Comic Book Curious

Halloween: The Terror of Diminishing Returns

October 13, 2021

Hey, it’s October, and you know what that means, it’s time for Halloween. And hey, there is a series of movies CALLED Halloween, so maybe they’re perfect for the season. You hop online and decide to pick up the series, and then this happens.

The posters for all the Halloween movies


Also, there are several movies just called Halloween and Halloween 2, yet they might also be the 8th movie in the series, or a remake of the first? What order do these movies go in and where should you even start and, more importantly, what should you skip?

Well, I’m here to help. -long sigh- OK, I’m going to be honest. I’m not a huge fan of these movies, but I’m going to give an honest appraisal when credit is due… and point out when blame should be placed. I watched all of these in preparation for Halloween Kills (out in theaters October 15th) so let’s get into this.

Halloween (1978) (Start Here… I guess?)

Having seen this movie a bit later in my life, it’s pretty tame. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a well-crafted film and the ending is great, it’s just a big scoop of plain vanilla ice cream. It’s not French vanilla or vanilla bean or anything, just … regular. Like that vanilla ice cream that comes in that 5-gallon tub at the grocery store; it’s that sort of generic flavor, but a movie.

If you’ve never seen a horror movie, it’s a great template of what a horror movie is as it’s basically a relentless killer with a knife who goes around stabbing people. Yes, there is more to it than that, and Michael Myers did make my list of top 5 movie slashers, but it’s more that Michael is a broken person, and we don’t learn anything about him. In the movies a lot of time is spent trying to analyze Michael in a psychological context, and what is interesting is that this never works. Trying to understand Michael is borderline futile; he’s not evil, he’s insane and broken and beyond reason. But it’s easier to label him as evil, and that’s what the characters in the movie do, and we just go along with it because Michael is stabbing people!

The ending, I won’t ruin it, but it’s great. The camera cutting to Dr. Loomis’ POV of shadows and dark corners is excellent and chilling. Dr. Loomis became a recurring character in the series as it dragged on, but here, he’s just terrible at his job and it’s great. I don’t want my psychologist running around with a gun trying to shoot me and telling everyone I’m evil. Yeah, great job doctor.

Halloween 2 (1981)

Halloween 1978 made 70 million dollars on a 350,000-dollar budget, so of course there was a Halloween 2, why would you not try to get another bite of that pie made of cash. Halloween 2 doesn’t feel too forced, I mean, the ending of the first movie was open for a sequel, it’s just that the sequel isn’t very strong. I do appreciate that the movie is the first movie just “part 2” in that it’s the same story that just keeps going; it takes place minutes after the first movie. Great, feels like a Netflix show that way. Dr. Loomis is the standout here as he is increasingly terrible at his job; running around like an idiot with a gun while the town sheriff looks on in dismay.

Much like Friday the 13th part 4, this movie was supposed to be the final movie in the series to involve Michael Myers, so the ending has an explosive climax.

With Michael Dr. Loomis dead, that was it. But this movie made 10 times its budget, so a third was put into the works. But with most of the characters having exploded, what was the next movie going to be? Michael is just some guy, granted he is a big guy and seems durable, but Dr. Loomis causes that explosion and is caught in it, and he’s just kind of a dumpy old psychologist. Now what?

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982) (My Favorite!)

Halloween 3 is not where you should start in this series. It’s a weird movie, but I like that it is so different and bizarre. Halloween 3 was made with the intention that the “Halloween” movies would be an anthology; that every one of them would come out around Halloween and be something a little different. “Duh, there’s no witch IN it lol” yeah it’s supposed to be about the season, not witches.

So what IS the plot?

The Silver Shamrock Company makes masks for Halloween. In each mask is a microchip and a little tiny piece of Stonehenge, and when kids watch a TV broadcast while wearing the masks, it turns their heads into bugs. Not a bug head, just a bunch of bugs, and those bugs will also kill people that are nearby, somehow. Somehow this is supposed to trigger some sort of pagan occult rituals (why they couldn’t just DO those rituals is weird because if you want to light candles and dance around, go for it) and … something? I mean, kids buy these masks and they’re your customer base; how did a company sign off on this and how did this company get Stonehenge? Oh, and the protagonist's wife is an android and he kills her with a tire iron. So there’s that.

This movie didn’t do well. It did ok, making 14.4 against a 2.5 million dollar budget; I guess people just expected more guy with knife plunges knife into people knife-ing-ly. This is the last movie that will stray from the core idea of Michael Myers = stab stab stab.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Guess who’s back! Hey kids, it’s Dr. Loomis! He’s got some burns on his face, like you do after blowing yourself up in a hospital. Michael Myers is back too, and he’s got a knife.

I like that this movie felt like they needed a big long break after Halloween 3, like … ok let’s do the thing that makes us money, but they also didn’t want to go back to the series roots so it was written to be more of a ghost story. Not that Michael feels like a ghost. Dr. Loomis is also not a ghost, it’s like they sort of had an idea and sort of changed their minds, but didn’t go far enough in any direction with this.

Jamie Lee Curtis also didn’t want to come back to the series after starring in movies like A Fish Called Wanda and Trading Places, so her character dies offscreen. Of the three principal characters, 2 should have exploded to death and the other who should be fine dies due to actress disinterest. The movie isn’t great because it feels like most of the cast doesn’t want to be there.

Michael sits up next to a bed

Credit: Galaxy Releasing

I like that the niece of Michael Myers (In Halloween 2 it is revealed that Michael Myers is the brother of Jamie Lee Curtis’ character Laurie Strode) is set up as a future antagonist keeping the murder in the family, as mental illness can be like that and it’s a theme in the series. Dr. Loomis is just as incompetent at his job as ever, so that’s fun, but this one is pretty meh. I don’t remember it and I just watched it like 2 days ago; I remember the kid and a lot of doofy shots of Michael trying to be forced back into the storyline after being in a coma for 10 years.

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Loomis confronts Michael in Halloween 5

Credit: Galaxy Releasing

Halloween Part 4 only made back about 17 million on a 5 million-dollar budget, so naturally part 5 was rushed into production, coming out the following year. The kid, Jamie, is back and so is everyone else. A successful box office isn’t back, only making 11.6 million against a 5-million-dollar budget.

Halloween 5 continues and is in the middle of something called the “Thorn Trilogy” about the Thorn cult who believe in “the occult” and that the demon “Thorn” will or is possessing someone and can force them to kill their own family members, as Michael is compelled to do. The Thorn Cult wants this to happen to prevent things like plagues (there isn’t a plague) or droughts (there isn’t really one of those) but this really should have been tied into all the cult stuff from part 3, and it isn’t. You go to all this effort and there isn’t anything connecting those ideas together?

The kid isn’t the killer, disappointing the actress and disappointing ME too! But no, it’s just Michael going around stabbing people, sometimes with a scythe, sometimes with a rake. He doesn’t die in this one. Dr Loomis beats Michael with a plank of wood until the below average old quack has a stroke, but it doesn’t save the film.

This is also the point in the series where Michael, who is mute, starts tilting his head to the side when something confuses or interests him. It’s not scary and gives him personality, something Michael Myers is much better NOT having. Stop trying to humanize him, you’re ruining the story and the premise!

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Ok, this one is the wrap up story at least. Michael is immortal now because he has the Mark of Thorn so we can make these movies forever now! The cult does cult stuff, including trying to clone Michael or try to make another member of the Strode / Myers bloodline to make them immortal murderers. Hey cult people, you know that these people murder people in your town and not all of them are related to the Strode / Myers family bloodline. You live there, why would you want this.

Anyway, Jamie (who is now much older thankfully) is impregnated and has been held hostage by the Thorn cult to birth another Michael. I’m not totally clear on how this will happen, but it’s a cult so whatever. This movie continues the tradition of referencing things that happened in Halloween 1 and 2 for no reason so Paul Rudd plays Tommy Doyle, a kid that saw Michael Myers at age 8 and was the kid Laurie Strode was babysitting in the original. Neat, I guess.

Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle

Credit: Miramax

Paul Rudd and everyone else feel like they are phoning it in here, and it’s pretty bad. This movie is plagued with post-production problems, Donald Pleasance, who plays Dr. Loomis, died while filming the movie and they needed to write around that and chop this movie into little pieces in editing. This movie isn’t good and let’s just move on.

Halloween H20 (1998)

Hey, it's 20 years after the original! Let’s release a movie called Halloween in the summer and fill it with all the stars of the 90’s and give it a fresh title! Also Jamie Lee Curtis was free so let’s bring her back, even though her character died before the events of part 4. Just look at how 90’s this is.

This one is … ok. It’s not great and it’s not bad, though to be honest I am grading on a curve as most of the Halloween movies I would not watch (or sit through) again.

Why is Laurie Strode still alive? Well she faked her own death to avoid Michael Myers and just moved from Indiana to California. Hey, this is 1998, you could just do that, there was no social media. But Dr. Loomis has a file on Laurie and Michael stole it and murdered Jason Gordon Levitt and now Laurie has to hunt down Michael Myers, what a twist! This is what MOST of these movies will be after this point, but here it was fresh.

I like this soft retcon. It doesn’t totally discount the previous movies after Halloween 2 (because they went off the damn rails) but it doesn’t fan those flames either. This is why it made 75 million on a 17 million-dollar budget. It is also a movie that has a definitive ending where Laurie cuts Michael’s head off with an axe.

Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

No wait, Laurie actually killed some other guy IN a very specific Michael Myers mask after Michael broke his larynx so he couldn’t talk, dressed him in his own clothing, and then somehow also made him try to kill Laurie for … reasons! Sure, now make a sequel, idiots!

This movie is bonkers. It was made post “Survivor” and at the height of reality TV show oversaturation. A TV company (not the one from Halloween 3 … though damn it now that I’m writing it, I want that) wants to use the old Myers house as a place to film a reality TV show in with Busta Rhymes (this was made in 2002) as a producer AND as the guy who will play Michael Myers. It sounds much more fun than it is.

Eventually Michael is defeated by Busta Rhymes existing, but mostly the combination of fire and some loose wires that wrap him up. See this is why you tape down your cables on set people, otherwise this could happen to you! Oh, and spoiler alert, he survives this because he sits up in the morgue. Is it the “Thorn Curse” or was it some other person who looks like Michael where Michael removed all of his clothing and then made someone else put on his clothing and mask and do this? We’ll never know as that’s the last Halloween in this series.

Halloween (2007)

Rob Zombie directed this fresh new take on Halloween. I don’t mind his work, but it’s always so gross and off putting in terms of characters. That seems out of place in this series about someone with some sort of psychological issues that compel him to violence. I don’t think the premise of the movie is even needed; then again, that’s MOST of these movies. Oh no, Michael is a nut with a knife and he’s in a clown suit, the very same sort of clown suit that Jamie wore in Part 4 but now we know that because we saw part 4. Also Michael wore that in the first one but here he’s edgy and has long hair. Dun Dun DUNNNN.

But it’s a fresh take at least and one of those Rob Zombie horror films of the era, like House of 1000 Corpses. If you’re into Rob Zombie’s work, check this out. If not, you can kinda skip it as it is, aside from the stuff about Michael’s backstory at the beginning, just another remake.

Halloween 2 (2009)

Rob Zombie came back for the sequel, and say what you will, at least there is more violence and gore. Yeah watching these in a marathon there is shockingly little gore. It doesn’t make the violence realistic, just tame. It lacks the fun gore of the brutality of Jason in Friday the 13th nor the creativity of the Nightmare on Elm Street series with a charismatic protagonist, it’s just more gore. Like I gave you a plate with some cake on it, this is too much cake and too little plate, but there sure is a lot of cake. Ugh, now you’re just making a mess.

Like Halloween and Halloween, Halloween 2 is a remake of Halloween 2 just with more gore in it. It feels both slapped together and also, like Rob Zombie got to make what he wanted, it’s just that what he made isn’t that good.

Dimension Films released it in August, and then again in October, making it a little weird as they should have just done that to begin with. Let me put it this way, the movie wasn’t great and nobody, not even Rob Zombie, wanted to do another one. They didn’t make a sequel. WITH THIS HUGE LIST OF SEQUELS, THEY DIDN’T MAKE A SEQUEL. The sequel would have been in 3D to catch that craze of its time too.

Oh if they remade Halloween 3 in 3D with better technology, yes! Do that!

Halloween (2018) (Start Here maybe?)

This Halloween is a sequel to Halloween (1978) but NOT Halloween (2007) and is not a remake of any Halloween nor is it a remake of Halloween 2 nor Halloween H20. This movie is just a movie that takes place after Halloween 1978 and ignores the rest of the franchise.

Maybe we can call it Halloween too? Or Halloween Two? I might also call it a decent movie and maybe a good place to start. What backstory do you really need here? A guy tried to kill a lady and failed, and it ruined her life forever. Got it.

Anyway, it’s been 40 years and Michael has been in an asylum, but he breaks out and now Laurie Strode and family have to kill him. But this makes Michael like 60 years old? How is he in such good shape after 40 years? I mean I get that Laurie has been preparing like one of those survivalist “lives in the woods and shoots on sight” types, but Michael has just been in a room. Also, it’s been 40 years, like … kinda get over it. And you want to bring this trauma on your kids too Laurie, really?

But that trauma feels real and is dealt with in a realistic way, I just don’t think I was in the right mindset to watch this again. It’s fun, if a little unbelievable given the ages of the characters (who are canonically in their late 50’s) but then again looking back, this whole series is a mix of grounded reality and mystical nonsense.

And one time, Paul Rudd.

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