If you’re wondering why this month’s franchise finale Halloween Ends is such a seismic event for horror, just take a moment to consider the four-decade impact that this slasher saga – and its terrifying villain – has made on cinema’s dark side.
Created by John Carpenter and debuting in 1978’s original Halloween, Michael Myers – not to be confused with cheerful Austin Powers/Shrek star Mike – is simply one of horror’s most blood-chilling creations. Mute and merciless, clad in coveralls and bone-white latex mask – and stealthily climbing your stairs – here was a cinema monster who played to our primal fears of home invasion and being filleted with a kitchen knife.
Like Myers, the Halloween film series has always seemed unstoppable. With 13 movies spanning 44 years, a few duds and dropped balls are inevitable. But since director David Gordon Green took charge in 2018, Myers has never been nastier, while we’ve cheered louder than ever for the heroic Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis in all the best instalments).
Before the Halloween Ends release date on October 14th, here's a complete rundown of the Halloween movies in order. Do you dare to watch them all?
Committed to a mental asylum aged six for stabbing his sister, the adult Michael Myers escapes to his hometown of Haddonfield, kits himself out with overalls, butcher's knife and milk-white fright mask, before getting down to the serious business of slaying the local teens. Only plucky babysitter Laurie Strode – played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her breakthrough role – stands in the killer’s way.
It has to be the eerie opening scene, as we watch through Myers’ mask eye-slits as he prowls his own family home and brings down the blade on his sister.
Shrugging off his bullet wounds and balcony fall from the end of Halloween, Myers tracks survivor Laurie to the local hospital with murder in mind and his psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) in hot pursuit. With throats slit by scalpels and bodies engulfed in flames, this sequel was notably gorier than its slow-burn predecessor, described by one critic as “painfully gruesome”.
When Myers bursts from the shadows to stab a nightshift nurse, raising her almost to the ceiling on the tip of his blade.
Bafflingly, the Halloween franchise gave Michael Myers a movie off, with Season Of The Witch based instead around a shadowy organisation selling microchipped pumpkin masks that mutate and kill their wearers. Nice idea, and a generally underrated film, but everybody missed the big man and Halloween III duly tanked at the box office.
The unsettling final scene, as a nation of eager children don their masks and watch the TV channel that activates the deadly chips. “Turn it off!” screams Dr Dan Challis down the phone to the TV network. But it’s already too late.
With director Dwight H. Little resurrecting the Myers storyline, Halloween 4 saw the killer awaken from a ten-year coma (having been torched in the second movie), dust himself down and head back to Haddonfield to kill his niece Jamie Lloyd. By this point, Curtis had split to be a huge star, but this sequel isn’t quite the sub-par schlock you’d imagine, with IGN dubbing it “the second-best film in the entire series”.
The upsetting finale, as Jamie is revealed to be a chip off the old block, stood blank-eyed on the stairs with a pair of bloody scissors.
Perhaps inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Halloween 5 explored the telepathic link between Myers and Jamie (now institutionalised after stabbing her foster mother in the previous movie). But the reviews were as merciless as the killer’s blade, with The New York Times criticising “another swing through the same all-too-familiar funhouse”.
For sheer sadism – not to mention inventive use of farming equipment – it has to be the barn scene, with Myers pitchforking one teen and scything another.
Set six years after the events of Halloween 5, director Joe Chapelle put some flesh on the bones of Myers’ backstory, revealing that the killer’s bloodlust and apparent immortality is the result of an ancient druid curse known as ‘thorn’. Oh-kay. The movie grossed a solid $15 million, but the saga was plainly running out of gas, with The Seattle Times shooting down its “old slasher tactics”. Time for a rethink.
The climactic showdown where soon-to-be-Friends-star Paul Rudd beats Myers with a lead pipe. Not the sort of thing you’d see at Central Perk.
Presumed dead and buried, the Halloween franchise rose again with H20: a classy reboot that even saw Jamie Lee Curtis resume her role as Laurie Strode. Perhaps wisely, director Steve Miner scrubbed the narrative of the past three films and picked up the thread after Halloween II, at which point our heroine is living incognito as headmistress of an elite boarding school. It’s the perfect backdrop for bloodletting of bright young things, among them Josh Hartnett in his movie debut.
Already badly mangled, Sarah (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) drags herself into a dumb waiter to escape the killer. But as the lift doors open on the top floor, there he is again, ready to impale her.
Surfing the zeitgeist, Halloween: Resurrection saw six doomed college kids compete in an Internet reality show called Dangertainment. The challenge: spend a night in Michael Myers’ condemned childhood home in Haddonfield while the head-cams roll. The line between reality and deception blurs as the show producers trick the teens with fake corpses and killers – and when the actual Myers crashes the party, his houseguests are lambs to the slaughter.
When Myers sends Jen’s decapitated head rolling down the stairs – and the snarky teens suddenly realise they’re being hunted for real.
Halloween creator John Carpenter urged incoming director Rob Zombie to “make the saga his own”, and the rock-star-turned-filmmaker picked up the gauntlet in style. Fundamentally, 2007’s Halloween is a remake of Carpenter’s ’78 original – same plot, same characters, new cast – but Zombie insisted that he “wouldn't go near this project if I didn't feel I had a fresh approach”, and the backstory he added made Myers seem like a more rounded maniac.
The first bloodbath, as a young Michael – for now wearing a creepy clown mask and toting a baseball bat – brutally culls his family one-by-one. Clearly, Zombie wasn’t messing about.
After the success of his first reboot, Zombie was once again handed the reins to twist up the original 1981 sequel. The director said he wanted his own Halloween II to be more realistic and violent – and duly delivered gore by the bucketful – but there’s also a deep dive into the key characters’ psychology that makes this one of the franchise’s brainiest entries. As Zombie told the Fangoria site: “Laurie is slipping into insanity throughout the whole movie.”
The insanely creepy scene when Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) walks the deserted hospital corridors in search of medication. At last, she catches up with Octavia Spencer’s night nurse – who turns to reveal she’s just been stabbed.
It had been a long decade without Myers, but 2018’s Halloween was the regeneration this iconic saga deserved. Director David Gordon Green – not for the first time – wiped the slate clean, junked the extraneous lore that had built up over the past four decades, and gave us his version of events. Namely, that Myers had been locked away for 40 years, while Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode was clinging on as a (barely) functional alcoholic. But these two characters had unfinished business and their rematch was the stuff of cold sweats.
The climactic battle as Laurie traps the killer in a burning basement. Victory! Or is it…?
If the Halloween saga has proved one thing, it’s that taking down Michael Myers is not a one-man job. With Halloween Kills written while the real-life #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements raged, David Gordon Green tapped into the spirit of the age, giving us a sequel in which Haddonfield’s long-suffering residents rise up against the masked killer (the director even enlisted a handful of actors from the 1978 original to reprise their roles). It’s a gripping instalment in its own right, but perhaps the greater purpose of Halloween Kills was to build the tension to a knife edge for this year’s climactic Halloween Ends.
When a flame-grilled Myers is accidentally freed from his smouldering tomb by firefighters – and proceeds to butcher them with their own axes and buzzsaws.
So here we are. The final curtain. The last gasp of a four-decade screamathon that pretty much invented the video nasty. But if you’re expecting the great slasher saga to go quietly to its grave, you got another thing coming on the Halloween Ends release date of October 14th.
Four years after the bloodbath of Halloween Kills, with Michael Myers dormant, Laurie Strode is living with her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) and writing what will presumably be a pretty hairy memoir. For the first time, life is sweet, until a local babysitter brutally murders the boy in his care and the copycat crime awakens unsettling echoes of Myers. Sure enough, like a shark sensing blood in the water, the man himself is drawn back for the final showdown with Strode and as the synopsis tells us: ‘Only one will survive’.
We don’t want to spoil the jump scares, but the Halloween Ends trailer gives plenty of highlights from one of the year’s best new horror movies. The gnarliest scene of all? When Myers forces Laurie’s fingers into a waste disposal unit – only for the heroine to break free and skewer his hand like a shish kebab.
Halloween Ends release date: October 14th