The Halloween franchise, one of the longest-running horror movie series in existence, is returning for its newest installment this year. Confusingly titled Halloween, a title shared by both the 1978 original film and the 2007 reboot, the franchise's 11th installment is not a remake or a reboot. Rather, it's a sequel to the original that's set 40 years later, effectively retconning the franchise as if the original's other sequels (and there are a lot of them) never happened. So with the Halloween movie timeline becoming even more jumbled with the release of the new film, here's a rundown of what's happened in the franchise up to this point.
The original Halloween was released in 1978, and is about a crazed killer named Michael Myers who escapes from an asylum on Halloween night, dons a creepy mask, and goes on a killing rampage in a small town. He focuses his efforts on a high schooler named Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), but she manages to escape his clutches and survive the night. Halloween II was released in 1981, and took place immediately after its predecessor. It once again saw Michael Myers targeting Laurie, who in this film is revealed to be Michael's sister. Laurie again bests Michael in the film, and the killer appears to burn to death at the movie's end.
1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch was a new direction for the franchise, as it was the first — and to date only — installment to not feature Michael Myers. With Myers' story being wrapped up in Halloween 2, the idea was for the franchise to become an anthology of horror stories, and Season of the Witch focused on a plot involving a novelty company who planned to used their Halloween masks, a TV commercial, and witchcraft to control the children of the world. It's as strange as it sounds, but audiences didn't love it and the film flopped at the box office. As a result, Michael Myers returned in the appropriately-titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in 1988. It reveals that Michael didn't die, but has been in a coma for 10 years. He awakens upon learning that Laurie died in a car crash and that she has a young daughter named Jamie. He goes on a killing spree on Halloween again in an attempt to kill Jamie, fails, appears to die again, and ends up turning Jamie into a killer similar to himself.
Michael's return proved to be what audiences wanted, so the following year saw the release of Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers. Taking place a year after its predecessor, the film once again sees Michael return from apparent death to try and kill Jamie, and he once again fails. The franchise was then dormant for six years until 1995's Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. This film brought considerably more fantastical elements to the franchise, revealing that Michael had been subjected to an ancient Druid curse that granted him immortality and superhuman strength, while also driving him to kill every Halloween. The protagonist was Tommy Doyle (a young-but-still-looks-like-he-does-today Paul Rudd), the boy Laurie Strode babysat in the original film.
In 1998, the franchise saw a soft reboot with Halloween H20. This film takes place after Halloween II, and largely ignores the events of Halloweens 3-6. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, who faked her death and has been in hiding for nearly two decades. Michael finds out she's alive, tries to kill her again, and ends up getting decapitated by Laurie at the end of the film. The next sequel, 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, would prove to be the last installment in the original series. In it, it's revealed that Laurie killed another man she thought was Michael in H20, and Michael survived. Michael then kills Laurie at the start of the film (lame), and the bulk of the plot sees him terrorizing new characters who have been filming a horror series in his old house.
After Resurrection effectively killed the franchise, a remake of the original film written and directed by Rob Zombie was released in 2007. It largely retells the original story with a non-supernatural Michael, while also including the reveal of Laurie Strode (now Scout Taylor-Compton) being Michael's sister, and it ends with Laurie appearing to kill Michael. The film did well enough at the box office to earn a sequel, Halloween II, in 2009. It once again features Michael going after Laurie, but in a twist sees Laurie stab Michael to death and don his mask, effectively becoming him (á la Jamie in Halloween 4).
We're now up to the present day and Halloween version 2018. The new film ignores all other movies in the series except the original, and shows how Laurie Strode (Curtis again) has been preparing for Michael's inevitable return for 40 years. She is explicitly not his sister in this version, and is looking forward for the chance to kill him. He of course does return for a Halloween murdering spree, and the two have their long-awaited face-off.
The history of the Halloween franchise is nearly as twisted and confusing as the background of the holiday itself, but hopefully you're a little less perplexed now than you were at the start of this article.