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Unpopular Opinion: Halloween 2 (1981) Should’ve Been the End of Michael Myers

Halloween 3

I can’t think of a horror movie that’s proven more polarizing over the years than Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, the oddball sequel that tossed aside the story of Michael Myers and (attempted) to take the franchise down a completely new path. Only in recent years has the tale of murderous Halloween masks been embraced by fans, and rightfully accepted for what it is rather than condemned for what it’s not.

The original plan, as conceived by John Carpenter himself, was that Season of the Witch would spawn a slew of sequels set on Halloween night, but having nothing to do with Michael Myers. And though fans may be more accepting of that concept all these years later, the ballsy third installment wasn’t so well received at the box office – leading to Myers being brought back from the dead, six years later.

But what if Halloween 3: Season of the Witch had been a much bigger hit back in 1982? And what if the story of Michael Myers had ended, as planned, one year prior in Halloween 2? Would that have been the worst thing to ever happen to the horror genre? Or were John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Tommy Lee Wallace onto something when they decided to move on and restart the franchise anew?

Though my opinion on this topic may not be the popular one, I don’t think anyone can deny that the one-two punch of Halloween and Halloween 2 was pitch perfect. Carpenter and Hill returned to co-write the 1981 sequel, which picked up directly after the events of the original film and followed Michael Myers as he continued to ruthlessly pursue young Laurie Strode – with Dr. Loomis hot on his tail.

It was of course in Halloween 2 that Carpenter and Hill introduced the idea that Strode was Michael’s sister, and the sequel ended with both Myers and Dr. Loomis being blown up in a fiery hospital explosion – perfectly wrapping up not just the brother/sister story, but also the Moby Dick-esque tale of good guy/bad guy. Laurie is driven off to safety in an ambulance, while hero and villain perish in the fire.

And that was supposed to be that. With Myers and Loomis dead, and Laurie Strode free to go on with her life, the Halloween franchise as we knew it up to that point was over, and Carpenter felt that there was no need to beat a dead horse and milk the Myers cash cow for all it was worth. For once, a horror franchise was going to end on its own accord, rather than being stretched out until it inorganically ran its course.

Alas, the financial and critical failure of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch ensured that Carpenter would not get his way, and Myers/Loomis were brought back not because there was more of a story to tell with the characters, but rather, plain and simple, out of financial necessity. Five more sequels were squeezed out of Myers beginning in 1988, and indeed the franchise ended up wearing out its welcome.

Horror fans are always complaining that enough is enough with the big franchises, and begging for something new. The Halloween franchise admirably tried to reinvent itself, to no avail. And that’s kind of a shame.

Even if you love the post-Halloween 3 sequels, and they certainly have their merits, there’s something about all of them that feels relatively desperate – a quality inherent to most financially-driven horror sequels. In Halloween 4, Michael again escapes from an institution and begins pursuing his niece Jamie, a lame storyline that was continued through Halloween 5 – wherein Jamie and Michael share a telepathic bond.

And then there’s Halloween 6, which brought Tommy Doyle (a character from the original film) back into the fold and introduced all sorts of idiotic cult mythology to the franchise. Jamie Lee Curtis made her return to the series in both Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection, late 90s/early 2000s sequels that continued a story Carpenter had already brought to a perfect conclusion decades prior.

I’m of course glossing over all the good qualities of those sequels, but would we really have missed out on anything special had Halloween 48 taken inspiration from Halloween 3 and been about characters and storylines that had nothing to do with Michael Myers? My answer is admittedly colored by the fact that I don’t much care for Return through Resurrection, but my answer is nevertheless a big fat NO.

Not only were the post-Halloween 3 sequels far inferior to the first two films in the franchise, but they also made Michael Myers into somewhat of a joke. While he was scary in Halloween and Halloween 2, he almost always looked like a total goof in the subsequent sequels, thanks mostly to terrible masks that were downright laughable. And don’t even get me started on his kung-fu fight with Busta Rhymes.

It’s entirely possible that the originally planned post-Halloween 3 sequels could’ve ended up being way worse than the ones we ended up getting, but I would’ve loved to have seen what the franchise would’ve been like had it been completely freed from the Myers connection. And if Halloween 3 is any indication, we very well could’ve been in store for some truly special holiday horror films back then.

Ultimately, we’ll never know what could’ve been, or how it would’ve compared to what was, but I can’t shake the feeling that Michael Myers would’ve been better off if his story was contained to the original two films. The subsequent sequels didn’t do him, or the franchise as a whole, many favors, and I can’t think of any downside to him having been killed off in 1982 and replaced with new Halloween villains like Conal Cochran.

Aside, perhaps, from Danielle Harris not getting her start in the horror genre. Admittedly, that would’ve been a damn shame, and quite frankly a crime against humanity. So I suppose there’s at least that.

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via JohnSquires@HalloweenLove.com
  • David Watson

    Pretty much on point, sir. If anything, I think, the take that Carpenter had with Dennis Etichison for Halloween 4 was a far more intriguing concept than what we ended up with.

  • John Squires

    In 100% agreement there, David.

  • famousmortimer

    I agree with most of this, certainly (although I don’t think 3, 5 and 6 have much in the way of redeeming qualities, and “Resurrection” could be the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen). But then I think the “sister” thing from part 2 was Carpenter pulling the idea out of his ass, and while it’s a good looking film,. it’s still a pale imitation of the first one.

    So really what I’m saying is I loved 1, tolerated 2, liked 4 and absolutely hated the rest; which perhaps doesn’t make me the correct audience for this article. Thanks for writing it anyway!

  • Astro Zombie

    Fully agree, and in my mind, the real Michael Myers died at the end of part 2. I mean, he had his eyes shot out by Loomis in the end. What, did they just grow back inbetween 2 and 4, or 2 and H20?

  • Kirby4Ever

    This is a topic I think about a lot. I do so much defending of Halloween 3 and talk about how cool it would’ve been if Carpenter’s original post-H2 idea for the franchise came into fruition, but at the same time, the rest of the sequels are some of my favorite movies of all time. The original Halloweens 1 and 2 are my favorites in the franchise and, actually, in my top five favorite films of all time period, but H2O isn’t far behind. I know it’s not as popular but I love that film! I think it’s Jamie Lee’ best performance of her four, honestly, and the ending gives even more symbolic closure and finality to the franchise than H2. It’s actually probably my favorite movie ending of all time! I grew up with these films. I recognize their flaws as an adult, but every October since I was like nine years old, the sequels (specifically H4 and H5 which AMC played the most for some reason) were all I watched all month long. Playing in the background while I carved pumpkins. Having marathons with my mom on our living room couch. Etc. The movies are synonymous with Halloween the actual holiday and the entire month of October for me. Plus, they introduced me to my favorite actress of all time, Danielle Harris. I’ve seen all of her movies and just met her (for the second time) a couple months ago. Growing up watching the entire Halloween franchise (some of the films more than others, obviously) made me the horror fan I am today. It’s hard to imagine how different I might actually be without the films no matter how well they’ve held up in retrospect. However, I saw the original Halloween on the big screen last Halloween (the actual day) and it was amazing. Definitely an event I’ve been waiting to cross off my bucket list for years. And I couldn’t help but think about what it would be like if there was a new Halloween film in theaters every Halloween from ’81 and still possibly ongoing now. Maybe that would be a new tradition that I did every Halloween. Maybe it would’ve changed cinema and been an event for horror fans every October. Who knows? Either way, it’s a win-win in my opinion. On the one hand we did the lose a unique opportunity that could’ve changed Halloween and horror movies forever but, personally, I still got fond childhood memories and movies that I will always cherish, Halloween 3 included.