The Messy and Convoluted Halloween Franchise Explained

Audiences who were terrified in 1978 when John Carpenter released Halloween should start preparing themselves, because the classic horror film is finally getting a sequel.

Never mind the other nine sequels (they don’t exist anymore).

So, Halloween II?

No, the sequel isn’t named Halloween II — there was already a Halloween II, co-written by John Carpenter as a direct followup to his original masterpiece… and another Halloween II directed by Rob Zombie that we’ll discuss later. The 2018 sequel shares the same name as the original film and it completely ignores every sequel after the original 1978 film in the Halloween franchise.

So, the proper order to watch the films are: Halloween and then Halloween, but be sure to skip Halloween, which came out between Halloween and Halloween. Got that? Right.

Don’t fret, dear readers. The Halloween franchise is rife with continuity problems and attempted reboots, but we are here to break it down for you.

The First Round of Sequels

Originally, the new film was announced to be a follow up to Halloween II and would be titled Halloween 3D (that idea ended up falling apart). You see, the original Halloween III did not continue the story of serial killer Michael Myers — it took a completely different direction because the filmmakers decided that the Halloween franchise would become something closer to an anthology series. Called Season of the Witch, the idea didn’t work out for them. Audiences wanted to see Michael Myers.

The following sequel was released 6 years later. Called Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, it brought back you-know-who-in-the-Bill-Shatner-mask. This is where Carpenter bowed out of the series, with Dwight H. Little stepping into the director’s chair. Donald Pleasance returned to play Dr. Loomis, but Jaime Lee Curtis had found success in other films in Hollywood and decided not to return. The film received mixed reviews, but veered towards the negative. Nevertheless, it was a successful entry financially and a standard return for the famed killer.

Production wasted no time working on Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, released only one year later. Once again, Donald Pleasance revised his role along with Danielle Harris coming back from Halloween 4 as Laurie Strode’s daughterThe fifth entry in the series received generally bad reviews and the future of the franchise was beginning to be questioned. The new supernatural angle taken with the titular killer was controversial among fans of the original.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers once again brought back Donald Pleasance, along with Paul Rudd. The sixth movie in the series, released 6 years after the last installment, introduces the “Curse of the Thorn,” a mystical symbol that first appeared in the fifth film and explains Michael Myers’ immortality. As with most franchise sequels this far into the series, it received even worse reviews than parts 4 or 5. Donald Pleasance died before the release of this film and most considered the franchise over.

As you can see, films 4-6 followed a standard sequel methodology. No surprises, right? Well, things are about to get a little weird in the world of Michael Myers.

The First Retcon

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, released in 1998 and directed by Steve Miner of Friday the 13th fame, is the seventh installment and the second attempt at a new direction for the franchise (remember Halloween III: Season of the Witch?) Gone is the “Curse of the Thorn” and, in fact, everything that happened in Halloweens 4 through 6. Halloween H20 is a direct sequel to Halloween II and features the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose character Laurie Strode faked her death to escape her murderous brother, Michael Myers.

The controversial film became the highest-grossing film in the franchise and garnered generally better reviews than the previous three installments. Overall, fans seemed to accept the retconning of Halloweens 4 through 6 and the ending of H20 wrapped up the series nicely.

But then Halloween: Resurrection came along and once again Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her role as Laurie Strode. The film was largely considered unnecessary and reviews were worse than some of the retconned sequels. After the success of Halloween H20, Resurrection was another blow to the franchise and plans for more sequels were dropped.

But the Halloween story doesn’t end there…

The First Reboot

Rob Zombie, former singer of the metal band White Zombie and purveyor of hillbilly horror films somehow landed the opportunity to completely reboot the Halloween franchise. John Carpenter reportedly advised Zombie to follow his own vision with the film.

Called Halloween, the 2007 film retells the original story in the franchise in the predictable fashion of a Rob Zombie film. Reviews were mostly negative, but that didn’t stop Zombie from moving forward with an even more negatively reviewed Halloween II in 2009. Malcom McDowell as the recast Dr. Loomis was really the only high point of the reboots, but his character took a very strange turn in the sequel and was generally despised by fans.

Halloween 2018

That brings us to present day, 40 years after the original Halloween by John Carpenter and almost 10 years since the last entry, Zombie’s Halloween II.

Dimension Films lost their rights to the franchise after failing to make a sequel to Zombie’s failed attempt at a reboot. It was picked up by Blumhouse Productions and John Carpenter decided to make his return to the series.

The original Halloween II revelation that Michael Myers was Laurie Strode’s brother has been erased, making the new film a direct sequel to the original. However, the film also strives to be a standalone entry for viewers new to the franchise, so in that way it is also a reboot.

“As soon as I read what David Green and Danny McBride had come up with … and the way that they connected the dots of the story, it made so much sense to me that it felt totally appropriate for me to return to Haddonfield, Illinois, for another 40th-anniversary retelling. It’s really the original story in many, many, many ways. Just retold 40 years later with my granddaughter,” said Jamie Lee Curtis.

Critics have already gotten a peek at the new film and it is holding quite favorable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Excitement among the fan-base is growing and while John Carpenter says that the film will be the final installment in the series, co-writer McBride admitted that they already have plans for a sequel if the new film does well.

Who knows, maybe like Halloween, it can be the third film in the series called Halloween II.