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‘Halloween Ends’: An Oral History of the Slasher Franchise

‘Halloween Ends’: An Oral History of the Slasher Franchise

Halloween is not just the most successful slasher franchise of all time. It’s also one of the longest-running horror series ever made, with Halloween Ends making its way to theaters on October 14. And while this may seem like a scary thought, there’s more to the story than that. How did an independent slasher movie become an entire genre in itself? To answer this question, we need to look back at how it all started before John Carpenter‘s groundbreaking 1978 film: Halloween.

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Carpenter felt inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho, as well as 1974’s Black Christmas


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In the 1960s, a young filmmaker named John Carpenter watched Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho and decided to make his own movie — one that would go on to influence countless other films and create a new sub genre of horror called slasher. That film would eventually become Halloween (1978), which focused on one night of terror for a group of teenagers who are stalked by a masked murderer named Michael Myers. Now, horror fans are preparing for Halloween Ends to slash its way through theaters.

The humble beginnings of John Carpenter that led to Halloween Ends

In 1974, John Carpenter had just one feature under his belt: an independent sci-fi film called Dark Star that was based on a short film he made while in film school at the University of Southern California. In it, a human crew (including the likes of Dan O’Bannon, who later went on to write the screenplay of Alien) traveling on a spaceship trying to keep boredom and madness at bay by using their scientific expertise to play pranks on each other when they’re not busy being bored and mad themselves.

The film didn’t receive much critical praise at its time of release and it’s likely that Carpenter wouldn’t have continued working in the film industry had he not been drawn back into cinema by an offer from horror producer Irwin Yablans after having seen Carpenter‘s also poorly received Assault on Precinct 13.

The plot and setting behind Halloween

On the night of October 31, 1959, the town of Haddonfield, Illinois was dead quiet. It’s All Hallows Eve, and the kids are getting ready to go trick-or-treating on Maple Street. Up at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, Michael Myers is waiting for his transfer to another psych facility; having been there since he was 6 years old after murdering his sister Judith fifteen years earlier.

But all hell breaks loose when a doctor accidentally leaves Michael unattended — he then escapes from Smith’s Grove and begins stalking Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), whose father asks her to drop the keys off at the Myers house which is where the two initially cross paths.

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Laurie Strode vs. Michael Myers (aka The Bogeyman or The Shape)

The first showdown between Laurie Strode and serial killer, Michael Myers, occurs in 1978’s Halloween. Except for a few flashbacks where young Michael commits murder, we get a first real look at the mentally challenged psychopath who becomes known as The Shape or The Bogeyman. In the original movie, Jamie Lee Curtis portrays Laurie as a resourceful final girl, a term used to describe the last woman alive who can confront the killer at the film’s end and definitively leave a narrative of what transpired. She survives her attack by Michael and manages to dispatch him with help from Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). 


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In 1981’s Halloween II: The Curse of Michael Myers, we learn that he has risen again after being shot in the head by Dr. Loomis — a fact confirmed by these lines: “I shot him six times,” says Doctor Loomis before adding “he’s not human!” This sequel also introduces us to his more sinister alter ego, The Shape. The entity murders several people throughout Haddonfield before encountering Laurie at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium on that first Halloween night.


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Halloween III: Season of the Witch has nothing to do with Michael Myers

In 1982, the success of the first two films caused distributor Universal Pictures to push forward with a third movie. The goal was to create an anthology series like Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt; each year takes place around Halloween and features different horror stories (a la Tales). But director Tommy Lee Wallace had other ideas: he wanted to make a film about how commercialism ruins holidays. As such, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has nothing to do with Michael Myers or final girl, Laurie Strode. Instead, it’s about an ancient cult that uses witchcraft to attack children during Halloween. They place cursed masks on them made by a front organization called Silver Shamrock Novelties. This film differs in unique ways from its predecessors. However, it fails to capture the magic present in the original two films.

Halloween 4-6 — the original series conclusion

Since Season of the Witch was not a critical or commercial success, Michael Myers was brought back for more sequels. The next two films debuted a few years later in 1988 and 1989, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and then Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers respectively. 

These films follow the same plot structure as the original two films but with different characters and situations. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers was the sixth film released in 1995 and concluded the series, bringing the story of Michael Myers to a close. The film failed to succeed financially but gained popularity over time, recognized for its unique storyline.

The Halloween H20: The 20th Anniversary & Halloween: Resurrection timeline

Halloween H20: The 20th Anniversary is a 1998 “reboot” of the series. The film ignores most of the previous sequels branching its storyline following the events of 1981’s Halloween II: The Curse of Michael Myers. Laurie has spent the last 20 years trying to forget what happened to her that night back in 1978. However, she must face him once again.

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This was followed by Halloween: Resurrection, which was released in 2002 and brought the series back to its roots. Despite this, the film did not perform well at the box office and received mostly negative reviews from cri