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Best ‘Halloween’ Series Movies, Ranked

Time to take a stab at the best 'Halloween' series films!

Laurie practicing shooting in Halloween 2018

Grab a weapon and get ready because it’s time to talk about films in the Halloween franchise. And not all the films either, sorry Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002) I won’t be roasting either of you in this listicle. It’d be a different story if this were a list of the worst Halloween films. Also, I won’t be including Halloween III: Season of the Witch because it is and isn’t a Halloween film.

This time around it’s about the best Halloween movies. The ones that make it on the favorites list (and maybe a few that’ll make you wish they didn’t exist). Either way, the following have it all and they’ll be ranked in terms of plot and characters.

1. Halloween (1978)

Laurie not realizing Michael is in the shadows in Halloween
(Compass International Pictures and Aquarius Releasing)

No matter which Halloween film is your number one, this sits at the top of the ranking. Without this film, and the creativity of both John Carpenter and Debra Hill, horror and slashers wouldn’t be the same. Michael is a force that no one truly understands in this film. Which is part of why this is a brilliant horror film! Naturally, Jamie Lee Curtis is also part of the brilliance. She may not be a solid final girl right away, but she’s iconic nonetheless. And there’s no forgetting the rest of the cast, especially Donald Pleasence. From this film alone we were given an iconic horror villain, a final girl, and a slasher to draw inspiration from. 

2. Halloween II (1981)

Michael getting ready to kill the nurse in Halloween II
(Universal Pictures)

Horror movies set in hospitals are really something else. Having a place that’s meant to be safe be the setting for a nightmarish situation is *chef’s kiss*. Though for Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) it wasn’t a good time. The movie continues where the previous left off, as Michael massacres the very short-staffed hospital, all to get to Laurie (who turns out to be his sister). Dr. Loomis’ batshit behavior is amplified in this and he recognizes the threat that Michael poses. It’s one of those sequels that you either love or you don’t. But since it’s not trash (some horror sequels never measure up to the original), it deserves a spot in this ranking.

3. Halloween (2018)

Michael getting his mask back in Halloween 2018
(Universal Pictures)

Having this movie be a direct sequel to the original, thereby retconning the rest of the sequel was a bold choice. Though not a disastrous one, because the film franchise is very convoluted. And by focusing on Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis)’s trauma, it creates the perfect commentary. With it being set 40 years after the original movie, it makes it especially dire. The kills are more violent, Laurie’s life is in shambles, and next to nobody believes her that Michael is coming back. In the end, seeing three generations of women come together to face Michael is truly a moment. No matter your reservations about this film, it got a lot of things right. 

4. Halloween Ends (2022)

laurie in Halloween Ends
(Universal Pictures)

Please don’t throw rotten fruit at me for including this. Regardless of how you may personally feel about the film, it really did something different. This entry is the final one in the H40 trilogy, and it partially focuses on the end of Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael’s journey together. But the other half of the movie centers around Alyson’s (Andi Matichak) new boyfriend, Corey (Rohan Campbell) who ends up bad news. Without getting too deep into the film (as it just came out), I will say that you shouldn’t go into it expecting Michael the whole time. Instead, expect a sort of character study throughout, classic slasher nuttiness, and a polarizing send off for our iconic final girl.

5. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Laurie waking up in Halloween H20
(Miramax Films)

This movie is a straightforward slasher in the best way. It takes place 20 years after the events of the first two films, and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) changed her identity to protect herself. But Laurie still doesn’t feel safe and is haunted by what happened to her. Of course, nobody understands her paranoia, and her son, John (Josh Hartnett) thinks she’s a basket case. At least until Michael shows up in her community and starts killing people. This movie moves quickly and doesn’t waste any time getting to the death or drama. 

6. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Jamie and Rachel screaming in Halloween 4
(Galaxy International Releasing)

Is it somewhat of a trainwreck? Yes. The upside of this sequel is that Jamie (Danielle Harris), Laurie’s daughter,  is the primary focus. And she’s as resourceful as a child can be given the circumstances. Michael being her uncle makes everything complicated (and later quite disgusting). But it follows that formula in terms of Michael’s fixation being on family members. Not much can be said about the characters (most of them are horrible), but Danielle Harris and Ellie Cornell make up for what doesn’t work in this film. Ultimately this is an entry that’s hard to not have a soft spot for.

7. Halloween (2007)

(The Weinstein Company, Dimension Films, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

Even mentioning this film will cause a ruckus of sorts with horror fans. There’s extreme hate still to this day for this entry. Usually aimed at Rob Zombie’s need to add backstory for Michael. And how the first half is nonsense. So, why did this movie make the list? There’s something about it that grants it a spot. Michael is terrifying and so brutal that it makes the violence feel even more real. There are no supernatural elements in this one. He’s just a violent and utterly damaged man. And his mask could haunt almost anyone’s nightmares. Set aside the first half (the backstory), and it’s not even that horrible of a film. It’s watchable when you peel away certain bits.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a blerd writer and visual artist who loves horror, anime and all things strange. Her writing has appeared in Pink Advocate, Dread Central and more. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.