Despite my desire to stay retired from my movie-writing career, I’ve been pulled back in by my editor and, more important, my love/hate relationship with the Halloween franchise. My need to write about the latest Halloween Kills flick outweighed my need to hang up the pen.
I promise we’re going to dive into the new Halloween Kills movie, but if you’re a newcomer to the series you’re going to need a little guidance. After I provide as much with a brief-ish filmography, I’m going to then rip your brain in half with a little bit of fanfiction that I swear will eventually lead us to David Gordon Green’s Oct. 15 movie, Halloween Kills.
I’ll start by stating that I do consider myself an expert on the series, and while that may seem like a lofty title to bestow upon myself, let me explain. Growing up, my parents were big horror fans, but also conservative Christians. Nothing was allowed except their selectively sanctioned horror; anything else was sinful.
For as long as I can remember, I have watched John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) throughout the month of October, and honestly any other time it was on. This extended to Halloween II, which was often up next on USA network horror marathons. If you were really lucky, you could make it all the way to Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers or even Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers.
So let’s dig in. So the original Halloween movie is a classic, and if you’re reading this you’re almost certainly familiar, but let’s break it down anyway. The story goes, a 6-year-old boy named Michael Myers kills his sister on Halloween and is committed to a sanitarium. Fifteen years later, he escapes and goes back to Haddonfield, Illinois, to kill a number of babysitters and anyone else who gets in his way. His psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) follows on his trail, attempting to stop him.
The final target and heroine is Laurie Strode, played by future scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. The movie ends with Dr. Loomis shooting Myers and him falling off of a balcony to his death, or so you’re led to believe. Halloween II (1981) picks up right where the first left off. Michael has miraculously survived and, rather than let his near-death experience inspire a new outlook on life, continues stalking and killing.
Halloween II mostly takes place in a hospital, where Myers stalks nurses, doctors and unwitting patients. It is revealed that Michael Myers is actually the older brother of Laurie Strode, which brings in a familial/occult element that will become increasingly important in the series. John Carpenter returned to write the script, but not direct. Those duties were taken over by Rick Rosenthal.
Laurie is of course a patient at the same hospital where Myers stalks the hall, as she injured during the mayhem that occurred in the first film. Eventually the movie ends with Dr. Loomis blowing up himself and Myers in the hospital.
Halloween II was a hit movie, forcing money-hungry producers to ask, “What can we do now that Michael is dead?” Enter writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace, a collaborator and friend of John Carpenter’s and editor of the 1978 original. Carpenter returns to score the film and produce. He and producer Debra Hill decide they don’t need Michael Myers; the series can become an anthology of films centered around Halloween.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) tells an unrelated story to the first two films, involving an alcoholic doctor and womanizer who finds out that a popular mask company is attempting to take over the world through the occult by making masks that explode the heads of children who wear them. Needless to say, this doesn’t perform well in theaters.
Six years later, with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), producers brought back — well you can guess whom they brought back from the title. It is conveniently explained that the explosion at the hospital did not in fact kill Myers, but only put him into a coma. Dr. Loomis returns too, now sporting a gnarly facial scar.
Jamie Lee Curtis opted not to return, so it is explained that Laurie died in a car accident but has a daughter named Jamie, which is a bit more confusing than it needed to be. Halloween 4 involves our masked villain (often referred to as The Shape) stalking and attempting to kill folks who share his bloodline and anyone who gets in his way — back to the basics.
Part 4 ends with Michael being gunned down by local vigilantes only to be nursed back to health by a homeless man/witch doctor. The film is a moderate success and this spawns another sequel, Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), in which awakens a year later and continues his attempts to kill his niece, Jamie.
OH MY GOD, WHY ARE YOU STILL TELLING ME THIS?!!!
Halloween 5 introduces a “Man in Black,” who at the end of the movie breaks Michael out of jail and kidnaps Jamie. The movie didn’t perform all that well, so the franchise didn’t return for six years, until 1995’s Halloween: Curse of Michael Myers. A high point of the film is a young Paul Rudd playing an older version of a character from the 1978 Halloween, Tommy Doyle, a boy that Laurie was babysitting.
Jamie is killed in the beginning of the movie, but not before it is revealed that she had a baby, thus continuing that bloodline that’s seems to annoy Michael Myers so damn much. The did OK at the box office, but was plagued with producer interference and alternative edits that drastically affected the end product. The Man in Black also returns, as does Dr. Loomis. This entry proved to be the last appearance by Donald Pleasance, who would die shortly before the movie came out. But wait, there’s more!
We’re getting there I promise. Jamie Lee Curtis returns in the next movie of the franchise, 1998’s Halloween: H20. In this film it is revealed that Laurie Strode faked her death, had a son (played by Josh Hartnett) and has been living in California as Keri Tate, the headmaster at a boarding school.
The events take place 20 years after the first two films and is a direct sequel to those films, essentially ignoring the events of films 4, 5 and 6 (not to mention 3, which we all ignore). Michael finds out where Laurie’s been hiding, but this time she’s ready. The movie is fine, but feels like a clone of Scream, which makes sense because Kevin Williamson wrote both. In the end, Laurie fights Michael and beheads him. Movie over, she won.
Whew, I’m glad that’s over!
Ok, sorry, but it’s not done. Due to the success of that film, of course they had to bring him back. And so it’s revealed that Michael didn’t die, but instead switched his mask with a paramedic whom Laurie killed him instead. Whoops! And that’s how, in 2002, we get Halloween Resurrection. In it, a web TV crew wants to film a series in the original Myers house only to find out that Michael Myers has returned home, but not before killing Laurie Strode. The movie features Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks and essentially kills the franchise completely, but not before Busta electrocutes and burns Myers to death.
In comes Rob Zombie in 2007 and 2009 offer his own disturbed reimaginings of the Halloween franchise. His movies delve into why Michael Myers is fucked up, which was not really necessary. This don’t have anything to do with the rest of the timeline, so we can erase these from our memories.
THANK GOD FOR SMALL MIRACLES!!!
In comes David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride). Their concept goes as follows: Let’s assume nothing after Halloween 1978 happened. Their 2018 Halloween implements a new timeline in which their film is the true sequel, picking up the pieces 40 years later.
After the events of the original film, Michael Myers was arrested and placed in a sanitarium. This brings his his body count back down to three people, and does away with the whole Michael-Laurie sibling storyline. Laurie is simply a survivor who now has a daughter and a granddaughter.
When 2018’s Halloween was announced I thought to myself, “I like David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, and I’m intrigued by this bold concept.” Here’s my main issue: Halloween 2018 is marketed as the return of Laurie Strode, pushing the premise that her character is strong enough to fight Michael upon his return 40 years after the original film. But doesn’t that just sound a lot like H20? Listen, I understand that this storyline is super confusing and it does seem ripe for a reboot, but to that I say, COWARDS!
All the writers of the sequels were tasked with trying to connect these disparate storylines and at least loosely tie them in together. Even though H20 acts as a direct sequel to Halloween II, it doesn’t totally upend the storyline in movies 4, 5 and 6. So hear me out.
That would mean that Laurie still faked her death and has a son. Halloween 2018 could have instead started with exposition to explain that Laurie’s son died after the events of H20, and just shift her daughter character to a daughter-in-law and still keep her granddaughter character intact. Literally nothing would change for the events of 2018’s Halloween save for a few easily editable dialogue points. This then keeps most of the franchise in place and also makes Myers out to be more of a crazed killer with a past and a very high body count.
For the last 20 years (not 40) he would’ve still been locked up. This even keeps Resurrection as canon since that movie ends with him waking up at a coroner’s office. And since Laurie fell to her death in that movie, it can be easily explained away that she survived the fall and police caught Michael in 2002. It isn’t pretty, but being courageous rarely is.
WAIT, WEREN’T WE HERE TO TALK ABOUT HALLOWEEN KILLS? THE NEW FILM THAT JUST PREMIERED IN THEATERS AND IS EXCLUSIVELY STREAMING ON PEACOCK?!!
Yes, this is what I promised, so here we are. Halloween Kills acts as a direct sequel to David Gordon Green’s 2018 side-sequel. It picks up right at the events of the last film and also ropes in Tommy Doyle (now played by Anthony Michael Hall) and a few other minor characters from the 1978 movie. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I’ll get to the main issue I have with it: We get a film that acts as a bridge film only connecting to a sequel. So the issue with this is that none of these recent films hold up on their own.
The trilogy is set to conclude next year with Halloween Ends, and maybe history will be kind to this most recent trilogy once we can tie all of this together with a neat bow, but for now, with the entry we have today in 2021, Halloween Kills can’t stand up on its own without referencing its past (with creative flashbacks to the 1978 film) and looking into its finale.
I will positively state, for films of the franchise, it is an easy and beautiful watch, and will give you a lot of great classic Michael Myers kills. But when you’re left to collect your thoughts at the end of the finale you will sit there wondering if there was any “there there.”
In summation, it’s not always necessary to fix something and elevate it to something that it isn’t. Fans of the franchise understand where the warts are and we embrace it for what it is, to varying degrees of enjoyment. In today’s movie landscape we have auteurs that are constantly trying to make something “good” or “artful.”
Horror movies or genre films are often good for their blemishes and truly shine when we can point to its character flaws. Every film doesn’t need to be poised to win an Oscar or be talked about in a college course. Some exist to be viewed on Peacock at 7am on a Friday, and that’s OK. Sometimes you may like something that is bad, and that’s OK, too.
You can catch up on pretty much any of the Halloween movies mentioned above by visiting VisArt Video, located at the Eastway Crossing shopping center, located at 3124 Eastway Drive.