It’s that time of year again when ghosts and ghouls come out of the shadows and terrorise your local neighbourhood – or that just have been me last night at a friend’s Halloween party.
The annual event that is slowly becoming as popular here in the UK as it is in the US brings out the creative in us as well as terrifying.
To celebrate one of my favourite holidays of the year, I’m taking a look back through the franchise that epitomises the night of terror, Halloween. The series has long been my favourite in the genre, even making it into my top 10 influential films. But which five films in this long running franchise are worth a watch? Read on to find out.
5) Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
The Halloween franchise has suffered from a disease known as sequelitis. 2002s Halloween Resurrection in particular tried too hard to change the formula and update it for a modern audience; it didn’t work.
Halloween 4 is by no means a masterpiece, but after producers decided, wrongly, to do away with Michael Myers in Halloween III, the return of our masked murderer was a site many fans had been waiting for.
The film itself is fine, though suffers from a lack of Jamie Lee Curtis, but the acting is decent and the story of Michael tracking down his niece is actually really good. It may not have set the box-office alight, but as a sequel, it’s not too bad at all.
4) Halloween (2007)
Rob Zombie was an inspired choice to helm the 2007 reboot of the series and the resulting film was very good indeed. Opting to focus more on Michael’s backstory was an intriguing change to the formula and a risky one at that.
Many fans concluded that it lessened the impact of Michael’s murders. Showing him as an abused child took away the supernatural elements that made Carpenter’s masterpiece so terrifying in 1978.
Nevertheless, I thought the idea worked well, and although Zombie’s film is a case of style over substance in some sequences, it’s a good reboot and one that manages to raise itself well above its horror stablemates at the time of release.
It also had an absolutely cracking soundtrack, but the less said about the disappointing sequel the better.
3) Halloween II
The original Halloween was never supposed to become a franchise, John Carpenter only ever wanted to make one film. Naturally, after the movie’s success, a sequel was greenlit soon after and was rushed into production with a massively increased budget.
Halloween II remains a troubled film. Cleverly set on the same night as its predecessor, it lacked the trademark stalk and kill sequences that made its forbearer such an impeccable addition to the genre.
Upping the budget also meant upping the gore and from here the series started to rely heavily on brutality rather than outright terror. Still, it’s a great film anchored by Jamie Lee Curtis’ brilliant performance as Laurie Strode.
2) Halloween: H20
From 1981 to 1998. That’s how long it took to create a really memorable Halloween movie. After sequels that became far too complex for their own good and continuity errors that would make the Star Wars prequels blush, Halloween: H20 was the correct way to revitalise the series for a modern age.
Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the franchise as a head teacher, plagued by memories of her brother’s killings and desperately trying to forget her horrific past. Josh Hartnett also makes his big screen debut as her son.
Production was troubled once again, with Michael’s mask having to be hastily created in CGI during some sequences, but the stalk and kill mantra that the 1978 masterpiece created returned and this is a fine addition to the series.
There really was no getting away from this was there? The film that arguably changed horror still reigns supreme in this franchise countdown.
In 1978, John Carpenter released his masterpiece to an unsuspecting public and it went on to terrorise people across the globe. Its success speaks for itself: on a budget of just $325,000, it went on to gross $70,000,000 worldwide.
The film also kick-started the career of the brilliant Jamie Lee Curtis and she became known as the original ‘scream queen’. Elsewhere, the wonderful Donald Pleasance became a mainstay of the franchise, crafting a successful career out of Michael’s doctor.
The effects of the film’s success were felt for many years after Halloween’s release. It began a craze of creating slashers out of people with a unique set of ‘powers’. Friday the 13th rolled into cinemas in 1980 and A Nightmare on Elm Street was first released in 1984.
What’s your favourite Halloween movie? Have I missed your favourite off this list? Let me know in the comments box below.