2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

“Halloween…the festival of Samhain! The last great one took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of animals and children.”

Having Halloween III: Season of the Witch rank so high on this list is bound to be controversial, but I stand by it. Alright, sure, you could argue that since Michael Myers isn’t in this film, it’s not really a Halloween sequel. But I don’t want to hear it.

After Halloween II, John Carpenter and Debra Hill hoped to turn the Halloween franchise into an anthology. Each subsequent sequel would tell a new story, set on Halloween. It was a great idea! Unfortunately, audiences didn’t agree at the time. They wanted more Michael Myers. And they eventually got him, and left Halloween III in the dust

Which is a damn shame, because Halloween III is fantastic. It’s a unique, creepy horror film that makes great use of the spookies of holidays. The film finds beer swilling sex machine/doctor Tom Atkins mixed up in a plot involving killer Halloween masks. It’s all part of a nefarious plan cooked up by crazy toy maker Conal Cochran (a wonderfully menacing Dan O’Herlihy). When kids wear masks manufactured from the Silver Shamrock corporation, and sit down to watch a special broadcast of a flashing pumpkin, chaos will reign. Bugs, snakes and other nasty shit will come pouring out of the heads of children everywhere. Only Tom Atkins can stop them! But first, he has to have sex with the daughter of one of his patients.

If Halloween III had been called simply Season of the Witch, or Halloween Night, or Killer Masks! The Movie!, it would be universally heralded as a great horror movie. Unfortunately, branding this a Halloween sequel hurt it.

Time has been kind to Halloween III, though. In my experience, most horror fans have come to realize how unique this movie is, and how unjustly maligned it was back in 1982. I only wish Carpenter and Hill had been able to make their anthology idea a reality. Think of all the fun, weird Halloween-themed movies we could’ve had!

Franchise Mythology Revelation: Michael Who? This movie is about killer masks, baby! Forget all that other stuff.

Best Scare: Nothing beats the scene where we see one of the cursed masks in action, causing bugs, snakes and other foul things to escape from the skull of a helpless child.

Michael Myers Mask Rating:  N/A

1. Halloween (1978)

“Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.”

The original Halloween at number one? Wow, I bet you never saw that coming! In all seriousness, no matter how much time goes by, nothing can ever beat John Carpenter’s lean, mean original. Carpenter takes a B-movie premise and works it into art – a terrifying tale of unstoppable evil.

Before Michael Myers became diluted, and dumbed down, he was the living embodiment of darkness. There’s nothing human in this individual, and that’s why he’s so commonly known as The Shape. He stalks about in his featureless mask, murdering for no real reason. There’s no motive, no logic. He just shows up in the darkness of a Halloween night, and takes the lives of clueless young people. Young people who have no idea why this is happening to them, and who is doing it.

Jamie Lee Curtis, in her first big screen role, immediately proved she was a movie star. Her Laurie Strode is immediately likable – we care about her, and we want her to survive. When The Shape comes after her, we’re terrified, because she seems so innocent, and so helpless. How can she possibly hope to stand up to the Boogeyman?

Through it all, Donald Pleasence steals the show as the somewhat crazed Dr. Loomis. Loomis is the only person who knows how dangerous Michael Myers is, and he might be the only one who can stop him. Or maybe not. Maybe nothing can stop him.

Employing point-of-view shots and making great use of shadow, Carpenter stages Halloween beautifully. This looks like an arthouse movie, even though it’s about a masked serial killer bumping off horny teens.

Many films – Halloween sequels included – have attempted to emulate what Carpenter did here. But no one has ever come close. And no one likely ever will.

Franchise Mythology Revelation: You can’t kill the boogeyman.

Best Scare: The entire movie, from beginning to end. John Carpenter knows what he’s doing.

halloween original mask

Michael Myers Mask Rating: This is the mask that started it all, so obviously it’s the best. What was once a William Shatner Captain Kirk mask was transformed into a featureless skull-white visage with black pools for eyes. It’s unbeatable.

 

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