It’s no secret that the long-running ‘Halloween’ franchise is split up with multiple different timelines. This is often regarded as a “choose your own adventure” series of horror films, with many fans divided on which timeline they prefer, which makes for an interesting conversation with fellow Halloween enthusiast in regards to which direction they prefer and why.
As someone who enjoys and has embraced this fact, I decided that I’d break down a ranking list of what I would consider to be the six existing sagas within the 13 films that span the 44 years since the release of John Carpenter’s classic in 1978. Here I have taken the liberty of laying out what I consider to be the six different storylines, and I have assigned each a title of my own choosing.
Here is my ranking of each of the timelines, from least favorite to favorite:
6) The Psychopath Saga
Films: Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ (2007) and ‘Halloween 2’ (2009)
Analysis: The Psychopath Saga approaches the Halloween story from a more defined perspective. Instead of telling the story about the mysterious Shape, Writer/Director Rob Zombie offers a clear explanation of the evil that lurks within Michael Myers. There is no mystery behind this version’s actions: Michael Myers has been a pure psychopath since childhood, molded by the sudden loss of his biological father, the abuse from his step-father, bullying, and his fascination with death, which begins with small animals before moving on to human beings. Rob Zombie’s Halloween films does what any good remake should do and takes the core story and ideas while presenting a new angle on the story.
As much as I do like Rob Zombie and his films, especially outside of the Halloween franchise, this timeline ranks at the very bottom because they’re films that I don’t seek to rewatch beyond a franchise marathon. They’re not awful: Tyler Mane’s Michael Myers is brutal and terrifying, which is refreshing after the safe-feeling horror of ‘Halloween: H20’ and ‘Halloween: Resurrection’. I also like Rob Zombie’s attempts to showcase the psychological effects that Michael’s reign of terror leaves on the survivors. That said, that’s also part of the problem. Not only are most of the characters unlikeable because of an overabundance of trashy dialogue, but I personally didn’t like the direction Zombie took with these characters, especially Malcolm McDowell’s Dr. Loomis. McDowell is a great actor and a solid choice to take on the mantle of the character, and he did very well with the material, but I’m just not a big fan of “Asshole Loomis”; I didn’t like it in ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’, and I don’t like it here either.
Bottom Line: I like these films enough, and while I do appreciate Rob Zombie’s experimental approach to the series, I just prefer “The Shape” over “The Psychopath”.
5) The Sister Saga
Films: ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ (1978), ‘Halloween 2’ (1981), ‘Halloween: H20’ (1998), and ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ (2002)
Analysis: The Sister Saga consists of a timeline in which Michael’s primary objective is to seek out his youngest sister, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) – a plot point established in ‘Halloween 2’, which quickly caught on and defined the series up until the 2018 film. As you’ll see with this ranking, I’m a huge fan of the first two films in the series, but with the other two that make up this individual timeline, not so much. I’ll admit that when ‘Halloween: H20’ was first released in theaters back in 1998 I loved it, but over the years it slowly slid down my ranking list as my enthusiasm for it begins to fade. I still like the opening sequence and the third act, but the stuff in the middle is a little “meh” and a little too much of a product of its time. Still, it’s well paced and moves along briskly, but it has the feeling of an entirely different horror franchise that dominated in the late 90’s, and less like a Halloween film.
The reason why this timeline places here is because ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ stained what could have been a great ending to an otherwise satisfying trilogy of films. I know that ‘Halloween: Resurrection’ has its share of fans, but for me personally it’s tough to get through because I don’t buy the logic that they’re selling with how they explain away the ending to ‘Halloween: H20’, and I dislike how Laurie Strode suddenly becomes an idiot. As for the positives, I do like Brad Loree as Michael Myers and I like Danny Lux’s score for the movie, both of which are better here than in the previous film.
Bottom Line: Had this been left as a trilogy consisting of ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’, ‘Halloween 2’, and ‘Halloween: H20’, this timeline might be up a space higher on this list. It would have been a trilogy with a decent arc for Laurie Strode and one with a solid beginning, middle and end.
4) The Haddonfield Saga
Films: ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ (1978), ‘Halloween’ (2018), ‘Halloween Kills’ (2021), and ‘Halloween Ends’ (2022)
Analysis: The Haddonfield Saga uses the original film as a jumping off point, ignoring the sibling plot point from the sequels, and returning Michael’s status as the mysterious Shape, while exploring how his actions have haunting the town of Haddonfield for over 40 years. This method for moving the series forward may have pissed off a lot of fans, but it’s a decision that I support. David Gordon Green’s trilogy from 2018 to 2022 may not be perfect horror movies, largely due to the dialogue and writing, but they are competently shot, entertaining, and the scores for all three movies from John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies are absolutely perfect. James Jude Courtney is excellent in his portrayal of Haddonfield’s boogeyman. Jamie Lee Curtis gives a good performance as a more hardened Laurie Strode, even though this version would have been better suited for the character who also went through the events of ‘Halloween 2’, but I digress. I also really like the inclusion of Will Patton’s Frank Hawkins and his history with Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. And lastly, yes, I am one of the rare weirdos out there who actually likes Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer); I could do without him putting on the mask and loading Michael into Hawkins’ police SUV, but I must admit that I do like the idea of him being an Anti-Loomis – someone who’s obsession with trying to get a full understanding of Michael leads him to unleash the Shape on his last night as Sartain’s patient in an act of desperation.
The only real issue I take with this timeline is how disjointed it feels as a complete story arc. There’s a lot of really good ideas sprinkled into these films, even if they weren’t properly executed to their maximum level. I like the idea of Laurie being side-lined in ‘Halloween Kills’ so that they could focus on other characters, such as Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall), Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards), Lonnie Elam (Robert Longstreet), and the other residence of Haddonfield; I like Rohan Campbell’s Corey Cunningham and his story – even though that should have been in a middle chapter instead of taking over the final film in the trilogy – and I like how Corey’s story is linked to a larger theme revolving around Haddonfield’s boogeyman infecting the townspeople and bringing out the worst in them. With that said, I may say something controversial here, but bear with me: Look, I am well aware that the return of Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the main reasons why the 2018 film was such a massive success, but I think in a way it hurt the intentions behind going back to just the first film and ignoring that major sibling plot point that carried the franchise since 1981. I feel like they should have committed to their idea by not making it about Laurie Strode. I’m not saying she shouldn’t have been in the new films at all, but I think if they focused on different characters, they would have allowed the audience to take in this disconnected world, and then they could have brought her in for one of the sequels. That is all in my opinion, and I’m sure many will disagree.
Bottom Line: I like this timeline for what it is. I think they’re well shot, with a great stunt actor behind the mask, and feature this franchise’s best scores. I just wish the storylines of David Gordon Green’s trilogy had been a little tighter and structured differently.
3) The Night He Came Home Saga
Films: ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ (1978) and ‘Halloween 2’ (1981)
Analysis: The Night He Came Home Saga is a timeline that I propose that takes the ending to ‘Halloween 2’ at face value: Dr. Sam Loomis sacrifices himself, setting off an explosion that kills him and Michael, bringing a definitive ending to the story that began with John Carpenter’s original. Let’s face it, Carpenter did the one thing he rarely ever does, and brought a conclusive finale. The Shape is no more. So, this particular saga consists of two films telling one big story with a complete beginning, middle, and end of its own. ‘Halloween 2’ is my favorite sequel in the franchise, and one of the things that I absolutely love about it is how it picks up immediately where the first film left off. I am a sucker for these kinds of sequels. 15 years after murdering his oldest sister Judith, Michael escapes from Smith’s Grove to return to his old hometown of Haddonfield. There, he stalks Laurie Strode while his doctor, Sam Loomis is in pursuit. Loomis prevents Michael from killing Laurie, but Michael gets away, and continues his quest for Laurie, who is being treated at Haddonfield Memorial. After Loomis learns that Laurie wasn’t a random target after all, he races to the hospital, and saves Laurie by killing himself and his evil patient. Boom, the story is over, bring on the anthology!
Naturally, as the slasher genre was growing in popularity, the anthology experiment came to an abrupt end, and Michael was resurrected as the franchise antagonist. The ending that Carpenter brought to the story and characters was altered in a way to bring back both Michael and Loomis, and the rest is history. I’m not going to complain, because I obviously do love the sequels and the franchise as it is, but I think it is interesting to look at these two movies together as one big complete story.
Bottom Line: This timeline is more of a “what if?” scenario: What if the anthology idea took off and these were the only two Michael Myers stories in the franchise? From that perspective, the overarching story told across these two movies makes it a satisfying timeline of its own.
2) The Anthology Saga
Films: ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ (1978) and ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’ (1982)
Analysis: Usually, when the anthology idea of Halloween comes up, people often only reference the third film, ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’, but I’d like to offer a slightly different approach to this by including the first film into the conversation. If you look at John Carpenter’s filmography you can see that he’s not a sequel guy. In fact, out of his entire career he’s only directed one sequel and that was ‘Escape from L.A.’ (1996). Sure, he co-wrote and co-produced ‘Halloween 2’; produced ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’; and executive produced a direct-to-video sequel to his 1998 film ‘Vampires’, but those were more or less business obligations than sequel aspirations. Carpenter’s movies often end not completely resolved, as a mystery still lingers for the audience to chew on. He didn’t end his movies with sequel bait; he ended them in ways to keep the audience thinking after leaving the theaters. I often wonder what it would be like if ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ had been like any other Carpenter movie: open-ended and without a sequel to explain things away. Imagine, if you will, that this was one stand-alone story. Michael is stabbed in the neck and eye, shot six times in the chest, and knocked off a balcony onto the ground below. And then we see that Loomis had been right all along: Michael was more than a man, he was purely and simply evil – he survived impossible odds, and he’s still out there, lurking in the darkness. Michael was, as matter of fact, the boogey man. The story ends with Loomis proven to be right.
Of course, the other part of this Anthology Saga is ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’, which is a movie that I’ve loved and championed for over 20 years. As I was getting into this series I often heard about how bad and pointless the third film was, but I wanted to watch it anyway. I went into it knowing that it was different and not connected to what came before, and I ended up loving it. It’s got a goofy premise that asks the audience to take a huge leap of faith, but it’s a fun movie, and I adore the way it ends.
Bottom Line: As much as I love the sequels, I think ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ didn’t necessarily need any, and could have existed easily as a stand-alone story. ‘Halloween 3: Season of the Witch’ is also a solid stand-alone story, and it makes me wonder what other different Halloween themed horror movies we could have got and how the series would be shaped if the anthology idea took off.
1) The Loomis Saga
Films: ‘John Carpenter’s Halloween’ (1978), ‘Halloween 2’ (1981), ‘Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers’ (1988), ‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’ (1989), and ‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’ (1995)
Analysis: Dr. Samuel Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is one of my favorite protagonists in horror, so naturally the series of films featuring him are at the top spot. In fact, I’d argue that the series hasn’t really been the same without him. For me, Loomis has such a strong presence in these movies and is the glue that held these films together. ‘Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers’ is one of the strongest sequels that this franchise has had. Sure, the mask and shoulder pads on George P. Wilbur looked ridiculous, but those are really the only negatives that I have about that film. Aside from Loomis, it has a solid set of supporting characters, including Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), Rachel Carruthers (Ellie Cornell), Ben Meeker (Beau Starr), and Brady (Sasha Jenson). I also like the sub-plot involving the residents forming a lynch mob, and Michael causing an electrical black-out to the town.
‘Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers’ may be my least favorite in this timeline, especially with the way they wrote off Rachel early and with the way Loomis is presented in this story. As I said with Rob Zombie’s films, I do not like “Asshole Loomis”. As far as ‘Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers’ goes, neither cut of the them – theatrical or producers cut – are perfect, and there’s bits that I’d take from both. I personally think it’s a step up from the fifth film, and it redeems the Loomis character by bringing him back down to the determined goody guy that he is. I also think the mask is the best in this one out of the entire “Thorn Trilogy”, and I like Marianne Hagan and Paul Rudd as Kara Strode and Tommy Doyle.
Bottom Line: When I think of the Halloween films, I think about Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis. While I don’t love every film in this timeline, this is the series of films that I go to the most.
So there is my ranking and opinions on the different timelines within the ‘Halloween’ franchise. What are yours? Jump on over to our Facebook page and let us know!