Halloween franchise spoilers below
The Halloween franchise, which has been going strong since 1978, has the perfect premise for a spooky season watch: there’s a deranged killer with a dark past on the loose, who also happens to wear a hideous mask. What could be more horrifying?
But with 13 films in the series, jumps in the storyline, subplots and some serious creative license, knowing what order to watch the movies (if you’re interested in there being some kind of continuity in the storyline) can be tricky.
To help, here is our breakdown of how to watch the Halloween franchise in order ahead of Halloween.
The Halloween franchise can arguably be broken down into five main watch groups that have been created unintentionally (or at least, it seems that way) by the franchise zig-zagging between storylines and character arcs, and as directors have taken the films in their own directions.
Firstly, there’s the original film Halloween, which is grouped with its sequel Halloween II. Both movies follow slasher Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode. This is just the start of what would become their 40-year battle.
The next group is Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – films which tell the story of slasher Myers as he chases his own niece Jamie Lloyd.
The third group is 1998’s Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, and 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection. Halloween H20 and its sequel pick back up with Laurie Strode again after the events of 1981’s Halloween II, completely ignoring the previous group’s Jamie Lloyd storyline.
Then there is a ‘miscellaneous’ group – 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch stands completely alone, and 2007 and 2009’s Halloween and Halloween II, which were directed by Rob Zombie, also stand apart from the rest of the franchise.
Finally, there is the recent reboot trilogy: Halloween, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends. These are direct sequels to the original 1978 and 1981 films.
First watching path
The first way that you can watch the films starts with the 1978 original.
1. Halloween (1978)
The first Halloween was also Jamie Lee Curtis’s first-ever major film role. In the film, we are introduced to Michael Myers, who kills his 17-year-old sister when he is just six years old. The killer goes to prison, but in 1978 he manages to escape during a transfer and returns to his hometown to murder some more people. From the off, Myers is pretty obsessed with Strode, and so starts the first of many rampages.
2. Halloween II (1981)
A direct sequel to the original, in Halloween II, Michael Myers continues to track down survivor Strode as she is recuperating in a hospital (the film in fact picks up on the very same night). He cuts phone lines and breaks cars to limit her chances of an escape. But while Laurie seems to have nine lives, people who stand in the killer’s way are not so lucky and the bodies pile up. It’s in this film that we find out that Strode is the younger sister of Myers.
3. Halloween (2018)
Next, watch the first of the David Gordon Green reboots of the film series. Myers has been locked up for 40 years, but, of course, now that the audience has returned to the franchise, he manages to escape. He returns to his hometown Haddonfield, where viewers find Laurie drinking heavily after a lifetime spent processing the killer’s actions. The film follows Myers as he tracks down his favourite victim again. She is taken into protection but even that isn’t enough to foil the slasher’s evil plans.
4. Halloween Kills (2021)
Director Green returns behind the camera, continuing the showdown between Laurie and her long-time tormentor Myers. Laurie is back in the hospital after another awful injury. She’s reunited with Tommy Doyle (who is played by The Breakfast Club’s Anthony Michael Hall), who she babysat years ago, and he tries to rally a gang to take on Myers.
5. Halloween Ends (2022)
Halloween Ends is the final in the reboot trilogy and sees Jamie Lee Curtis finally exit the franchise after 44 years. Myers and Laurie face-off for one final time.
Second watching path
If you opt for this second-watching path, still make sure you’ve watched the original and sequel Halloween films first.
6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
This film sees Laurie (still played by Curtis) return to the screen. She explains that she faked her death to avoid Myers, but soon even this is not enough, as he is able to track her down even though she is living a new life as a headmistress under a new name. When students of the boarding school go on an impeccably well-timed school trip to Yosemite, leaving just a few people behind, Myers shows up.
7. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
It’s three years later and Myers returns to try and kill Laurie again. Laurie is back in a psychiatric facility, as she’s dealing with the fact that she accidentally killed someone. She’s been attacked by Myers so many times at this point, but nevertheless, it’s still a surprise when she gets seriously duffed up by the killer.
At the same time, Myers’s childhood home has become the set of a reality TV show. But while setting up the show a student gets killed by Myers. When the others go looking for answers, Myers starts bumping them off.
Jamie Lloyd path
This series of films runs adjacent to the other films which star Curtis and have Myers’s attention focused on Laurie. Here the killer is interested in Jamie Lloyd, Laurie Strode’s daughter. Again, start with Halloween (1978) and Halloween II.
8. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
In the fourth film in the franchise, Myers returns to his hometown, Haddonfield. He’s been in a coma for 10 years but now he’s back and he’s after his niece Jamie Lloyd who is living with her foster family. Samuel Loomis, who is Myers’s former psychiatrist, chases Myers. It’s the start of Loomis having a more central role in the franchise.
Strode is actually confirmed dead in the film and there are references to her instead. That means when she pops up later, audiences are asked to indulge in a bit of suspension of disbelief.
9. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Once again Myers is back in Haddonfield and once again he’s trying to kill his niece. She is in a mental institution, and psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis makes a link between the psyche of Lloyd and Myers. There’s the threat of an ancient Druid curse, indications of experiments to clone Michael’s evil, and, as usual, there are lots of killings.
10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
This time Myers is stalking Haddonfield again (why anyone still lives there, we do not know). But instead of just focusing his attention on Jamie Lloyd (and her baby), the whole of the Strode family (and those associated with them) are in danger. Dr Loomis is back and Paul Rudd, in one of his first film roles ever, stars as Tommy Doyle.
These films stand alone and are completely unrelated to the other events in the franchise.
11. Halloween III: Season of the Witch, 1982
Written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace but with Halloween director John Carpenter onboard as a producer, this stand-alone film is about a doctor and the daughter of a murder victim who discover a madman’s plot to go on a murder rampage. It gets quite bonkers - the murderer is a mask maker, he’s going to use an ancient Celtic ritual (including a stone from Stonehenge), and there are microchips on masks, which kill people when they watch a TV commercial.
12. Halloween, 2007
A remake of the 1978 original, 2007’s Halloween from director Rob Zombie has Myers chasing Strode on Halloween. The film has Scout Taylor-Compton, whose acting credits include 13 Going on 30 and The Runaways, playing Curtis’s role. The film reportedly cost just $15 million and pulled in $80.3 million worldwide, showing once again the power of the franchise, despite the fact that Zombie’s films failed to dazzle the critics.
13. Halloween II, 2009
In the second film from Zombie, Taylor-Compton is back playing Strode. In the film, Zombie further develops the relationship between Strode and Myers, exploring their psychological problems. When Strode finds out that she is Michael’s sister it nearly pushes her over the edge. Myers is - you guessed it - back in Haddonfield and there are visions of their dead mother’s ghost and a younger version of the killer to contend with too.