All Eleven ‘Halloween’ Movies Ranked From Worst To Best
It's Halloween. Everyone's entitled to one good scare...and at least one good 'Halloween' movie.
Like a masked maniac appearing wherever you go the 'Halloween' franchise is back and this time it's haunting the mainstream consciousness more than it has in years as the latest film starring Jamie Lee Curtis has become a huge box office success.
It's hard not to go a day without seeing Jamie Lee aka Laurie Strode gracing the cover of a magazine or being the subject of a TV interview promoting the latest 'Halloween' film. It's even harder to not come across one of the many 'Halloween' movies on the television or streaming services. The word "many" may be putting it lightly. In all there are eleven 'Halloween' movies that make up the franchise. That's right, count 'em...eleven. In true Michael Myers fashion, no matter how hard you try you just can't stop another 'Halloween' movie from coming back again...and again...and again.
From the classics to the classic sequels, from the reboots to the outright re-diculous here are all eleven 'Halloween' films ranked from worst to best.
'Halloween III: Season Of The Witch' (1982)
The interesting thing about 1982's 'Halloween III' is.....Ah, screw it, there's nothing interesting about this movie at all. Absolutely nothing.
'Halloween III' is the only entry in the franchise that does not feature Michael Myers. It doesn't even include story elements from either of the first two films.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill produced the film and believed that the 'Halloween' series had the potential to branch into an anthology series of horror films that centered on the night of Halloween, with each sequel containing its own characters, setting, and storyline.
I give credit to Carpenter and Hill for the creative ambition but this movie is not one I'm interested in seeing when it airs. Audiences agreed. They didn't flock to the theaters nearly as much as they did for the first two films and future sequels were killed off quickly, never to be heard from again. Don't blame Michael for this kill, he was nowhere near the scene of this crime.
'Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers' (1995)
This would have been the worst of all 'Halloween' movies to watch but since Michael Myers is actually in this one I rank it above 'III' by default.
The use of "curse" in the title is fitting since this movie seemed to be just that from beginning to end. The plot of the film formally introduced the "Curse of Thorn", a mystical symbol that first appeared in 'Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers' (1989) and revealed in the film to be the source of Michael Myers's immortality and drive to kill. Seriously, really?
What makes Michael Myers so frightening is that there is no back story, no reason why he kills other than you just happen to be there. That's creepy. "Curse of the Thorn"? A mystical symbol?
To make matters worse the great Donald Pleasence, who brilliantly played Dr. Sam Loomis, died nearly eight months before the film was released. The film was dedicated to the memory of Pleasence. That may be the only thing worth seeing in this movie unless you want to count the fact that this one also features a pre-famous Paul Rudd.
'Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers' (1989)
Although 'Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers' is pretty far down on this list it really beats out numbers 11 and 10 by a pretty good margin. There are some good moments in this one and it keeps you on the edge of your seat for a while. That is until the ending.
Michael Myers is actually caught by the police and is locked up in the sheriff's station. They even show a dejected looking Michael sitting in his cell. Comical. But, wait, there's more. Eventually Michael is rescued by a mysterious "Man in Black" from the police station. This is where things started to get just plain silly.
'Halloween: Resurrection' (2002)
'Halloween II' (1981) director Rick Rosenthal returned for this one and had himself another solid film to add to the franchise until he brought in a ridiculous reality show plot and Busta Rhymes.
Laurie Strode (played again by Jamie Lee Curtis) is now a supposedly catatonic inmate at a sanitarium. It turns out she is just fine and is preparing for Michael Myers' return. On Halloween night Michael returns and makes his way to Laurie in the sanitarium. After a chase, Laurie lures Michael on to the institution's rooftop. When she tries to remove his mask, Michael stabs her and throws her off the roof, to her death. Michael's mission is finally complete after more than twenty years. He then returns home to his abandoned childhood house. That should have been it. THE...END. Not so.
The following year a group of college students win a competition to appear on an Internet reality show called Dangertainment, directed by Freddie Harris (played by Busta Rhymes) and his friend, Nora Winston (played by Tyra Banks), in which they have to spend a night in Michael's home in order to figure out what led him to kill. From here on out it's not entertaining, it's not even Dangertaining. It all comes off as an attempt to connect the franchise to a younger audience rather than make a "killer" movie. Busta seems like a cool dude and all but he didn't have us all in check with this performance. Woo-Hah!
What they could have done with this movie was stretch out the scenes Jamie Lee Curtis filmed, fill the space between and build up to the final scene where Laurie Strode falls to hear death and Michael goes back to Haddonfield. Sadly, that wasn't the case and the movie attempts to whip up a brand new batch of suspense after we just witnessed a dramatic end to an epic 20-year long battle between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. I'm still scratching my head on that one. Well, kinda. I'm wearing a Michael Myers mask so, I'm scratching Michael's head....with my head inside it.
'Halloween II' (2009)
Give credit to Rob Zombie. His 2007 'Halloween' reboot breathed new life into the franchise with an excellent re-imagining of the Michael Myers and Laurie Strode characters. Unfortunately he wasn't able to leave well enough alone. Zombie has said in interviews that he had no intention of making another 'Halloween' film. When he found out that the sequel to his 2007 film would be made with another director he reluctantly decided to take the job. He figured that he'd rather do another one under his name than to see it fall flat at the hands of another.
Unfortunately, Zombie took his excellent 2007 reboot and went the same way of the directors of previous sequels did in the 80s and 90s. In this film Michael has been having visions of his mother's ghost and a younger version of himself, who instruct him that it is time to bring Laurie home, so he sets off for Haddonfield. Laurie Strode later discovers that she is really Angel Myers, Michael's long-lost sister. In the end Laurie (who has been having dreams where she acts out Michael's murders) kills Michael, then puts on his creepy mask. This leads the audience to believe that Michael's evil spirit has now entered Laurie's. Strangely enough this is the same plot twist that was used at the end of 1988's 'Halloween IV'. It put a damper on an otherwise visually entertaining movie.
'Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers' (1988)
Now we get to the part of this list reserved for the must-see films in the storied 'Halloween' franchise and we start with 1988's 'Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers'.
By the time this film arrived the horror community was hungry for another 'Halloween' movie featuring one of the most iconic horror monsters of all time - Michael Myers. It was worth the seven-year wait.
The film opens with one of most visually impressive scenes of any horror film I've seen. It's only about a minute and ten seconds long but it sets up the movie beautifully. It's of farmland somewhere in Haddonfield, the day before Halloween. Leaves are being blown around by the chilly late October wind and there isn't a person around; just some Halloween decorations hanging from bare trees along with a few abandoned sheds and farmhouses. Seeing those images while hearing Alan Howarth's eerie music playing underneath and you can feel the tension. You can feel it in your bones. Something evil is coming for sure. Michael Myers is about to return...
With Jamie Lee Curtis opting out of a return the directors smartly decide not to recast her but write her death into the story-line instead. Even though Laurie Strode is no longer alive she left behind a daughter Jamie Lloyd (played fantastically by Danielle Harris) who is now faced with the same horror her mother experienced a decade before.
The only criticism I have for this movie is that Michael looks more like a linebacker than the thin, creepy, guy-next-door Michael Myers from the first two films but, hey, it's all good. After having no Michael at all in part three I was not going to complain.
Though Curtis didn't return for 'Halloween IV' the great Donald Pleasance did and he didn't disappoint. Pleasance brought back his Dr. Loomis character and, no surprise, delivered with another brilliant performance. The man was a true genius and he valiantly kept the franchise going right up until his death in 1995 at the age of 75. He is sorely missed by 'Halloween' fans to this day.
'Halloween H20: 20 Years Later' (1998)
The recent return of Jamie Lee Curtis to the 'Halloween' series is no doubt exciting but it's not as big as her initial return back in 1998. Curtis had passed up offers to return for years so when news hit that she was coming back 'Halloween' fans were beyond thrilled to see the queen of scream return to their favorite thriller franchise.
Curtis's return was not wasted as 1998's 'Halloween H20: 20 Years Later" was and still is a solid chapter in the 'Halloween' series. This movie is sort of a re-boot, not a full system reboot. It ditched everything that happened after 1981's 'Halloween II' but keeps everything before. It's now 20 years later and Laurie Strode, who had faked her death to avoid Michael Myers, lives with her teenage son John in California. The tragic events from 1978 still haunt her, however, and she lives in fear that her brother may return. Guess what? He does.
Michael tracks down his sister's new location and turns Laurie's nightmares into reality as he stops at nothing to find and finally kill her. This movie has a great supporting cast and will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout. I was admittedly a little bummed that the movie was set in California and not in good ole' Haddonfield but they right that wrong in the 2018 version. 'H20' also has an amazing ending and one that no 'Halloween' fan saw coming as Laurie decapitates her brother Michael...or so we thought.
In 2007 Rob Zombie got the keys to the 'Halloween' castle and decided he was going to do some interior decorating. Instead of a nice coat of paint he went with blood, lots and lots of blood.
In Zombie's version we get more of the story behind Michael Myers' childhood. Ten-year-old Michael (played by Daeg Faerch) murders a school bully, his older sister Judith, her boyfriend Steve, and his mother's boyfriend Ronnie. After being found guilty of first-degree murder Michael is sent to Smith's Grove Sanitarium under the care of child psychologist Dr. Samuel Loomis now played by legendary actor Malcolm McDowell.
The movie then picks up where the story-line of the 1978 version begins. It's now fifteen years later and Michael has escaped from the sanitarium. He makes his way to Haddonfield to find and kill his sister Laurie (played by Scout Taylor-Compton). This movie also features the return of Danielle Harris who played the character of Jamie Lloyd in parts four and five. Here she plays Annie Brackett, Laurie's friend and the daughter of Sheriff Leigh Brackett who is played by another well-known actor - Brad Dourif. Horror fans know Dourif well as he is the voice of the evil red-headed doll Chucky in the 'Child's Play' series.
Zombie's version of 'Halloween' may have been far more violent and gruesome than any other 'Halloween' before but I think, at its core, this has what every great movie has to have - a great story with great performances. I admit that I prefer John Carpenter's vision of 'Halloween' and the Michael Myers character which is "the less you see and know the scarier it is" but I can't deny that I love Zombie's 2007 version too. I look at it this way - Zombie took Carpenter's unique masterpiece and created his own exceptional piece of horror art of his own.
'Halloween II' (1981)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Haddonfield...
With the huge success of the original 'Halloween' in 1978 it was only a matter of time until a sequel was made. This one picks up where things left off on Halloween night 1978 and begins shortly after Michael Myers is shot six times by Dr. Loomis. We know this because Loomis eventually shouts it into Sheriff's Brackett's ear three times in one scene. "I shot him six times! I shot him six times! I shot him six times!" God love that Donald Pleasance a.k.a. Sam Loomis, he really camps it up in this second movie.
Despite the six gunshots Michael is still alive and finds out Laurie Strode is now at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and makes his way there. During this time it's discovered that Michael is, in fact, the brother of Laurie and that is the reason why he wants to kill her.
Eventually Michael chases both Laurie and Dr. Loomis into an operating room. This takes us to my absolute favorite scene of the film. Laurie fires Loomis's gun twice at Michael and nails him square in each eye. There is silence, then a close-up of Michael staring blankly ahead with tears of blood dripping down each eye onto his mask. Dick Warlock, who plays Michael Myers in this film, said he hates this scene feeling it was way to unrealistic. I have to respectfully disagree with you Dick. This is a powerful scene.
Even with two bullets in his head (along with the six previous ones he already took from Loomis) Michael is still alive. Laurie and Loomis then turn on the ether and oxygen tanks. Clearly there's a new plan to kill Michael but this time Loomis decides to sacrifice his life for Laurie's. After telling Laurie to "giddout....giddout NOW!" Loomis breaks out the Bic lighter, flicks it and the room blows up with Loomis and Michael inside. Engulfed in flames, Michael stumbles out of the operating room before finally falling to his death. This was intended to be the final chapter in the 'Halloween' franchise.
Sure it has plenty of gratuitous violence, nudity and corny one-liners (Dr. Loomis responds to someone who says he's been trick or treated to death with: "You don't know what death is!") but that's what makes it a fun watch. It also extended the story-line of the first film in a way that was interesting and more believable than what was to come in future sequels. That and you even have a pre-famous Dana Carvey in this movie. No joke. You have to look carefully for him, he appears briefly in a non-speaking role wearing a blue baseball cap and receiving instructions from the TV reporter.
Objectively speaking I can't rank this one as being the best 'Halloween' movie but it's certainly my personal go-to favorite. I put 1981's 'Halloween II' in the same league as movies like 'Jaws 2' and 'Rocky II'. Is it as good as the original? No, but it's pretty darn close.
Is the boogeyman really back? As a matter of fact it is and it's everything I could have hoped to be frightened by.
It was way back in September of 2017 that the news got out that not only was there to be a new 'Halloween' movie coming but Jamie Lee Curtis and original director John Carpenter were returning to bring back the magic of the original. After over a year of anticipation and expectations my biggest fear going in was that I'd feel no fear at all. Was I setting the bar too high. Would I end up disappointed? Not at all.
In this latest re-boot it's 40 years after the original murders. Michael Myers has been locked up but, during a bus transfer to a maximum security prison, he escapes and returns to Haddonfield. This time, however, Laurie Strode isn't the innocent girl he stalked before. She has spent the last forty years dealing with post-traumatic stress and preparing for Michael's inevitable return.
All of the suspense of the first film is here thanks mostly to director David Gordon Green and an amazing cast led by Curtis. It was also extra special to have Nick Castle reprise his role as "The Shape". Castle has the mask on for a cameo in a crucial scene when an older and tougher Laurie Strode first sees her nightmare again after 40 years in an upstairs window. Castle also provided all the heavy breathing for "The Shape" in post-production, which brought some added authenticity to the return of Michael Myers. James Jude Courtney played the rest of the masked Michael scenes brilliantly and really brought back the methodically slow-paced, emotionless movements that sent chills up and down the spine in the first film.
Speaking of bringing back the original movie's classic vibe I can't leave out John Carpenter's musical contributions to this film. He, along with his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, brought back the iconic theme (5/4 refrain and all) while adding a fresh new edge to it. It did for this film what the original music did for the '78 version.
The last time I was genuinely frightened by Michael Myers was after seeing the first two films as a kid. That genuine fright returned with this movie.
The original 'Halloween' from 1978 is not only the best in the franchise but it's among the greatest horror films of all time. It's "Hitchcock at his best" great.
We all know the story: A six-year old Michael Myers kills his sister on Halloween night 1963 in the quiet Midwestern town of Haddonfield. He is put in a sanitarium and stays there for 15 years until he escapes and returns to Haddonfield to kill some more.
The success of this movie is simple, literally. Director John Carpenter has said it before in interviews and that is "The less you know about Michael the scarier he is". It's the central focus behind what all other 'Halloween' movies either just missed or missed entirely until the 2018 version.
Credit goes to John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Carpenter is the one who produced the movie and created that iconic theme which is as simple yet as scary as the movie itself. Hill produced the film and wrote the screenplay with Carpenter. Together they took a budget of about $300,000 and created a movie that earned $70 million dollars at the box office. They did it by creating suspense from the start of the movie right until the very end.
Speaking of the end, is there a better finale to a horror film? Loomis shoots Michael six times and Michael falls off the balcony to his death, or so we think. Loomis looks down and Michael is gone. Cut to shots of empty Haddonfield streets and homes inside and out with that classic 'Halloween' theme song playing alongside the sound of Michael breathing from inside his mask. Michael is somewhere, Michael is everywhere. He could be standing outside your home watching you, he could even be in your home.
I first watched this movie on HBO when I was about 10 years old. It was a typical chilly October night, I could hear the autumn breeze blowing leaves across the pavement outside my house in the quiet town of Southington. It may as well have been Haddonfield. After I watched the movie I went to bed, at least I tried to. My bedroom door was left slightly open so I could just barely see the lighted hallway outside my room. I could have sworn I saw Michael Myers with that mask staring at me....breathing. I nervously turned over to the other side of the bed and, again, there he was outside the house staring at me through my bedroom window. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
One would think that a traumatic experience like that would guarantee I'd never watch a scary movie again. Not so. Over 35 years later and I'm not only a horror movie fan but I've seen 1978's 'Halloween' a thousand-plus times. I make it a point to watch it at least once every time Halloween comes around.
A great horror movie isn't about senseless violence. It's not about blood and guts. It's about suspense. It's that jack-in-the-box feeling you get when something terrible is about to happen any second. It builds...and builds until....BAM! You're scared out of your seat. You can feel the hair on your arms raise up and your heart start to race. That's the feeling of being alive. That's a rush you won't get anywhere else and no movie delivers that rush better than 1978's 'Halloween'.