- The original 1978 Halloween film is a beloved horror classic that kickstarted the slasher subgenre and is universally respected, with an eerie score and clever framing that still holds its spooky power over 40 years later.
- Halloween II (198
- expanded on the lore surrounding Michael Myers but lacked the creeping dread of its predecessor, signaling the franchise’s loss of touch with its beginnings. However, it was a box office success that solidified Michael Myers as a horror icon.
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch (198
- took a creative risk by attempting to continue the franchise as a yearly anthology installment, but it was poorly received upon release. However, it has since developed a cult following, and some feel it aligns with John Carpenter’s original plan for an anthology franchise.
As fans enjoy the spooky season, many will be wondering where to watch Halloween movies as the horror franchise is perfect for this time of year. The 1978 low-budget film gave way to the slasher subgenre and a whole slew of lackluster attempts to replicate its success. Of course, that success also meant sequels, remakes, and reboots galore for the franchise.
Like all great horror franchises, the series has had highs and lows, but there seems to be something of a Halloween renaissance with the new batch of Blumhouse films. Halloween Ends may have marked the conclusion of the Halloween movie franchise for now though it is likely to return in some form. However, fans have plenty of installments to catch up on with the entire franchise ready to be streamed.
The one that started the whole thing, John Carpenter’s seminal slasher is one of the most beloved horror films of all time. Almost universally respected, the simple story explores the horrifying story of Laurie Strode as she is stalked and terrorized by Michael Myers, who is quite literally a living boogeyman. The iconic score remains unbelievably eerie, and the clever ways Carpenter frames Michael all help the original Halloween retain its spooky power over 40 years on.
The indie movie became a box office hit thanks to word of mouth and remains the most acclaimed movie of the franchise with many calling it the greatest slasher movie of all time. In 2006, it was selected by the Library of Congress to be part of the National Film Registry.
Halloween II (1981)
A direct follow-up to the original, Halloween II is the film that established much of the initial lore surrounding Michael Myers. Thankfully Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance returned to finish out the Laurie Strode storyline (for the first time, that is). This was the movie that began the Halloween mythology of Michael and Laurie being brother and sister. A much more outwardly bloody and gory film, Halloween II is far from an embarrassment, but it has little of the same creeping dread of its predecessor.
Many critics felt it was more akin to the Halloween ripoffs that followed Carpenter’s original and seemed to signal the start of the franchise losing tough with its beginning. However, the movie was a box office success, further cementing Michael Myers as a horror icon which makes it surprising that the next installment would attempt to move on without him.
Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
After Halloween II attempted to wrap up the arc of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers, a curious choice was made to attempt the continuation of the franchise as a yearly anthology installment. What resulted from the risk was something of a noble failure. It follows a plot by an evil toymaker who hatches a plan to kill children with deadly Halloween masks,
Halloween III is a bizarre film that was poorly received on release, prompting the return of Michael Myers to the franchise after his presumed death in Halloween II, but it has nevertheless developed a strong cult following over the past 40 years. Many also pointed to the attempt to fulfill Carpenter’s original plan for an anthology Halloween franchise as perhaps the direction the sequels should have gone in all along. However, the movie’s box office performance was weaker than the previous two installments so the franchise returned to Michael Myers.
Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)
- Stream on AMC+ and Shudder
Ditching Roman numerals and the anthology strategy, the series returned six years later with Halloween’s masked killer back in the spotlight. There are lots of fans of the series who have fond memories of this film, but by this point, the cracks had begun to show, not helped by the fact that the slasher genre was on the decline. Laurie Strode has been killed off-screen, and the film suffers from Jamie Lee Curtis’s absence.
Thankfully, Donald Pleasance once again came back to pursue the now fully supernatural being that Michael Myers has become. There is also the introduction of Jamie Lloyd into the Halloween mythology, Michael’s niece and last living relative who becomes the new heroine. Though critics found the movie to be a thrillless sequel, its box office was strong enough to warrant the franchise’s continuation.
Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989)
- Stream on AMC+ and Shudder
Released one year after Halloween 4, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers follows up on the events of its predecessor by continuing the story of Jamie Lloyd. The previous movie ended with the suggestion that Jamie would be Halloween’s new killer only to abandon that idea for a much sillier one. As Jamie develops a telepathic connection with Myers, scenes of Michael killing people intercut with Jamie’s supernatural episodes, and the movie begins to stray into a more ridiculous kind of plotting that would be taken to its apex in the franchise’s next sequel.
The movie was a box office disappointment, making it the lowest-grossing Halloween movie to date. The supernatural elements and a completely unnecessary origin story for Michael were ridiculed by fans and critics alike. The fact that the movie was being written as they filmed is also quite telling, including Halloween 5‘s baffling ending.
Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is another episodic installment in the Michael Myers saga that had by this point, become a slasher soap opera. The sixth Halloween movie had a famously troubled production which resulted in two very different versions of the film being released, though neither is considered to be a strong entry into the franchise by either critics or fans. The Curse of Michael Myers is also notable for being Donald Pleasance’s final appearance as Dr. Loomis, with the full arc of his character sadly not being made available for fans to see until the release of the ‘Producer’s Cut’ in 2014.
Many consider the theatrical cut of The Curse of Michael Myers to be the worst of the Halloween franchise with the supernatural subplot being seen as a betrayal of what made the villain so special. Critics lambasted the movie for its incoherent story as it was also rewritten constantly during the shoot. However, one bright spot for the movie is that it marks the feature film debut of Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
One of the more respectable of the Halloween sequels, H20 brought back the heart of the series in Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. The film successfully retools the series for a post-Scream world and is elevated immeasurably by Strode’s return. After revealing Laurie’s death was a ruse to get her out of Michael’s grasp, the two meet again to hash out their unfinished business. This time Jamie Lee-Curtis is joined by young supporting stars Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams, though neither would appear in the Halloween franchise again.
The return to form and the return of Curtis as Laurie Strode helped H20 earn a reputation as the best Halloween sequel up until that point while also being the highest-grossing entry until 2018. While some critics still felt it fell far short of the original, the young cast, humor, and Curtis’s performance earned some praise.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, who also directed the original Halloween II, Resurrection is a direct sequel to H20. Jamie Lee Curtis appears briefly before Laurie Strode is, once again, killed off and the main plot of the film revolves around a live webcam event that takes place at Michael’s childhood home. Hammy writing, odd casting choices, and uninspired kills make it one of the most universally disliked entries in the franchise and the series would then move onto a phase of remakes.
Director Rob Zombie took the franchise in a new direction with the second entry to be titled simply Halloween, remaking Carpenter’s original film with a more sympathetic approach to Michael Myers. The movie was very much the same story as the original, but with a more powerful and more intimidating Michael Myers with wrestler Tyler Mane stepping into the role.
Critics felt the movie’s overly grim tone and mean-spirited violence was a bit over-the-top. Despite negative reviews, this film has still been more well-received by fans than The Curse of Michael Myers and managed to become a minor box office hit, prompting a direct sequel.
Halloween II (2009)
Rob Zombie’s second Halloween movie had a more nihilistic and detached style than its predecessor. Halloween II continued Zombie’s revisionist take on the struggle between Laurie Strode and the savage Michael Myers. Myers is a frightening figure throughout both of Zombie’s films, but the rest of the elements never come together to create anything more than a particularly brutal entry in the series that is neither the best of the franchise nor the director.
Once again, critics didn’t connect with Zombie’s grimy take on the franchise as well as the strange attempts at expanding the mythology. Audiences also seemed to be worn out by Zombie’s take on the material and the movie ended up underperforming and grossing less than the previous movie, signaling yet another change in direction for the long-running horror franchise.
Rebooting the franchise in a style that would later come to be known as a ‘legacy sequel’, the third film in the series to be titled Halloween brings back original star Jamie Lee Curtis to lead the cast as Laurie Strode. This time, however, Laurie is prepared and determined to hunt down Michael Myers.
The resulting retooled vision is lots of fun to watch and director David Gordon Green is able to capture a lot of the independent spirit of the 1978 classic. Curtis earned critical praise for her return to the iconic character while the movie delivered thrills and paid homage to the original in ways that seemed to please fans. The result is the highest-grossing Halloween movie to date and the highest-grossing slasher movie of all time.
Halloween Kills (2021)
After the 2018 version of Halloween provided an interesting start to a new run of sequels by revisiting the original film, Halloween Kills had the difficult task of reconciling a present-day Halloween sequel with the franchise’s difficult history with follow-ups. Though not as big a hit for either fans or critics as the previous film, it did set up an interesting final installment in Halloween Ends.
An interesting twist to Halloween Kills is that Laurie is hospitalized for most of the runtime, leaving Michael to face off against her daughter, granddaughter, and the residents of Haddonfield. It also boasts the franchise’s highest kill count to date. Critics were less impressed with Halloween Kills as with the previous installment, pointing to the odd story choices and messy feel, though acknowledged that it delivers on the slasher thrills. Fans seemed to still be interested in this new direction as it was another box office hit despite simultaneously releasing on Peacock.
Halloween Ends (2022)
- Stream on Amazon Prime Video
The final entry into the new Halloween reboot trilogy promised the final showdown between Michael and Laurie, but the Halloween Ends twist was that the story’s focus was elsewhere. Instead of picking up with the cliffhanger ending of Halloween Kills, Halloween Ends introduces a new character of Corey Cunningham, a Haddonfield resident who has become ostracized due to a tragedy on Halloween night whose fate is changed when he has a run-in with Michael Myers.
The new direction the movie takes made for perhaps the most divisive movie in the franchise. Some enjoyed the new approach while others felt like it was a letdown to what the trilogy had been building to. Critics were largely negative on the movie, calling it a sloppy entry in the franchise while Halloween Ends resulted in the lowest-grossing movie in the new trilogy.
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