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Halloween watch order: How (and where) to make a Michael Myers or Laurie Strode marathon

From John Carpenter's original to Rob Zombie's remake and Blumhouse reboot, here's how to make sense of the many Halloween films

Image credit: Blumhouse Productions

Halloween. Though arguably not the first slasher, it’s certainly the film that popularized the genre. Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream all owe their existence to its success. Even new entries into the genre like Freaky and Happy Death Day contain trace amounts of Michael Myers DNA, and the film holds up as a brilliant double-feature pairing with any modern slasher.

But say you want to go further into the Halloween franchise than just the first film. There are those new reboots Blumhouse did, or were they remakes? Maybe just stick to the original six movies. Or was it four movies? Though getting into the franchise is a delight, it can also be confusing. Fortunately, Popverse wants to help you in your Michale Myers Marathon, which is why they’ve tasked me with explaining How to watch the Halloween franchise.

How to watch the Halloween franchise in release order

Image credit: Compass International Pictures

Let’s start off with the easiest way to watch the films, at least in the way of making a list. Since the release of the original film in 1978, there’s been a Halloween in theaters every year to six years, with the exception of the period between the second Rob Zombie film and the beginning of the Blumhouse trilogy. Totalling thirteen movies, here is the Halloween franchise in order of release:

Pretty easy, right? Might as well end the article here, good night everybody!

Except… the list you see above is not as simple as it appears. Though it might be an easy one to organize, the marathon you watch in this order will leave you with a lot of questions, questions like 'Didn’t that character die?', 'Wasn’t there magic in there somewhere?', and 'Where the hell was Michael Myers for a whole movie?'

Despite the relative regularity of their release, the Halloween films don’t follow a perfect path from first to most recent entry. There is a way to enjoy the storylines in a connected, chronological way, but to do that we’re going to have to dig a bit. Put on your emotionless, Shatner-modeled thinking masks, it’s time to break down the Halloween timelines.

Here's how to watch the Halloween franchise in chronological order

Image credit: Debra Hill Productions

The Halloween franchise comprises four separate timelines, most of which begin with the original 1978 film. We’ll get into the movies that follow each respective timeline momentarily, but first, let’s go ahead and get a single exception out of the way. That exception is Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the lonely little lifeboat in the torrent of timelines that is Halloween.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch was an attempt to anthologize the series by telling a different story about a cursed costume company. Though produced by creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill, it’s got nothing to do with Michael Myers, so you can watch it at any point in a Halloween marathon. Want to play it at the end? Great. The beginning? Perfect. In between H20 and Resurrection? Go for it! The events of the story don’t change anything about the timelines.

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s dive into the alternate histories of Michael Myers.

Halloween: The Originals

Image credit: Dino De Laurentiis Corporation

Years before a string of sequels became a trope in horror, producer Irwin Yablans was eager to continue the story begun in the first film. Thus was Halloween II born, establishing Halloween as not just a horror classic, but a franchise, and kicking off a line of three connected follow-ups. These movies make up the first Halloween timeline, and should be watched in this order:

Skipping that ghoulishly green apple in a bushel of bloody red, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, the original series flows linearly from the 1978 movie, following Michael Myers’s rampage through the town of Haddonfield, Illinois. It was a rampage that ended when the idea thatHalloween: The Curse of Michael Myers writer Daniel Farrands had for a seventh film was abandoned, but just like its perpetrator, it was about to come back in a different form.

Halloween: The H20 Saga

Image credit: Dimension Films

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later was meant as a by-the-book sequel to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, but ended up creating a new timeline by ignoring the central narrative of the fourth to sixth installments (we’ll discuss that narrative later). In fact, if this movie was made today, it might be labeled a soft reboot, one that you would watch in this order:

Despite poor box-office earnings from Halloween: Resurrection, then-owner Dimension Films was still planning on making another film to follow the H20 Saga’s plot. However, real horror was soon to strike the studio, as producer Moustapha Akkad, who had been with the franchise since the very first film, was killed in a 2005 terrorist attack. Complete control of Halloween was passed to Akkad’s son, Malek, who decided to go in a different direction.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween Remake

Image credit: Dimension Films

In 2006, Dimension announced shock rock musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie as the creative driver behind not another sequel, but a remake of Halloween. A massive fan of the original, Zombie contacted John Carpenter to tell him of his plans, and according to The Gauntlet, Carpenter requested that Zombie “make it his own.” That’s exactly what he did, and you can watch that creation via the following films:

After Halloween II, Zombie decided not to direct a third installment in his remake franchise. The ‘why’ remains a mystery to this day. As MTV reported in 2009, Zombie responded to questions about his exit saying, "If I told you [why], you wouldn't believe me." Whatever the reason for Zombie’s departure, the third film in the remake series was never made, leaving Michael Myers absent from movie theaters for nearly a decade.

Blumhouse’s Halloween reboot

Image credit: Blumhouse Productions

In 2015, Dimension Films lost the filming rights to Halloween, meaning franchise ownership reverted to Miramax. In order to bring the films back to theaters, Miramax turned to Blumhouse Productions, whose ventures into the horror genre with films like Paranormal Activity and Sinister proved wildly successful. Together, the companies produced a saga that builds off of only the original Halloween movie, which should be watched in this order:

Critics found the Blumhouse trilogy to be a welcome return to the franchise, and box office numbers superpassed by leagues the other timelines. With the blood of the last and most recent film still drying, it’s safe to say that Michael Myers is back on top of the genre he helped slash its way into popular culture.

Alright, now that we’ve organized all the movies into their respective timelines, it’s time to start asking…

What are the differences in the Halloween timelines?

Image credit: Dino De Laurentiis Corporation

Before we get into this, allow me to warn you: some mild spoilers are on the way. I’ve tried to only include facts that matter in dividing the timelines, but even then, I get into some reveals. Don’t worry though, you can avoid each and every spoiler by skipping this section and heading straight to the Which timeline should I watch first? section right below.

Still reading? Ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Maybe the most surprising thing about the Original series, considering it’s the one that introduced her, is that most of the films don’t feature final girl Laurie Strode. By Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, focus has shifted from Laurie to her secret daughter, Jamie Lloyd, who lived in Haddonfield with a foster family. The series also introduces the Curse of Thorn, an ancient pagan magic that explains Michael Myers’s bloodlust and indestructibility.

To many fans’ delight, the H20 saga returned focus to Laurie. But like the Curse of Thorn that this timeline abandons, that shift required sacrifice. Dr. Sam Loomis, the Van Helsing of the Halloween franchise, doesn’t return with Michael and Laurie. This timeline is also notable for featuring the only Halloween film not to take place in Haddonfield, save for that George Lazenby of the James Bonds that are Michael Myers, Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

The 2007 remake of Halloween may be the biggest outlier in Michael Myers mythos, choosing to paint a more realistic portrait of the killer as a true-to-life psychopath. Unlike the other timelines, this one does not continue the original film’s narrative. But, if you’ll allow a bit of opinion here; Rob Zombie’s films are better watched after viewing the original movie. Like having knowledge of Batman before reading The Dark Knight Rises, it’s more fun seeing how the material is reimagined if you know its origins.

That just leaves us with the Blumhouse Trilogy, which differs from the rest of the franchise in how it widens the gap between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Not only does it separate them by time (40 years between Laurie’s first encounter and the next), it forgoes an idea established in Halloween II; that the pair were, in fact, brother and sister. The idea had been salient to all Halloween movies, but Blumhouse did away with it entirely, returning to the idea that Michael Myers’s motives are unexplained.

So with all this in mind, let’s get to the question you’ve probably been searching for throughout all my dovetailing, rambling, and backtracking (this franchise ain’t got nothin’ on me, baby), that question being…

Which Halloween timeline should I watch first?

Image credit: Compass International Pictures

Now that the paths are clear, it's time to pick a direction. Though all the Halloween timelines are worth a watch, you've got to start somewhere. It's my recommendation that, in every case, you begin with the original 1978 film, even if (as I mentioned previously) you want to check out the remakes first. Then, once you've watched the OG, ask yourself: what did I like most about this movie?

If what you liked most is the nostalgic feel of Halloweens gone by, start with the Original saga. If you like the Myers family connection but want to stick with the original final girl, lean toward H20. Were you disturbed but fascinated by a ten-year-old committing murder? Watch the Rob Zombie remakes. And if what makes the original film for you is the resilience of Laurie Strode, definitely go with the Blumhouse films.

Where can I stream the Halloween movies?

Image credit: Compass International Pictures

Like the timelines, the streaming locations of the Halloween movies are somewhat scattered, but the good news is this: you can watch five of the thirteen films for free via Pluto TV. The streaming service offers Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later,Halloween: Resurrection, and BOTH Rob Zombie remakes with no cost to you, although you do have to take a couple ad breaks.

The next most popular place to find the slashtastic series is horror streamer Shudder. The number one streamer for fright fans (in this humble writer's opinion) features Original series entries Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Shudder's also got the original 1978 movie, making it an absolute must for marathoning Halloween.

The Blumhouse films are the hardest to line-up in terms of streaming, with Halloween Kills on HBO Max and Halloween Ends on Amazon Prime. Finally, there are a couple entries you're going to have to rent in order to watch, those being the original Halloween II, the 2018 Blumhouse Halloween, and that Tom Bombadil in Michael Myers's Middle-Earth, Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

When will there be more Halloween movies?

Image credit: Blumhouse Productions

As of this writing, there are no plans for another entry into Blumhouse’s Halloween saga, and even if some were made, they would probably not feature Laurie Strode. Speaking with EW, actor Jamie Lee Curtis called Halloween Ends “the final confrontation, that final battle between the final girl and her monster,” also clarifying that “I need to now cut [Laurie] loose and let her live in the minds and hearts of the fans that have supported her [...] I now get to go off and do my own thing.”

But does that mean Michael Myers will never again darken the doorway of American cinema? It almost certainly does not. If this list is proof of anything, it’s that the franchise that began the slasher revolution is a constantly changing one, attended by fans who are ready and willing to have their favorite killer rebooted, reimagined, and returned from certain doom.

So however you choose to watch through the Halloween movies, don’t get too comfortable when those last credits roll. You may have watched Michael Myers’s saga end once, twice, three or even four times… but for my money, I’d say it’s not over.

Not scared yet? Try our recommended 10 best horror movies.

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