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Explore the Iconic Halloween Movie Franchise

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 03, 2021

It's October, which means it's time for Halloween. And also Halloween! Michael Myers's reign of terror began over four decades ago and spans eleven films. (Another one comes out this month!) Here's your guide to how to make sense of the collection and our recommended watch order, plus some interesting facts about the making of the films. Warning: There are some spoilers here.

Halloween (1978)

The iconic first installment introduces the young killer, Michael Myers, as well his favorite victim, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut).

Director John Carpenter nearly named his movie The Babysitter Murders, but a producer suggested basing it around a specific holiday instead. Carpenter and co-screenwriter Debra Hill wrote the original script in just ten days! With a budget of just $300,000, the movie went on to make $47 million at the box office.

Halloween II (1981)

Picking up only seconds from where the former film left off, this one takes place in the Haddonfield Hospital where Michael continues to pursue an injured Laurie.

The mask worn by Michael Myers here is the same as the one in the first movie, but looks a little different due to the wear and tear of having been stored underneath the producer's bed for three years. Also, there's a new actor playing Michael and he has a different shaped head.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Yup, we skipped Halloween III. More about that later. This film picks up ten years after the events of the first two films. It is revealed that Laurie "died" in a car accident sometime during the interim. Here we find Michael Myers waking from a coma and setting out on a quest to kill Laurie's daughter, Jamie Lloyd (played by Danielle Harris).

Alan B. McElroy, the writer of the movie, was facing a looming writers' strike when he sat down to write it, so he banged it out in just eleven hours! Filming didn't take place in autumn, so they had to have fall leaves trucked in and paint squashes orange since there were no pumpkins available.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

The end of Halloween 4 saw Michael Myers shot repeatedly and thrown down a mineshaft. Now his comatose body washes up in a creek and he is found by a man who lives alone in the woods. After the man nurses him back to health, Michael kills him and heads out to hunt down Jamie again.

This movie is marked by a few dubious distinctions:

  • It was the lowest grossing film of the franchise,
  • The last to have a pumpkin in the opening credits, and
  • the first to have full frontal nudity.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Set six years later, the movie opens on Jamie, now played by JC Brandy, as a prisoner of the cult that broke Michael free at the end of Halloween 5. Pregnant, she tries to escape, but dies in the attempt. She manages to hide her infant who is rescued by the very same boy that Laurie babysat for in the first film (now played by none other than Paul Rudd).

The production of this installment was notoriously troubled, which actually led to the title. On the upside, this marked the debut film for Rudd.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

H20 opens with Myers looting the home of his recently deceased former psychiatrist. There he discovers that Laurie faked her death and has been living under an assumed identity as the principal of a boarding school attended by her son who is played by Josh Hartnett.

Curtis says she returned to the franchise as a way to thank her early Halloween fans. LL Cool J makes an appearance in this film, having seen the first one when he was only nine years old. This film features a cameo by Curtis's actress mother Janet Leigh (of Psycho fame), who plays Laurie's secretary.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

This film features two very important developments: first, Michael Myers finally manages to kill Laurie Strode and secondly, he has a karate battle with Busta Rhymes.

In 2015, a North Carolina couple built an almost exact replica of the creepy Myers home. They open it up to visiting fans annually.

Halloween (2018)

This reboot, the highest grossing film of the franchise, serves as a direct sequel to the original Halloween, which means it pretends that all of the other movies don't exist. Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode. Forty years have passed and she is still traumatized by Myers's original attack on her. Fun fact: Jude Courtney who plays Michael in this film learned his killing technique from an actual Mafia hitman.

In 2006, The Library of Congress selected the original Halloween film for preservation in the US National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Halloween (2007)

This reboot of the original film was made by musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie. The film functions more as a reimagining, both a prequel and a remake with more substance.

In a scene where Laurie Strode (here played by Scout Taylor-Compton) is babysitting, the film playing in the background is the classic horror film White Zombie (1932), which was the namesake of Zombie's band, popular in the 1980s and '90s. White Zombie's song "I'm Your Boogie Man," samples audio from the original Halloween movie.

Halloween II (2009)

Zombie followed up with this sequel, which confusingly is not a remake of the first Halloween II. The actor who played Michael Myers changed many times over the years, but Zombie's choice really stands out. The original actor who played Michael Myers, aka "The Shape" in the 1978 film was only five foot ten inches, but here he is played by Tyler Mane who stands a towering six foot nine inches.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

This is the only Halloween film to feature a different villain other than Michael Myers and perhaps that's why the movie was unpopular and the franchise decided to return to the winning formula. But, oddly, the novelization of this storyline became a bestseller.

Hopefully this guide helps a little as you're planning your frightful holiday entertainment. And P.S., mark your calendars, because the newest Michael Myers movie, Halloween Kills, comes out on October 15! BTW, Not all of these films are available for purchase at ThriftBooks right now, but you can add them to your wish list or find them streaming.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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