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The Halloween films are a financially successful series of horror films. The first is considered one of the most important and influential of the horror genre. All but one of the films feature the Michael Myers character as an unstoppable psycho-killer.
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween II (1981)
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
- Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
- Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
- Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
- Halloween (2007)
Halloween was released in 1978. John Carpenter directed and Debra Hill produced the film. Carpenter and Hill also co-wrote the screenplay, which was based on an idea of Irwin Yablan's. Donald Pleasance starred as Dr. Sam Loomis, and Jamie Lee Curtis made her motion picture debut in the film.
Halloween was filmed with a budget of merely $325,000. Nearly half of it was used on the Panaglide and Panavision camera equipment. This film became one of the most successful independent films in history.
The small, quiet town of Haddonfield, Illinois where most of the film takes place, is named after Haddonfield, New Jersey, where screenwriter Debra Hill was born and raised.
Halloween is considered the first of the modern-day "slasher" movies descending from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). The movie originated a great many of the clichés seen in countless low-budget slashers of the 1980s and 1990s.
The film tells the story of psycho-killer wearing a white-painted William Shatner mask (from the film The Devil's Rain). Six-year-old Michael Myers brutally kills his older sister on Halloween night, 1963, and is locked in a mental institution. Fifteen years later, he escapes and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield to repeat his rampage. Pursued by his psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Pleasance), Myers sets his murderous intentions on a group of young female babysitters.
Halloween's success led to a sequel. In 1981, Moustapha Akkad, executive producer of the original film, sold the film rights to maverick producer Dino DeLaurentiis, though Akkad was still actively involved in production of any films that used those rights. Later that year, DeLaurentiis released Halloween II in partnership with Universal Pictures. The film was written by John Carpenter, but this time directed by Rick Rosenthal. It was designed to pick up precisely where the 1978 original left off, in fact taking place on the same night the original movie ended. At the time, this sequel was intended to be the final chapter of the series.
Critics generally agreed it was not of the same caliber as its predecessor. Carpenter himself was extremely displeased with the end result, describing it as "about as scary as an episode of Quincy." Carpenter confirmed that he reshot many of the scenes, but refused on-screen credit as co-director because of his disappointment with the finished product. Many of the original films' fans are disenchanted by the seemingly endless spate of further sequels featuring Michael Myers, which are perceived as cynically-motivated moneymakers, rather than quality horror films made by dedicated filmmakers with a love for the originals and a genuine artistic vision.
The film's score was a variation of John Carpenter compositions from Halloween, particularly the main theme's familiar piano melody played in a 5/4 time rhythm. The score was performed on a synthesizer organ rather than a piano. One reviewer for the BBC described the revised score as having "a more gothic feel." The reviewer asserts that it "doesn’t sound quite as good as the original piece," but "it still remains a classic piece of music." Carpenter performed the score with the assistance of Alan Howarth, who had previously been involved in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and would continue to work with Carpenter on projects such as Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982) and Christine (1983).
The film featured the song "Mr. Sandman" performed by The Chordettes. Reviewers commented on the decision to include this song in the film, calling the selection "interesting" and "not a song you would associate with a film like this." The song worked well to "mimic Laurie’s situation (sleeping a lot), [making] the once innocent sounding lyrics seem threatening in a horror film." Nonetheless, another critic saw the inclusion of the song as "inappropriate" and asked, "What was that about?"
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
The third film in the series, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, was released in 1982, also by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, with John Carpenter only acting as producer. While the first sequel was a direct continuation of the original story, Halloween III is an entirely unrelated film, with the characters in the film watching Carpenter's Halloween on television. Many fans were disappointed that Michael Myers did not return in this entry, as he died in Halloween II. John Carpenter wanted in fact to make a new Halloween movie each year, each telling a different Halloween related story. As the concept received poor support from the audience, Michael Myers was brought back to life for Halloween 4.
John Carpenter was not involved in the making of these films. In 1988, the tenth anniversary of the release of the original movie, Moustapha Akkad bought back the rights to the series from Dino DeLaurentiis, and produced Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.
The film, which was released independently, brought both murderer Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis back from their graves. The success of this sequel inspired a follow-up the next year, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, also released independently. Michael's target in both films is his niece, Laurie's daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris).
Dimension Films sequels
In 1995, the sequel rights were sold again to Dimension Films, which was a Miramax subsidiary at the time. Miramax/Dimension then released Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which partially told the story of Michael Myers' origins. Joe Chappelle directed, but studio interference caused re-editing of the film and the re-shooting of certain scenes, leaving the door open for another sequel. The film made $15.1 million domestically.
Donald Pleasance, who had appeared in every entry of the series to date (with the exception of the unrelated Halloween III) died before Halloween H20: 20 Years Later could begin production in 1998, the 20th anniversary of the first film. Halloween H20 marked the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, whose character supposedly died in a car crash before the events of the fourth, but was later revealed to have set up an elaborate way to go into hiding. The film ignores the events of parts 4, 5 and 6 of the series, acting as a direct sequel to Halloween II. As in Halloween II, Michael is seemingly killed for good, but this was not the case, as Michael returned to kill again in Halloween: Resurrection, (2002).
Both Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection were produced in the same style as Dimension's previous 1990s horror films, such as Scream (1996). Halloween H20 was a hit, raking in over $55 million domestically and earning over $70 million worldwide with a budget of $17 million. Halloween: Resurrection earned $30 million domestically, and only $7 million internationally. Its production/marketing budget combined was estimated to be $33 million.
On June 5, 2006, after several days of speculation, it was announced that Dimension Films had hired Rob Zombie to write, produce, and direct a new version of the original film, for release on August 31, 2007. According to Zombie, the movie will not be a straight remake of the 1978 original, but rather a "reimagining." 
Dimension, which currently holds sequel rights, was spun off from Miramax/Disney by the producing Weinstein brothers in late 2005, and is now part of the Weinstein Company.