You Can’t Kill the Boogeyman

Halloween Ends with a knife to the heart of the franchise. The trailers promised a violent final showdown between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode, but what we got is a manipulative bait & switch. Halloween Ends tricks the audience into focusing on a killer who isn’t Michael Myers for almost the entire movie! I haven’t felt this betrayed since Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning or A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. I didn’t like Halloween Kills, but at least Michael Myers actually killed people beginning to end. I feel like David Gordon Green and Danny McBride wanted fans to hate the movie.

There’s less comedy, but way too much melodrama. I knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the opening with Rohan Campbell as a babysitter named Corey. They make it seem like Michael will return Halloween 2019, but it’s Corey who accidentally commits murder. 4 years later in present day 2022, Laurie is trying to be normal while raising her orphaned granddaughter Allyson. Jamie Lee Curtis tries her best, but she deserves better than this. The misguided focus on victims of Haddonfield hysteria has gotten even more annoying at this point.

I couldn’t care less about some random nobody killing people because a town bullied him. I just want Michael Myers, but what little we get is a pathetic old man living in the sewer with an embarassing 3 victim body count. All of the gruesome kills are done by a character nobody asked for. There’s also an unnecessary Bonnie & Clyde style romance where Allyson feels completely out of character. It’s so insulting that I barely cared about Michael and Laurie finally having their last minute confrontation. Michael’s final fate doesn’t feel earned when you waste everyone’s time with a subplot that goes nowhere. Halloween Ends is one of the worst films in a franchise that should’ve died years ago.

13. Halloween Ends

Michael Myers vs. Laurie Strode

Preceded by: Halloween Kills

Evil Dies Tonight!

Halloween Kills killed the franchise for me. Halloween (2018) was a surprising return to form after so many sequels, remakes, and ignorquels. Like either Halloween II, Halloween Kills picks up on the same long Halloween night. There’s an impressive flashback showing how Michael was arrested that recreates the look of the 1978 film and brings Dr. Loomis back to life. The not quite dead Deputy Hawkins feels guilty about letting him live. I liked the brutal rivalry between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode in the last film, but any minor problems I had are much worse in the sequel.

Jamie Lee Curtis is once again trapped in a hospital for the entire movie. Leaving Judy Greer and Andi Matichak with a more active role as her daughter Karen and granddaughter Allyson. Michael escapes from Laurie’s burning house and kills more people than he ever has before. Some kills are creative and others are over-the-top gruesome. Any tension is ruined by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride leaning into comedy way too much. Characters don’t even feel believable. Victims include an interracial elderly couple playing with a drone, a role reversed black couple, and a stereotypical gay couple.

An angry mob consisting of survivors from Haddonfield aren’t much better. Though Paul Rudd played him in The Curse of Michael Myers, Anthony Michael Hall plays an aggressively unhinged Tommy Doyle constantly chanting “Evil Dies Tonight!” Lindsey, Sheriff Leigh Brackett, and the nurse Marion all return with their original actors. Most of them make dumb decisions like going after a mental patient who clearly isn’t Michael Myers. Michael is confronted by the mob, but at this point nothing can kill the bogeyman. Halloween Kills is a mostly pointless detour that’s often hard to take seriously.

12. Halloween Kills

Michael Myers emerges from the fire

Preceded by: Halloween (2019) & Followed by: Halloween Ends

Rusty Gears

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is yet another confusing edition to the perpetually sloppy franchise. At this point, all the movies are barely canon to the original 1978 classic. Texas Chainsaw Massacre once again ignores sequels just to blatantly rip-off Halloween (2018). Original final girl Sally Hardesty is now an elderly gun-toting Texas Ranger who spent her whole life hunting Leatherface. Unlike the equally terrible Texas Chainsaw 3D, Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns couldn’t return since they both past away. Making the entire subplot feel forced.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is mostly focused on a fresh batch of annoying millennial victims. The most cringe-worthy moment is a bus full of millennials trying to get Leatherface cancelled. They want to gentrify an abandoned Texas town in a subplot that I couldn’t care less about. After finishing Eighth Grade, Elsie Fisher became the newest final girl Lila. She’s a school shooting survivor who came with her sister Melody. Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t equipped to handle a storyline like that since it’s so focused on killing.

Leatherface was never my favorite slasher, but his increasingly bizarre families were a major part of his character. Texas Chainsaw Massacre abandons the family element after Leatherface loses a woman who ran his orphanage. Leatherface now has a sad new face, but his original chainsaw. The actual massacre is so gory and disgusting, I had to look away. Leatherface kills so many people that I was counting the moments before he killed his final “surprise” victim. Despite the very short runtime and easy Netflix access, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is torture to get through.

9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Preceded by: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Hello, Sidney

Scream (2022) worked out better than it should have. Scream has always felt more special than other slasher franchises, because it kept the same director and cast of survivors in every installment. There was talk of a Scream 5 for years, but Wes Craven passed away before he could see it happen. It felt wrong to do a sequel without him, but Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett honor his legacy. I just wish they didn’t call the movie Scream again. In the 11 years since Scream 4, horror movies have gone through noticable changes. Scream (2022) has clever meta commentary on elevated horror movies like The Babadook, Hereditary, The VVitch, and my personal favorite It Follows.

The classic Ghostface phone call opening uses modern technology, but it’s surprisingly not a problem. We even see Ghostface talking with the voice modulator under their mask. For the first time in the franchise, the opening victim isn’t killed. In fact, it takes awhile for Ghostface to kill anyone. Jenna Ortega is Tara who somehow survives several stab wounds. Melissa Barrera is her sister Sam Carpenter who ends up being the daughter of Billy Loomis that we never knew about. Skeet Ulrich returns as a hallucination, but we all expect to see Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette again. Cox and Arquette may have divorced, but luckily they’re still good friends. A successful Gale and broken down Dewey are also divorced. Sidney mostly stays out of the action until the end. Though they’re not as safe as I was hoping they’d be.

Leaving a new cast of teenagers who are also related to legacy characters. Since Scream (2022) is a definite requel, the new rules are: never trust the love interest, the killer is connected to the past, and the killer is part of the first victim’s circle of friends. Horror mainstay Dylan Minnette pays tribute to Wes Craven by being named after him. Mindy and Chad are the children of Randy’s sister who appeared in Scream 3. They keep things very meta until the killers are revealed. SPOILER ALERT! Mikey Madison and Jack Quaid are revealed to be crazy obsessed Stab fans Amber and Richie respectively. They hate movies like Stab 8 directed by Rian Johnson, because it messed with their beloved franchise. It’s so meta that Dead Meat YouTuber James A. Janisse and his wife Chelsea make cameos. Scream (2022) is basically the first movie with enough fresh ideas to keep the blood pumping.

5. Scream

Ghostface in the hospital

Preceded by: Scream 4

Murder Barbie

Freaky is too freaky for its own good. I never paid close attention to Blumhouse Productions before I saw Happy Death Day in theaters. I was so obsessed with Happy Death Day and its equally entertaining sequel Happy Death Day 2U that I would see anything from director Christopher Landon. The then titled Freaky Friday the 13th sounded promising with another high concept horror comedy spin on a popular movie gimmick. Much like time loops, I think it’s hard to go wrong with a good old fashioned body swap. The title was appropriately shortened to Freaky, but I started to have doubts after seeing the first trailer.

Critics and audiences seemed to enjoy it, so Freaky became the second movie I saw in theaters post-shutdown. A decision I regret, because I kind of hated the movie. Kathryn Newton as meek teenager Millie and Vince Vaughn as masked serial killer the Blissfield Butcher are the only saving grace. They swap bodies through a mystical dagger, but I feel like Vaughn is trying a lot harder as an awkward teenage girl. Newton’s performance is a little too subtle as the dead-eyed serial killer.

Unlike Happy Death Day, Freaky is R rated, reliant on meta humor, and PC to the point of feeling artificial. Millie’s friends call attention to the fact that they’re black and gay in a horror movie. Since her dad died, she lives with her alcoholic mother and police officer sister. Millie’s crush has no problem kissing her in a serial killer’s body and every other male character is either over-the-top evil or an idiot. Due to the R rating, kills are excessively gory and not in an entertaining way. Freaky squanders a fun concept and forced me to wait on a third Happy Death Day at the same time.

Freaky

The Blissfield Butcher in Millie’s body

Building a Butcher

Leatherface is the simply titled second prequel in the consistently all over the place franchise. Doing yet another origin for how infamous slasher Leatherface came to be. Except this one makes less sense than the remakes attempt with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Leatherface traces the origin of young Jedidiah Sawyer in the Texas Chainsaw 3D continuity. As he refuses to use a chainsaw to do his first killing. A more active grandpa does it instead.

He seems to grow out of it since the cow-headed Jed doesn’t flinch when a member of the Hartman family is killed. Giving the corrupt Hartmans good reason to hate the Sawyers. Texas Ranger Hartman takes Verna Sawyer’s child away from her and he’s raised in a 1965 mental institution. Once again the story is more complex than it needs to be. Verna tries to get Jed back, but his name is changed. So we follow an escaped band of youths wandering rural Texas, unaware who Leatherface is. The group consists of final girl nurse hostage Lizzy, well adjusted Jackson, the silent hulking Bud, sadistic Ike, and his equally psychotic pyromaniac girlfriend Clarice.

The couple is way too evil with their excessively mean spirited murders. They engage in the franchises only real nude scene, but it’s just plain gross. Gore is even more excessive with far more lingering deaths. SPOILER ALERT! Although Bud is clearly the logical Leatherface, it was friendly and skinny Jackson all along. Even with a newly deformed mouth and mental trauma that doesn’t make sense. Jed chainsaws Hartman and chases after Lizzy. Since it’s a prequel, no one good survives once again. Ending on Jed sewing up his first leatherface. Leatherface is further proof of why I’d put this series low on my list of favorite slasher franchises.

8. Leatherface

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Followed by: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) & Texas Chainsaw 3D

Country Cousins

Texas Chainsaw 3D is the most needlessly complicated massacre in the confusing franchise. Complete with obnoxious 3D. After 7 installments, they decided to make a sequel that ignores the tone shifting sequels and pointless remakes. Meaning Texas Chainsaw 3D takes place immediately after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974. The decision isn’t entirely unwelcome since it brought back Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns one last time. Even John Dugan returns as Grandpa. Along with Chop Top actor Bill Moseley as Drayton Sawyer.

Mild Part 2 acknowledgement like the Sawyer name is kept, but the cannibalistic family is the most generic they’ve ever been. None of its many members stand out since they’re all killed when the perfectly recreated home is burned to the ground. A rival clan called the Hartman’s kill them with vigilante justice. All except the now Jedidiah named Leatherface and a baby survive. A baby who somehow grows into the gorgeous Alexandra Daddario despite being a baby in 1974. Heather is the final girl who takes her equally sexy sex-crazed friends to the house she’s inherited. Yet somehow there’s still no overt nudity. All the legality, familial ties, and warring clan stuff don’t belong in a slasher movie.

You shouldn’t have to think when the elderly Leatherface is more murderous than ever. This is one of the goriest installment with very brutal chainsaw and meat hook deaths. SPOILER ALERT! The biggest insult is making Leatherface sympathetic. Since it’s the corrupt Hartman’s who kidnap Heather. Revealing her to be a Sawyer is a serious suspension of disbelief since she’s just too hot to be related to this family. What’s worse is her embracing her cousin, allowing him to kill, and taking care of him like her grandmother Verna Carson requested. Texas Chainsaw 3D is just another mess in an already messy franchise.

7. Texas Chainsaw 3D

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Preceded by: Leatherface & The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Family Splatters

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is the other forgettable massacre in the franchise. It’s practically a copy & paste of the unnecessary 2003 remake. Now a prequel since Leatherface would’ve been armless with the biggest scene stealer dead. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning traces the origin of every question that wasn’t asked about the remake. Like showing the icky birth of Thomas Hewitt as a deformed baby taken in by Luda Mae.

4 years before the previous movie in 1969, the now hulking Thomas wears half a leather face and kills his boss when the slaughterhouse closes. He picks up a chainsaw and later skins a face both for the first time. Since R. Lee Ermey was sadistic enough to make an impression, we also see him kill the real Sheriff Hoyt before assuming his identity. And double amputee Uncle Monty’s legs were sawed off by Leatherface. None of which needed any explanation. The Hewitts become cannibals as a means to survive and another disposable batch of sexed up non-nude teens are their first victims. Michael Bay may still just be a producer, but his fingerprints are all over it.

The minor difference is a Vietnam draft dodging subplot and bloodthirsty bikers. Everything else is the same, only with way more graphic kills. Since torture porn had vastly increased the use of blood & gore since 2003. I could barely stomach it, but it’s the ending that really turned me off. SPOILER ALERT! The very interchangeable Chrissie is the final girl. Equally sexy Jordana Brewster notably plays Chrissie before her career got even faster. But since it’s a prequel with an obvious outcome, she’s killed last minute. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is grim and pointless.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Beginning

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Followed by: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Slaughter House

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) is arguably what truly started the modern slasher remake craze. It was first on Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes unnecessary remake hit list. Although I completely ignored the remake growing up, it’s really to blame for the excessively graphic, gore filled horror movies of the 2000’s. The remake has no reason to exist, but at least it isn’t exactly the same. It’s pretty effective as a brutal standalone slasher flick. The film is still set in the 70’s for some reason. Only with grainy documentary footage replacing the opening crawl. Played over the infamous lightbulb score.

There’s another group of drug-fueled sex-crazed teens who also pick up a hitchhiker. Except it’s a traumatized girl who commits suicide in their van. They encounter increasingly off individuals in backwoods Texas who are obviously part of the cannibalistic family. They’re just called the Hewitts this time. Each demented family member stands out well enough without overshadowing the true star. Leatherface is just as hulking with bodybuilder Andrew Bryniarski wearing the warped human face and carrying the much more used chainsaw. Now he’s named Thomas Hewitt and has a skin deformity we didn’t need to see.

Second to Leatherface is his scene stealing brother Sheriff Hoyt made extra sadistic by the great R. Lee Ermey. Luda Mae is the protective matriarch, Monty is the bitter double leg amputee uncle, and Tea Lady & Henrietta are keeping a kidnapped baby. Only the creepy child Jedediah has a soul. SPOILER ALERT! Erin is the final girl who’s chased by Leatherface in the never before seen slaughterhouse. A sexy often wet Jessica Biel fresh off 7th Heaven notably plays Erin. Despite the lingering shots, there’s still no nudity. Just a ton of blood when Erin chops off Leatherface’s arm and runs Hoyt over. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) set off a chain reaction of unneeded horror remakes.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Remake of: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) & Preceded by: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Lady in Leather

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is the embarrassing final installment of this convoluted timeline. After Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III failed to make an impression, original co-writer Kim Henkel leaned heavily into the satirical feel of Part 2. Only now it’s too uncomfortable, demented, and ridiculous for its own good. Initially called Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Next Generation was shelved for 2 years until the late 90’s. The biggest draw became before they were famous Renรฉe Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey.

The Next Generation returns to the sex-crazed teen formula by basically making an inferior version of the first movie. Zellweger is timid final girl Jenny who’s practically unfazed by all her prom friends being killed. Since continuity is meaningless, the Sawyers are now named the Slaughter family. McConaughey hams it up as the primary family member. He’s way too over-the-top evil with a bionic leg and mean spirited torture methods. Other members are his abused power suit wearing girlfriend who feels very out of place. Same with his cultured brother. Leatherface, now just named Leather, is easily the worst part of the movie. His mullet looks stupid and all he does is scream like an idiot.

It gets worse when Leatherface’s drag tendencies are dialed up with a full body woman suit, wig, and dress. The more ridiculous dinner scene is recreated (with Grandpa) yet again. SPOILER ALERT! Until it’s interrupted by an out of nowhere member of a secret society that’s fond of sadism. As if that wasn’t dumb enough, McConaughey’s character is killed by a plane, and Leatherface’s frustrated flailing is practically a parody. Leaving survivor Jenny to see the supposedly dead Sally Hardesty alive and well. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation fails at whatever it’s trying to say.

4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation

Leatherface pulls out the chainsaw

Preceded by: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III