When John Carpenter directed Halloween in 1978 on a shoestring budget of $300,000 he didn’t expect it to become one of the most successful independent films of all time and spawn a franchise spanning five decades. However, that’s exactly what happened - Halloween Kills will mark the 13th instalment in the Halloween franchise when it is released this month.
But what about all the films released in between? There have been several reboots and sequels, and even one instalment which doesn’t feature the notorious masked villain Michael Myers at all. This is everything you need to know about the Halloween film franchise, and the best order to watch them in if you want to catch up ahead of Halloween Kills.
What are the Halloween films about?
The Halloween franchise focuses on the villain Michael Myers, a deranged man who murdered his elder sister one Halloween night in the town of Haddonfield when he was a young boy.
Myers is locked up in a mental institution but escapes and returns to his hometown to kill his other sister and several other unsuspecting teenagers. Over the course of the franchise Myers’ character takes on a supernatural quality, becoming The Shape, and returning from the dead on several occasions.
Which films are in the Halloween series?
This is the film that kicked the franchise off and is still considered by many to be the best film in the franchise, and by others to be the only instalment worth watching. It is in this film that Myers escapes from a mental facility and goes after his sister Laurie, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, for the first time.
Halloween II (1981)
Because of the popularity of the Myers character, he was brought back for the sequel which sees Myers once again on the hunt for Laurie while his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis chases him. Both Loomis and Myers were killed off in Halloween II because producer John Carpenter wanted to tell other stories. That didn’t really work out.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The only film in the franchise not to feature Myers, Season of the Witch was panned by audiences who were hoping to see the return of The Shape. Instead, the film follows a plot by a mask maker who aims to use an ancient Celtic ritual to commit mass murder.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
After being killed in the second film, Myers is somehow brought back to life and returns to Haddonfield to continue his killing spree. Dr. Loomis, who is also back from the dead with minimal explanation, must stop Myers from killing his seven-year-old niece.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
This film is set one year after Halloween 4 and follows Myers as he once again sets out to kill his niece, who is now mute and staying at a children’s hospital. Myers forms a plan to lure his niece out of the hospital and to his house where he can kill her once and for all.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
If it didn’t get old the second time round, it certainly has now - Myers is hoping it’s third time lucky as he takes another stab at his niece. Now she has a newborn child and Myers wants to use the baby as part of a sinister ritual.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Set two decades after the first film, Laurie is not living under a new identity, but it’s not enough to hide her from Myers, who has returned once more. Laurie now has a son of her own and his life will hang in the balance as she fights Myers for the final time, or so it was billed when the film was released.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Oops, turns out Laurie will have to do battle with her brother at least one more time in one of the weakest instalments in the franchise. While this is happening, a TV crew is shooting a reality programme at Myers’ old home, and The Shape will stop by the set to wreak havoc there.
Halloween (2007) (First reboot)
The first reboot to the series follows the same plot as the first instalment, only with new actors and a slightly higher production value. This is the first Halloween film to be directed by Rob Zombie and is the longest film in the series at 109 minutes.
Halloween II (2009) (Sequel to Halloween 2007)
Also directed by Zombie, Halloween II follows on from Halloween (2007) and is essentially a remake of Halloween II (1981). Zombie has disowned this film, stating that studio interference ruined his vision - the film was also panned by critics and audiences alike.
Halloween (2018) (Second reboot/sequel to Halloween 1978)
Okay, forget everything you read after the Halloween (1978) synopsis, because the 2018 film retcons the whole franchise - the nine films that followed the original are done away completely. The film sees Myers escape from a transport taking him to a maximum security prison before he goes on another killing spree, hunting down his sister Laurie.
Halloween Kills (2021) (Sequel to Halloween 2018)
Although Myers was left for dead in the previous film, he’s once again on his feet in this sequel. Those who have survived Myers’ attacks form a vigilante mob when they realise that he is still alive, intending to finally and permanently kill The Shape.
Halloween Ends (2022) (Sequel to Halloween Kills)
The plot synopsis of the upcoming film, which is the last instalment of this reboot trilogy (but probably not the last Halloween film) has not been released. However, it’s not hard to guess what the plot will be - Myers will try to kill Laurie, she will try and kill Myers, and it’s unlikely that either will succeed. They’ve both been playing this game for 44 years after all.
What order should you watch the Halloween films in?
If you want to watch all of the films in the Halloween franchise before Halloween Ends comes out, good luck to you, it will take just shy of 19 hours and it really won’t be worth it. But if this is the route you want to go down it’s best to watch them in the order they were released.
One film you can definitely skip is Season of the Witch, as that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the franchise, and it’s rubbish by all accounts. Equally, the two Rob Zombie remakes don’t add much as they’re just weaker remakes of the first two films.
Halloween Ends comes chronologically after Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018), and Halloween Kills - so these are the main films you should watch to catch you up.
Where can you watch the Halloween films online?
These films seem to do the rounds on streaming platforms, often switching between sites. The best place to go is currently Apple TV+ which has all the films in the franchise apart from Season of the Witch - no great loss.
Currently, Netflix is home to Halloween: H20, and Halloween II (2009). Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers is on Paramount Plus.
Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981) are available to watch on Amazon Prime Video with a Lionsgate+ trial. Halloween (2018) is available to rent on Prime Video from £2.49, and you can buy Halloween Kills from £8.99.
When is the release date of Halloween Ends?
Halloween Ends will be released in cinemas on Friday 14 October - it is the longest film in the franchise so far at 1hr 51 mins. It will be available to stream in the US on Peacock on the same date - UK viewers can access Peacock content through Sky and Now, but it is not yet clear if this will include access to Halloween Ends.