Halloween Film Reviews
The Halloween franchise has been frightening audiences for generations, beginning with John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, and leading to Halloween (2018). With two more films set for release: Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022), it’s the perfect time to revisit the films and see what made them so special. And also, which ones don’t quite make the cut in terms of quality.
The following is a non-spoiler review and opinion of almost every Halloween film ever made, ranked in order of importance. I am omitting the Rob Zombie versions from this list because I have not seen them and cannot make an accurate judgment. Nor do I want to.
Halloween (1978): The granddaddy of slashers. Its status is cemented in popular culture for good reason. From the opening credits to the film’s iconic musical score, it induces a sense of dread at every turn. When we hear those infamous piano keys, we feel the danger looming, knowing Michael Meyers is close. We are introduced to Laurie Strode, played brilliantly by Jamie Lee Curtis, a comely high school student who is relegated to babysitting on Halloween while her friends are off partying. She becomes the accidental heroine by fending off Michael, and protecting the children while Dr. Loomis searches for his escaped mental patient.
In terms of quality, it is still the gold standard for the franchise and slasher films in general.
Halloween II (1981): Although he wrote and co-produced Halloween’s second entry, John Carpenter passed the director’s chair to Rick Rosenthal. Halloween II picks up the moment the first film ends. After Dr. Loomis fires six shots into Michael, he disappears, leaving Loomis to continue his search. With Laurie seriously injured, she is transported to Haddonfield Memorial Hospital for treatment. Michael continues his rampage, following Laurie to the hospital to finish what he started.
Halloween II doesn’t quite capture the same magic as the original, but it’s a very worthy sequel that streamlines one film to the next.
Halloween (2018): I’d have to put this above all the sequels that came before it. As far as canon, this new entry pretends that nothing exists past Halloween (1978), even excluding Halloween II for no other reason that I can see, than to keep the dynamic of Laurie and Michael mysterious, meaning they are no longer brother and sister…a trope that Carpenter introduced with the 1981 sequel.
It begins with two journalists visiting Smiths Grove Sanitarium in hopes of getting a face-to-face with Michael Myers, who, according to the new timeline, was captured before the events of Halloween II. He eventually escapes during transport and tracks down the journalists, retrieving his original mask in the process. He now has no other motive but to locate his non-sibling, Laurie Strode, who has been preparing for this moment her whole life, barricading herself into a cage of crazy and excluding everyone around her, including her daughter.
The end showdown is nothing short of amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the lore come full circle.
Three and a half stars.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989): Although it blends with Halloween 4, I personally prefer this one for its darker atmosphere. Donald Pleasance reprises his role as Dr. Sam Loomis, protecting Jaime Lloyd (Danielle Harris), the daughter of Laurie Strode, from her murderous uncle. In this timeline, Laurie is dead, making it all the more confusing for modern moviegoers who are only familiar with the recent entries.
Halloween 4 and 5 are fun by themselves, but fail to move the franchise forward in significant ways.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988): Some people will disagree that I put H5 ahead of H4, and in some ways, I understand. This entry rejuvenates the franchise, bringing back Myers as a central character, unlike the misdirection of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
We are now introduced to Jamie Lloyd, Laurie’s daughter. After learning of Laurie’s demise, we understand that Michael is now stalking his niece, hoping to snuff the family bloodline.
Two and a Half Stars.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): Michael Myers is nowhere to be found here. Halloween II was meant to be the last entry with Myers, leading to this new installment with the intent of extending Halloween lore in different directions. I personally like it, but it was a colossal flop, no one understood why it was called H3 when it departed from its previous “sequels” with no Shape to be found. It was intended to be an ongoing annual event, each year giving a new Halloween inspired theme, but unfortunately that never came to fruition. Go into it with an open mind, and you might enjoy it.
Halloween H20 (1998): The year says it all. Twenty years later, this is the original Halloween (2018) forgetting H4 and H5 even exist. Laurie Strode is alive again, and she no longer has a daughter named Jamie Lloyd, she now has a son named John (Josh Hartnett) and is the headmistress of a private boarding school called Hillcrest Academy, where she has been hoping to avoid the inevitable confrontation with her brother. Her nightmares becomes a reality when Michael tracks her down, and a confrontation escalates.
This is Scream era, late ‘90s fare. If you enjoy this style, give it a shot.
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995): Before there was H20, the franchise gave one last crack at Michael’s existing reign. Paul Rudd is Tommy Jarvis, Pleasance is back as Loomis, and Michael is back as, well, himself. Donald Pleasance passed away during the filming, so the studio had to finish the film without him, and it shows. Some new lore is introduced here, in the form of something called Thorn. Hated it then, hate it now. But other than some side nonsense, it’s a fun watch if you don’t take it too seriously.
Halloween Resurrection (2002): A sequel to H20 that wants to kill Laurie Strode within the first twenty minutes. I saw this in the theater and walked out immediately after said event. I’ve since seen it in its entirety and wished I hadn’t, citing temporary insanity as the cause. It revolves around a TV crew, showcasing their clichéd early 2000s internet broadcast that features a group of contestants spending a night in the Myers house. Surprise, Michael shows up. Busta Rhymes says, “Trick or treat, Motha Fu***,” and everything just sucks. Bottom of the barrel for me. Avoid it if you can.
So there you have it, my loose reviews of the Halloween films. Let me know if you agree.
Phil Thomas is an author and screenwriter from the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is a member of the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors and The Horror Writers Association. He is also the former co-host of What Are You Afraid Of? a weekly horror and paranormal show that lasted for over 150 episodes. The show still airs on Para-X radio on Friday evenings at 9:00 pm, where you’ll find interviews with wonderful guests such as Lloyd Kaufman, Katrina Weidman, Joe R. Lansdale, Grady Hendrix, Greg Bear, Daniel Kraus, and many more.
Check out his website and sign up for his mailing list so he can further control your mind, and please direct your angry hate mail to him here. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.
His short stories have been featured in several anthologies, including Monsterthology 2, Nightside: Tales of Outré Noir, Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd, Books of Horror: Volume 3, Part 2, and the upcoming collection, Seven Doors of Fate, set to release in 2023.
His debut novel, The Poe Predicament, was published by Foundations Books on October 4, 2021 and hit the bestseller list.
Stuck in another time, Richard Langley just wants to find his way back home.
Richard is a former college professor, wandering a local neighborhood bookstore, where he stumbles upon the find of a lifetime: a signed copy of Tamerlane and other poems.
He is soon swept to another era. He is alone, confused, and his only mission is to get back to where he came from.
While struggling to adapt to his nineteenth-century environment, Richard meets a man he must help exonerate from false accusations in order to restore history’s original timeline and, ultimately, find his way back.
What Richard did not count on, was that man being the owner of the signature—Edgar Allan Poe.