Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ranking The HALLOWEEN Franchise

Holy friggin' crap.  We're here! Day 31 of 31 Days Of Halloween.  I can't believe it.  This has probably been the most involved and biggest retrospective yet (and maybe ever).  James Bond may have had more movies, but I also had a lot more time (3.5 months).  This has been an awesome undertaking and one of the franchises I always wanted to do when it came to retrospectives.  I want to thank all my guest writers who submitted pieces to enhance and class up this joint.  You guys were all great and didn't even half ass anything when you could have.  It truly means a lot and I am full of gratitude.

I don't really have much more to say, being as I've been talking about this stuff for 31 days now.  At the bottom and at the top of this will be no surprise, but I'm sure there will be a shocker or two here as I don't see eye to eye with a lot of the "safe" rankings of this series by a majority of the fanbase.  I discovered this film and series on my own and I'll do my rankings own.  Happy Halloween, and don't forget to scroll to the end for a tease of November's MUCH smaller retrospective.

11. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

This movie is vile scum. I'm a big OCD completionist when it comes to franchise films (surprise, eh?) , but even I say skip it.  If you have any sort of respect or liking to this series, avoid this film if you've managed to make it this far in your life without seeing it.  Freddy, Jason, Pinhead...they never sunk this low.  It's arguable whether Chucky or Leatherface did, but this one just hurts more.  This is a film with zero redeeming value to it.  Please note, from here on out, I really don't mind watching any of the other films in the franchise.  I had to watch this for the retrospective, but I hope I never have to sit through it ever again.

10. Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)

This one has some bizarre editing choices and a horrid score.  And in the end its  pretty incoherent mess that doesn't make a lick of sense or fit with the first 2/3 of the film.  Its watchable.  Once you've seen the Producer's Cut, this becomes less and less.  And knowing the changes here were not made to make any sense hampers enjoyment further.  But hey, a head explodes and that's usually kinda cool.

9. Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers

Aaron Neuwirth has dogged me via text that I was too hard on this one in my piece.  And yeah, I probably was a bit.  I do find this one watchable, and next to the theatrical cut of 6, the simplicity here is appreciated.  I think this is kind of a poorly executed film (probably due to its rushed production), that has some really good takeaways.  No, I can't forgive the crummy Myers mask and outfit or the police with clown noises, but I also can't ignore some superbly directed moments of suspense.  I really like the car chase and I really love the laundry chute sequence.  There's some good ideas on display here and the whole man in black plus the cliffhanger is highly watchable unlike Tina.  But Danielle Harris...she KILLS here.  Its the Yin to Tina's Yang.  The film fits so comfy with 4, you kind of HAVE to watch it every year.  And its an ok watch.  The biggest crime it commits is not living up to Halloween 4.

8. Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers (aka "The Producer's Cut")

While this still isn't the world's greatest movie, its  more competently made and directed film than 5 was and I find it more entertaining of a watch.  Its kinda goofy and convenient at times(seriously...nobody saw the blood trail or heard the crying baby in the women's room?), but there's something that's loveable about all the silly connections and "root" of Michael's evil.  Plus, I think Pleasence is really good as Loomis in his final outing in a somewhat haunting performance.  Maybe its all the work I had to do to acquire it back in the day or that I felt it was my own little secret or maybe since this was the correct version of the first film I saw in the theater...i dunno.  For me this all just works better than 5.  Although 5 has been becoming more favorable to me in the last few years.  We'll see.

7. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

Here we go, this one already feels too low at 7, but right now, that's where it sets for me.  Its beautiful filmed, goofy film.  I can't say "IT'S GREAT!" like everybody else.  It's got a lot of plot problems that I have to put aside when watching.  But, I enjoy the hell out of this movie more and more every time I pick it up now.  I love the cinematography, I love the effects, and I love Tom Atkins wildly anti-hero.  Its got the look and feel of the first two films and its a strength it has over some of the films that will top it on this list.  Its not as bad as its rep was, but its certainly not the masterpiece its claimed as now.  Somewhere in between.  But it is rad.

6. Halloween: A Rob Zombie Film (2007)

Here's another, like Season of the Witch, that has climbed the charts for me.  Its also a film with problems, mainly balance.  This is probably a better production than some on the remainder of the list, but its got one thing that puts it here for now.  Its not an easy watch.  There's a lot of disturbing, off-putting stuff.  Most of that comes in the beginning for me.  I gotta be in the right mood for the opening breakfast table scene and most of Forsythe in this thing.  It polarized me on its first view, leading me to think i "hated" it, but after that initial punch I've come to see what a much better film this is.  If you're unfamiliar with Zombie or his inspirations, you may be lost or not very open to it yourself.  Just remember, it says "Rob Zombie" on this one and not "John Carpenter".  Judge it on its own terms, and you'll be much more satisfied.  And look at it compared to most other remakes...this one sticks out as being one of the most inventive, creative and best.

5. Halloween: H20 (1998)

Okay, I've just spent 2 entries talking about ones that have moved up the rankings, here's one that has slid.  At one time I would have told you this was the 2nd best Halloween film.  I loved it.  But, over the years its having a harder time holding up with me.  I see a lot of inconsistencies in the production and some of it just isn't working.  This was truly made by people who loved Halloween and wanted to make the best tribute they could, the only problem is...that shows.  It's almost "too cute" in its execution.  After the opening sequence, none of the stalking is very scary at all.  Its evident that while they love what Carpenter did in the original, they have no idea how to do it themselves.  A lot of it is played very very safe.  No death comes very surprising at all.  This is a good fun movie, but its also a very nice, popcorn almost kid-friendly film.

4. Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)

Speaking of too cute, Halloween 4 at #4?  Maybe its my nostalgia, but its my list in the end.  This is another tribute, this time the 10 year one.  While there's some concessions give to make this plot work, I'll give it to this movie.  Its one of the best slashers of the 80s and feels like a horror movie.  I love the character of Jamie Llloyd and her age amps up the tension a little bit in this one compared to some others.  There are some really cool sequences and the film feels very fall like to me.  From start to finish this is an entertaining little adventure, and its good to have Donald Pleasence back in the saddle giving us his most balanced performance between serious and camp.  And the ending to this film is a vile zinger.  Like I've said before, I love Halloween 4.
3. Halloween II (1981)

This is a film that comes very close to matching its predecessor.  Its a bit more "traditional slasher" than the first, but it doesn't go totally overboard with it.  Yes, it ups the body count and the characters aren't  as refined, but they're well done stereotypes that'll have you keeping all the names and faces together in the end.  I think a big assist on this goes to Dean Cundey on this one for shooting it.  Halloween II is able to remind me of so much of what I enjoyed about the first one and I think its thanks to his lens.  People love watching I & II back to back almost as if its the law.  And i think its due in part because while it doesn't hold a candle to the first film, its pretty damn good itself.  I also think its partly because John Carpenter may have "saved" this movie too, as evident from deleted scenes and that masterpiece of disaster TV Cut.  Halloween II is also better than the majority of imitators out there easily.  

2. Halloween II: A Rob Zombie Film (2009)

Yes, its number 2 (2 coming in at 2...guh...i didn't plan this like that, seriously).  I am absolutely fascinated by this film.  From its aesthetic to trying to figure out stuff as to what exactly its about, I just can't get enough.  This is the slot on this ranking that is ultimately going to bring controversy and I accept that.  Of all the sequels that involve Michael Myers, this is the most original, creative, artistic and original vision that has come.  The film reminds me a hell of a lot to Bride Of Frankenstein.  Seriously, watch the film and you may see where some of this movie is coming from.  And to that extent, both are weird, crazy turns and directions compared to their predecessor.  Michael's journey and wandering in the film very much resembles that of the Monster in Bride.  Then there's the whole..."Did Laurie Strode actually commit these murders and Michael doing them was just her denial of doing so".  I love that Rob shot this old school on 16mm.  It gives the film a really unique take.  And those dream sequences are creepy as hell.  I don't care if they are there to be there, they work for me.  Not many films nowadays make me want to go back and continue to indulge and study it like Halloween II has.  I feel this is a film that definitely got lost on people.  They wanted just a paint by number ABC been there done that tired slasher and they got a bizarre, twisted arthouse movie that confused them.  The first reaction is to put up their dukes and say it sucks.  Sorry folks, it doesn't.  This film is destined to rise from the ashes in years down the road and become a cult sensation.  But like most of just takes time.  So, I guess Randy Shaffer and I can say "first" and be hipsters saying "I like Rob Zombie Halloween II before it was cool to like it". 

1. John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)

To no surprise.  The movie that continues to haunt still to this day (don't care what ten 20 year old assholes say).  If it doesn't scare, it definitely will entertain and win you over by wowing you with its craft and showing you what all the others imitated.   If you've never watched Halloween and you want to do it right in this day and age...let me help you.

DON'T - go see it in a theater.  Modern audiences in cities not named Los Angeles don't tend to have an appreciation for older films when grouped together in an auditorium.  This will ruin the experience for you on your first time.

Wait until its late (for you).  Make sure the sun is down.  Wait til you know your neighbors are probably asleep.  Turn your DAMN phone off.  Put your computer in the other room.  Turn all your lights off.  Turn the volume way up.  Preferably watch Anchor Bay's newest Blu-ray of it.  REMEMBER that this film was made in the 70s.  Know that there was nothing like this film of the sort at the time and also know that 70s are not 2013.  Follow this, and you should have yourself a terrific experience.  These rules should also apply for other vintage horror classics as well.

Okay.  Thanks to everyone who kept up with this retrospective and commented and shared these pieces.  Its made my day.  What a ride, and now its DONE.  Whew!  See you next time!

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