Halloween is here; the franchise has returned to theaters after an almost 10-year hiatus. Director David Gordon Green’s Halloween is both the third to share that one-word title and the 11th in the franchise as a whole. While many horror movie villains with a double-digit count of films take place largely in chronological order or at least an order where chronology doesn’t matter, the Halloween movies value continuity to a greater degree. The toll of time and complexities behind the scenes have led to their being five distinct timelines for viewers to potentially watch.
So what does that mean for viewers of the new film and those interested in finding out what the buzz is all about?
We’ve assembled all five options for watching the Halloween franchise to help curious audiences figure out what they want to do. Whether you’re just looking to catch up for the newest film or dig into everything, this is your essential guide for figuring out a viewing order.
The first thing you will need is a complete list of every Halloween film to date. Each viewing order option lists which of these films are included and in what order they take place. If you’re just looking to get a sense of how big this franchise is and how many directors have been involved over the past 40 years, then look no further. This is the entirety of Halloween on the big screen.
Directed by John Carpenter
Halloween II (1981)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Directed by Dwight H. Little
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Directed by Dominique Othenin-Gerard
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Directed by Joe Chappelle
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Directed by Steve Miner
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal
Directed by Rob Zombie
Halloween II (2009)
Directed by Rob Zombie
Directed by David Gordon Green
The first option is also the longest, including five of the original six films in the Halloween franchise. Each of these movies occur in order over roughly the same period as their various productions. As the sequence continues, each new movie reveals more about Michael Myers origins. Along the way various supernatural elements are included and a family tie between Myers and Laurie Strode, the protagonist of the first film, is revealed. It is also similar to many other horror movie franchises in its declining quality. While many fans will advocate for Halloween II being a worthy sequel, each subsequent step forward is another step downhill.
Watch Order: Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
This is the strangest viewing option of the entire Halloween franchise, in addition to being the easiest to watch as it contains only one film. After producing two movies featuring Michael Myers as the antagonist, John Carpenter wanted to steer the franchise in a new direction and open the door to an anthology series under the Halloween banner. That didn’t pan out, and Myers was returned for the fourth and all future installments. The villain isn’t entirely absent from this film though, as he can be seen on a television at one point revealing the first two films are actual films in this alternate timeline.
Watch Order: Halloween III: Season of the Witch
After the sixth movie, “The Curse of Michael Myers,” flopped with critics and fans alike, the Halloween movies were taken in a new direction. The choice to kill Laurie Strode (off screen, no less) in Halloween IV was redacted by removing every movie after Halloween II from the franchise. A soft restart was provided with the return of Jamie Lee Curtis in her iconic role and a 20-year gap between the events of Halloween II and the newest film, Halloween H20. This attempt to give the series a fresh start failed to renew much interest, and only two new movies were added before another change was made.
Watch Order: Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection
Rather than continue to reinvent the original timeline and create more confusion, producers decided to reboot the entire franchise with a remake of the original Halloween from director Rob Zombie. Zombie created more context for Michael Myers’ childhood in his first film in addition to an exceedingly faithful remake of the Halloween night murders from the original film. This take was not well-received by critics, but earned more than enough money against its budget to see Zombie direct a sequel before the franchise was put on ice once again.
Watch Order: Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)
That brings us to today. Following the poorly received reboot, the franchise is returning to its roots in the most dramatic way possible. The newest installment in the Halloween franchise treats the original film set in 1978 as canon and ignores every subsequent sequel, remake, and alternate timeline. When audiences walk into the newest Halloween, the only film from the entire series that relates to what is on the screen is the very first one. Not even Halloween II, which takes place immediately after the original, is included as it is the film which drew a family connection between Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. The newest Halloween is also notable for returning Jamie Lee Curtis to the franchise for the first time since Halloween H20 as well as receiving John Carpenter’s blessing following his departure after Halloween II.
Watch Order: Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018)
There is no right option or viewing order when enjoying the franchise. All of the film’s are beloved by at least some fans, with even the most-derided entries bringing an amusing camp style or fascinating decisions to this classic of the slasher genre. However, it is worth noting that John Carpenter’s stamp of approval rests firmly on option five, which includes only the 1978 and 2018 installments of Halloween. Carpenter wrote, directed, and scored the original film, and has previously stated his involvement with the second and third movies was financially motivated. Regrets about the familial ties between Laurie Strode and Michael Myers are removed in this new viewing order, creating a series that is as close to Carpenter’s vision as possible.