The ‘Halloween’ Franchise Ranked
5. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The oddball of the franchise, Season of the Witch is an entirely new narrative that follows on from Carpenter’s plan to make each instalment in the franchise completely different, an anthology series, all revolving around Halloween. Here in this film we follow the attempts to stop a toy manufacturer from using child Halloween masks to bring about the return of Samhain, an ancient Celtic Festival, connected to witchcraft.
There’s no Michael Myers, no Laurie Strode, but the violence and intensity is still there. With a dark fantasy feel driving the film, the all-encompassing evil surrounding the story is palpable. The Silver Shamrock commercial is incredibly memorable and the pumpkin-head death is possibly one of the most shocking deaths in all of horror. The scope of the film is much wider, and whereas the Myers arc is very personal and intimate, with one man after one girl, Season of the Witch is much more apocalyptic, having a feel very similar to what Ringu would eventually attempt to capture.
It’s not perfect in any way, and there are some aspects of the scenario that feel very out of place (I’m still not convinced by the androids), but it’s a good, solid film in its own right that can be respected and liked away from the other Halloween films. If you like your horror a little more psychological and haven’t checked this one out because you think it’s a slasher, you’re in for a little bundle of fun.
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4. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Twenty years after Michael’s attack on Haddonfield in ’78, and disregarding all sequels after Halloween 2, Laurie Strode is convinced that this year, just like every year, Michael Myers will come to finish what he started. This time, she’s right.
It’s important to remember that this was a Halloween film that came in the wake of Scream, also made by Dimension Films, and even in the opening 10 minutes before the titles, you can see its impact. The whole film feels cleaner and tighter. The orchestral arrangements (that I don’t think had been present, or as present, in the scores thus far) add to the scope of the film, and the writing is bordering closer to playful, with more comedy in the film than there had been in previous instalments. It’s a slicker, more polished film, which helps it to stand out from the crowd as something more than a Halloween sequel, but a sequel fully embracing the new school of horror.
All of the acting in this instalment is superb, with Jamie-Lee Curtis returning as a harrowed, post-trauma Laurie in hiding from Michael who she fears is still alive. The final act in the school is well executed and full of scares in all the right places, with a high enough body count to satisfy all the gore-hounds in the audience. It’s simply a well-crafted film, as good a sequel as anyone could hope for, and a much-needed injection of adrenaline back into the franchise.
3. Halloween 2 (1981)
Immediately following the events of the first film, Laurie is rushed into hospital as Dr Loomis and Sheriff Bracket are hunting down Michael Myers. With a higher body count and the knowledge that the formula works, the second film takes the slasher movie method and elevates it from the first film, giving us plenty of scares and memorable scenes whilst staying faithful to the original.
Almost everyone in the film is great, aside from one or two characters that are almost purely written in for knife-fodder (the hospital security guard isn’t going to win any Oscars, no offence intended). The only real complaint is that Michael’s body language (something I inspect in every film) is radically different to the first film – it’s a slow and laborious approach, completely different to the Michael from the original, which was deliberate, yes, but he could also move when he needed to (think of his crouching, defensive stance atop the stairs in the Doyle house, or his fairly swift descent down them). This Michael is much slower, and I think a little less scary as a result, but not too much.
The film is still well-constructed and well paced. Everything falls nicely into the slots it needs to. The direction is still excellent, the music is good, the writing is top notch. If you need to see how the follow-up to a good film should be done, this is your main case study.
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