Series Rundown: “Halloween” (1978 – 2009) – Part I

Image result for halloween 1978
Michael Myers in Halloween. Image source:

In the spirit of the season, I decided to re-watch all of the Halloween movies and rank them from worst to best. As I am not the biggest fan of the series overall, I figured my selections would be unpredictable at the very least. (Part II will follow on Monday, October 31 – Halloween.) For those who haven’t seen all of the films, beware of SPOILERS.

10) Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

[94 minutes. R. Director: Rick Rosenthal]

Cycling through every generic sequel subtitle in the book, the producers finally settled on Resurrection, which is plenty ironic for a film so awful it threw the series into remission for six years (the original subtitle, Homecoming, at least made a little more sense). From the cheap-looking, direct-to-video font that marks the opening credits; to the low-rent sets; to the complete lack of character and story development (some dumb reality-TV-broadcast-on-the-Internet dealio with Busta Rhymes, for fuck’s sake), Resurrection made obvious that the series had run completely dry. From the unceremonious dispatching of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) during the anticlimactic opening (an incident that is never referred to again), to the lame concept of morons wandering around the Myers house for a shot at Internet fame (an angle that, 15 years later, feels painfully dated now), to the fact that producer Malek Akkad cynically admitted the series’ appeal to “African-American audiences” speaks volumes for this creatively bankrupt cash-grab. Katee Sackhoff is hot as hell, though, and almost out-Brittany Murphys Brittany Murphy. Otherwise…

9) Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

[87 minutes. R. Director: Joe Chappelle]

Almost worth watching for the sheer volume of continuity errors, lapses in logic, character inconsistencies (want to see Michael Myers respond to reason? Here’s your chance!), and overall storytelling dissonance. Myers is no longer scary; in fact, he’s kind of boring here, dispatching victims in the most gratuitous ways possible. The Thorn origin story, poorly teased in Halloween 5 and even more poorly explained here, is really just a smokescreen to justify another mindless killing spree and trot a weary-looking Donald Pleasence out one last time to play Dr. Loomis (who makes more inexplicable, convenient appearances than The Shape). It speaks volumes for Paul Rudd’s creepy, not-likable-in-the-least portrayal of a grown-up Tommy Doyle that he didn’t wind up in a dead-end career of starring in bad horror films. I’m not sure how the “Producer’s Cut” plays in comparison to this, but it has an extreme uphill battle to make any of this nonsense watchable, let alone entertaining. Director Joe Chappelle went on to direct numerous episodes of HBO’s The Wire, all of which would be time better spent than watching Curse.

8) Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

[96 minutes. R. Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard]

They fucked up the Myers house. It was pretty iconic and distinct in the first two films, was it not? We saw it clearly enough, right? The makers of Revenge assume viewers – even casual viewers such as myself – don’t remember what it looks like. For some reason, this probably bothers me more than it should, but it’s a huge distraction during the action in the last act. Never mind that the characters are obnoxious, the pacing is like walking in shoes filled with candy corn, and Donald Pleasence gives a career-worst performance, devolving into the same kind of irrational madness he accuses his prized patient of. Seeing him loom over poor little Danielle Harris and yell in her face is more unpleasant than anything Michael Myers does to his deserving prey this time out. Did I mention the stupid cops who are accompanied by goofy sound effects every time they appear? Or how idiotic Myers looks with the neck of his Shatner mask hanging out? Or how I could give two fucks about that stupid Man in Black (is this suddenly The Dark Tower)?

7) Halloween (1978)

[91 minutes. R. Director: John Carpenter]

By horror fans and mainstream critics alike, it’s almost universally loved. And, despite my best efforts over the course of 2 decades, I still don’t get it. Like poor Dr. Loomis standing outside the Myers house in hopes that his deranged patient will log an appearance, much of Halloween is spent waiting for something – anything – to happen. Carpenter frames great shots that he holds for up to a minute too long; the pace is a lulling slog, periodically spiced up by a clever shot of Michael Myers lurking in the margins. But our teenage protagonists are a dull bunch, and Carpenter all but eighty-sixes the suspense by making the viewer privy to characters’ fates before the other characters are aware, leaving them to play catch-up, and thus making the film feel about twice its length. Seriously: Laurie’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) repeated gesture of tossing away weapons is enough to invite jeers. Just think: had Loomis turned around just a few hours earlier, he might’ve seen the stolen car and confronted his nemesis sooner! Dean Cundey’s cinematography is very good, but the Earth-tone ordinariness of the film’s look doesn’t add a hint of realism – it just makes it more mundane.

6) Halloween: H20 (1998)

[86 minutes. R. Director: Steve Miner]

The return of Jamie Lee Curtis is the lynchpin of this sequel’s success, giving it a pathos that was lacking in the previous films. With a plot that disregards the series after II, it picks up with the new family dynamic of Laurie Strode – now a headmistress at a private school – and her son, John (Josh Hartnett). Since the series subsists on anniversaries, what better excuse for Michael to log a return than to commemorate the two decades since his previous killing spree? Director Steve Miner, who worked with Wes Craven in the ’70s and helmed 2 of the Friday the 13ths, brings a sense of moody restraint to the film, but the suspense is perhaps too deliberately executed – there are some dull passages, and the story may be too earnest in finding closure than it should be. At this point, how many truck drivers have sacrificed their lives to give Michael coveralls? Now that would be a story worth telling.

To Be Continued…