Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode faces Michael Myers on screen for the fifth time this month in Halloween Kills.

But how did we get here? Why has the Halloween franchise endured with audiences for so long? The release of a new Friday the 13th film would likely garner an eyeroll from many a cinema goer other than hardcore horror fans, but the return of Michael in 2018 was met with record-breaking box office. The release of 2021’s Halloween Kills is greeted with similar anticipation...

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So join me as we take a journey through a film series of various levels of quality and yes, multiple timelines.

Oh and there’s lots of spoilers….

John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978)

Some people may claim that John Carpenter, along with co-writer and producer Debra Hill invented the modern day slasher film with Halloween. They’re not necessarily wrong, however all the elements had existed in horror already.

It’s all about how Carpenter and Hill put all these elements together and used them to tell the horrifying tale of a masked killer escaping a sanatorium and pursued to his childhood town by his doctor (Donald Pleasance as Dr. Loomis) on Halloween and silently continue the slaughter he started when he was just six years old and his older sister became his first victim.

It’s beautifully simple, and thanks to a terrifying villain wearing a modified Captain Kirk rubber mask, a star making turn from Jamie Lee Curtis and a chilling soundtrack (from Carpenter) it became instantly iconic, changed the face of horror forever and remains a stable horror film to watch every October.

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Halloween II (1981)

Penned by Carpenter and Hill with a new director, the events of part 2 taking place immediately after the seemingly dead Michael vanishes in the finale of part 1.

Halloween II solidifies a horror trope, the 'final girl' - Laurie Strode is the sole survivor of her friends and Michael is determined to end her life. But why Laurie? Well, she’s Michael’s sister, apparently. Does this dubious motive make him less terrifying? Probably. John Carpenter has stated he regrets the "sibling" storyline.

It is however thanks to Carpenter and Hill’s script and the eerie, strangely empty hospital setting that Halloween II is one of the strongest sequels, with a great sense of finality as Michael and Dr. Loomis die together in a horrific inferno... or do they?

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

It was a strange move, but Halloween III’s storyline has no connection to the previous films. Instead they’re telling a completely different horror story under the banner of "Halloween". And it was a massive commercial failure. It was however reappraised by many horror fans decades later as a misunderstood classic.

An Irish-owned company called Silver Shamrock make latex masks that are rigged to (checks notes)… melt a kid’s head and transform it into snakes on Halloween.

Okay, can we have Michael Myers back now please?

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1984)

They say it right in the title, Michael is back, alive and well.

No Jamie Lee Curtis this time, due to the fact that Laurie has apparently died in a car crash and also because A Fish Called Wanda had a better paycheck (and script). In part four, we meet Laurie’s 8-year-old daughter Jamie, played by Danielle Harris. Danielle genuinely carries the next two films. Seriously, a stand out performance.

Jamie is tormented by nightmares about a boogyman type figure - imagine her surprise when she finds out he’s real, he’s her uncle and he has just awoken from a coma with an urge to kill yet another family member. Thankfully, Dr. Loomis also survived that fire.

A weak outing, which unfortunately introduces some new supernatural elements. Jamie has an E.T. like connection to Uncle Michael, as misguided as it is, it does give us a strong final scene which suggests Michael’s soul has somehow entered Jamie. She murders her stepmother while wearing a clown costume much like Michael did in the opening of the first film.

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Part 5 is a little sillier but more enjoyable for it. Donald Pleasance has turned the dial to eleven on Dr. Loomis, who spends the film full on screaming at anyone who will listen about how terrifying this Michael fellow is, with most people probably thinking "You’re not too far behind him, mate".

Jamie is now mute due to the trauma of murdering her stepmother, while under Michael’s control in the last film, her connection to Michael is even stronger as she becomes well aware that he’s woken from yet another coma and starts seeing what he sees.

Meanwhile we’re in classic 80’s slasher film territory as Michael dispatches a ragtag bunch of teens as they party on Halloween. Some formulas just work.

This also might be a good time to talk about one of the most frustrating elements of the Halloween franchise, the inconsistency of Michael’s mask. It always looks a little different, but part five is by far the worst offender, it looks very different.

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Halloween 6 The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Halloween 6 is considered the final part of what fans refer to as The Thorn Trilogy. Something that the two previous films alluded to but didn’t really expand is that Michael is actually under a curse, placed there when he was a baby. The curse gives him supernatural powers and strength and is also the reason he feels the need to kill family members on Halloween.

The Cult of Thorn and Michael are hunting for Jamie’s newborn baby, who winds up in the possession of Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd… seriously). Tommy happens to be one of the surviving children Laurie was babysitting that night in 1978. We learn that he has since become obsessed with Michael, the Cult of Thorn and even lives across the street from the old Myers house.

Halloween 6 is considered the weakest of the franchise, but to be honest it’s OTT 90’s glossy style was a pleasant change after the repetitive nature of the later 80’s chapters. While fleshing out the Thorn Curse storyline is something nobody asked for, the Halloween theme is used well, the mask looks more better than it has in a long time and it has some fun scares.

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Halloween H20 (1998)

Halloween heavily influenced Scream, now in 1998 it was time for the hugely successful Scream to influence Halloween and who better for that job than Scream writer, Kevin Williamson?

Welcome to the world of retroactive continuity, retconning. This is when a fictional series decides the stuff that they said happened, didn’t actually happen. E.G. Bobby Ewing getting out of the shower in Dallas.

H20 is a direct sequel to Halloween II, ignoring everything in-between. Jamie Lee Curtis is back and Laurie’s alive, in hiding and now a head teacher of a very expensive school which her teenage son (Josh Hartnett)

H20 moves along at a nice pace, has some of that sharp Kevin Williamson dialogue fans of Scream and Dawson’s Creek know and love, it even stars Creek alumni, Michelle Williams watching Scream 2 on TV. And the in-jokes don’t stop there as Jamie’s real life mother, Psycho star, Janet Leigh cameos, complaining that the shower drains are blocked again. It’s also great to see such a strong actor back facing Michael - Jamie Lee Curtis delivers the goods here.

The film does however suffer from the return of the dodgy mask. Which in some shots has actually been "fixed" digitally. All of which is almost forgivable when you have one of the most satisfying climaxes in Halloween history, Laurie chops of Michael’s head with an axe. There’s no coming back from that... is there?

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Spare a thought for the poor paramedic who had his larynx crushed, and the smelliest mask in history pulled over his face... only to be beheaded by Laurie Strode. Yes, she killed the wrong guy.

Laurie is now in a sanitarium, wracked with guilt, waiting for Michael to arrive and finish her off. And he does, Laurie Strode is dead, there’s no coming back from that…

Meanwhile a company called Dangertainment is setting up a new live streaming reality web show in which several young people spend the night in the Myers’ house in order to discover the secret behind why Michael is the way he is.

Resurrection is very silly, from the OTT acting to Busta Rhymes (don't ask) defending himself with kung-fu. It feels like they really don’t know what to do with the character anymore. So was it time for a radical reboot?

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Halloween (2007)

"Make it your own", was John Carpenter’s advice when rock star turned filmmaker Rob Zombie informed him he was at the helm of a remake of Halloween. And that he did.

This version of Halloween goes the furthest in attempting to explain Michael Myers, devoting a large portion to his dysfunctional childhood and his time in the sanitorium before he escapes. From there we have a rethread of the original, as he tracks down sister, Laurie, and slaughters her friends.

This time it’s a lot more brutal. Less dependent upon Steadicam and tracking shots than previous instalments, Zombie’s camera swings and bounces with every stab from the 6-foot-9 Michael (Tyler Mane) - who now wouldn’t look out of place tossing Mankind off the top of the Hell in a Cell at a WWE match.

It’s grittier, dirtier and nastier, just what you’d expect from the director of The Devil’s Rejects, with a cast that makes any genre film fan dizzy: Malcolm McDowell, Brad Dourif, Bill Moseley and even Danielle Harris from parts 4 and 5. "Don’t try to explain Michael!" critics cried. They seemingly forgot Halloween 6 existed. They have a point, but without the addition of a backstory, why even bother remaking it in the first place?

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Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie is back with a sequel to his remake, largely set two years after the events of the previous film. Michael is alive and wandering around with what’s left of his mask after surviving being shot in the face.

The film takes the nasty gore of the first one and turns it up even higher, emphasised with extremely loud stabbing sound effects that disturbs on a new level. Where it fails, however, is via the inclusion of hallucinations that follow Michael around, we see he is haunted by his mother, his younger self… and a horse. The film also unfortunately touches back on themes of family telepathic connection first introduced back in part 4. All of which drags the whole mood down, it didn’t work the first time and it doesn’t work here.

Halloween (2018)

2018’s Halloween, despite the name, is not another remake, it is a direct sequel to the first film. That’s right, we’re retconning again. If you’re keeping track, this franchise has five timelines. It’s a multiverse!

Part one of a planned trilogy from David Gordon Green, we meet Jamie Lee Curtis again as Laurie Strode, the last time this version of Laurie saw Michael was 40 years ago, when Dr Loomis shot him and he disappeared.

If you put aside the fact that you’re watching the eleventh Halloween film, this is one of the most fascinating looks at long term affects of trauma. As a 17-year-old Laurie survived one of the most brutal and terrifying things you can imagine and the script and Jamie Lee’s performance isn’t taking that lightly.

That night still hangs over Laurie, and she believes Michael will come back. Her locked-down militia-esque lifestyle has alienated herself from her daughter and granddaughter. And for what? Well, actually her fears aren’t entirely unfounded, because Michael’s on the way…

Thrilling, surprisingly emotional and full of great horror set pieces, one with a wardrobe, the other with a security light.

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There is the nagging feeling, however, that the reputation and notoriety of Michael is hanging on a lot more than what he did that one night in 1978, primarily because for the viewer, it is. Why is Laurie so adamant he is going to come back in this timeline? She’s only ever encountered him once.

Halloween 2018 never replicates the impact of the original, none of them have, but it may be the worthiest sequel. There’s something powerful in seeing three generations of women join forces to fight this monster.

So, why has Halloween endured?

Over the course of these films, despite all the awkward subplots, hammy acting, dubious scripts and supernatural nonsense attached to him, Michael has remained consistant, even if his mask hasn’t. Other than two incidents in the very unfortunate Halloween: Resurrection, Michael Myers doesn’t sway from what he is, a terrifying, walking, juggernaut of a killing machine.

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Yes, Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th fame can appear similar, but what Jason is missing is a Laurie Strode, someone we want to see face off against Michael again, and again. Nearly every Michael Myers film without Laurie has tried to fill that void. If he’s not trying to kill Laurie, he’s after her daughter or her grandson. Always attempting to link it back to the original story. To give it a history, a depth, gravitas. The original film is so strong that this fictional history still feels strong and relevant.

Sometimes it fails but when it works, it kills.