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It started as an independent horror hit, turned into a richly successful genre staple, and is now set to have its history rewritten yet again. You certainly can't say that the Halloween franchise is boring, with 11 movies that span from the 1978 original through to this fall's new sequel. This could be intimidating, whether you're a long time fan looking to catch up, or a newbie looking to get in on the fun with the new movie this October. If only there was a guide that could tell you what you need to know to safely wade into the world of Michael Myers...
Well, now there is! And, we're proud to present our latest Newbie Guide, which is a road-map through the history of the villain once known simply as "The Shape." Included will be a rundown of each film in the series, as well as several viewing trees you can enjoy between now and October 19th's release of the new Halloween sequel. It may be early in the year, but in the spirit of the task ahead, feel free to slip on a mask and have a couple Fun Size candies handy, as we present the world of Halloween! Let's start with a list of all the Halloween movies, in the order they were released.
The one that started it all. For over a decade, Michael Myers has been locked in a psychiatric facility, all thanks to that time he murdered his family as a child. But on Halloween night, Michael escaped and started to terrorize the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois. In particular, he finds himself drawn to the film's protagonist, young Laurie Strode, for reasons unknown to anyone. With time running out, and the body count mounting, the only man that has any chance of stopping him is the psychiatrist that knows him best - Dr. Samuel Loomis.
Set later on the same night as Halloween, Halloween II sees Michael Myers still stalking Laurie Strode, who winds up in the hospital after the night's traumatic events. Soon enough, Michael is up to his old tricks again, and Dr. Loomis isn't too far behind him.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch
The only entry in the series that doesn't deal with Michael Myers, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was supposed to start an anthology approach to the series. A doctor finds himself entangled in a conspiracy involving Halloween masks, witchcraft, and a mass sacrifice, in the week leading up to Halloween night.
Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers
Returning the franchise to a Michael Myers-centric mode, Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers finds Michael waking up from a ten year coma and pursuing a new target: his niece, Jamie Lloyd. With the return of Michael also comes the return of our hero, Dr. Loomis, as he fights to protect Michael's niece from her uncle's murderous rage.
Halloween V: The Revenge of Michael Myers
One year after Michael's previous rampage, he awakens from another coma to pursue his niece, Jamie Lloyd. Now silent, thanks to the trauma of Halloween IV, Jamie is institutionalized at a children's hospital, as her doctors hope she'll recover her ability to speak. Though she may not be able to speak, she's discovered a new ability that may come in handy.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
The long, cursed history of Michael Myers is revealed at last, as a survivor from Halloween returns to protect an infant of particular interest to Michael: young Tommy Doyle. The origins of this infant, as well as Michael's ability to survive almost anything, are all tied into one, sinister storyline that sees the final standoff between Michael and Dr. Loomis.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Long thought to be dead in the mythos of the Halloween series, Laurie Strode is reintroduced into the fray. After faking her death in a car accident several years ago, her life has found her the headmistress of a private school, full of fresh faces and new victims for Michael Myers to mow down. That is, if Laurie can't stop him first.
The latest in internet reality television, Dangertainment, has a hell of a show lined up for its audience. Six contestants have one night to unlock the secrets of Michael Myers, in the one place that may hold all the answers: his family home. But, of course, Michael may have a couple of secrets that those contestants would die to know. The trouble is, they just might.
A total reboot of the series, Rob Zombie's Halloween remake shows us something we've never seen before: the origins of Michael Myers' psychosis, the course of treatment he underwent with Dr. Samuel Loomis, and his eventual escape from captivity. All of which lead up to that legendary night: the night he came home to hunt Laurie Strode.
Halloween II (2009)
A year after the night he came home (again), Halloween II sees Laurie haunted by the events of Halloween. Over time, she and Michael Myers start to develop hallucinations involving Michael's departed mother, and his younger self. What they mean is not clear, but as the night goes on, Laurie, Dr. Loomis, and Michael will have one last killer showdown.
Ignoring all sequels in the canon, Laurie Strode has moved on from the night he came home, as Michael Myers has been in custody since 1978. With a family of her own, and four decades between her and those events, Laurie is doing pretty ok. But Michael is about to return, forcing his would-be prey into one final confrontation to end things once and for all.
The Michael Myers Run
Written in 10 days and budgeted at $300,000, Halloween was the film that launched Michael Myers into the public consciousness. The film would go on to make tons of money, and launch a franchise that would keep running through decades of scares at the hands of every babysitter's worst nightmare. While it's an inconsistent narrative, there is a thread that can be followed through 20 plus years of the original Michael Myers run, which is made up of the following films:
From a storytelling perspective, the Michael Myers run is definitely a bit of a mixed bag. With the various parties that had maintained the series through its original run, there have been different focuses to Michael's hunt for blood. In particular, his shift between fixating on initial target Laurie Strode, to his niece Jamie Lloyd, and then back to Laurie is a bit of a hopscotch game. But if you're looking to take away the sum total of Michael Myers' original killing spree, these seven films are the whole ball of wax. Please note that the third numbered installment of the series is missing, due to it being an infamous attempt to switch to an anthology format. Now, if you're looking for a little more focus in your Halloween viewing run, we've also broken things out into two different runs showcasing each of Michael's targets, starting with Laurie.
The Laurie Strode Run
Playing the role of Laurie Strode was one of the best boosts Jamie Lee Curtis's early career as a scream queen could have ever gotten. Her character was the focus of the first two films, but only returned when Halloween H20: 20 Years Later saw fit to revisit her character later down the line. This led to her infamous final entry, Halloween: Resurrection, which gave a total closure to the character's part in the Halloween universe, and for the time seemed to close the series out. The films in that run are as follows:
If you're looking for the most sensible run in terms of our protagonist having a well woven story, Laurie Strode's run is the best option. While there's a big gap between Halloween II and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, the latter film does adhere to the continuity set up in Halloween 4: The Revenge of Michael Myers. However, the fourth through sixth films aren't required in order to tell Laurie's story, as the only mention of her is in the fourth film, which states she died in a car crash. That in itself is explained away in Halloween H20, so with these four films you get Laurie's entire arc. Though, without deep spoilers, we'll just say that only part of Halloween: Resurrection deals with Laurie's resolution, so if you're only here for Jamie Lee Curtis, you'll know when to turn the film off.
The Jamie Lloyd Run
With the Halloween series returning to the Michael Myers story, and producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill cashing out of the franchise, the series was about to make its second major change in focusing on protagonist Jamie Lloyd. Of course, this choice was also precipitated by Jamie Lee Curtis rejecting the opportunity to return, as her career had hit its stride by that point. Making her feature film debut in the role of Jamie was Danielle Harris, who would strangely enough return to the franchise in Rob Zombie's remake duology. The Jamie Lloyd films are as follows:
If consistency is what you're looking for, the Jamie Lloyd films are not going to be of much help. This comes from a massive cliffhanger in Halloween 4 going completely ignored in Halloween 5. And, much like Laurie Strode before her, Jamie Lloyd has a bit of a truncated finale in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, despite her character being a crucial part of the film's themes. Still, these three films do offer a beginning, middle, and end to Jamie's conflict with her murderous uncle.
The Oddball Run
While the history of Halloween may be fractured, it's mostly a stable line of films. The exceptions are few, but they are certainly powerful outliers in the series, with one entry standing out in particular. If it wasn't for Halloween III: Season of the Witch failing, we'd never have gotten the return of Michael Myers, as John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to take their franchise into a direction that would allow an anthology approach to take center stage. Though that's not the only film on this oddball run, as the whole line-up is composed of the following:
With Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the supernatural is the focus, with the story focusing on ancient Irish witchcraft as the source of the film's evil. Part detective story and part horror thriller, the film was maligned as a disappointment back in the day, but has become a dark horse favorite through critical re-evaluation. However, if you want more Michael Myers, and have blown through the original compliment of films previously, you can take comfort knowing that Rob Zombie has made two films that expand upon and twist the Myers lore into something darker, yet familiar. All three of these films are unconventional looks into the Halloween series, but make a great supplement to your viewing.
How The New Halloween Handles The Previous Movies
All of this knowledge has been building to the ultimate question: which movies in the Halloween series do you absolutely have to see before David Gordon Green and Danny McBride's Halloween (2018)? The answer is quite simple: all you need to see is Halloween (1978) and you're set. According to all of the interviews and materials that have covered the new film, Michael Myers was apparently captured after the events of the first film, and has been dormant ever since.
Another interesting aspect the film will bring to the Halloween mythos is something that the CinemaCon footage had hinted at in late April 2018: the reason why Michael Myers was after Laurie Strode in the first place will be changed. So, everything short of Michael's origin story in Halloween is wiped off the slate, and if you're looking to just get prepared for this year's new soft reboot, then the original film is your only required reading.
However, if you've got the time, we would recommend still dipping your feet in the Halloween canon of the past, simply because it's an interesting historical record of what happens when a franchise changes hands, as well as storylines, while still trying to maintain a singular continuity. Not to mention, having the Oddball Run in tow would show just what happens when new voices join in, in order to tell a different but familiar story for a new audience.
No matter how you prepare, we hope that you enjoy your Halloween journey, as the latest film's October 19th release date will be here before you know it. So, don't be afraid to get to know Michael, Laurie, and the rest of the folks in the series, as their stories have been indirectly leading up to this.