As we were treated to the first full trailer for David Green Gordon’s Halloween (2018) around a week ago, I thought it was time we sat down and had a little chat about the Halloween film series as a whole. Even without including Rob Zombie’s remake/reboots (and I like to ignore Rob’s addition to this series as much as possible thank you very much), we’re still left with a film series that loves rewriting its own history.
If you’ve been following the making of Halloween (2018), it was announced pretty early on that the film would be considered a direct sequel to the original Halloween (1978), thus disregarding all the movies which have been released since – the last of which was Halloween: Resurrection in 2002. This may not seem like too strange a move, as expanding movie franchises are continually reworking their history to suit a better method of storytelling. Jurassic World (2015) pretended the events of The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and Jurassic Park III (2001) never happened so they could reset the universe to the point that made sense to continue a sequel from.
So, if it happens quite regularly in the film industry, what’s the problem? The problem is the Halloween film series has already pulled this trick, and we’re not even talking about Halloween III: The Season of the Witch (1982)! When Halloween H20: 20 Years Later came out in 1998, it semi-ignored everything that had happened after Halloween II (1981) and focussed on what Laurie Strode was up to these days, so why are we resetting history yet again?
Let’s take a more detailed look at all the timelines that exist in the original Halloween universe and what it could mean for Halloween (2018) when it finally hits our screen in October.
Original Timeline – Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981)
John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece that is Halloween has one of the best opening scenes of any horror movie I’ve seen. Through the use of a first-person camera, we follow an unseen person as they creep around the outside of a house, spying on a couple getting a little friendly on the couch. As they make a quick exit towards the bedroom, the unseen Peeping Tom enters the house, stopping off in the kitchen to acquire Michael Myers’ signature fucking massive butcher’s knife. We see the boyfriend come downstairs and make a hasty exit, and our stalker makes his way upstairs, picking up and putting on a small clown mask on the way.
He walks in on the young woman, naked, brushing her hair, and singing quite contentedly. What her boyfriend did to her in those 90 seconds to make her that happy is beyond me, but there you go. “Michael!”, she screams in alarm before a disembodied arm begins stabbing her repeatedly. Our view is obscured by the tiny eye holes of the mask, so while we don’t see much, the sound effects make it clear what is going on in a scene Hitchcock would be proud of. His victim now well and truly dead, Michael runs out of the house and is greeted by a car pulling up in front of the house. The occupants of the car pull the clown mask off and we are greeted by our killer – a tiny boy with a knife that is almost as big as he is! What we’ve just witnessed it Michael Myers murdering his older sister Judith, for reasons unknown.
After being locked in an asylum for 15 years, Michael Myers breaks out on Halloween night and heads back to his hometown of Haddonfield for round two. The doctor that looked after him in the asylum, Dr Loomis, heads after him, as no one else seems particularly concerned with where Michael could be heading or what he’s up to.
Unluckily for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), she catches the eye of Michael after dropping off a key for his former house, which her father is trying to sell, while Michael is lurking inside. Presumably, no one has lived there since the original murder took place, and Michael returns to the only other place he knows to lay low. Michael promptly spends the rest of the night murdering Laurie’s promiscuous friends, before coming for her and the children she is babysitting. Laurie tries to seek help from the neighbours, but they all take it for a Halloween prank and leave her running for her life.
After a climactic battle with a coat hanger, Dr Loomis is drawn to Laurie’s aid after he sees the two children she was babysitting making a run for it, complaining of being attacked by the Boogeyman. Dr Loomis shoots Michael repeatedly, who then falls off the balcony, and lands in the garden below. When Loomis and Laurie go to check on Michael, they find his body missing without a trace.
Halloween II takes place on the same night, mere moments after the first movie ends in fact and follows Michael as he continues to stalk Laurie after she has been taken to the local hospital. Loomis spends the whole film looking for Michael, while Michael spends the entire film killing hospital staff. It is only when Loomis finds out Michael is Laurie’s brother that he heads back to the hospital to protect her from her murderous sibling.
Dr Loomis sacrifices himself to save Laurie, seemingly killing both himself and Michael in an explosion, with Laurie surviving the whole ordeal. So this is where the original story of Michael Myers comes to an end. The decision was made to continue the Halloween series as an anthology-type series, with each film focussing on a different scary story around Halloween time. However, Halloween III: Season of the Witch didn’t receive a positive reaction, and the decision was made to bring back Michael for further sequels, as fans were disappointed by him being cut from the series.
Second Timeline – Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
With Michael Myers being brought back for further sequels, it was decided they would downplay the explosion at the end of Halloween II, meaning there was an opportunity for Dr Loomis to make his return as well.
However, one character that wouldn’t return for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers was Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis didn’t want to return for the fourth instalment, so they decided to kill her character off in a car crash and follow Michael’s quest to kill her eight-year-old daughter instead. Michael, having been in a coma since the events of Halloween II, awakens when he finds out he has a niece, Jamie (Danielle Harris). Apparently, his urge to kill off his entire bloodline is so strong it awakens him, even though Laurie has been alive that whole time and he did nothing to finish her off once and for all. Makes sense.
Jamie is living with a foster family in Haddonfield, where Michael heads, with Dr Loomis not far behind again, to try and find her.
The movie ends with Michael falling down a mineshaft and the ‘rage’ that lives within Michael taking over Jamie, as Loomis looks on in horror. I guess that’s what happens when you have a mass murderer for an uncle.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers opens with Michael in his favourite state of being – a coma. A kindly hermit has been caring for him for a whole year, and next Halloween Michael wakes up and repays him by murdering him.
Jamie is chilling in another favourite Myers family haunt – an asylum. After the trauma of being overtaken by Michael’s rage and attacking her foster mother, she is being looked after in a children’s hospital. It becomes apparent that Jamie has developed some sort of psychic link with Michael (man you can see why they are getting rid of these sequels eh?) and this convinces Loomis that Michael is in fact still alive.
After a lot of sexy teens have met their end, Loomis and Jamie lay a trap to capture Michael at his old house (they should really just burn that place down). Unfortunately, Loomis suffers a stroke in the process, but they do manage to subdue Michael and take him to the police station where a mysterious ‘Man in Black’ attacks the station, and Michael’s cell is left empty!
The final movie in this timeline, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, is one of those sequels that is so bad that it’s frequently on Channel 5 at some ridiculous time of the morning. Set six years after the last film, it turns out Jamie and Michael were both taken by the ‘Man in Black’, with Jamie giving birth to a baby when the movie begins. After finally killing Jamie by throwing her on to a threshing machine and turning it on (depending on which cut you watch), Michael tries to track down her newly-born baby, because if two movies about Michael trying to kill his young niece weren’t weird enough, we’re now going to follow him trying to kill a tiny infant.
It transpires that Michael is affected by an ancient Druid curse, put on him by a Druid cult which is lead by the ‘Man in Black’, which urges a child to sacrifice members of their family each Halloween. Teamed with a whole new family of Strodes living in the old Myers house, and a grown-up version of one of the kids Laurie babysat in the first movie getting involved in the action (played by babyface Paul Rudd), this movie is quite the narrative mess. The film ends leaving the fate of both Loomis and Michael unknown, probably in case they wanted to make more sequels, though honestly, where would the story have gone from here?
Third Timeline – Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), and Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Ignoring the complete train wreck that is Halloween: Resurrection, this is my favourite timeline, as Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is my favourite Halloween movie. The first Halloween is obviously a masterpiece, but Halloween H20 came out when I was in high school and was one of the first movies we ever bought after we invested in a DVD player. This movie terrified me, and I watched it about 145 times.
This timeline more or less ignores the events of Halloween 4, 5, and 6. While the character of Jamie is never mentioned, Laurie is said to have faked her death in a car crash to get away from Michael and all the reminders of that fateful Halloween night. Now the headmistress of an elite private school, she has a teenage heartthrob son in the shape of Josh Hartnett (John, a student at the school), a new name (Keri Tate), and a sexy teacher boyfriend.
Even though it’s been 20 years since the last time Michael surfaced, Laurie is understandably on edge whenever Halloween rolls around. I feel like if she’d just left the country, Michael might have had a harder job of tracking her down. I mean, where is he going to get a passport?
While the majority of the school heads off for a field trip (that classic Halloween-time tradition), Michael attacks the remaining students, before being seemingly killed by Laurie. As the police arrive to take away Michael’s dead body, Laurie has seen this setup one too many time before, so steals the ambulance, crashing it off the road when Michael makes an appearance from his body bag.
While Laurie escapes relatively unscathed, Michael is pinned between the crashed van and a tree, and Laurie takes her final chance to kill him off once and for all, and beheads him! Yup, Michael has survived a lot of death attempts, but he’s never been decapitated before.
Halloween: Resurrection decides to extend the series one sequel too far, and explains Michael’s death away by saying he swapped outfits with a paramedic before he was put in the ambulance. However, not before crushing the poor ambulance worker’s throat so he can’t possibly tell anyone he’s not really Michael. Man, Michael really counted on the fact Laurie would just flat out murder this guy without taking the time to check if it was really her murderous brother or not. And that’s how Laurie ends up in an asylum herself, charged with killing an innocent man.
Three years later, Michael makes an appearance at Laurie’s hospital and manages to break in and chase her up to the roof. I think asylums in this area really need some work on their security, as Michael has managed to break in and out of them at will. Even though Laurie has been waiting for Michael, and has laid a trap for him, her worry that she has trapped an innocent bystander again overpowers her, and she is killed by Michael while attempting to remove his mask. This was the only cameo Jamie Lee Curtis would agree to make, as she didn’t like the way the franchise was going and believed Halloween H20 should have been the last instalment. She wanted to end Laurie’s story once and for all, rather than leave it ambiguous. Halloween H20’s ending really would have been the perfect way to leave things, as I’m sure we would have preferred if Laurie survived over Michael.
Having nothing else to do now he’s finally murdered his remaining sister (he apparently doesn’t need to track down and murder Josh Hartnett’s character in this timeline), Michael returns to his old childhood home, which is still abandoned, to lay low for a while. Unfortunately for him, Busta Rhymes (Freddie) and Tyra Banks (Nora) decide to rig up a Big Brother-style haunted house experience in the old Myers house for an internet reality show.
Aside from Busta Rhymes uttering the phrase, “Trick or treat, motherfucker”, nothing of note really happens in this movie. A lot of the contestants in the reality show get murdered, before our main girl, Sara, is rescued by her friend Deckard, who has been watching the whole situation unfold over the internet. The movie ends with the classic killer reawakening in the morgue when we all thought he was dead. DUN DUN DUN!
Fourth Timeline – Halloween (1978) and Halloween (2018)
So here we are with the fourth Michael Myers-related Halloween timeline, the second movie that’s just called Halloween (third if you included the remakes), and the third which has had to exist to bring Jamie Lee Curtis back into the franchise – you can see why this is going to get confusing. Every time Jamie Lee Curtis has left the franchise it has been her decision, it’s not like people keep pushing her out of the sequels, and yet she has chosen time and time again to come back. Laurie is a character worth rewriting year’s worth of history for though, so I can understand why those less-than-perfect sequels keep getting scrapped.
So what does this mean for the newest Halloween movie? Well firstly, obviously, we have Laurie Strode back front and centre, and while it may have taken a while to get here, this is going to make for an excellent story. What made Halloween H20 such a great sequel is it goes right back to the roots of the series, which is Laurie and Michael standing off against each other. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you will see Laurie is fucking ready for Michael. She has been prepping for him every year for the past 40 years, and she is ready to roll.
Secondly, Michael has been locked up in an asylum since he was captured again at the end of the first movie. This means he hasn’t been on a 40-year murder spree, which explains why Laurie’s daughter and granddaughter are so sceptical of Laurie’s insistence that he is coming for her when his asylum bus crashes. However, this does slightly knock Michael’s impressive murder record, as it means he’s only taken out Judith and the people he attacked that Halloween night 40 years ago.
Thirdly, it gets rid of Michael’s main driving factor for every single sequel – killing off his sister and her bloodline. With Halloween II off the table, Michael is no longer Laurie’s brother, and it’s something that’s even addressed in the trailer with Laurie’s granddaughter saying, “No he was not her brother. That’s something that people made up.” While this connection between the two characters gave some explanation as to why Michael continued to chase Laurie so fervently in Halloween II, it gave the rest of the series an unfortunate shape, where new family members had to be invented to give Michael something to aim for. David Gordon Green was keen to get rid of the family relationship because rather than giving Michael some sort of reason to be chasing Laurie, he was keen to show that he’s just an evil and scary character. There is no logic to his decisions other than returning to his hometown and getting his stab on.
There’s no suggestion as to whether Michael will retain his inability to die in this movie, but as most of the ridiculous things Michael survives happen in that middle chunk of sequels, I think it’s safe to save he will probably be a little bit easier to take down in this movie. Are we going to get a more realistic killer rather than an undefeatable Jason Voorhees-style character? I think going for the more realistic angle will make this sequel much scarier. It’s more terrifying to think Michael is just an average person rather than some possessed demon.
Will the end of the movie see Michael taken out once and for all? I don’t feel like this is the start of another batch of poor sequels, so I would love to see a definitive end to Laurie and Michael’s story.
I am incredibly excited about this new sequel, and seeing the trailer only added to this. The attention to detail to the original looks fantastic! From Michael’s injured eye and torn mask from his run-in with a coat hanger and a knitting needle, throwbacks to the original kills such as someone hiding under a ghost sheet, the dark road full of escaped asylum patients after Michael has made a run for it, and a poor mechanic who get murdered for his overalls, it all screams that this movie was made by someone who is a real fan of the original film.
And if anything, at least we’ve got a Michael Myers mask that looks scary again, because man those masks got shittier with every sequel.