The Halloween franchise is one of the largest juggernauts of the horror genre. Rivaling, and possibly even surpassing the likes of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Ghostface, Michael Myers is for many, THE face of horror. What began life in the late 1970s as a low budget horror film about “a crazed man killing babysitters” appropriately titled then “The Babysitter Murders” would go on to become the golden standard of the slasher horror sub-genre. The original film, in the end titled “Halloween”, would follow a very basic model. A masked psychopath by the name of Michael Myers would roam the streets of Haddonfield killing people with a simple kitchen knife. However, in only the second film of the entire series, the writers already began to complicate both the lore of the antagonist, and protagonist. Four decades later with twelve current films in the series along with one more (Halloween: Ends) set to release about a year after the writing of this article, the Halloween series has gone through a smorgasbord of rewrites, remakes, and reboots. After the intervention (or some would say sabotage) of many new writers and producers, there are a current total of six different timelines in the Halloween series. For those who are brand new to Halloween and would like to jump feet-first into the world of Michael Myers, this can prove to be extremely daunting. So I decided to write up this article to try and help those new to the series navigate their way through the town of Haddonfield, and also, possibly choose which of the timelines they are most interested in viewing. So without further ado, let’s jump into the six different Halloween timelines!
Timeline #1: The Original
Like most things in life, let’s start off with the very beginning. The original Halloween timeline consists of the original two films of the series, as you probably already guessed. There are two great things about this timeline, firstly, this timeline consisting of only two films makes it one of the easier timelines to track down for complete viewing, secondly, the OG timeline in my opinion is possibly the best out of the entire series. The first film, being of course Halloween (1978) is the one that started it all. It is here where we are introduced to The Shape himself, and we witness his first murder as a little boy in killing his older sister, along with his rampage after escaping the mental asylum which was his home for many years thereafter. At the end of this horror classic, Michael escapes off into the night after being shot multiple times. The other film in this timeline, Halloween 2 (1981) picks up immediately after the previous film. Michael decides to follow his prime target from the first film, Laurie, directly to the hospital where she was taken. A nurse, speaking with Dr. Loomis, Michael’s lifelong psychiatrist, explains that Laurie was adopted by her parents, and that she is Michael’s biological little sister. The Shape is hunting her down to finish the job he started as a little boy in killing his siblings. This sequel concludes with Laurie and Loomis having one final confrontation with Michael, which results in Loomis sacrificing his life to kill himself and Michael in a blaze of glory.
Michael survives the initial blast and walks outside while engulfed in flames to try and finish his mission, but collapses to the floor and dies for good as the flames eat away at his body.
That is the original timeline. It’s self-contained within a single night and sees Laurie survive at the end, with Michael dying thanks to the sacrifice of Dr. Loomis. Overall, I would say this is either the best, or second best timeline out of the series. I DEFINITELY recommend you go out of your way to view this timeline, it is a must for all horror fans.
Films in Timeline: [Halloween 1978] [Halloween 2 1981]
Timeline #2: Season of The Witch (a.k.a No Michael Myers)
The Season of The Witch timeline is by far the strangest due to being the shortest at containing only a single film, that being Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. Originally, John Carpenter did not want the whole Halloween IP to focus on the story of Michael Myers exclusively. Instead, he wanted the series to be an anthology of many non-connected horror films. The first standalone story told in Carpenter’s anthology was “Season of The Witch.” In Halloween 3, a toy company by the name of Silver Shamrock Novelties is planning on murdering children on Halloween night through the usage of three Halloween masks imbued with occult powers. Upon release, Season of The Witch did not do well at all with audiences, who demanded an appearance by The Shape himself. This film was easily both a critical and financial flop, and led to higher ups demanding the return of Michael Myers to the series, which in itself caused John Carpenter, the creator of the series, to walk away entirely.
Sadly, I cannot tell you to go out of your way to watch this film. If you’re reading this article, it’s likely because you love Michael Myers, and there is none of that here. Perhaps if it’s around Halloween, you could throw this movie on in the background while spending time with your girlfriend or boyfriend or just friends in general, but that’s about it.
Films in Timeline [Halloween 3: Season of The Witch]
Timeline #3: The Curse of Thorn
As I just mentioned, the Halloween fanbase, along with the higher ups funding the Halloween films, demanded The Shape to rise from his grave and return to reclaim his crown as king of Halloween. Everyone got just that with the following three movies of the series in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers. The first shakeup that occurs in these films is that Laurie herself is not present, having died in a car accident in between Halloweens 2 (1981) and 4. Before passing though, Laurie had a daughter whom Michael now sets his sights on to finish his mission of killing all blood relatives. Dr. Loomis somehow also survived the explosive blast of Halloween 2 and runs around for all three films trying (and failing) to stop Michael. In possibly one of the worst moves of the whole series, new writers that were brought in decided to explain how it is that Michael is virtually unstoppable, stating that a cult put a curse on him as a child. Michael cannot control his own actions, and the attempt is made at turning him into a tragic figure, being forced to carry out the will of this cult in murdering his own family. There is a cliff-hanger which alludes to Michael’s niece having the curse transferred to her at the end of 4, but that ultimately went nowhere in 5.
Many fans state this plot-twist nearly killed the series dead, and they wouldn’t be totally wrong in claiming so. In one story dump, The Shape had everything which made him unique and interesting taken away. We now knew who he was, why he was carrying out his actions, and how to stop him. The Curse of Thorn timeline is ultimately a prime example in the law of diminishing returns. The story of Michael Myers ended perfectly with the conclusion of Halloween 2 (1981), but corporate suits simply wanted more money.
If you’re someone like me who watches slasher films primarily for the kills, I would suggest checking these films out. All of them have some great killing content, with 5 having some especially awesome (if quite unrealistic) murders. If you come for the story however, The Curse of Thorn timeline is an easy pass. The story here was written as it went, and resulted in a poor product. The only interesting addition in the Curse of Thorn timeline was when the series alluded to Laurie’s daughter, Jamie, becoming the new killer at the conclusion of 4, which as stated previously was foolishly dumped going into the fifth film.
Films in Timeline: [Halloween 1978] [Halloween 2 1981] [Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers] [Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers] [Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers]
Timeline #4: Twenty Years Later
The fourth timeline in the series is known as “H2O” or as I will simply refer to it as “Twenty Years Later.” Realizing what a complete pile of garbage the Halloween story had devolved into with Halloweens 5 and 6, the decision was made to partially reboot the story. In this timeline, Halloweens 4, 5, and 6 never occurred. Instead, Laurie faked her own death and changed her legal name after the events of Halloween 2 (1981). Michael still survives his Anakin treatment at the end of the second film, and reappears twenty years later to once again attempt to complete his job in killing Laurie. This film, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, decides to make a return to form going back to the original Laurie vs Michael recipe. It’s actually pretty decent, standing alongside Halloween 4 as not being quite as good as the original two, but still being a pretty good slasher film. The film concludes with Laurie decapitating a once-again human Michael, which would have served as a solid conclusion for their story. Then, once again, corporate suits demanded Michael return……
This brings us to easily the worst film in the entire Halloween series, that being Halloween: Resurrection. For those of you out there who enjoy Friday the 13th, Halloween: Resurrection is essentially the “Jason X” of the Halloween series, but with all the fun and goofy portions of the latter film cut out. I don’t want to waste too much time of my life or yours touching on this pure cash grab so here’s the film. Michael puts some dude in his suit at the end of H20 so Laurie killed the wrong person and Michael survived (AGAIN!) Michael hunts down Laurie in a hospital (AGAIN!) where Laurie goes through a window and plummets to her death (not before she gives Michael a goodbye kiss.) Michael returns to his childhood home to find college kids and Busta Rhymes doing an internet livestream inside, where Busta Rhymes kills Michael for good by hitting him with a steoryptical Hollywood kung-fu kick while yelling “Trick or treat, motherfucker!”
This Twenty Years Later timeline is all over the place. Halloween H2O is a generally solid Halloween film. It’s decision to place the focus back on Laurie was excellent and yielded good results. I definitely recommend checking it out on its own. Halloween: Resurrection however is complete and total trash. The only way I could see someone purchasing this film is as a present for someone they despise, or purely to watch it with friends and laugh at the car pileup that the film’s story is.
Films in Timeline: [Halloween 1978] [Halloween 2 1981] [Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later] [Halloween: Resurrection]
Timeline #5: Rob Zombie
After the complete and utter failure that was Halloween: Resurrection, Michael was sent to rest in the grave for a few years, giving the series a much needed break. In 2007 however, famed heavy metal musician Rob Zombie decided he wanted to give the Halloween series a crack himself, after having made a few of his own original horror films. This first Halloween film he would direct, simply titled “Halloween” or as we’ll call it “Halloween 2007” was a complete and total reboot of the entire series, ignoring ALL previous Halloween films, including the original masterpiece. Zombie’s Halloween 2007 was a severe reimagining of Carpenter’s original film, with an extended beginning which depicted Michael’s upbringing in a “White trash” home environment and his first ever kill, this time being a school-mate who insulted Michael’s mother for being a stripper. Upon Michael strapping on his mask and beginning the killing spree, this film is similar story-beat wise to the 1978 classic, though with a much dirtier look, and greatly increased blood and gore.
This reimagining of the original Halloween by Zombie actually performed well and despite it always being planned as a one and done by Zombie himself, the corporate suits demanded a sequel. To what should have been no-one’s surprise, this sequel, Halloween 2 (2009) was not a good movie or Halloween film. The first fifteen minutes of the film, which is easily the best portion, is revealed to be a dream sequence. After this, the movie spends most of its runtime having Michael slaughtering random strangers while introducing paranormal events with Michael’s dead mother, and hinting at Michael and Laurie having a mental link. Dr. Loomis goes from being a kind-hearted man in the first Zombie film who tries to help Michael and later save his victims, to being a prick simply trying to sell books and make a fortune off his connection to the murders. Throughout the film, Laurie’s behavior grows more and more erratic, with the film concluding on Laurie killing Michael herself and taking his mask, becoming The Shape.
The Rob Zombie timeline finds itself in the same situation as the Twenty Years Later timeline. The first entry is rock solid, but the second film loses its legs. First and foremost, you should only watch these two Rob Zombie films if you are a hardcore fan of blood and gore, as they can get really bad, even for normal horror fans. The first Zombie film is enjoyable, and I think overall, Zombie took a gamble which paid off in reinventing Carpenter’s classic. It pays respect to the original film, but does so much new that it feels like it’s own movie, not just a generic brand knockoff. Zombie’s second film however falls off the wagon, being the second worst film in the whole series just beating out Halloween: Resurrection due it having much better kills than the latter. Zombie clearly had no clue what to do in the second film, and just cheaply copied Halloweens 4 and 5 with the mental link, just swapping out Jamie for Laurie. If you enjoy gore, give Zombie’s first film a watch, but ignore the second one unless you greatly enjoy brutalization.
Films in Timeline: [Halloween 2007] [Halloween 2 2009]
Timeline #6: Reinvention
Our final timeline, created just shy of one decade later with the release of the film “Halloween” in 2018 totally rebooted the series yet again. This time however, the original film was left as canon, though Halloween 2 (1981) was de-canonized as Michael is arrested after trying to sneak away at the conclusion of the original, and has been behind bars for the last forty years. Laurie has become a recluse and has spent every day of her life prepping and anticipating her final battle with Michael. While Michael is moved between prisons, his bus crashes and he is freed, leading to him obtaining his mask from investigators and starting the bloodshed again, decades later. In this timeline, Michael is no longer specifically targeting Laurie per say, he just kills every living thing in his path. We are introduced to Laurie’s daughter, Karen, and granddaughter, Allyson, the former who resents her mother for a harsh childhood of prepping, and the latter who understands her grandmother’s mental scars from having all her friends killed. While Michael is going on a rampage in the background, The Strode family are fighting due to Laurie’s constant struggles with PTSD, and Karen’s cold attitude of telling her mother to “just get over it.”
Later in the film, the Strode family are made aware that Michael is on the prowl and everyone travels to Laurie’s compound for safety. Allyson however is at a school dance with her boyfriend, and leaves after she finds him cheating on her. While on her way walking home, she comes face-to-face with her grandmother’s boogeyman. Fleeing to her grandmother’s compound, Laurie is forced to face The Shape head on once again forty years later and fights him all over her home. Once Laurie is seemingly out for the count, Michael attempts to kill Karen and Allyson, but is trapped in the basement and left to burn alive in a house fire.
The ending of Halloween (2018) was done so that if that film performed poorly and a sequel was not green-lit, the story would have a conclusive ending. Thankfully though, the film did perform well and two future sequels were announced, Halloween: Kills, and Halloween: Ends.
The next film in this timeline, Halloween Kills, follows the same pattern as Halloween 2 (1981) of picking up directly after the previous film. Long story (or film) short, Michael continues his killing spree, slaughtering firefighters, old people, a gay couple, kids, and any living thing in his path. Many legacy characters returned from the original 1978 film including Tommy Doyle, Lindsey Wallace, Officer Brackett, Lonnie Elam, and Marion Chambers. The vast majority of them finally meet their end due to Michael, wrapping up their stories from the original film.
Not much occurs in Halloween: Kills story wise at all, aside from Karen dying at the end of the film while staring out of Michael’s childhood window. Kills very much exists simply to set up Halloween: Ends, which it accomplishes quite well. The film is subtitled “Kills” and that’s exactly all it is.
Aside from the Original timeline, this is currently the best. It so far has avoided the mistakes of previous timelines in getting too cheesy and goofy for its own good, and has paid much respect to the original films legacy while looking to nicely end the story of Halloween once and for all. I highly recommend you to watch these two films, while keeping an eye out for Halloween: Ends, which is set to release in October of 2022 as of the time of this writing.
I hope you found this article helpful in understanding the differences between the many confusing timelines of the Halloween series, and may you enjoy the films you choose to watch!