Ranking The Entire ‘Halloween’ Horror Movie Franchise From Worst To Best – Forbes

The most celebrated and widely known horror franchise for the Halloween season has to be the one named for the holiday — Halloween and Michael Myers are must-watch movies for anyone serious about their October horror viewing. With the final film in Blumhouse Productions’ acclaimed revival series released earlier this month, it’s the perfect time to count down and rank all 13 films in the entire Halloween horror movie franchise, from worst to best.
Official Dolby Cinema poster for “Halloween Ends”
I rewatched the entire Halloween series of films in preparation for this ranking, and I must say I was mostly happy with the results but also found a few of them hard to sit through. This franchise went through more restarts and revivals than most series, by a long shot. First came a third film that attempts an entirely new approach to the whole franchise as an anthology, then a fourth film that returned to the original premise, then a reboot after 20 years, then another reboot in the form of a remake, and then the most recent revival series from Blumhouse Productions.
My ranking approach is simple: I rewatched, took copious notes, and then spent a few days reviewing my notes and putting the films in order. This is my own personal assessment, of course, so you’re free to disagree, but I’d always welcome a chance to discuss the franchise and each film in depth.
So, without further ado, here is my countdown of the entire Halloween horror franchise, from worst to best!
13. Halloween: Resurrection — Despite an understandable attempt to position the series in the modern era with nods to found footage, internet culture, and reality TV, the result is a mess of too many gimmicky ideas shoehorned together with uninteresting characters and no real scares.
12. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers — The Thorn Cult approach reaches its pinnacle in this film, with almost unwatchable results. Its attempt to craft a new direction for the series and bring the “origin” story of Michael Myers to a conclusion is never scary, often laughable, and mostly boring.
11. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers — By-the-numbers filmmaking and paper-thin plotting full of repetitive, dull moments and weak characters sink this sequel and waste a decent restart that made its predecessor (the fourth film in the series) the first really good sequel of the franchise.
10. Halloween III — A solid idea to create an anthology approach to the series and some unique sci-fi horror concepts mixed with anti-corporate social satire are enough to give this entry an understandable cult following, but frankly the stiff acting, lack of good scares, and overall low production values make it hard to sit through nowadays.
9. Halloween II (1981) — You can tell series creator John Carpenter wasn’t really interested in making a sequel, by the flat storytelling and cheap scares that feel mean and uninspired. Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t given much to do, and the entire affair is largely forgettable despite the interesting potential of the hospital setting.
8. Halloween Ends — The “final chapter” of the series is a good and often scary tale with themes about society creating its own monsters and the potential darkness within humanity. Curtis is missing too often and it doesn’t feel as connected to the previous chapter (Halloween Kills) as it should, but it offers an acceptable if flawed conclusion.
7. Halloween II (2009) — The second chapter of Rob Zombie’s reboot confirms his strong artistic vision and includes homages to Frankenstein and other classic horror stories. It’s a decent reimagining, but Laurie’s theatrical cut arc is more consistent with her arc in the prior film, whereas the director’s cut stumbles here.
6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later — The first attempted reset of the franchise erases all chapters except the first two films, to good effect. A straightforward, streamlined approach with superior production values and an earnest performance by Curtis reminds viewers of the strengths of the original film.
5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers — Despite its flaws, this sequel gets the franchise back on track in scary, interesting style. Good characters and pacing, plus a surprisingly effective reliance on the structure of the first movie, make this film better than its reputation, despite its flaws (including overt supernatural elements).
4. Halloween (2007) — Rob Zombie kicked off his reboot with an approach that you’d think wouldn’t work, since it contradicts so much of the underlying premise of Michael Myers in the original film. But Zombie takes the basic concepts and attempts something original, and largely succeeds in impressive style.
3. Halloween Kills — A terrific follow-up to the 2018 revival, with another awesome opening sequence and lots of great characterization and scares. Victims are extremely sympathetic (contrary to its wrongheaded reputation), and we are asked to consider how our reactions to terror can threaten to turn us into instruments of evil ourselves.
2. Halloween (2018) — The first sequel to feel truly worthy of the original’s reputation, aided by a brilliant opening and equally smart arcs for Curtis and the rest of the cast. Even the opening credits are a must-see, in a film that’s so good it could work as a single standalone story, even if its sequel Halloween Kills weren’t so damn good too.
1. Halloween (1978) — The original is still the very best of the franchise, and one of the best horror movies ever produced. It holds up as well today as it did ten or twenty or forty years ago, full of atmosphere and well-crafted characters who come easily to life with the merest of brushstrokes. A master class in horror filmmaking.
And there you have it, dear readers, my ranking of the entire Halloween horror franchise, from the very worst to the very best.
Despite its general reputation as having a lot of bad sequels, there’s a surprising lot to admire about this series and how many good or even great entries it contains, compared to lots of other horror series. Eight of the films are somewhere on the sliding scale of good to very good to great, with only five really being movies I think most viewers could or should skip without worrying about missing anything. (I realize fans of Halloween III will hate for saying that, but while I respect their position and the film’s cult status, I still think most audiences will find it too stilted and more akin to a made-for-TV B-movie that’s more fun for its cheesiness than taking it at face value.)
Be sure to check out my list of the top 10 best scares in horror movies, as well as my list of the top 10 best horror movies of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, plus the companion article that offers the top 10 best horror movies from the 2000s, the 2010s, and the 2020s. And on Monday, watch for my interview with noted horror film producer Peter Phoke — we had a wonderful discussion about his work and experiences in cinema, so stay tuned for that.
Happy Halloween, and be sure to mask up for the holidays!


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