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How to Watch the Halloween Movies in Order


Summary

  • Halloween
    is widely recognized as one of the most popular and successful horror franchises of all time, originally debuting in 1978.
  • New fans can easily get caught up in the iconic
    Halloween
    franchise following the latest film in the series,
    Halloween Ends
    .
  • Watching all the
    Halloween
    films can be a confusing ordeal, but organizing the movies based on their timelines can help fans choose their viewing experience.



One of the reasons John Carpenter’s Halloween became as successful as it did was because of its simplicity. The movie had a simple plot, a low budget, and big scares. As the series went on, this simplicity ballooned into a messy and unorganized slew of movies. Several of the later sequels began to retcon older entries and create all-new timelines. For newcomers to the series, the Halloween movies can get very confusing, very quickly. Continuity is ignored, and cliffhangers are ofren left unresolved in many of the sequels.

This is one of the most iconic horror franchises of all time, and new fans are born every day. 2022 brought with it the supposed final entry, Halloween Ends, was, so now is a great time to get caught up. While watching the films in order of release date is certainly an option, viewers will notice that intertwining storylines will be at odds with each other for most of the series. Here, we have compiled a simple way to organize the films in order of storylines. As stated before, many of the later sequels ignore earlier films, so this is the best way for fans to pick and choose how they want the series to go in their viewing.


Update Feb. 25, 2024: This collection of every Halloween movie to date has been updated with additional features, quality-of-life adjustments, and even more information on how to watch John Carpenter’s famous film franchise.


Halloween Movies in Order of Release Date

Movie

Release Date

Director

Who Played Michael Myers?

Halloween

October 25, 1978

John Carpenter

Nick Castle

Halloween II

October 30, 1981

Rick Rosenthal

Dick Warlock

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

October 22, 1982

Tommy Lee Wallace

N/A

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

October 21, 1988

Dwight H. Little

Tom Morga & George P. Wilbur

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

October 13, 1989

Dominique Othenin-Girard

Don Shanks

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

September 29, 1995

Joe Chappelle

George P. Wilbur

Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later

August 5, 1998

Steve Miner

Chris Durand

Halloween: Resurrection

July 12, 2002

Rick Rosenthal

Brad Loree

Halloween (2007)

August 31, 2007

Rob Zombie

Tyler Mane

Halloween II (2009)

August 28, 2009

Rob Zombie

Tyler Mane

Halloween (2018)

October 19, 2018

David Gordon Green

James Jude Courtney

Halloween Kills

October 15, 2021

David Gordon Green

James Jude Courtney

Halloween Ends

October 14, 2022

David Gordon Green

James Jude Courtney


Original Timeline of Halloween Movies in Chronological Order

The original movie was released in 1978, and it spawned the slasher genre. As the ’80s went on, it was clear that a new film released in the heart of the slasher boom was a smart idea. This led to Halloween II and the beginning of what we will refer to as the Original Timeline. This timeline follows Laurie Strode, famously played by Jamie Lee Curtis, as she deals with the horrors of Michael Myers and how he impacted her life. This timeline ignores most of the movies released in the ’80s and ’90s and includes the following movies:


For the sake of convenience, we’ve opted to include Halloween III: Season of the Witch in the original timeline. Just be aware that, because of its status as a standalone film in the Halloween franchise, you’re free to watch it or skip it at your own leisure without missing any major plot beats in other Halloween films.

Halloween (1978)

This is where it all started. Halloween follows a small Illinois town as a supernatural murderer, Michael Myers, terrozies it. A six-year-old Myers originally murdered his sister in cold blood on Halloween night, 1963. 15 years later, Michael escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to claim more lives. His psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), is in hot pursuit. Loomis desperately tries to warn the local police station, but by the time they take him seriously, Michael has already chosen his next victim. Michael targets Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a young girl who spends her free time babysitting. Throughout the day, Michael stalks Laurie and her friends before striking that night.


The Original Slasher

This terrifying, largely slash-free masterclass in horror is held at such a high bar for a reason. It doesn’t need excessive gore to be scary. It uses atmosphere and suspense to create fear. The film is somewhat of a slow burner, with Michael waiting until nearly the third act to begin killing. Michael lurks in the background, causing audiences to be on edge waiting for him to make his move, and when he does, it is more than worth it. To add to the horror, Myers isn’t even listed in the film’s credits — he’s only referred to as “The Shape” instead. Halloween (and its immediately iconic ’70s film score) had a major hand in starting a new era of horror and should be seen by anyone who claims to be a fan of the genre. Stream on AMC+


Halloween II (1981)

Taking place immediately after the original film on the same night, Halloween II finds Dr. Loomis devastated to learn that six gunshots weren’t enough to stop Michael Myers. As Laurie is taken to the hospital, Loomis sets out to find Michael and discover the reason behind his rampage. Michael learns where Laurie was taken and goes to finish what he started earlier that night. Michael eventually corners Laurie, and Loomis arrives to stop him at the last moment. Loomis causes an explosion, supposedly killing himself and Michael in the process.


An Explosive Follow-Up

As with any slasher film, this film ups the body count in a far bloodier way. Michael leaves a trail of bodies in his wake and turns the hospital into his own playground. In his research, Loomis discovers the reason Michael has targeted Laurie: she is his sister.

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This sibling twist supposedly came from a drunken John Carpenter, and he reportedly hated it. In article from CinemaBlend, Carpenter went into further detail:

I think it was, perhaps, a late night fueled by alcoholic beverages, was that idea. A terrible, stupid idea! But that’s what we did.


He felt that giving Michael a motive ruined his mystery. Still, the fact that Michael and Laurie were siblings would remain canon until 2018. This film feels closer to some other generic slashers of the time, but it is still a fun watch. The deaths are much more gruesome and Michael is much deadlier, with more focus on slashes than atmospheric scares. Buy or Rent on Prime Video

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

John Carpenter never intended for Halloween to be a series. The supposed cliffhanger of the original was just supposed to scare viewers into thinking Michael Myers could be anywhere. When he was hired to do a sequel, Carpenter intended to kill Michael permanently, so he could move on to other ideas. His idea was to create an anthology of films, each one containing a standalone story. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was to be the first of these films.


While known as a cult classic today, originally fans hated this movie simply because Myers wasn’t present. The movie follows a doctor, Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), who uncovers a plot run by the head of a toy company. Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) of the Silver Shamrock company intends to take the Halloween season back to its Celtic roots. His plans involve masks that will kill children via a trigger in an infectiously memorable television commercial.

Originally Hated, Loved Nowadays

While fans panned the film initially, today, this is a beloved ’80s cult classic that finds more and more viewers each year. While John Carpenter’s original plan was commendable, his fatal flaw was marketing the film as the third Halloween movie when it had nothing to do with the previous two. In fact, a trailer for the first movie is seen on television, further driving the point home that this movie stands alone. While not part of any other continuity, this film should not be skipped on a watch-through. It is spooky, chilling, and has just the right amount of camp. Buy or Rent on Prime Video


Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was the first Halloween film to feature Jaime Lee Curtis since 1981, and takes place 20 years after the original massacre. In the years following that deadly night, Laurie Strode moved to California and changed her name in an attempt to escape the trauma caused by her brother. Laurie, now under the name Keri Tate, is the headmistress of a private school and has a son.

Even though Michael Myers seemingly perished in front of her, she is still haunted by his memory. As it turns out, her paranoia is warranted, as Michael is alive and has found out where she is. Once again, Laurie must fight for her life as her psychotic brother begins to rack up bodies on his way to end her. But this time, Laurie isn’t going out without a fight.


A Return to Form

This movie was a return to form, and many fans preferred it over the other sequels post-Halloween II. Seeing Jamie Lee Curtis return to the franchise excited fans, and many were satisfied. This film came in the wake of Scream, which changed horror for the better, and helped revive slasher films. Halloween H20 is even closer in tone to Scream than it is to Halloween, even if the film as a whole isn’t perfect. Michael Myers seems to be dumbed down a bit, as he is treated as a slapstick buffoon in some scenes. Overall, this isn’t a terrible entry. However, this same premise of Laurie having a rematch with Michael would happen once more in another 20 years. Stream on Prime Video and Paramount+

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)


Halloween: Resurrection directly follows H20 and closes the first chapter of Michael and Laurie’s feud. Jamie Lee Curtis was all over the marketing, and fans were anxious to see the two come to blows once more. They were immensely disappointed to see Laurie die in the opening moments. In fact, that is one word many fans used to describe this film: disappointing.

H20 seemed to give Michael Myers a definitive ending. In the closing moments, Laurie decapitated Michael with an ax. This movie retcons that moment by letting the audience know that it wasn’t Michael in H20, but a paramedic wearing his mask. Fans saw this as cheap, and it left a bad taste in their mouths right away. The rest of the film was an attempt to cash in on the already waning popularity of the found footage genre. The plot follows a group of students who take part in a live event. They are to explore the supposedly haunted Myers house as they film their adventure via body cam. The feed is broadcast as a live web show, and the viewers soon learn that Michael is lurking in the house.


An Uneven Finale to the Original Timeline

A large issue many have is that Resurrection doesn’t fully commit to the found-footage aspect. Some action is shown in a POV camera feed, but a majority is filmed as a normal movie. The movie makes Michael even more silly, especially when you consider the infamous scene involving Busta Rhymes and a kung fu kick. Outside the opening, this film doesn’t follow the events of the last movie, even though it was marketed as the finale of the Strode/Myers arc. While this technically was true, fans still felt cheated. The film even ends with a jump scare, showing that Michael is still alive.

This was the official end of the original timeline. Many fans chose to ignore this entry, meaning that, to many, H20 was the true finale. Stream on Prime Video and Paramount+

Thorn Timeline of Halloween Movies in Chronological Order


The original series of sequels following Halloween II featured an overarching story featuring Michael’s true origins. This timeline aimed to show why exactly Michael was the killing machine he was. This story arc doubled down on the Myers’ familial connection, showing that Michael’s true intention was to wipe out his bloodline. These are the sequels the original timeline ignored. The Thorn Timeline contains Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981), as well as the following movies:

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)


As many fans know, John Carpenter’s original plan for the series after Halloween II was to create an anthology of unrelated movies bearing the Halloween name. The third film was to start this trend, but as we’ve mentioned, things didn’t exactly turn out as expected. Fans apparently only wanted to see Michael do his thing, so the fourth film gave them what they want.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers takes place 10 years after that tragic night, and a lot has happened since. It is revealed that Laurie had a daughter named Jamie (Danielle Harris), and died in a car accident sometime before the events of the movie. Michael has been in a comatose state ever since he was set on fire in Halloween II. On the 10-year anniversary of his supposed demise, he reawakens once more and sets his sights on Jamie. Dr. Loomis must once again track down Michael and prevent him from killing once more.


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Danielle Harris Carried Halloween 4

Halloween 4 is a fan favorite, mostly thanks to Danielle Harris’ performance as young Jamie. While it wasn’t as well-received as the first two, fans were just happy to once again see Michael doing what he does best. The film clearly planted the seeds for something bigger, and fans wouldn’t have to wait very long for the next entry. Stream on Shudder

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Halloween 5

Halloween 5

Release Date
October 12, 1989

Director
Dominique Othenin-Girard


Less than a year later, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers saw Michael once again on the warpath for his niece. This film really began planting the seeds of the Thorn cult, as a mysterious Man in Black is seen lurking around in the movie. It is also revealed that Michael has a tattoo on his wrist, one in the shape of the eponymous Thorn.

The last film ended on a cliffhanger, with Jamie seemingly having murdered her foster mother, carrying on her uncle’s legacy. This film reveals right away that Jamie simply attacked her foster mother, leaving Jamie mute and placed in an institution. Jamie seems to be locked in a psychic link with her uncle, and she warns everyone that he is coming back. Dr. Loomis seeks to discover the truth behind his former patient and looks to stop him once and for all. This film begins the process of removing Michael’s mystery, and ultimately starts to drive away the interest of fans. The film ends with Michael being saved from incarceration by the Man in Black.


More of the Same

Halloween 5 is criticized for unceremoniously killing off likable characters in place of bland ones. It is also much of the same, with nothing really new added save for the Thorn plot. The film’s expedited production and numerous changes in direction, including how to handle characters such as the Man in Black, resulted in a film that seemingly exists for no real purpose. This film is clearly only trying to further the franchise without telling its own story. The novelty of having Michael back was gone, and fans were only left with a mediocre movie. Stream on AMC+

Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers (1995)


Halloween 6 was plagued with issues right from the beginning. The film was completely finished, but the studio demanded re-shoots and script changes. This led to the filmmakers having all the cast return to hurriedly cobble together a new cut. Donald Pleasance filmed all of his scenes for the original cut but passed away before re-shoots began; they had to film around him, and it shows.

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers opens with a now-adult Jamie (J. C. Brandy) giving birth. Michael then kills her and sets his sights on the newest member of the Myers family. This film reveals that Michael has been a pawn the entire time, as the Thorn cult placed a curse on Michael as a young boy, turning him into a killing machine. He is tasked with killing his bloodline, which is why he has been on a rampage. Loomis must join a new group of characters, including Tommy Doyle (played by an ageless Paul Rudd in his first role) to save Jamie’s baby from Michael and the cult.


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Michael Myers Lost His Agency

Making Michael an errand boy for a cult did not sit well with fans. Despite some gnarly kills, Halloween 6 seemingly lost the plot when it comes to what made Halloween so effective to begin with. It comes off more as a horror-themed soap opera, and though the addition of Paul Rudd is admittedly amusing, it can’t save a film that really doesn’t need to exist.

The film subsequently bombed and led to the original cut, known as the Producer’s Cut, leaking. The Producer’s Cut was eventually officially released on Blu-ray, but most fans agree that it isn’t much better. The Producer’s Cut ends with the implication that Loomis becomes Michael’s new caretaker. Regardless of the version, this is the end of the Thorn timeline. Fans usually dismiss these movies because the Thorn trilogy takes away the mystery of Michael Myers and is usually ignored in other timelines. Stream on Prime Video and Paramount+


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Rob Zombie Timeline of Halloween Movies in Chronological Order

After the failure of Halloween: Resurrection in 2002, Michael Myers took a hiatus from the big screen. Halloween producers were scrambling to figure out a way to revive the franchise and make Myers a force to be reckoned with once more. After the success of the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003, it was clear the best course of action was to start fresh and remake the original.

Rob Zombie was brought on board, which seemed like a great idea considering how the director pays tribute to ’70s and ’80s horror, and Michael was reinvented in 2007. The remake earned a sequel and created a separate timeline shared between the two movies. These films are unrelated to anything that came before or after, and consist of the following movies:


Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie movies are hit or miss with many fans, and his take on Halloween is no exception. As stated before, this film is mostly just a retelling of the original. The major difference is that, for the opening 40 minutes or so, audiences take a look into Michael’s youth, leading to his sister’s murder. This shows a young Michael slowly losing his mind to become the killer fans know. Many fans critique these scenes for two reasons.


For one, it once again takes away the mystery of the character by showing why he kills. Showing Michael speak and behave like an actual human drove away many fans, who preferred to know as little about him as possible. The second issue is how much of an overused horror movie cliché the story of Michael is. He grows up in a horribly dysfunctional house, and he kills young animals for no reason. This seems like the backstory of any random serial killer, not Michael Myers. These scenes also seem to try and make Michael a sympathetic character, which completely goes against the point of The Shape.

(More Than) A Straightforward Remake

However, these scenes have many fans who praise Rob Zombie for taking a classic character and making it his own. The rest of the film follows the same plot as the original. The biggest difference is that it is made clear from the beginning that Laurie is Michael’s sister. Outside a handful of changes, such as Laurie shooting Michael instead of Loomis, Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a much more brutal retelling of the original classic. However, this film did exactly what it set out to do and made Michael Myers a force to be reckoned with once more. Stream on Freevee


Halloween II (2009)

While it didn’t grab everyone, Rob Zombie’s retelling of the Myers mythos was successful enough to warrant a sequel. Like John Carpenter before him, Zombie originally only intended to make a single movie. When the studio ordered a sequel, he decided to come aboard to finish the story he started. Unlike the first movie, Zombie’s Halloween II is mostly an original story. The opening portion takes place in a hospital, showing Michael tracking down Laurie. This was revealed to be a dream, however, and the bulk of the story actually takes place several years after the first movie. Rob Zombie’s Halloween II isn’t nearly as grounded as the first and actually features Michael repeatedly seeing the ghost of his mother.


An Experimental Sequel

Many fans didn’t like this fantasy element, which led to the film being received much less favorably. Fans also disliked how Michael was portrayed this time around. He was mainly unmasked for most of the film, and his face was clearly seen. He had been unmasked in previous films, but his face was either obscured or seen in quick glimpses. Laurie suffers from trauma this time, although many fans feel she was handled poorly. This film has more of a cult fanbase than the last entry, and they will defend it tooth and nail. One thing that even those who dislike the movie must admit is that Zombie truly made an original film and actually gave it a definitive ending. Stream on Freevee

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Reboot Timeline of Halloween Movies in Order


The original timeline was the supposed end of the story of Laurie and Michael. For years, fans hated how it all ended. They felt that Laurie deserved a better ending, and the series should have a definitive resolution, not a cliffhanger. In 2018, it was announced that the two would finally have a fitting final showdown.

This new series of movies by director David Gordon Green ignores everything after the original film, including Halloween II. This means that Laurie and Michael were not siblings for the first time since 1978. This complete retcon was exactly what the franchise needed. The finale of this series was released in 2022, with this newly rebooted timeline including Halloween (1978) and the following movies:


Halloween (2018)

The 2018 Halloween takes place 40 years after the original and sees Michael once again escape from captivity. In this movie, Laurie remains in Haddonfield. She has become a shell of her former self. With an estranged daughter and granddaughter, Laurie lives like a hermit in a house stocked with weapons and traps, praying for the day Michael comes back for her. After what seems like an accidental bus crash, she gets her wish.

Donning his original mask, Michael once again takes to the streets of Haddonfield to kill anyone who gets in his way. Laurie must protect her family while also taking Michael out once and for all. As stated before, Laurie and Michael are not related in this timeline, meaning the events of Halloween night 1978 were truly random. The film ends with a thrilling battle in Laurie’s home, with the Strode women coming out victorious.


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David Gordon Green Gets It Right

This movie was much better received than most of the sequels, with many fans claiming it is the best since the original. Fans believe this movie does a better job at portraying Laurie with PTSD than Halloween: H20 did, even Jamie Lee Curtis herself. Audiences were happy that Laurie would get a better ending than she did in 2002. This movie was the first in a planned trilogy, with the second one picking up directly after. Buy or Rent on Apple TV

Halloween Kills (2021)


Halloween Kills shows Michael escaping the burning trap at the end of the first film, and he emerges angrier than ever. Similar to Halloween II, Halloween Kills takes place the same night as its predecessor. Laurie and her family are taken to the hospital, where they learn that Michael survived their attack. All of Haddonfield joins together in a giant angry mob, looking to tear The Shape apart. This movie doubles down on the fact that Laurie means nothing to Michael, and their encounters were truly random.

An Ultraviolent Sequel

It’s heartbreaking to see Laurie realize that her obsession was one-sided, and the film is more emotionally devastating than arguably any other in the Halloween franchise. This movie is also a bloodbath, with an enraged Michael being more brutal than ever before. The film ends abruptly, leaving fans curious as to how the third film will play out; as a result, Halloween Kills received backlash from many fans. David Gordon Green elaborated on the ending’s reception with SFX Magazine through Games Radar:


There’s a lot of people that when they see an ending like that, or that kind of unresolved chaos, they get frustrated as a moviegoer. For me, that’s just part of the fun, and then we get to come in and tidy it up with the last one. So any frustration that was expressed about the last one, I kind of just smile and say, ‘Hold tight, here we come.’

While Halloween Kills may have drawn a more polarized response from fans and critics alike, arguably nobody could’ve seen what was coming next in the reboot trilogy’s finale. Buy or Rent on Apple TV

Halloween Ends (2022)


Halloween Ends is the last movie in this timeline, as Gordon Green went on to work his magic to reboot The Exorcist. Jamie Lee Curtis jokingly signed a document declaring that this was the final time she would play Laurie Strode. After nearly half a century, the Halloween franchise advertised its own ending and anticipated the death of Michael Myers, and fans have been lining up to check it out (with the movie earning nearly triple its budget in the first week of its release).

The film begins with a time jump, moving a few years after Michael Myers’ original killing spree. Laurie is writing her memoirs, still suffering from her losses but living with her granddaughter, who is in a relationship with a young man named Corey (Rohan Campbell). Laurie grows suspicious of Corey, who frequently reminds her of Michael, and she certainly has reasons to believe so. Rohan Campbell practically headlines the film and does a great job, but it’s genuinely weird for the franchise to shift its focus onto a completely new character for the supposedly “final” film.


An Unexpected Conclusion

Halloween Ends was highly anticipated as the ultimate showdown between Myers and Strode, but Michael is largely absent from much of the film, and their actual confrontation is fairly brief, though wonderful. In fact, the whole film felt somewhat disappointing, actually existing as a somewhat standalone movie and slow-burn psychological thriller for much of its runtime. While opinions have certainly simmered down on its unique direction over time, Halloween Ends was ultimately not what audiences were expecting, leading franchise star Danielle Harris to vent some negative feelings about how it turned out. Buy or Rent on Apple TV

Back to TopThis concludes all the movies featuring Michael Myers as of now. The continuity of these films can be quite messy, and newcomers may find it difficult to keep up. If they choose just to watch the movies in order of release date, most viewers will likely be able to tell when a sequel was retconned. But, if you are watching the series for the first time, it’s probably best to watch them all in order of release to get the full effect.


The Future of the Halloween Franchise

Until October 2023, a massive bidding war took place backstage between Miramax and A24 to obtain the TV rights of the Halloween franchise. Miramax finally won, and they have consolidated the film and TV rights to the property to create a new chapter in the saga. Halloween Ends closed the Laurie Strode storyline, and there’s not much to be said there, given the gruesome ending experienced by The Shape at the end of the last film.

Will the studio finally cut ties with Michael Myers for the time being? Will they create a new anthology show using the same premise intended by John Carpenter for the third film? There’s no answer to these questions for now. While no talent is currently attached to the property, Miramax is taking pitches from other studios and streaming services wishing to explore this world.Back to the Original Timeline of Halloween Movies in Order




This story originally appeared on Movieweb

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