Phase 3 of my recent journey to watch all Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween movies is complete. I watched all 10 Halloween films in the days leading up to Halloween.
The Halloween (aka Michael Myers) franchise has always been my favorite of the three franchises I was exploring during this marathon. While I have always been a fan of the Halloween films, I had never experienced all of them (and definitely not back to back). My brief thoughts on each film are below and at the end of this post, I rank all 10 films from best to worst.
Some of these reviews do contain SPOILERS. You have been warned!
The original 1987 John Carpenter Halloween is hands down one of the best horror films of all time. What has always made this one of the strongest horror films for me is the slow-build approach it utilizes to introduce the character of Michael Myers. In addition, Michael is a real person who has a blood relationship to his prey giving you a very real and intense film. On top of all of that, you have Dr. Loomis (played by the wonderful Donald Pleasence), who helps to provide an excellent level of depth to the mind of an otherwise mysterious character.
I also have to mention the incredible theme music that was written and performed by John Carpenter. It is one of the most iconic and memorable themes of all time and it has inspired countless a countless number of film scores since it creation.
The original Halloween is an incredible film and it will always be a staple in my house in the days leading up to Halloween. I give Halloween (1978) a 9 out of 10.
Halloween II picks up exactly where the 1978 film leaves off and continues the story of Michael Myers's wrath. This film tries to mimic the same tone that made the first film so special but unfortunately, it fails at this attempt. Once again, this film takes a slow burn approach that comes off as more of a drag and you spend a considerable part of the film waiting for something to happen. Much of this film takes place in an extremely understaffed hospital, and all I want to say is that Michael Myers is far more scary when he is outside hiding in plain sight. It was not convincing to watch him maneuver this hospital like he does and believe that nobody sees him and they aren't able to get away from him. I give Halloween II (1981) a 5 out of 10.
I had heard from many that Michael Myers is not in Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), but I took that to mean that it was a copycat or another slasher. Nope. My assumptions were completely wrong. Season of the Witch has nothing more in common with the Halloween franchise than the fact that it takes place in the days leading up to Halloween. While I did enjoy this film, I was taken aback by how different it was and just kept asking myself why is this part of the Halloween franchise? This film also takes a break from the incredible orchestra-driven score of the first films and replaces it with a very loud and unnecessary synthesizer score. It also features one of the most annoying songs (Halloween, Halloween, Halloween...) I have ever heard and the stupid song is revisited countless times throughout the film. I give Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) a 5 out of 10.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) brings the Halloween franchise back to it's former glory with the return of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, and it introduces my second favorite character in the franchise, little Jamie Lloyd (who is played by Danielle Harris). The addition of Jamie to the cast helps to provide a depth to the film and the Michael Myers character. My biggest complaint with this film is mostly geared towards characters and performances: Many of the supporting characters are overacted and came across as laughable. I also had an issue with George P. Wilbur, who plays Michael Myers. Michael Myers has always been known for having a strong screen presence in the these films: Just the sight of him makes you afraid but I unfortunately didn't get that with Wilbur. He didn't have that strong powerful approach to the character which is probably the folly of the performance and the director. I give Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) a 7 out of 10.
In the fifth installment of the Halloween franchise, Michael Myers returns to come after little Jamie one more time. While I didn't like the direction they took Jamie's character and the story, I did enjoy the film. As in the previous film, some of the secondary performances are laughably over the top, but the character of Michael Myers (who is played by Don Shanks) returns to original form with a scarier and stronger Michael. I wasn't a huge fan of how Michael was utilizing a car as a weapon and I thought this degraded his character and his suspenseful hands-on approach to killing. I give Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) a 6 out of 10.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) takes a slight detour from the classic Halloween franchise recipe and introduces a cult aspect to the film. While it was a slightly different approach, I didn't mind it. It is completely believable that a cult would protect and support a serial killer. There was a slight supernatural component to the cult that I could have done without but it was minor. I loved how the film brought the Tommy Doyle (who is played by the excellent Paul Rudd) character from the original film back into the story. He was my favorite part of this film and I really liked the direction they took his character. I give Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) a 6 out of 10.
Halloween: H20 (1998) is the infamous return of Laurie Strode, who is played by the original final girl herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. H20 is a film that I didn't expect to like but man was I wrong. It is an excellent additional to the Halloween franchise and my second favorite of all 10 films. The direction they took the story with Laurie in protection with a faked death was very clever. The quiet private school setting was the perfect way to reconnect Laurie and Michael together and it made for an excellent and suspenseful film. I give Halloween: H20 (1998) a 7 out of 10.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) is a film that should have never been made. This was by far the worst film in the franchise and it was completely unnecessary. The characters, performances, shaky camera work, and story are all horrible. The marketing for this film pushes Jamie Lee Curtis as a large component of the film, but she is in it for only the first 10 minutes. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. You will enjoy the series as a whole much more if you end with Halloween: H20 or by pass this and lead straight into the remakes. I give Halloween: Resurrection (2002) a 2 out of 10.
The 2007 Rob Zombie remake of Halloween is a film that many fans were worried about, but personally I think it turned out very well. Zombie took a slightly different approach in that he explores more of Michael's childhood and his life in the institute with Dr. Loomis. This approach helps to explore some of the unknowns like why Michael hides behind a mask. While I did enjoy the childhood aspect of Zombie's film, my biggest complaint is that it ran a bit long and dragged on. The acting in this film is superior to many of the other films and I very much enjoyed the casting of all of the main and major supporting characters. I particularly enjoyed how they cast Danielle Harris, who played little Jamie in 4 & 5 in a new, more adult role. As expected with a Rob Zombie film, the kills are far more graphic and the gore factor has been turned up a notch. I did feel that the gore was a little bit much for a Halloween film, but just a little. I give Halloween (2007) a 7 out of 10.
With Halloween II (2009) Rob Zombie returns with a film that is a huge departure from what made his 2007 film so enjoyable. While I do enjoy this one, I have multiple issues with it. First is the gore factor. I mentioned in his first film how Zombie's use of blood and gore was a bit high for my taste, well, this film takes it to an even greater and unnecessary level. Second, what was with the unicorn and the ghost of Michael's mother? I felt this addition was pointless and took away from how real of an individual Michael was in Zombie's first film. I am pretty confident Michael's mother was written into the story, just because Zombie wanted his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, in the film Third, I was very disappointed with the direction they took Dr. Loomis' character, and he almost came across as an entirely different personality. Lastly, I wanted to mention that I was let down by how much of a humanless killing machine Michael was in this film. He kills countless random people with little purpose for the killings. While I was not a huge fan of Michael's character, I did find his look was improved significantly. I enjoyed seeing him without his mask on and how they utilized the hoodie and beard to give him a new look. I also really enjoyed the end cabin scene. It was incredibly intense and had a very real tone to it which was lacking in most of the film. I give Halloween II (2009) a 6 out of 10.