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Top Five Halloween Sequels

Halloween John Carpenter

Happy Halloween! When it comes to the HALLOWEEN franchise, this is the happiest Halloween in recent memory, as Michael Myers is currently slashing his way across the big screen in a new film that's a massive hit. As of right now, that 40th anniversary follow-up is set to cross $175 million at the global box office. In celebration of both the holiday and the success of that film, I decided to look back over the entire HALLOWEEN saga and pick my Top Five sequels.

HALLOWEEN (1978) is cemented in at the #1 spot as my favorite HALLOWEEN movie, so to take that into consideration would have just been wasting space. We're focusing in on the follow-ups here. (Including Rob Zombie's 2007 remake; I just went with the word "sequels" for the sake of having a simple title.) How does the series go after that classic original?

There are 11 HALLOWEEN movies now. These are my 5 favorites after the original. 5 others didn't make the cut.

 

5. HALLOWEEN II (1981)

The first HALLOWEEN sequel ever made scores some major points with the fact that director Rick Rosenthal was endeavoring to replicate the tone and style John Carpenter brought to the first film. The story picks up at the very minute the previous film left off, plunging us back into Halloween night 1978, and it feels perfect. The opening stretch, with Michael Myers moving through the town of Haddonfield while Doctor Loomis and the police force deal with the aftermath of the first movie, is fantastic. However, once the film settles in at the hospital it starts to sink in for me what a missed opportunity it was. It's very empty, despite Carpenter's desperate attempt to add substance by writing in the "Michael Myers and Laurie Strode are siblings" twist, something I wish he hadn't done. Jamie Lee Curtis is wasted, as Laurie Strode spends most of the movie unconscious or groggy in her hospital bed. The way HALLOWEEN H20 and HALLOWEEN 2018 (and even, in another universe, Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II) show Laurie dealing with post-traumatic issues make me wish they had done something like that in 1981 instead of slapping together a movie that's only about Michael walking around in a hospital, looking for a sleepy Laurie.

 


4. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

It took a long time for writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace's HALLOWEEN III to gain widespread acceptance, and it's easy for me to understand why. It took a long time for me to accept it myself. It's just so weird. After giving us two Michael Myers films, Wallace and producer John Carpenter decided to try turning the HALLOWEEN franchise into an anthology series, and the story they thought would win over the audience is one about a hard-drinking, middle-aged absentee father who hooks up with a girl half his age - who somehow finds him irresistible - while on a quest to stop a maniacal mask maker from harnessing the power of Stonehenge and causing the death of every child wearing one of his company's mask by sending out some kind of magical signal through a special commercial. When that signal activates a patch on the masks, it will cause the heads of the children wearing them to break down into a rotten pile of insects and snakes. That's a big step for viewers to have to take after being lured in by simple stories of a guy with a knife stalking a teenage girl. But as strange and often disgusting as HALLOWEEN III is, it does have a charm that makes me have to include it among my yearly Halloween season viewings. Once I came around to liking this film for what it is, I used to have to defend it. Now it seems like the average horror fan likes it even more than I do.

 


3. HALLOWEEN H20: TWENTY YEARS LATER (1998)

It's a little shocking to me that HALLOWEEN H20 landed on this list at all, let alone that it ranks so highly in my current evaluation of the franchise. If you had asked me to rank the HALLOWEEN movies twenty years and a few installments ago, H20 would have come in dead last. I was not a fan of this movie when it was first released, mainly because I was deeply annoyed by the fact that it ignored the events of every previous HALLOWEEN except the first two movies. (This was back when you could think continuity and timelines mattered in franchises.) Now I can set that aside and appreciate what returning star Jamie Lee Curtis and director Steve Miner were going for with this one. While it's a very simple and short movie, there was a nice attempt made to show the repercussions of the trauma Laurie Strode endured on Halloween night in 1978. Just when she starts to make some progress in moving away from her troubled past, she has to face her greatest fear once again when Michael Myers shows up for a rematch twenty years in the making. Miner rushes through H20 a bit too quickly, he really could have spent more time on Laurie's issues and on the stalking and slashing once Michael starts going after Laurie's son John (Josh Hartnett) and his friends, but it's a solid effort as is.

 


2. HALLOWEEN (2018)

The latest HALLOWEEN sequel hasn't even been out for two weeks yet, and it can be tough to figure out how a new franchise entry really stands up to the films that preceded it. As mentioned, I hated H20 in '98, now I'm putting it at #4 out of 11. But I don't think I'm ranking the latest film highly just because it still has that "new car smell", as I certainly didn't rank H20, HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, HALLOWEEN (2007), or HALLOWEEN II (2009) highly when they were released. Instead, HALLOWEEN (2018) is in this spot because it feels like a better version of the concept behind H20, and thus has to be placed higher than that one. For this sequel, director David Gordon Green and his co-writers ignored the events of every previous HALLOWEEN except the 1978 original (finally wiping out the "Michael Myers wants to kill his family" idea) so they could tell a story about a very damaged Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis comes back again, something I never expected to happen) who has spent 40 years preparing to cross paths with Michael Myers again. The movie does feel a little scattered because it tries to do too much and build up too many characters, but it's still a well-made, fun return to the world of the original film and boasts an excellent performance by Curtis.

 


1. HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)

Tasked with bringing Michael Myers back after the bizarre detour of HALLOWEEN III, director Dwight H. Little and screenwriter Alan B. McElroy managed something that was like catching lightning in a bottle: they made a great HALLOWEEN sequel that doesn't have Jamie Lee Curtis in the cast. Sure, I could question some decisions that were made, like the fact that the film goes further down the "Michael Myers wants to kill his family" path that I resent HALLOWEEN II for setting the franchise on in the first place. This time, the target is Michael's 7-year-old niece Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), daughter of the late Laurie Strode. I could nitpick that it establishes some kind of supernatural connection between uncle and niece that HALLOWEEN 5 would sabotage itself trying to explore. I could point out that the movie is basically just a bigger budgeted remake of the first. But HALLOWEEN 4 is so entertaining that none of that bothers me. It sets Michael Myers loose in a Haddonfield that's populated by memorable and/or endearing characters - like Jamie Lloyd, her foster sister Rachel (Ellie Cornell), and of course Donald Pleasence being amazing as Doctor Loomis once again - and captures an awesome autumnal look and atmosphere, starting with the very opening frame, which begins one of my all-time favorite title sequences. When you mix that Halloween feel with a bit of pure '80s, a decade I have a lot of nostalgia for, you have the recipe for my favorite HALLOWEEN sequel.
 

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