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9/2/2022 • 5 min read
You'd think that a question like "what order do I watch the HALLOWEEN movies in?" would be easy to answer. Surprisingly, the answer is not only complicated, it might be the most complicated answer of its kind in horror.
The obvious starting point is John Carpenter's 1978 HALLOWEEN, after which and you watch through all the movies in chronological release order. But that jumbles up several storylines that are developed throughout the series. In fact, there are four major HALLOWEEN movie timelines, with a nice little appendix in HALLOWEEN III, which you can watch pretty much wherever you want.
Here are all the different ways to watch the Halloween movie series in order.
It may have begun in 1978, but the series expansion into a franchise is firmly grounded in the 1980s and 1990s, when producers would do just about anything to put young audiences in seats.
Accordingly, the HALLOWEEN movie series uses just about every trick in the book, from sequel to reboot(s) to rebootquel to an unrelated anthology entry. There are multiple timeline revisions that include and/or discard entire swaths of story, depending upon whatever idea at the writers had at the time.
Above all else is one question: Will Jamie Lee Curtis return to play Laurie Strode? If the answer was yes, any new movie was instantly elevated above the other sequels. Those are also often the tension points where new timelines begin.
As the most extensive Laurie Strode timeline featuring Jamie Lee Curtis, this might be considered the main "official" timeline. It will finish with HALLOWEEN ENDS.
HALLOWEEN (1978)HALLOWEEN (2018)HALLOWEEN KILLS (2021)HALLOWEEN ENDS (2022)
Timeline is the simplest in the HALLOWEEN series. As a child, Michael Myers kills his sister. Fifteen years later, he breaks out an asylu, and returns home. Michael fixates on young Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her high school friends. He kills most of them as he is pursued by his doctor, Sam Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence.
While Loomis is a major character in multiple HALLOWEEN timelines, he only barely factors into this one. That’s because, after the events of the original Halloween night in 1978, the story jumps forward 40 years to 2018. Laurie is a grandmother and something of a hermit. She's constantly fearful of, and hopefully ready for, Michael’s inevitable return. When Myers makes his way back home, Laurie and her family battle him multiple times as his actions shake the town of Haddonfield to its core.
This is the "original" Laurie Strode timeline, as it features not only John Carpenter's original movie, but also HALLOWEEN II and the next two movies featuring Jamie Lee Curtis. Here, HALLOWEEN II is the diverging point — and it's the movie that sets up Laurie Strode as the sister of Michael Myers, which is a plot point thrown out by the other Laurie Strode timeline.
HALLOWEEN (1978)HALLOWEEN II (1981)HALLOWEEN H20 (1998)HALLOWEEN RESURRECTION (2002)
As in the other Laurie Strode timeline, there's a long break between events in Laurie's life. Here, Michael Myers disappears for 20 years. When he crops up again, he stalks Laurie and her teen son. And while Laurie seems to kill Michael at one point, he soon returns for a movie that can only barely be called a chapter in Laurie's story.
In many ways, the Thorn Timeline is the most interesting storyline in the Halloween movie series. Not necessarily the best, mind you, but it has the most twists and a whole variety of good characters — not to mention an early role for Paul Rudd!
HALLOWEEN (1978)HALLOWEEN II (1981)HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988)HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989)HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995)
After establishing the Laurie/Michael conflict in the original two movies, the story bounces forward a generation. It picks up with Laurie's young daughter, Jamie Lloyd. Michael wakes from a 10-year coma induced by the events of HALLOWEEN II, and quickly fixates upon Jamie. As Loomies tries to capture Michael, the killer follows Jamie through HALLOWEEN 4 and 5.
Finally, the storyline comes to a bizarre conclusion with HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS. This movie picks up six years after the end of the previous film and introduces a grown up Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), previously seen in the original John Carpenter movie. It also introduces a strange Druidic prophecy, The Curse of Thorn, which is supposedly the driving force behind all of Michael’s actions.
The Rob Zombie Halloween timeline is pretty simple, as it is only two movies. Zombie released his HALLOWEEN remake in 2007 and the sequel in 2009. These two movies are set aside from all other continuity in the series. To watch the Rob Zombie Halloween movies in order you'll queue up:
HALLOWEEN (2007)HALLOWEEN II (2009)
These depict alternate versions of all the classic HALLOWEEN characters, with Tyler Mane as the Michael Myers, Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Sam Loomis, and Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode. This is an even more grim and violent vision of the story — and the sequel is downright weird!
After the first two movies, John Carpenter and Debra Hill weren't interested in making more Michael Myers movies. The idea was that "Halloween" might become a sort of anthology structure, with a variety of horror stories. HALLOWEEN III was the first — and the only one in this vein.
HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH
You can watch this one at any point in the series. Use it as a break in between timelines as it makes a great palate cleanser, or just enjoy it on its own. As soon as you approach HALLOWEEN III as a unique story of its own, you'll probably find, as we do, that it's a lot of fun.
All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.
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