The Halloween Franchise: Counting Down the Series from Worst to First

The wait is over. After a nearly decade-long hiatus, David Gordon Green and Blumhouse resurrected the Halloween franchise following Rob Zombie’s disappointing sequel to his remake. And for the first time in two decades, the franchise felt scary again. But the success of Halloween 2018 all but guaranteed more sequels. What Blumhouse gave horror fans was the H40 trilogy, which has proven to be quite divisive. Halloween Kills – as suggested by its title – upped the kill count, but felt like a step backward. Just this past weekend Halloween Ends brought Laurie Strode’s journey to a polarizing end. If you count Rob Zombie’s remake and sequel, there are now 13 movies in the Halloween franchise. From worst to first, where does your favourite Halloween movie place on this list?

13 – Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Originally, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers occupied the bottom of the list. Don’t worry, it’s still a bad movie. After much critical re-consideration, Halloween: Resurrection moves to the bottom of the list. 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.

12 – Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

The Curse of Michael Myers may not be the worst film in the franchise. But it’s a bad movie. Period. 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. On the plus side, the sixth entry in the Halloween franchise all but proves that Paul Rudd doesn’t age.

11 – Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

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.

10 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009)

Few filmmakers 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 in the Halloween franchise. 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.

9 – Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

While The Return of Michael Myers feels a little too much like just another slasher film, it benefits from the nostalgia factor. And a lot of Halloween fans like this one. 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.

8 – Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)

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.

7 – Halloween H20 (1998)

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 return the series to its roots. What holds H20 back from ranking higher on the list – the other Halloween franchise entries are either better or take risks with the material that director Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part 2, Warlock, Lake Placid) avoids.

6 – Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Like Halloween Ends, Halloween III: Season of the Witch proved to be a divisive entry to the Halloween franchise. Looking back at Season of Witch now, 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.

5 – Halloween Kills (2021)

Many Halloween franchise fans will take issue with placing this H40 placeholder sequel so high up on this list. And yes, there’s a lot wrong with Halloween Kills. It’s absolutely the middle entry of a trilogy and, as a result, feels incomplete. Director David Gordon Green sidelines Jamie Lee Curtis’ ‘Laurie Strode’ in favor of an angry mob repeating ‘Evil Dies Tonight’ ad nauseum. Moreover, Halloween Kills ups the body count in place of scares and atmosphere. Nonetheless, Green strikes an interesting balance between Zombie’s hardcore violence and a more traditional Halloween movie. Like Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween Kills also gets points for trying something different. That is, the idea of examining how violence and tragedy can infect a community like a virus is intriguing, even if the execution is flawed.

4- Halloween II (1981)

Upon its release, critics derided Halloween II for giving in to more derivative slasher mechanics. Truth be told, it’s not an invalid criticism. Director Rick Rosenthal leans more heavily into graphic violence, which places the sequel more firmly in traditional slasher territory. 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 what separates the first sequel from Halloween IV and Halloween V – this one retains much of the vibe from the original. This feels like a continuation of Halloween. Most importantly, Halloween II is still a scary movie.

3 – Halloween Ends (2022)

Where Halloween Ends will place on a ‘best of’ movies in the Halloween franchise a decade from now will be interesting. Director David Gordon Green swung for the fences, refusing to make just another sequel. The results have divided fans right down the middle. Depending on who you ask, Halloween Ends is either a ‘masterpiece’ or the ‘worst thing to happen’ to the franchise. Everyone will probably agree that Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent – the same praise extends to the supporting cast. And the conclusion to the H40 trilogy certainly makes it clear that Michael Myers is dead by the end. But there’s also plenty wrong with this messy entry. In all likelihood, horror fans will be debating where this sequel falls in the franchise for a long time.

2 – Halloween (2018)

You can’t catch lightning in a bottle, but David Allan Green and Blumhouse at least had the right idea. After three decades of mixed sequels, a remake, and a sequel to the remake, the Halloween franchise returned to basics. All past sequels were excised. Jamie Lee Curtis was back. Again. And John Carpenter felt good enough about the whole thing to provide the score. Arguably, the Halloween 2018 legacy sequel is the scariest since the original. Most importantly, there’s a story to tell here – for a slasher sequel there’s a pretty profound narrative about grief and trauma. Jamie Lee Curtis is excellent and The Shape returns to form.

1 – Halloween (1978)

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.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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