The wait is almost over. In less than two days, ‘The Shape’ comes home … again. It’s been over nine years since a Halloween movie was in theatres. But this time feels different. With the return of Jamie Lee Curtis and positioning itself as a direct sequel to the original, it can’t help but feel like we’re really getting something new. To date, reviews are extremely positive as well.
Though the new Halloween retcons all of the sequels from canon, it’s still a great time to re-visit the series. Of course, once a horror franchise gets past that fourth film, you can’t help but get a few duds here and there. To celebrate Halloween’s release, I’ll re-visit and rank the films in the franchise.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The Curse of Michael Myers is the worst film in the franchise. Hands down. Theatrical cut or Producer’s Cut? To be brutally honest, it doesn’t matter which version you watch. The sequel’s nonsensical Druid curse storyline couldn’t be saved by any amount of editing. When The Shape is regulated to the background in his own movie, there’s a problem. There’s no Danielle Harris. And there are no scares. If you had to skip a movie in the series, this is the one.
As much as I dislike The Curse of Michael Myers, I understand if Halloween: Resurrection sits at the bottom of your own ranking. Though this sequel boasts a decent premise, the execution is flat. There are few genuine scares scattered here and there. But I’m not sure Halloween fans were dying to witness a face-off between Michael Myers and. Busta Rhymes. And the manner in which the sequel handles Laurie Strode’s exit is inexcusable. The Curse of Michael Myers prompted the retconning in Halloween H2O. But this is the sequel that most likely influenced David Gordon Green’s decision to ignore all sequels in the new Halloween.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
For many reasons, The Revenge of Michael Myers is the point at which the series felt like a generic slasher movie. It’s a dull and largely scare-free affair. It’s always good to have The Shape back on the big screen. But it’s also a little sad to watch ‘The Boogeyman’ feel like an imitator instead of a cutting-edge icon. This was also the sequel that marked the point where Donald Pleasence’s ‘Dr Loomis’ felt like self-parody. The Revenge of Michael Myers is actually a chore to watch.
Halloween II (2009)
There a few filmmakers who have the same feel for horror aesthetics like Rob Zombie. Certainly no one can accuse Zombie of going through the motions with this sequel to his remake. In fact, Zombie had a promising direction and vision that distinguishes this entry from the mindless sequels above. Unfortunately, Zombie undermines his own vision with an excess of depraved characters and ugly violence. Some incoherent plotting in the final act finally derails what was a watchable movie.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Looking back at Season of Witch now and you can’t help but applaud just the sheer boldness of this sequel. A Halloween movie with no Michael Myers? And writer and director Tommy Lee Wallace had a pretty good story to go along with this risky direction. While the story is arguably more relevant today, the execution hasn’t aged that well. Still this sequel gets props for its completely downer of an ending.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
While The Return of Michael Myers feels a little too much like just another slasher film, it benefits from the nostalgia factor. After a hiatus from the big screen, it was cool to see The Shape back in action. Its opening credits sequence remains one of my favourite horror film title sequences. In addition, Danielle Harris gives an amazing performance fitting of the ‘Scream Queen’ title. If the horror feels a little undercooked, it’s saved by a perfect ending. If only The Revenge of Michael Myers had followed through on what this sequel promised.
As much as the fanbase derides this remake, Rob Zombie breathed more life into into the series than most of lifeless retreads that came before it. The remake route was doomed to draw the ire of fans, so Zombie just double-downed and gave Michael Myers an origin. It’s a brutally distinct remake. Zombie has a visceral style that is unapologetically on display here. It’s first half is a dark examination of how a killer is formed. It may actually have been better received if it wasn’t a Halloween remake. Admittedly, the second half gets dragged down when Zombie has to shoehorn in a more straightforward remake. At least Zombie’s origin story didn’t involve Druid cults.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Halloween H20 was the sequel the series needed after The Curse of Michael Myers. In many ways, H20 plays out like a soft reboot. Jamie Lee Curtis is back and the baggage built up over Parts 4 to 6 is discarded, cleaning up the continuity. Most importantly, Halloween H20 actually feels scary for the first time since Halloween II. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it follows through on its promise to
Halloween II (1981)
I’m always amazed by the scorn heaped onto the first franchise sequel. Director Rick Rosenthal leans more heavily into the graphic violence characteristic of the slasher subgenre. There are story problems, like it taking place in an implausibly understaffed hospital. And yes, this is the sequel that introduces the unnecessary ‘brother-sister’ angle. But all these issues aside, Halloween II retains much of the vibe from the original. It feels like a continuation of Halloween. Most importantly, Halloween II is still a scary movie.
This selection requires little explanation. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a masterpiece of horror filmmaking. Michael Myers, or ‘The Shape’, as an inexplicable force of nature like fate was a perfect re-imagining of the concept of ‘The Boogeyman’. From its memorably haunting score to Michael Myers himself, it’s the perfect horror film. It’s unlikely the new sequel can surpass Carpenter’s original film, but we can hope that it is a worthy follow up.