I hate horror movies. Jump scares, twisted killers, blood-spattered teens—no thanks. If I wanted to feel my stomach drop through my butt, I’d sort my email by unread messages.
But this week I watched every Halloween movie ever made over the past 40 years. (Yes, including the one starring Life-Size breakout star Tyra Banks .) That’s 11 slash-happy flicks and approximately 20 hours spent trancing out to John Carpenter’s unremitting theme music. Why? For the culture, and for the love of Jamie Lee Curtis, who returns to the iconic role of Laurie Strode in the latest installment, called simply Halloween, in theaters October 19.
I squirmed, I laughed, I shouted at every dumbass who decided to run up the stairs or hide in a closet. Most importantly, I finally understood this Mariah Carey meme. Here’s what went down, and how I came to realize that Michael Myers is basically every bad date I’ve ever had, give or take a drippy murder weapon.
I’m convinced the original working title of A Star Is Born was “Introducing Jamie Lee Curtis.” Until watching this late-70s gem, I never realized how much I stan opaque white tights and oatmeal cardigans, so I’ve already learned something about myself. Laurie (Curtis) may be the “smart one” in her group of high school girlfriends, but she is not smart enough to lock her doors! Honestly there is not one locked door in this whole movie. Everyone in Haddonfield may as well have invited Michael Myers in for Sanka! Our masked serial killer is only into murdering sexually active teens, so as soon as Laurie’s friend Annie (Nancy Kyes) takes her top off I know she’s toast. Can we get these babysitters some life insurance? And sense enough to realize that no grown ass men die from one stab in the neck with a wire hanger?
Halloween II (1981)
Previously on Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) shot his psychotic patient six times until he fell out a window and disappeared, leaving a nasty bloodstain on the lawn. Naturally Michael turns to terrorizing a local hospital (shockingly empty on Halloween), where Laurie finally gets a love interest! Jimmy (Lance Guest) has a dreamy perm, so it’s a shame he and all the other hot hospital staff are undoubtedly going to die.
I can tell nurse Karen (Pamela Susan Shoop) and paramedic Budd (Leo Rossi) really have it coming when they start getting busy in the “hydrotherapy pool.” RIP young love. (Also why does this hospital have a hot tub?) We also learn that Laurie is Michael's sister, the one he hasn’t killed yet, and that’s why he wants to get rid of her, I guess? Loomis winds up blowing himself and Michael up in a room full of oxygen tanks, but it’s only part two of this epic franchise, so something tells me they’re not really dead. Laurie gets carted off in an ambulance... from the hospital? From IMDb, I know she won’t be back for a while.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
What the hell is going on in this movie?! Eventually I realize this installment has nothing to do with anything—and in fact exists in a world where the original Halloween plays on TV. The villains in this bizarre detour are young white dudes sporting identical suits, which… fair! Also we are randomly in California now.
Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and her shoulder-padded leather jacket are out to discover who killed her dad, the owner of a Halloween store. Dr. Dan (Tom Atkins), who treated her dad for a hot second, decides this is also his mission (mostly because he wants to bang her, despite being married). Turns out all those businessmen (er… robots?) of Silver Shamrock Novelties plan to murder America’s children… in the name of ancient Stonehenge-ian witchcraft? By using evil... pogs? Activated by an inane TV jingle? This movie doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I just accept the fact that Ellie is… also a fembot?
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
I never thought I’d miss Michael Myers, but his placid white face is oddly comforting! Although I was enjoying a break from his maniacal theme music. In this installment, some idiots are transferring Michael from the mental hospital. On Halloween. During a thunderstorm! This is gonna go great, I can tell. Oh yeah, he and Loomis both survived that pesky hospital explosion. Surprise, surprise.
Now Michael's after his niece Jamie (Danielle Harris)—because at some point between the movies, Laurie had a kid! Mazel! Oh, wait, according to a newspaper clipping, Laurie (supposedly) died in a car accident, and Jamie is being raised by a foster family. Michael's more indiscriminate as a murderer now, but teens who have sex still top the list. I kind of love Rachel (Ellie Cornell), our relatable late-80s heroine and Jamie’s foster sister, but I’m trying not to get too attached. Michael gets riddled with bullets again at the end, but I know he’s still going to call me back. He's going to call me back, right?
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Dangerous white men love a comeback!!! I think I’ve finally figured out the overarching theme here.
Of course my new fave Rachel is among the first to get whacked when Michael resurrects himself… again. (I gather his immortality is drawn from box office receipts.) Little Jamie killed her foster mom at the end of part four and spends half this movie possessed, but we stan a survivor. This little scream queen is scrambling for her life in a tattered and bloody tutu through the boogeyman’s own house!
I can’t believe it’s taken us five installments to get a Halloween house party scene, but I will forgive the lapse because this movie’s requisite “slutty teens” are lured into a barn… for a roll in the hay… by actual kittens. We still don’t know why Michael is such a psycho, but he does show Jamie his face and sheds a single tear. He is briefly captured before escaping. This man just cannot be tied down!
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
NO ONE TOLD ME PAUL RUDD WAS IN THIS MOVIE! Wow. Everyone I’ve ever met is fired. The opening titles claim they’re “introducing” him, but Clueless came out two months earlier, so that is patently false. Rudd plays the little boy Laurie Strode babysat for in the OG Halloween. He’s all grown up, a “13 out of 10” on the weirdness scale, and obsessed with the legend of Michael Myers. I’m thankful that someone finally wants some answers, even though this whole “ancient Druid constellation of evil” thing seems pretty weak.
We’ve gone from babysitting to somehow repeatedly losing track of an actual baby in this movie. (That would be Jamie’s kid—Michael’s grand-niece—his main target in this movie. Also, how are these people growing up and popping out kids so fast?) The murders are getting gruesome AF (A corn thresher! A body in the washing machine!), but fuck it I’m ordering meatballs.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
Laurie’s back!!! This movie ignores the previous three installments (fair), and finds Laurie thriving as headmistress of a picturesque California boarding school. The ending of this one seems hard to top. Is there anything more iconic than watching Jamie Lee Curtis chop an evil white man’s head off with an ax?! (Though obviously her murderous brother is somehow still not dead.)
I’m so, so thankful that Josh Hartnett and Michelle Williams make it out alive to continue their sweet high school romance. Even LL Cool J somehow survives being mistakenly shot multiple times! Also, Joseph Gordon Levitt pulling a Drew Barrymore in Scream and getting killed in the first five is such a power move. (Side note: I had no idea any of these people were in this movie and am extremely shook!) Lame title aside, this is peak Dimension Films and brought me back to the 90s in the best way. I am numb to bloodshed and eating red sauce with abandon.
Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Welcome to America’s Next Top Murder Victim: "Trick or Treat, Mothafucka," hosted by Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes! This movie is “whack” as hell. Like, who watched The Blair Witch Project and thought, “Let’s launch an online streaming platform called ‘Danger-tainment,’ shove a bunch of horny teens into Michael Myers’s old house, and livestream all the gruesome murdering!” I think the best part is that the Last Girl Standing (Bianca Kajlich) survives with help from a dude (Ryan Merriman) who catfished her in a Yahoo chat room (!) and helps her escape via Palm Pilot.
Oh, of course we find out at the outset that Laurie (Curtis) beheaded the wrong man in the last movie (damn that mask!) and surprise—Michael's alive. He supposedly, finally, kills her by stabbing and chucking her off a roof, but I already see the lie. Busta leaves Michael fried and tangled in electrical wiring at the end, so obviously, not dead.
This! Is why! I hate! Horror movies! If I didn’t know better, I’d say Rob Zombie, who directed this rehash of the original Halloween, is one sadistic fuck. And not just because little Mikey begins his murder spree in a clown mask. Full disclosure, I managed not to cover my eyes but did eventually mute the incessant primal screaming that constitutes the last 20 minutes of this movie.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that the rocker prefers his coed victims to be topless and in absolute hysterics. This Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) can hardly stop wailing long enough to hide without giving herself up. Oh, and Michael's mom just so happens to be a stripper. I don’t even know what to say about the gratuitous rape scene in the mental hospital. I hate men. And torture porn. I have to retrieve my laundry from the basement and am frankly terrified.
Halloween II (2009)
This movie was really just an excuse for Rob Zombie to dress his wife (Sheri Moon-Zombie, in the role of Laurie’s mom) as an undead snow queen on a white horse. It’s like a 90s slasher music video without the music. I miss the OG Halloween II, when one scalpel prick was enough to kill someone. After Octavia Spencer became the first victim to be brutally hacked to death, I almost turned this right the fuck off. Ditto when grifter Michael... ate a fucking dog (?!). And wouldn’t you know it, Laurie has turned into the platonic ideal of a Rob Zombie fan. Another strip club, another naked victim screaming for mercy. Not even a nonsensical Weird Al cameo can rescue this experience from the trash. I need a tub of cookie dough and a Claws marathon.
Venturing to an actual movie theater to see the new movie is a trip. I shun the sunlight.
So now that I fancy myself something of a franchise purist, I was outraged that this movie is full of lies. They’d have me believe Michael has spent 40 years in captivity after killing five people, when I know full well the dude has repeatedly escaped and slaughtered enough victims to fill Yankee stadium, not to mention been incinerated, beheaded, and electrocuted!! Eh, fuck it. Once I resign myself to the fact that the previous 18 hours of bloodshed I endured was all for naught, and think of this movie a sequel to the first film, it’s nice to see Curtis, as fierce grandma Laurie, kicking ass. (Nevermind the fact that the last time we saw her, she’d been thrown off a roof. Oh, and turns out Michael isn’t really her brother, that was just a “myth.”)
Whatever, at least Laurie has learned a thing or two and become obsessed with installing locks and deadbolts all over her rural bunker of a home. Also, where has Judy Greer been this whole franchise? I am also all about Laurie’s granddaughter (“introducing” Andi Matichak), who seems like she might want to be my friend when all this is over.
Looking back through a nightmarish haze of dismemberment, I couldn't help but wonder…Is Michael Myers the real Mr. Big? The dude basically invented emotional unavailability—he’s a mystery wrapped in expressionless rubber. No matter how many times we seem to get rid of him and burn or decapitate his body, next thing we know he’s back on his bullshit and we can’t get enough. What goes on inside that massive head of his?
By now I know better than to assume our relationship is over. Just when I think I’m happy again, and have finally clawed his freaky theme music from my brain, the prodigal Toxic White Male will be back on my doorstep. This time I’ll be ready.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.