran, with Tom Atkins as our deadbeat alcoholic hero Dr. Dan Challis, a character who might be insufferable if he weren’t played by Atkins. There’s still some Halloween style in here, thanks to cinematographer Dean Cundey and the music by Carpenter and Alan Howarth, but this weird and wild movie – with its robots, snakes, bugs, and supernatural lazer beams – makes for a very different viewing experience than any other Halloween.
HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER (1998)
I hated this movie when it was released because of the decision to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back to the role of Laurie Strode by ignoring the events of the sequels she hadn’t been in. As time has gone on and the franchise timeline has gotten more fractured, I’ve come to see Halloween H20 as a strong follow-up to the first two films. It has a good atmosphere, thanks to director Steve Miner (who got his start on the Friday the 13th franchise), and it’s a nice attempt to show the repercussions of the trauma Laurie Strode endured in ‘78. Some of the dialogue is overwritten (I suspect the uncredited Kevin Williamson was responsible for that), but the biggest problem is that the movie feels like it’s rushing through the story. Miner likes his movies to be as short as possible, but this one could have used a bit more time to breathe. The H20 version of traumatized Laurie seems more likely to me than the one in Halloween 2018, but the movie should have spent more time on her issues. Some of the deleted scenes (like this one) should have been left in. And while the “paramedic clothes switch” twist isn’t revealed here, it is telegraphed well enough to take away from the effectiveness of the final moments.
It was kind of surprising when Jamie Lee Curtis said she wanted to return to the Halloween franchise for H20 so she could explore how Laurie Strode was handling her trauma twenty years down the line – and so she could have a final confrontation with Michael Myers. The fact that she came back again after another twenty years to do the same thing all over again, that was truly shocking. Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween 2018 does comes off like “H20 Take 2″, but it does a slightly better job of handling the trauma side of the story and has some nice stalking and slashing scenes (that long take sequence is awesome) while feeling like a blend of Carpenter’s original with some of the grit and brutality of Zombie’s vision. It builds up to a climactic “Laurie vs. Michael” rematch that’s even better than the ending of H20. The fact that I strongly disliked both of this movie’s direct follow-ups does taint it a bit for me. In retrospect, it would have been better if Curtis had only returned for one movie and this was the “Halloween Ends” installment, because this would have made for a great ending. Instead, it’s a strong start to a disappointing trilogy.
HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)
Producer Moustapha Akkad wanted to bring Michael Myers back after the bizarre detour of Halloween III. The director chosen for the job was Dwight H. Little, who delivered a film that has some of the best Midwestern Halloween atmosphere to be found in the entire franchise, a badass version of Michael Myers (try not to let the mask ruin it for you), a wonderful ‘80s vibe, a Haddonfield that’s populated by memorable and/or endearing characters, and another incredible performance from Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis. The sibling twist in Halloween II may have been a misstep, but it did allow for this story of Myers going after his young niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) in the absence of Jamie Lee Curtis, which works due to the strength of the characters and performances. From the moment the nostalgia-inducing title sequence begins until the awesome ending, Halloween 4 is a joy to watch. I’m always hoping the latest Halloween sequel will recapture some of what made Halloween 4 so great, but they never do.
The first and the best. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a masterfully crafted stalk ‘n slash classic. The set-up is simple: a young boy murders his teen sister on Halloween night for no apparent reason. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a mental institution just in time for Halloween and returns to his hometown, where he proceeds to stalk a babysitter (Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode) and knock off her friends. It’s random. It’s fate. Michael Myers is pure evil, but there’s no talk of cults or supernatural powers. He’s just a killer with a mask and knife, preying on the innocent while Donald Pleasence turns in an iconic performance as his doctor, Sam Loomis, who doesn’t do a very good job of trying to stop his patient. The cinematography, the music, the tone and structure, and the simplicity work together to make the first Halloween not just the best entry in this franchise, but one of the best horror movies ever made.
How does your personal list compare to this Halloween Movies Ranked list? Let us know by leaving a comment below.