A Guide to the Separate Timelines of ‘Halloween’

Following the 'Halloween' films can be confusing... Here's a guide for newcomers!

Written by J.T. Johnson

For any newcomers that might be checking out the “Halloween” series for the first time this year, you might get a little confused once you get into the sequels. Unlike other horror series, the Halloween films have gone through multiple “timelines” where certain films ignore previous films or they outright remake the whole damn thing. There’s even one that doesn’t star Michael Myers, the iconic star of the long-running series.

Below, I’ve listed the various timelines as a sort of guide for the uninitiated, but I hope that anyone who reads this will get a kick out of it!

THE BLACK SHEEP

First things first, we get to the odd film in the series that was the first divergence in the “Halloween” timeline. After “Halloween II” was released in 1981, producer and original director John Carpenter wanted to take the series in a different direction. Instead of making another Michael Myers film, Carpenter wanted to transform the series into an anthology series where every movie would be a different scary story set during Halloween.

The only film that got made, however, was “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”. The movie followed a man who is trying to stop an evil toy manufacturer from using specially modified masks to take out thousands of children as a part of an ancient ritual sacrifice. The film failed to impress at the box office and was received negatively at the time for not having Michael Myers, but it has since become a solid cult classic in its own right and is a pretty good example of the low-budget horror films released in the 1980s.

As a fan of horror films, I absolutely love this entry thanks to a solid lead performances by Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin. The movie also contains a gleefully sinister performance from Dan O’Herlihy as Conal Cochran, the man running the toy factory that properly kicks the story off.

THE THORN SERIES

After “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” had lower-than-expected box office numbers, it was decided that Michael Myers needed to return. In 1988, ten years after the original film, he did just that in the aptly titled “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers”. Unfortunately, you can only get so far without explaining why your monster keeps coming back.

“Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers” haphazardly introduced elements such as a weird tattoo and a man dressed in black. The filmmakers didn’t know what these elements meant and decided that they would be explained in the next sequel. In “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers” (Introducing Paul Rudd!), the explanation is that a curse exists known as Thorn and this is what not only keeps Michael alive but also makes him target his family.

After the sixth film, the story is so convoluted that I understood why they wanted to retcon the fourth, fifth and sixth films out of existence. I must admit that I enjoy these films for what they are and for Donald Pleasence returning presence as Dr. Sam Loomis, but understand why the series went in a different direction after the sixth film.

THE H20 SERIES

In 1998, actress Jamie Lee Curtis wanted to celebrate the movie that stared her career. She decided that she wanted to return as Laurie Strode in a 20th anniversary film. The only problem is that the previous three film had established that Laurie had died.

The new movie, “Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later”, originally tried to reconcile the other sequels by saying that she had faked her death. Unfortunately, this made things too convoluted so they decided to ignore the previous three films and make the movie a direct sequel to “Halloween II”. Despite this change, the idea that Laurie had faked her death remained in the script.

Had they stuck with “H20”, the movie would have been a decent conclusion to a pretty solid trilogy of films. The biggest problem the film suffered from is that it tried a little too hard to imitate other films of the day such as “Scream” and is therefore, pretty dated. After the box office returns for “H20” came in and the movie was a success, though, a sequel was definitely going to happen. Sadly, that sequel turned out to be “Halloween: Resurrection”.

There are several problems with “Resurrection” including an early and unsatisfactory death for Laurie Strode (Curtis was contractually obligated to appear in the sequel), a rather generic story that doesn’t really add anything new to the series and Busta Rhymes. Yes, even more so than the remakes, “Resurrection” is the worst film in the franchise without a doubt.

THE REMAKE SERIES

After the abysmal reception of “Resurrection”, the producers decided to jump on the remake bandwagon that was happening in the 2000s and they completely restarted the series from scratch. Writer and director Rob Zombie was tasked with bringing the new series to life. 2007’s “Halloween” is a bloody and gory film that I hated at first because it went out of its way to turn Michael Myers into a stereotypical serial killer.

Granted, it is probably a more realistic reason for Michael to go around killing people, but you lose the sinister mystery behind the character. In rewatching the film, I respected it a little bit more as a Zombie film, but still have a hard time accepting it. Still, if the remake was bad, “Halloween II” is an absolute dumpster fire of a film.

Zombie returned to write and direct the sequel and they completely took the reigns off, meaning that the movie is this weird and almost supernatural thriller. Michael once again terrorizes Laurie who is a complete basket case but almost irredeemable in how unlikable she is and Malcom McDowell’s Dr. Loomis is another unlikable character that is simply trying to bank off of the murders committed by Michael and nowhere near the character made great by Pleasence.

Oh, and there are these weird dream sequences where Michael sees visions of his mother. By the end, Laurie is seeing these same visions despite never having met her mother… It’s just weird and I’m glad The Weinstein Company ran out of money not long after, causing the planned third film to be scrapped.

THE LAURIE STRODE SAGA

In 2017, director David Gordon Green and writers Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley teamed up to create the next Halloween film. The film rights to the series eventually left Dimension Films. Soon after, Universal Pictures obtained the rights and along with Blumhouse Productions and Miramax, a new film was set to come out on the 40th anniversary of the first film.

At first, the writers wanted to make a sequel that followed the original “Halloween II”, but they didn’t want to be restricted by any of the sequels. This meant that the new film, simply titled “Halloween” (though sometimes referred to by its original working title “Halloween Returns”), would be a direct sequel to the original film. This meant that elements such as Laurie being Michael’s sister were completely thrown out of the window.

The new movie would establish that Michael Myers was captured not long after committing the murders in the original film and had been locked up for the past 40 years. Soon, though, he is to be transported to a new hospital for the criminally insane and he escapes. He once again brings his reign of terror to Haddonfield, Illinois, but this also puts him on a collision course with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode and her family.

The movie, in my opinion, is the best sequel in the series. No, it is not without its flaws, but having watched this film several times since its release, I just found it to be a solid follow-up to the original film and Curtis once again rocks it as Laurie Strode. It was recently announced that “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends” are scheduled for 2020 and 2021, respectfully, and while I don’t know how those sequels will turn out, I’m at least satisfied with this latest entry in the long-running franchise.

 

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