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Movies & TV

05th Aug 2023

25 years ago today, this is where Halloween should have ended for good

Rory Cashin

Halloween H20

There have been SIX more Halloween movies since this one!

The sixth Halloween movie, subtitled The Curse of Michael Myers, arrived in cinemas in September 1995, making just $15 million at the box office, and scoring just 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The horror franchise was in the doldrums when the first Scream movie arrived in 1996, turning the genre entirely on its head, and the producers decided to refocus their efforts into winning their audience back… so much so, that they simply hired the writer of Scream to steer the new movie.

And so we got Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, inexplicably released in the height of summer, on 5 August 1998, a full two months before the 20th anniversary of the first Halloween movie arriving in cinemas.

The seventh movie initially went through several iterations, including working titles such as Michael Myers: Lord of the Dead, Halloween 7: Two Faces of Evil, and Halloween: Blood Ties, before they ditched everything they were working on and started again with Kevin Williamson (the Scream guy).

He was hired to write the script, but was busy working on the screenplay for The Faculty and his directorial debut Teaching Mrs. Tingle (which was heavily delayed due to the Columbine massacre), but he remained on as executive producer and an uncredited script doctor.

John Carpenter, the horror legend who directed the first Halloween movie, was approached to direct this sequel at the request of Jamie Lee Curtis, but he reportedly asked for $10 million for the job – the movie’s entire production budget was just $15 million – so producers turned to Steve Miner (Dawson’s Creek, Lake Placid).

Surrounding their returning leading lady Jamie Lee Curtis, who was written to have faked her own death – helping to skip over the events of everything after Halloween II – there was a massively impressive supporting cast: Josh Hartnett, Michelle Williams, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Adam Arkin, LL Cool J, and Curtis’ own mother and equally impressive scream queen, Janet Leigh.

Upon release, while not a critical darling (54% on Rotten Tomatoes), it did re-energise the franchise’s box office, making $75 million worldwide. Which presented a problem, as this was where the Halloween movies were supposed to end, but how could they end them now that they were popular again?

Even before release, Curtis almost dropped out of the movie entirely when an old clause by series producer Moustapha Akkad stated that Michael Myers could not be killed in any movie. Curtis wanted Halloween H20 to be the final entry in franchise, but Williamson came up with a solution: the paramedic scene.

Curtis agreed to continue making the movie as long as there was no hint that Myers would come back, leaving audiences to believe that he was gone for good. However, one day after they finished filming Halloween H20, the first shot of Michael in the paramedic uniform in Halloween: Resurrection was filmed.

It would be another four years before Halloween: Resurrection would arrive in cinemas, once again tanking with critics (10% on Rotten Tomatoes), making half of what Halloween H20 made. But that is also what happens when you front your famous horror sequel with (checks notes) Busta Rhymes.

2007 brought the ultra violent Halloween remake, and in 2009 we got the Halloween II remake, both of them quite terrible. Nearly a full decade later, 2018 brought up Halloween – the third Halloween movie simply titled Halloween, confusingly – which once again brought back Jamie Lee Curtis, did incredibly well at the box office ($260 million), and warranted two sequels, but only that 2018 movie is actually any good.

It was given critical props for showing Curtis’ character Laurie Strode being so obviously psychologically scarred by her interactions with Michael Myers exactly 40 years earlier; the real-world ramifications of surviving a slasher movie. But weirdly, that was also exactly what Halloween H20 tackled 20 years earlier, but wasn’t given nearly as much praise for doing… and for doing it better.

Halloween H20’s version of Laurie Strode was clearly impacted by Myers, but didn’t have her entire life dictated by her past with him. She wasn’t defined by being a survivor, but was a small part of who she was. And that final interaction with him in that movie, axe in hand, should’ve been where this franchise ended for good.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is available to rent on Google Play, Apple TV and the Sky Store.

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