Let's Talk About... The 'Halloween' Franchise!
The Many Pumpkins of Halloween!
A Child of Horror
Growing up as a kid in the 1990s and early 2000s, horror movies were a major part of my life. I loved every genre that several generations of horror had to offer; from the old Universal monster flicks to demonically possessed children to burned-up maniacs invading one’s dreams, if it was under the horror genre then I was likely watching it. No matter if the violence were subtly implied or drenched the screen in buckets of blood, I adored watching hours upon hours of the spooky tales regardless of gore. Funny enough, among all things horror, one of my particular favorite subgenres has always been Slashers. To me, a good Slasher flick is like riding a thrilling rollercoaster ride with a bunch of your closest friends who are dying one by one… but in a fun way! That included big name franchises such as Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and of course today’s topic… Halloween. The Halloween franchise has always been bit of a mystery to me, over the years watching every installment, it felt less like a fluid series of films and became more akin to a ‘choose your own adventure’. Starting out from humble beginnings with the first film of John Carpenter’s Halloween simply being a low budget horror flick about an unfortunate small group of friends accidentally stumbling across a psychotic’s murderous path. Halloween (1978) is without a doubt one of the greatest horror films of all time. There’s no question about that. The rest of the series though? Well, let’s see. Presently, the series has escalated to incorporating an entire string of movies that includes witchcraft, killer masks, exploding Ben Tramers, psychic connections, family vendettas, satanic cults, multiple reboots with continuities rewritten, white trash yelling constant obscenities, and Busta Rhymes. To say that this specific set of Slashers has had its ‘ups and downs’ would be quite the understatement.
Our First Adventure
It seems that there is no shortage of avenues one could take when viewing the Halloween series; if someone watches the first two films, that being the original 1978 film along with the 1981 initial follow-up, audiences can choose to remain on course of how the story progressed in the second half of the 1980s. In a timeline that resurrects Michael Myers and Doctor Samuel Loomis from the explosion and fiery remains that they once were at the end of Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II. This later “trilogy”, if you will, released between the years of 1988 and 1995 included the offscreen death of Laurie Strode and then centers on her orphaned daughter, Jamie. Who eventually gets caught up in psychic visions, an underdeveloped Thorne cult, and Paul Rudd being nutty.
However, if that doesn’t sound like your bag, you can just skip those and go directly to 1998’s Halloween: H20 – Twenty Years Later, as it wipes out those previous three entries and goes more for a rebooted [constant jump-scare centric] route, which only takes in continuity Carpenter’s ’78 classic and its ’81 sequel. The fiery explosion at the end of Halloween II did still happen, this time around though Laurie Strode never had a psychic daughter that gets it on with her murderous uncle. Instead Laurie has faked her own death in this universe and brought her rebellious Josh Hartnett son along into hiding from the Boogey Man. Me personally, I like to think that the previous three sequels still happened, but Laurie Strode just didn’t like her daughter all that much and left her in Haddonfield to die. Now you know which one of the bunch was Laurie’s true favorite kid.
Even though Halloween: H20 (stupid name) claims to be a direct continuation of its predecessors, it feels less like a sequel to Halloween and Halloween II, and more like a product of the times as Wes Craven’s Scream was so popular with audiences back then… unfortunately. Plus, it was also partially written and produced by Kevin Williamson, one of the writers that has been a part of the majority of the Scream franchise since its inception. This second reboot timeline ultimately ends its double feature with Laurie Strode making out with her brother, Mikey (he seriously gets around with the family), before plummeting to her doom within the first five minutes of H20’s 2002 sequel, Halloween: Resurrection (also a stupid name). Because that’s what you do with one of cinema’s most beloved survivors. Not to mention there’s Busta Rhymes karate kicking Michael Myers in the head and uttering the line “Trick or treat… motha’ f*cka’!”. Truly no other iconic phrase in the history of film has ever been said so eloquently.
What’s In Your Head… Zombie?
Turns out that Dimension Films (the rights holders to the Halloween franchise at the time), along with the rest of the world, wasn’t too keen on that last entry and decided to press that reboot button yet again. Scrapping the “Revenge of Laurie’s Punk Son” pitch for another sequel and totally wiping everything out this time around. Starting from scratch in the Rob Zombie 2007 redneck remake and a psychedelic trip of a direct sequel in 2009. The Rob Zombie features are considered amongst many fans to be the absolute worst of the franchise, claiming that they completely ruined the mythology of Michael Myers… I’m sorry, but do I have to bring up psychic kids and Busta Rhymes again? While I don’t believe that Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II are perfect by any means, far from honestly, at the very least I can say is that his movies were ambitious and they attempted to develop Michael Myers in a way that had never been seen before. Not all of their ideas worked, in fact I’d argue that a lot of the ideas fall flat due to poor character writing and obnoxious dialog, but they tried. Which is more than I can say for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween: H20, or Resurrection; which all settle for playing things safe and familiar to appease no one. But seriously, Rob, quit it with the white trash characters that are simply voice boxes to shout out, “f*ck, sh*t, c*ck sucker, mother f*cker, piss, ass, f*ck, d*ck loving, sh*t head, ball licker, mother f*cking, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, f*ck”. It gets real old, real fast dude.
F*ckity F*ck F*ck
For a number of years there actually was heavy talk of a third entry within Zombie’s Halloween universe entitled Halloween 3D. After a while that movie fell through as most of the cast and crew became uninterested in another follow-up, moving onto other projects while leaving Halloween 3D to die a quiet death. Although I still suspect that Rob Zombie’s 31 is a secret anthology sequel to his Halloween films in the same vein as 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch since the number 31 is supposed to be a reference to October 31st.
Even though Halloween 3D was officially a lost cause, that didn’t stop Dimension Films from trying for that reboot button once again as they had multiple writers hired on to develop a narrative that became known as Halloween Returns. However, with no success on furthering outside of pre-production and unable to actually produce any product within their time limit, the rights reverted back to Miramax. Miramax soon went into talks with Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions to possibly work together in finally adding another baby movie brother in the Halloween family. This eventually all led to what is known has 2018’s Halloween. Or as I call it, Halloween: H40 since it takes place forty years after the events of the very first film. Also I find it annoying that the creators of the 2018 film couldn’t think of any possible subtitle to differentiate itself from the other’s that are simply called Halloween as well, so I guess I’ll do it for them. Lazy asses. On the plus side though, this disregards every single installment that came after 1978. Including fan favorite, 1981’s Halloween II, as H40’s continuity does not retain the twist from Halloween II with Laurie Strode and Michael Myers being secretly related. In all honesty, even though I do love Halloween II, I’ve always hated that they were lazily written as brother and sister. It felt less like a natural reveal and more like a means to over explain something that needed no explanation, only resorting to family ties in a silly attempt to keep Laurie Strode on Michael’s hitlist. The fact that H40 was attempting to retcon that idiotic detail only instilled more faith that I had in the project when it was announced. Upon H40’s release in October of 2018, it seemed that for the first time in a very long time, there was an entry that actually won over audiences and critics alike while also making a major splash at the box office. Earning more than any other installment in the entirety of the franchise, this warranted possibly not one, but two more sequels for this particular continuity… at least until that reboot button is needed once more.
A Missed Opportunity
After many failed attempts with underwhelming sequels and reboots and instances of production hell, what have we gotten out of it all? Honestly, a missed opportunity to just simply make the damn Halloween franchise an anthology series like originally planned. In case you are unaware, or maybe you did noticed, but for the most part I skipped a particular entry in the Halloween series. Only briefly mentioning it in passing, that being Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the only sequel to depart from the Myers/Strode storyline to attempt something actually different for once.
So here’s the story on how Halloween III came to be, after the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, there came a whole line of copycat Slashers in its wake. It got to the point to where films that were already set for release changed their titles only to resemble Halloween more, even if the movie itself had nothing to do with the holiday. Producers of the first Halloween wanted in on the action, especially after the surprise hit of Friday the 13th, producers of the ’78 horror classic practically demanded a sequel from Carpenter himself. Carpenter at the time really had no interest in pursuing a sequel as he was rather more excited for his next venture being 1980’s The Fog. In the initial talks of making a sequel though, between Carpenter and the producers, the idea of an anthology series was brought up. Not actually continuing the story of Michael Myers any further, but rather working on a series of horror films that would contain stories revolving around the season of Halloween to come out once every year in October. They could be 100% their own continuity, hold their own special sets of characters and spin off any of their own numerous amounts of sequels.
Sadly, this idea was postponed as the producers specifically wanted the Shape (Michael Myers) back and to fall in line with the success of the Slasher genre that was happening at the time. After Carpenter was sued in order to commit to writing Halloween II, the sequel went for a more traditional approach and followed our already known and beloved characters from the first movie. This was intended to be the official end of these characters as the major players of Myers and Loomis were clearly killed off in order to bring a satisfying conclusion and would help kick-off the anthology that followed the very next year with Season of the Witch.
Season of the Son of a Bitch!
Halloween III: Season of the Witch… how do I put this? Oh yeah. I freaking love it! I really do, in my opinion, Halloween III is easily the best sequel/reboot in the entirety that is the Halloween franchise. I find it to be vastly more entertaining and original than any other installment, post-1978. Season of the Witch is a film that is deeply rooted within the Halloween lore, it shows a massive amount of love for the dark mythology of the holiday while providing a fantastically fun and cool throwback to an film era reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Blob; absurd and over-the-top, delightfully convoluted, with diabolical plans to cause mass mayhem. The film supplies awesome gore effects and a hypnotically engaging villainous performance by Dan O’Herlihy as Conal Cochran, who is quite possibly one of the greatest and most underrated antagonists ever put on screen. Not only is he attempting to kill the protagonist’s children, but literally everyone’s children all for a practical joke. That. Is. Awesome. Seriously, I could watch Halloween III any time of the year and be jumping in joy as it plays that damn song from beginning to end. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the song… eight more days ‘til Halloween… I bet it’s stuck in your head again, isn’t it? Ha!
Anyways, although the third entry did turn in a profit, audiences were confused by the anthology take and only questioned as to where Michael Myers and Laurie Strode were. All the advertisements obviously showed what Halloween III was going for, sadly that did not matter to the fans of the first two movies so the anthology angle was canned as the film was perceived as a flop, resulting in the state of the Halloween series being up in the air for approximately six years before John Carpenter and Debra Hill sold their rights off to Moustapha Akkad, executive producer on the first three films as well as all the Halloween sequels up until his unfortunate passing in 2005. Moustapha wanted the fourth entry to be a return to form for the series, bringing back both Michael Myers and Doctor Loomis through inexplicable means inside a relatively horrendous rehash of the 1978 Carpenter film in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. It was a script that was rushed by the producers to be completed from start to finish within eleven days just so to ensure that they got the Shape back into theaters to rival the current wave of competition from other Slasher baddies, such as Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Even the title’s goal was to obviously guarantee to the viewers that they would get their precious Michael Myers back, doesn’t matter if it makes zero sense and is ridiculous.
This venture also killed off Laurie Strode, for the first in many times in this series, and brings in newcomer Jamie Lloyd played by Danielle Harris as the central protagonist for this story. Even though the cast does all they can with the material given, the film as a whole clearly was a rushed job in order to capitalize on the Slasher craze of the 1980s. Multiple obvious reshoots present throughout the picture, lack of likable characters and logic, as well as an incoherent through line for its narrative resulted in what is simply a lame product of its time. It’s a good thing that the filmmakers decided to go with leaving the anthology plan behind to focus back on the Myers story since it brought in such a major profit. In the sense that it literally made exactly the same amount of a profit in the box office as Halloween III, which was roughly twelve million dollars. Totally worth putting the series in limbo for six years to start off a string of sequels that are only inferior products of the original movie.
Maybe if the producers had stuck to their guns and came out with another anthology sequel to further instill possible confidence in the new direction the following year of 1983, the series could have sprouted a new and creative wave of creepy stories to be told. Maybe we, as the audience, could have been treated to endless avenues to explore and take in far more interesting tales involving the Halloween season. Rather than throwing up a slew of forgettable and disappointing cash-ins on the famed butcher knife wielding psycho instead. Now there’s no guarantee that every or even any sequel would have been good if they went with the alternate route, but with how the anthology premise initially launched, I think it’s safe to say that the filmmakers would have given the fans far more imaginative stories than what we actually received with the rest of the sequels that came after Halloween III. It truly saddens me on what could have been. Who knows where things could have propelled to if Season of the Witch had gone over better with movie-goers. All I know is that Halloween III is a movie that I pop in during the month of October as a personal Halloween tradition, while everything else that came after it is left on the shelf.
It’s Not All Bad
In all honesty, there are some of the sequels that I enjoy outside of Halloween III. Like I previously mentioned, I do love Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II, it’s a fun ‘80s Slasher and I have a good time with it. I don’t think that it’s nearly on the same masterful level as its predecessor, but it’s a fun thrill ride and that’s really all I wanted out of it. The inclusion of the sibling twist has always annoyed me, but that doesn’t sully my enjoyment of the movie too much. It’s got style, cool effects, a few gnarly kills, and of course a great musical score. Although they didn’t have to be so mean to Ben Tramer… I mean, jeez!
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers I also actually like, despite its many faults. Of course they have to shoehorn that name in the title ever since spooking people with not having Michael Myers in III. Halloween 5 does have a better understanding of what made the first film so effective with its smart use of camera work, as well as making sure to keep Michael Myers feeling like a true intimidating figure and creating a large sense of danger for any and all characters throughout the film. Principle photography of Halloween 5 though was plagued with an unfinished script and randomly inserted odd material that involved a psychic link between Jamie Lloyd and Michael Myers, as well as the introduction to some mysterious cult that follows the destruction caused by Michael. This was all created by director Dominique Othenin-Girard, who quite frankly made things up on the fly and simply left all unanswered questions to whoever would make the next sequel. Dick move, but I find it hilarious and would probably do the same thing if I were in his shoes.
Trick or Treat?
This is when the series practically asks the question, “trick or treat”. Since with Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, there are two versions of the movie. One being the trick that is the Theatrical cut; an incomprehensible mess crapped on screen. The other version being the Producer’s cut, which by enlarge is the treat in comparison. Neither version is necessarily great, but with the Producer’s cut, at least it is given a good attention to atmosphere, character, and storytelling. The Theatrical cut is basically what happens if someone were to throw a movie in a blender; it makes no sense, cuts out whole subplots and replaces it with nothing, and even removes a majority of Donald Pleasence’s scenes in what would be his last role ever as he died soon after principal photography had ended. All of this movie’s problems were caused by financers that wanted more gore and nudity in the movie, director Joe Chappelle describing Donald Pleasence as being “too boring”, and a test screening of mainly 14 year-old boys that didn’t care for the Thorne cult plot. So the version that went into theaters was 1995’s strobe light fetishizing, flash cutting, false jump-scaring, post-production cluster-f*ck that is Halloween: The Curse of Terrible Editing. Not to mention, containing one of the worst and most confusing endings ever since all the re-shoots that took place for the movie was done after the death of Donald Pleasence. No worries though, after calling him boring and cutting out all of his hard work, the credits start off with “In Memory of Donald Pleasence”… because they really cared. Seriously though, if you ever decide to watch Halloween 6, do yourselves a favor and watch the Producer’s cut. Trust me, these are wildly different movies that truly are a ‘trick or treat’ scenario. Pick the treat. F*ck the trick. Out of all the Myers sequels, this one ranks somewhat high if we are talking the Producer’s cut exclusively. The Theatrical cut, not even close, Bud.
Probably When Readers Will Hardcore Disagree With Me
Halloween: H20 – Twenty Years Later, I don’t like. I don’t. I know that this is also a bit of a fan favorite as it brings back Jamie Lee Curtis in her signature role of Laurie Strode, but I don’t care. This movie sucks. Curtis does a good job in her performance and it certainly is a welcomed return, but the movie as a whole is about an hour and a half worth of irritating jump-scares. It’s not scary, it’s not a fun thrill ride like Halloween II, it’s simply underwhelming and a lazy product of the late 1990s to make a Scream knock-off. And I already don’t like Scream, any of the Scream movies, let alone its several copycats. H20 is not funny, it’s not clever, it’s not creepy, it fails to entertain or capture any of the magic from the ’78 and the ’81 films.
Originally H20 was actually going to be directed by John Carpenter himself, at the time he strangely showed interest in returning to the series and hoped to inject the new film with flares of what he brought to the table back in 1978. Unfortunately after Carpenter tried making a multi-film deal with Dimension Studios that would allow Carpenter to take the franchise in any direction he wanted, as well as bring back all of the original crew members from the first three Halloween installments to collaborate together, the producers replied with a resounding “no” and publicly claimed that John Carpenter never wanted anything to do with the project in the first place. Real nice etiquette. In the absence of Carpenter came Steve Miner, horror film director best known for his contributions of Friday the 13th Part II, Part III, and of course Soul Man!
Michael Myers Is A Killah Shark That Wears Baggy Ass Overalls
Oh Halloween: Resurrection… when picking out what could be considered as the true worst of the franchise, this one is a heavy contender for sure. Not only does it kill off the character of Laurie Strode in one of the dumbest and most undignified ways that I have ever seen in a film, it’s just a chore to get through as a terrible ‘dead teenager’ flick that tries too hard appeasing to the reality television crowd in eye-rolling ways. I will say on behalf of the movie, surprisingly, as easy as it is to make fun of the fact that Busta Rhymes is in Resurrection, he actually is the best part of the movie as he kind of carries me through a ton of the stupidity spread throughout. I’m not saying that his acting is technically good, nor would he ever be winning any awards here, but he does bring an energy to his role that is pretty humorous to watch. The gigantic grin he gives in most of his scenes says to me, “Oh yeah, that’s right, they’re paying me for this sh*t”. Then there’s the scene where he curses out a confused Michael Myers and bops him on the head, a concept that baffles me to this day.
Returning to Form… Yet Again.
I think I’ve said my peace on the Rob Zombie Halloween films, they’re not perfect but there are aspects about both films that I can appreciate the thought process behind. I don’t love them, I don’t hate them, even though there are specific things I do like and hate about both of his installments. Anyways, I’m moving past screaming rednecks to talk about the more recent reset button that is Halloween: H40. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this movie. There is some really terrific work that is present within this film’s script as well as on a technical level. The film is gorgeously shot, incredibly scored, and I admired the level of attention to detail in the script that took familiar themes and imagery from the entire series and inserted them here in more interesting ways than seen before. Not to mention Jamie Lee Curtis back again as Laurie Strode provided Curtis with one of her best performances to date. With all that said, H40 still has its fair share of issues. Sometimes it struggles with tone and there is one major plot device that I find to be relatively moronic, even by Halloween standards. Beyond that, it’s a damn fine movie…
At this point though, I’m a little sick of Michael Myers. I’ve had my fill on the big knife lover and his revolving door storylines. I’m pretty sure that this franchise has done everything that it possibly can with these characters, I honestly can’t imagine much more being done with Michael Myers or Laurie Strode or anyone from these films. While I did enjoy H40 immensely, I feel like I’ve basically seen it all done before. I mean technically I have seen it all before since it pays homage to so much of its predecessors, including the Halloween masks from Halloween III, but I don’t believe the series can go anywhere else that I haven’t already seen in a previous entry. If I’m wrong and there are more innovative directions to take these characters then I am all for it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how I would rather have a unique anthology series that took me places I can’t predict and not witness another Strode vs. Myers showdown yet again. I’m not saying that whatever comes next will be bad or anything along those lines, the next movie may also be a fun cinematic effort, I just can’t help but feel that we could all be getting more out of what this franchise has to offer.
Would I Still Be Saying This If…
Would I still be saying that I’m done with the Myers/Strode storyline if Halloween III never presented the anthology idea in the first place? Maybe. I’m not sure. Let’s say that all of the Myers affiliated flicks remained exactly the same as they are only Halloween 4 is now Halloween 3, Halloween 5 is now 4, etc. We still run into the problem that Myers has seemingly run his course in every possibly conceived way. What else is there to do with the guy? Reboot him again for the fifth time?! I guess we can continue on with this new timeline that has begun from 2018, I still can’t imagine that there’s much else to do that wasn’t touched on prior.
What about if the rest of the series reached better quality? For argument’s sake, let’s say that Halloween 4, 6, H20, Resurrection, etc. were all… good. Would I still want something else or would I be content with Myers going back at it for future sequels? Seeing how there are still plenty of the installments from the franchise that I enjoy, including the most recent movie, and I’m pretty burnt out on Myers now, then I feel like I’d still yearn for something new and original over what we will inevitably be receiving. Although I’m positive that I’ll be sitting in that theater for the next Halloween flick to come out, like everyone else.
What About the Others?
I find it to be somewhat funny that I’m stating to be through with the Michael Myers character, even though there are other Slasher franchises that I’m totally fine with still retaining the killer for in their next installments. If they ever get around to actually making another Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, I personally want to see Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger back in their respective films. Why is that? Why is it that I’m totally fine with seeing our favorite killer goalie and burnt faced finger knives dream buddy back, yet I can do without seeing Michael Myers ever again? They’ve all had their extensive series of movies over the last few decades, they’ve all been rebooted/remade, they’ve all had their crazy and over-the-top entries that either pleases or pisses off fans, there’s a black sheep sequel somewhere amongst them all; so why am I cool with more Jason and Freddy and less Mikey?
I suppose it could be because I find more entries in the Friday and Nightmare series’ to be more entertaining than a lot of the Halloween flicks. Or maybe there’s more of a potential that remains within the former rather than the latter. Could it be that Friday and Nightmare have been more successful at reaching their potential where Halloween has failed more often than not? Trust me when I say I wish there was more of a straight answer on that question, but the truth is that I don’t know. I won’t say that I love every single installment in the Friday or Nightmare series’, I’m probably one of the few that dislikes the remake/reboot of Friday the 13th and don’t get me started on Dream Child… but there’s still a part of me that finds enough entertainment, personality, and creative possibilities in both of those Slashers over what I’ve seen done to death with Michael Myers. Am I wrong for saying that? I could be. All I want is to be proven wrong by the next Halloween movie. I’d be more than happy to be wrong about this, I just don’t think that’s going to happen. At least not anytime soon.
Let’s Not Focus On “What If” Anymore
I think I’ve gone on long enough about “what if”, let’s finish this chat up with “what they are”. And “what they are” is, in my opinion, the most inconsistent Slasher franchise ever made. The films hit heights of greatness to bottom of the barrel and everything in between. So how about I make an attempt on ranking these puppies? Starting from the worst and building up all the way to what I believe is the best that Halloween has to offer! I can’t wait to see how many people disagree with me on this one!
11) Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers [Theatrical Cut] (1995)
Like I already mentioned, this movie is a heaping mess that I dare anyone to make heads or tails of as to what’s going on. It lacks focus, style, ambition, character development, but has plenty of flashing lights. Seriously, if you’re epileptic, avoid this at all costs. Not a joke. The characters are terrible, the story is pretty much missing since they cut a lot of its plot out to replace it with nothing, and the fact that Doctor Loomis was almost entirely cut out of the film is an insult right there to the memory of Donald Pleasence. There isn’t a scare to be had and not a bit of enjoyment to be found, it’s movie barely making its way out of a garbage disposal.
10) Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
I was extremely close to putting this one on the very bottom, the only thing that stops me from doing that is because at least Resurrection is technically a movie compared to the Theatrical Cut of Curse. I mean that in the loosest of terms. Plus, Busta Rhymes is hilarious to watch at times. That said, the movie is a pretty big insult to true fans of Halloween with how they kill off Laurie Strode as quickly and idiotically as possible. Leaving the rest of the runtime filled to the brim with annoyance and stupidity. Which is shocking to me since one of my favorite entries in the Halloween series is Halloween II, both of which are directed by Rick Rosenthal. I guess to mark his return to the franchise he decided to kill it… mission sort of accomplished I guess? Seeing how this was officially the last entry of the ‘original’ series for about sixteen years.
9) Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Other than my belief that Myers should have stayed dead, the movie itself is no more than a rehash of Carpenter’s original film, only if done with zero talent and effort. Halloween 4 fails to scare and it fails to entertain. The cast tries, but there’s no material in the script to get anything accomplished. The editing is incompetent and there’s never a presence of threat from the Shape since we know he won’t kill anyone important, only the inconsequential pawns. It’s an ‘80s Slasher cash-in. Not much more to it than that.
8) Halloween: H20 – Twenty Years Later (1998)
The only positive I can find is Jamie Lee Curtis giving her role of Laurie all that she has, besides that H20 is a prototypical dead teenager flick of the late 1990s and that’s it. Nothing more. None of the other characters are likable or even memorable, that includes Laurie’s own son John (Josh Hartnett). The kills are fine I suppose, but it lacks in an actually terrifying atmosphere as it settles for trying to be ‘cool’ for the youngsters and inserting about a few dozen loud and obnoxious jump-scare music stingers. Dear God, do I loathe that with every fiber of my being.
7) Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009)
It’s not very good, especially the Director’s Cut which is unfortunately the more obtainable version to find. The Theatrical Cut is better, but not by much. I will give Rob Zombie’s Halloween II this however, the gore is very effective. I mean there are some truly brutal violence in this entry. It starts off making the audience feel every cut and gash and it doesn’t let up whenever the next kill comes around. There’s some stuff that just makes me go, “OW”. That sadly doesn’t make up for the film’s rather broken structure as well as the constant, typical, Rob Zombie dialog. You know exactly what I’m talking about. There isn’t a single line that doesn’t have the words, “c*ck sucker” or “mother f*cker” somewhere in there. Admittedly, I curse a lot… but Zombie somehow manages to make it annoying in some of his movies and this is no exception.
6) Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)
Seems that either people absolutely love or hate this one. Most of the people I come across tend to despise Zombie’s remake and claim that it “ruined the franchise”. I won’t go so far as to ever say that since I’ve actually seen the rest of the franchise. But there is plenty I do not like about Zombie’s 2007 Halloween. For one, I’m not sure if it takes place in 2007, 1997, or 1977. It seriously is confusing as to how this movie’s time period works since it seems to be in a universe that is always the 1970s. But really what brings the film down for me is like I mentioned with Zombie’s Halloween II, the dialog. It makes almost every character so irritating to listen to and unlikable that I question as to why I have to keep following these people. Especially in the first fifteen to twenty minutes, which is probably the roughest part to sit through. Then of course the main version that is most available is the Director’s Cut, which is the only version that contains a redneck rape scene in order for Michael Myers to escape from his cell… because that was totally needed. Other than that, it is an ambitious story that tries its best in showing Michael’s digression into madness as it leads into the events of Carpenter’s film. A lot of it doesn’t work, that’s largely due to Zombie’s signature writing style honestly, but I still appreciate the strong effort and style that it has.
5) Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Oddly enough, Halloween 5 makes it in the number five spot. This is one of the only few in the later sequels that I personally like. It’s not great. Like I said, it definitely feels like the movie is working off of an unfinished script as it makes things up on the go. Yet I am able to forgive a lot of that as there is a real sense of danger for these characters as Michael Myers seems to not care who he kills next, whether it be a lead character or minor supporting player, he will kill them with no hesitation. And I really like that about this movie. Also how the camera work seems to capture a better mood and atmosphere that is reminiscent of Carpenter’s ’78 film. It has issues, significant ones, but I usually look over those pretty easily and have a halfway decent time with this movie.
4) Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers [Producer’s Cut] (2014)
Technically speaking, the Producer’s Cut has been available in a low quality bootleg for several years after the 1995 theatrical release, but it was only officially released to the public nearly twenty years later in 2014. The Producer’s Cut it is such a wildly different movie from the Theatrical Cut that the Theatrical Cut didn’t even make it in my top ten while this version is in the number four spot… think about that. Seriously, this is the far superior version of Halloween 6. It has mood and atmosphere and all the character that one needs in a film like this. Still not perfect by any means as it still has some silly things and has to work with the Thorne Cult material that was introduced last minute in the previous film, but for the most part it succeeds in providing style and suspense. There is one minor thing that the Theatrical Cut has over the Producer’s Cut…
John Strode’s death is a bit better in the Theatrical version… I understand why it’s different in the Producer’s Cut, but… I really hated that guy and just want to see his head explode. Please?
3) Halloween [H40] (2018)
H40 was a bit difficult to place, whether it would be in the number two or number three spot. As I’m writing this I’m still questioning as to if I should place this higher or not. But I think I will stick with my initial gut feeling and cement it as my number three pick. I was being serious when I said that I enjoyed the hell out of Halloween: H40. Tonally speaking, this is the closest that any of the sequels have ever come to resembling a John Carpenter film and it’s a great ride. There is a significant amount of tension building in the 2018 reboot, much like the 1978 classic, it is more of a slow burn than a high octane Slasher. Laurie Strode’s character arc of dealing with PTSD is really interesting to watch as she tries so hard to bond with her family, but sadly lacks the ability to do so because of her inner torment. That and she’s a total badass when it comes to preparing for Michael’s return. The film has great cinematography and is a moody good time. It has one of the dumbest character turns I’ve seen in a while, only an excuse to get the plot from point A to point B, other than that, I dig it.
2) Halloween II (1981)
I went back and forth between putting H40 and this Halloween II in the number two slot, what it came down to was simply my own personal bias honestly. I grew up with this version, I watch it every year around Halloween along with my other favorites, and I have such a fun sit with it every time. It’s nowhere near perfect, definitely not as good as the first movie, and it has the sibling twist that I never cared for. But it’s fun. Technically speaking, H40 is probably a better film. Probably. I just have such a soft spot for Halloween II that I couldn’t help putting this over the other. The number two and three spots are relatively interchangeable for me, but since I have to commit to a number then here it is. The kills are memorable, there is some stylish lighting that I dig a lot, and Michael Myers is still intimidating here. Even when his eyes get shot out he feels dangerous, as ridiculous as that is.
1) John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) & Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
That’s right, I said it. Halloween III: Season of the Witch and John Carpenter’s Halloween both make it in my number one spot. I don’t care what anyone says, every list I believe is allowed to have one tie and this is it for me. I love both films, I watch them both every single year for Halloween, they are both amazing works of art with terrific atmosphere and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Halloween and Halloween III have all the ingredients needed to shake things up in the horror genre, but in wildly different ways. Carpenter’s Halloween is a slow burn that steadily builds up the intensity with its cinematography and character writing. Tommy Lee Wallace’s Halloween III is fun ‘pod people’ type flick that sinks its teeth deep into the Halloween lore. I would completely argue that Halloween III is actually more true to the holiday and has a story that relies more heavily on it taking place during Halloween than Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece. That’s right, I said it. Halloween III is more of a Halloween movie than the original Halloween movie. The story presented in Halloween honestly could have probably taken place at any time of year, just seems coincidental that it’s Halloween as it only occasionally brings it up or shows visuals of the holiday. Halloween III practically has Halloween imagery in every single frame and is literally the whole reason as to why the plot of the movie is even happening. Halloween III is filled with Halloween spirit through and through.
For those that may be misinterpreting that what I said somehow means that Carpenter’s film is a lesser movie because there’s not as much of the Halloween spirit as seen in Halloween III, that’s not what I meant. John Carpenter’s Halloween is still a great horror film regardless, all I’m saying is that Halloween III simply lives and breathes the season is all. The original Halloween is a dark tale about pure evil that wreaks havoc on poor, innocent teenagers. It’s a creepy flick that symbolizes a lot about fate and what horrors humanity can be capable of. Halloween II wraps that story up in a tight bow. Halloween III had the balls to move onto new and exciting territories that could have given this series the incredible spark that it so deserves. Sadly it was the only one of its kind, but what it accomplished was no less than stellar. It still has a fun mystery, a dark and twisted diabolical scheme, and fantastic visuals that oozes All Hollow’s Eve. Don’t think of or compare Halloween III with being a Slasher, that’s just not the type of movie that it is. Halloween III is a 1950s ‘pod people’ throwback that updates the genre with an awesome 1980s vibe, supplying an bizarre combination of witchcraft and technology. It’s cool and I dig the hell out of it. I even have the shirt to prove it.
There you have it, all of the Halloween franchise in a fat nutshell. John Carpenter created one of the most influential horror films of all time with his 1978 classic, then he contributed to writing and producing one of the most underrated horror films of the 1980s with Halloween III. Both films deserve a lot of love for what they accomplish with very little in their budget. There’s a lot to love and hate about the Halloween franchise as a whole, some examples are about as close to perfect as a film can get while others cut out its plot and take a sh*t on the memory of legendary actors. Whether someone is onboard the Halloween train or not, there’s no denying that it has made its stamp on horror forever. For better or worse, there is a permanent mark in the shape of a jack-o’-lantern with a harelip for all horror fans to see. Happy Halloween!
What Is Your Favorite Halloween?
So what is your absolute favorite 'Halloween' movie from the franchise?
That’s All Folks!
It’s been about a month since I last wrote an article, but I came back with a vengeance… by writing a 7,600 word article… A bit much? What do you think? Did you like or dislike my gigantic opinions on the Halloween franchise? Agree or disagree? Wish my head would erupt with spiders and snakes? Comment down below and let me know! And if you enjoyed my article, please do me a favor and share this around the social media world. Thank you all so much for reading and have yourselves… a Happy Halloween… in April.
© 2019 John Plocar