Over forty years after John Carpenter’s original Halloween, Michael Myers remains an all-time great slasher foe that Hollywood just can’t let kill off. The popular antagonist first haunted the Halloween night of Haddonfield and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, and more recently the actress has returned to have her final showdowns with the mask-wearing knife-wielder next in this year’s Halloween Kills and 2022’s Halloween Ends. As we look ahead into the next installments, there’s usually a desire to look back at the franchise as a whole. If you’re looking to check out the Halloween movies in order, many of them are available to watch on streaming or rent.
Halloween has had a bit of a complicated journey and timeline over the years, so this is a good place to decide which one’s you will tune into and how you can. Let’s slice into how you can enjoy all twelve movies from the series.
The movie that started it all, Halloween, was 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, 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 Halloween franchise went into another direction creatively with Carpenter and Hill passing off writing to Tommy Lee Wallace, who also helmed Season of the Witch. The 1982 movie does not feature Laurie Strode or Michael Myers, nor is it a slasher, actually. It’s very much the black sheep of the franchise as a whole. It’s proof of some experimentation with the Halloween title, as this one explores witchcraft as an alcoholic doctor and the daughter of a murder victim uncovers 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 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. However, it should be noted this installment is considered an especially low point in the horror franchise.
Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)
The “Thorn Trilogy” concluded six years later with Joe Chappelle’s The Curse of Michael Myers, and is also set six years after the events of the previous film. Pleasence’s Loomis is back as he continues to pursue Michael, in his last performance as the character, given he died after shooting the film. The 1995 movie introduced new characters, including 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 and Season of the Witch. 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’s Kevin Williamson.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Rick Rosenthal of Halloween II came back to helm this installment of Halloween also starring Jamie Lee Curtis, which served as a direct sequel to H20. Along with 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 break until David Gordon Green’s current Halloween trilogy came along. This 2018 movie once ignored the Halloween sequels and decided to focus on Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. Serving as a direct sequel to the 1978 film, but 40 years later, a traumatized Laurie, who has become a badass and prepper 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 Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie creates the most winning formula for the storyline.
Halloween Kills (2021)
The latest Halloween movie is Halloween Kills and it will pick up right where the 2018 movie left off. Laurie Strode will be on a mission to kill off Michael Myers and her also-traumatized town will join her in the fight against the murderer. The movie also directed by David Gordon Green will be released in theaters and Universal’s recent streaming platform Peacock TV on the same day, this October. It will serve as the second in a trilogy that will supposedly end Laurie and Michael’s longtime opposition 40 years after John Carpenter’s original. Halloween Ends will follow it when it comes out October 14, 2022.
That’s a lot of Halloween movies to get to! To quickly wrap up, there’s 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 (The 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 (Halloween, Halloween II) and David Gordon Green’s modern trilogy (Halloween, Halloween Kills, Halloween Ends).
Halloween isn’t 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.
YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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