More than forty years after John Carpenter’s original Halloween, Michael Myers remains an all-time great horror villain that Hollywood just can’t kill off. One Halloween night in 1978, the popular antagonist first haunted Haddonfield and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and, more recently, the actress has returned to face off against the “Boogeyman” again in a trilogy of new installments that are, supposedly, bringing the franchise to a close with Halloween Ends in 2022.
If you’re looking to check out all of the Halloween movies in order leading up to this monumental installment, many of them are available to watch on streaming or rent. While it is considered by many to be one of greatest horror movie franchises, it has had a bit of a complicated journey and timeline over the years, so this is a good place to decide which ones you will tune into and how you can watch. Let’s slice into how you can enjoy all 13 movies from the series.
The movie that started it all, Halloween, was co-written, co-produced, directed, and scored by John Carpenter. It introduced one of the most iconic scream queens in horror, Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, and kicked off the Golden Age of the slasher sub-genre, that also included Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Child’s Play into the ‘80s. The first movie follows Laurie, a babysitter who becomes stalked by an escaped mental patient, returning to his hometown 15 years after murdering his babysitting teen sister.
Halloween II (1981)
Coming off the massive success of the first Halloween movie was Halloween II, also starring Jamie Lee Curtis in a direct sequel. In this installment which takes place on the same night as its predecessor, Michael Myers follows Laurie to the local hospital as his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (played by Donald Pleasence) tries to get control of his murderous patient. Directing duties were passed off to Rick Rosenthal, but via a script by original writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
One year later, the franchise went into another direction creatively with Carpenter and Hill passing off writing to Tommy Lee Wallace, who also helmed Halloween III: Season of the Witch -- often considered an underrated installment that could also benefit from a remake. The 1982 movie does not feature Laurie Strode or Michael Myers, nor is it a slasher, actually. It’s proof of some experimentation with the Halloween title, as this one explores witchcraft as an alcoholic doctor (Tom Atkins) and the daughter of a murder victim (Stacey Nelkin) uncover a frightening plot within their community.
Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)
Six years after Season of the Witch’s commercial failure silenced interest in Halloween, the franchise was revitalized with The Return of Michael Myers. A brand new set of creatives, Dwight H. Little and Alan B. McElroy, crafted a slasher about Myers returning to Haddonfield after being in a coma to kill his niece and the daughter of Laurie Strode, Jamie Lloyd. The movie also brought back Donald Pleasence’s Dr. Loomis
Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989)
The Return of Michael Myers spun into its own Halloween set of films called the “Thorn Trilogy.” The second installment in this continuity is 1989’s The Revenge of Michael Myers, which continues the storyline of Michael attempting to murder his niece years after being in a coma and involves much of the same cast from the fourth movie.
Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)
The “Thorn Trilogy” concluded six years later with Joe Chappelle’s The Curse of Michael Myers. Pleasence’s Loomis is back as he continues to pursue Michael, in his last performance as the character before his death. The 1995 movie also includes Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle -- the adult version of the boy Laurie Strode babysat during the first Halloween.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
After two decades of struggling Halloween films, the franchise really got on track and found itself what many called the best sequel of the series at the time. Halloween H20 brought back Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and served as a direct sequel to the first two films, ignoring the events of the Thorn Trilogy. In this movie, Laurie has faked her death and is working in a private boarding school in California when Michael returns to her life. The story was written by Scream scribe Kevin Williamson.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal came back to helm this installment of Halloween which served as a direct sequel to H20. Along with Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode in the mix, a cast including Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes came into the franchise. Michael is back in Haddonfield for Resurrection, but this time his childhood home is being used for an internet reality horror show related to Michael’s public legacy.
Five years after Resurrection, Rob Zombie took over the franchise as writer and director for another reimagining and timeline reset for Halloween. This version starred Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis and Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. It serves as a kind of remake of the original and goes deeper into the psyche of Michael Myers, even going back in time into Myers’ life as a child, and how his murderous rampage leads him to Dr. Loomis and Laurie Strode.
Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie continued his take on the Halloween franchise with a 2009 sequel also starring the core cast of the 2007 movie. Halloween II picks up two years after the events of the movie before it, spending time with Scout Taylor-Compton’s Laurie Strode as she deals with the violent events that occured, Loomis getting ready to publish a book based on Michael Myers and the killer looking to reunite with Laurie. This movie is focused more on Michael and Laurie’s relationship and once again is more based on psychology than previous Halloween movies.
The Halloween franchise took a near-decade-long break until David Gordon Green’s current Halloween trilogy came along, starting with this direct sequel to the 1978 film, but 40 years later and starring Jamie Lee Curtis as a traumatized Laurie Strode, who has become a badass following that fateful Halloween night. This Halloween features Laurie’s daughter (Judy Greer) and granddaughter (Andi Matichak) as well with Michael returning to Haddonfield. Many fans felt this Halloween topped all the sequels, including H20, proving Curtis creates the most winning formula for the storyline.
Halloween Kills (2021)
Halloween Kills picks up right where the 2018 movie left off. Despite a marketing campaign claiming Laurie Strode would be on a mission to kill off Michael Myers, David Gordon Green’s second installment of the sequel trilogy sees the protagonist relegated to a hospital bed for much of the runtime, while the also traumatized citizens of Haddonfield hunt down the murderer themselves. The brutal slasher flick also brings back other key characters from the first film, some played by their original actor (such as Kyle Richards as Lindsey and Charles Cyphers as Leigh Brackett) and others recast (including Anthony Michael Hall as Tommy Doyle and Robert Longstreet as Lonnie Elam).
Halloween Ends (2022)
The 13th and final installment of the Halloween franchise (or the finale to David Gordon Green’s trilogy, at least) is aptly titled Halloween Ends. Set four years after the events of the previous two, the sequel follows Laurie Strode and her granddaughter, Alyson, having learned to let go of their fear of “the Boogeyman,” but the same cannot quite be said about the rest of Haddonfield. Introducing a new side of Michael Myers and of his bloody legacy, the film was made simultaneously available in theaters and to stream on Peacock Premium.
That’s a lot of Halloween movies to get to! To quickly wrap up, there are a few storylines to follow in this long-running franchise. The original two films that started it all (Halloween and Halloween II), the black sheep of the series (Season of the Witch), the Thorn Trilogy (The Return of Michael Myers, The Revenge of Michael Myers, and The Curse of Michael Myers), the return of Jamie Lee Curtis 20 years later (Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection), Rob Zombie’s version (2007’s Halloween and Halloween II from 2009) and David Gordon Green’s modern trilogy (Halloween, Halloween Kills, and Halloween Ends).
Halloween is not the most consistent franchise, but it’s certainly interesting to see how each of its eras and creatives decided to adapt a simple but beloved slasher film from 1978. Its longevity speaks to the continued interest in the concept of Michael Myers after the original became one of the most successful independent films of all time, making $70 million worldwide off a budget of just $325,000. While you’re here, check out our best horror movies of all time.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.