GUEST MOVIE REVIEW: Halloween Franchise

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.

Five Stars.

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.

Four Stars.

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.

Three Stars.

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.

Three Stars.

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.

Two Stars.

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.

Two Stars.

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.

One Star.

So there you have it, my loose reviews of the Halloween films. Let me know if you agree.

Cheers,
Phil Thomas

Boo-graphy:
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.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Brian Asman

Meghan: Hi, Brian! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for agreeing to be a part of this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Brian: Watching a spooky veneer slowly creep over my neighborhood, transforming a sun-drenched beach community into a real-life Halloweentown. I like to imagine it’s emanating from my house, where it’s Halloween 24/7.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Brian: Making pumpkin spice everything and mainlining scary movies until my skin turns orange.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Brian: There are other holidays?

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Brian: Not sure if it’s superstitious per se, but super OCD about stepping on cracks. I don’t THINK anything bad is going to happen, it just bothers me.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Brian: Just one? Umm, as far as the big, iconic villains go it’s Michael Myers. The idea of someone who’s just a shell, no concept of empathy, walking around in the world? It’s scary because it’s true.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Brian: The Black Dahlia, by far. When I was a kid, I remember visiting my grandparents and finding this little digest-sized Unsolved Mysteries magazine in the grocery aisle. I even wrote a 300K word novel trying to puzzle out what ACTUALLY* happened.

*A ghost did it

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Brian: That one about the escaped mental patient in the backseat. Graveyard hitchhiker, too. Basically anything with cars I guess!

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Brian: I think I was five when I saw Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Scared the pants off me, and I didn’t sleep for days! Probably just a little older when I read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and same. I was a big ‘ole fraidy cat when I was a kid.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Brian: Oh boy, tough question—I’ve got to go with an old standby, Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. The sheer callousness of everyone involved was incredibly disturbing, and knowing it was based on a true story just made the horror even more visceral. Fantastic book, not sure I’d want to read it again though.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Brian: I mean, none? Killer Klowns was the first one and definitely shaped my trajectory!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Brian: I’ve had a bunch of fun ones, but the most unique one? One year I stapled a bunch of party hats, noisemakers, condoms, balloons, and a bunch of other shit to my jeans and went as a “Party In My Paints.” Even made up invitations and passed them out at the party.

No one RVSP’ed, womp womp.

Wish I could find pics of that one, here’s some favorites:

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Brian: Easy—“Halloween” by the Misfits. Although most of the music I listen to is Halloween-themed, I really dig psychobilly and horrorpunk!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Brian: Candy corn or mallowcreme pumpkins. Can’t say there’s one that’s really disappointing for me, I love it all!

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by today! It was a total pleasure!! Before for you go, what are your top five Halloween movies?

Brian:
5. Tales of Halloween – so many fun segments! I’m especially enamored of “This Means War,” where two neighbors get into a Halloween scuffle, and “Grim Grinning Ghost,” where a young woman learns the truth behind an urban legend.

4. WNUF Halloween Special – Must be seen to be believed. Shot like a lost ’80s network TV special, complete with fake period poster. The amount of care and love that went into this thing is great, with some genuinely creepy moments.

3. Trick ‘R Treat – As you can tell, I really dig anthologies for my spooky season watching. Every piece here is super strong, cohesive, and Sam has become an absolute icon.

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Tom Atkins! Celtic magic! Robots! What else do you want? The film that boldly diverged from the Michael Myers plotline, it’s definitely gained an appreciation over the years. Deservedly – Tom Atkins’ performance as Dr. Challis is fun, and the ending is gut-wrenching!

1. Halloween 1978 – The original. The grandaddy of them all. What else can I say? It’s amazing.


Boo-graphy:
Brian Asman is the author of I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today from Eraserhead Press, Jailbroke from Mutated Media, and Nunchuck City. He’s recently published short stories in the anthologies Breaking Bizarro, Welcome to the Splatter Club, and Lost Films, and edited the parody anthology Boinking Bizarro. He also writes comics for the anthology series Tales of Horrorgasm.

Based in San Diego, he has an MFA from UCR-Palm Desert and a Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers tattoo. He’s represented by Dunham Literary, Inc. Max Booth III is his hype man.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today
A Bizarro fiction tribute to the Kevin Smith cult classic CLERKS.

After a killer surf session, Scot Kring stops into his local Fasmart for a delicious, icy Slushpuppy. But before he can leave, a homeless guy outside has a stroke and accidentally recites an ancient Latin phrase that summons a very hungry demon, who just so happens to look like filmmaker Kevin Smith.

Now Scot’s stuck in a time loop along with the other occupants of the convenience store who may or may not be demonically possessed and he’s fighting back with nothing but a fistful of greasy hot dogs and a souvenir Slushpuppy cup as the giant menacing kaiju Kevin Smith threatens to kill them all.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today is a demon apocalypse comedy for the slacker generation.

Jailbroke
Future slacker Kelso’s got the easiest gig in the galaxy, working the Gordita Especial! pod on board an interstellar cruiser, although that doesn’t stop him from complaining about it to anyone who’ll listen.

Cyborg Security Officer Londa James spends her days wrangling idiot tourists and keeping an artificial eye out for any passengers or crew who might be on the verge of snapping from space sicknesses.

But after a colleague is brutally murdered, Kelso and James are going to have to work together if they want to survive! Man-eating machines, cybernetically-enhanced badasses, septuagenarian toddlers, an opioid algorithm-addicted bucket of bolts, a cult that worships the reincarnation of a 400-year-old God Genius, and one very unusual sex robot come together in JAILBROKE, a heartwarming/ripping tale about what it means to be human in a galaxy run by artificial intelligence.

Nunchuck City
You better nun-check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Disgraced ex-ninja Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulis just wants to open a drive-thru fondue restaurant with his best friend Rondell. But when an old enemy kidnaps the mayor, and a former flame arrives in hot pursuit, Nick’s going to have to dust off his fighting skills and face his past. Plus an army of heavily-armed ninjas, a very well-dressed street gang, an Australian sumo wrestler with a gnarly skin condition, giant robots, municipal paperwork, and much, much more! From the rooftops to the sewers, Nick and his ex-girlfriend Kanna Kikuchi are in for the fight of their lives!