For 44 years now, battle has been raging in Haddonfield between Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode, and masked madman murderer Michael Myers – an unstoppable (or is he?) knife-wielding stalker who refuses to stay down. Now, they’re about to finally face off once and for all in Halloween Ends, the final instalment in David Gordon Green’s recent trilogy. A showdown? Between Michael and Laurie? It’s about damn time! Except, across the entire Halloween franchise – encompassing three separate strands of continuity (and the Rob Zombie remake and its sequel, though we won’t talk about those right now) – Curtis’ Laurie and Michael Myers have faced off several times before. In fact, they’ve come to blows in every decade from the ‘70s to now. No wonder they’re both exhausted!
So as Halloween Ends prepares to finally end Halloween, Empire presents a dive into the endings of all the Halloween finales and put an end to the Halloween debate: which Michael vs. Laurie face off is best? Different survivors, different demises, different directions – six Halloween endings enter, only one can come out on top. The battle for survival begins now.
6) Halloween Resurrection (2002)
Fifteen minutes. That’s how long Laurie Strode lasts in the much-maligned H20 sequel. What an insult! Everything about this showdown is wrong. The bizarre reveal that H20’s ending was a fake-out (bafflingly, always planned back in ’98)? Wrong. Bumping Laurie off in the opening reel? Wrong. Having Laurie kiss Michael on his masked mouth before she plummets to her death? Wrong, wrong, double-triple-wrong! If we’re being charitable, Michael chasing Laurie through the hospital corridors has some disorientatingly woozy camerawork. But on all accounts, this showdown needs a knife sticking in it.
5) Halloween Ends (2022)
It’s impossible to really get into Halloween Ends without major spoilers – but safe to say, it does offer a resolution to the Michael-vs-Laurie showdown, and that resolution is pretty great. It’s just, the rest of the film doesn’t set it up in a particularly satisfying way – so, like a rusty knife, it gets the job done but with a bit of a dulled impact. Still, there’s an image here sure to go down in Halloween history as some of the squelchiest stuff the series has brought to the screen, and there’s an actual sense of finality to David Gordon Green’s trilogy-capper. Halloween Ends, really, y’know, ends.
4) Halloween II (1981)
Given how spine-tinglingly brilliant the ending to Halloween is, the entirety of Halloween II feels a bit unnecessary – but it’s a perfectly solid sequel that continues Myers’ rampage in the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. And since he vanished at the end of the first film, the sequel is at least able to provide a greater sense of finality with a second showdown (until Halloween 4 flipped the script and brought Myers back, while also killing Strode off-screen). With surprising accuracy, Laurie shoots Michael in each of his eyes (a move as gleefully metal as it is implausible) in the operating room, before Dr. Loomis floods the room with gas and takes Myers out in a massive fireball. There’s a real dread to seeing Myers somehow stagger out of the room while flaming from head-to-toe – before finally collapsing in the corridor. Cue ‘Mr. Sandman’!
3) Halloween H20 (1998)
Swoosh. The beheading of Michael Myers happens so quickly, it’s almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. But brevity is a major part of H20’s charm, a supremely economic ‘90s slasher that reaches its closing credits in roughly 80 minutes. Another ignore-some-of-the-sequels approach (here, Halloween II and the brother-sister connection is still canon but the other films aren’t) brings a cleanliness to the Michael showdown – 20 years ago, he came for Laurie, and now he’s going to realise coming after her again (along with her son John, played by Josh Hartnett) was a big mistake. Faking sympathy for the devil allows our final girl to get close enough to her brother to swipe at his neck with an axe, a mightily satisfying clean slice. Finally, someone who understands a simple stab wound or shot to the chest won’t keep Michael down!
2) Halloween (2018)
There are flaws in David Gordon Green’s 40-years-on sequel, ignoring everything but Carpenter’s original, but they’re mostly to be found in its opening act – come the closing reel, he’s firing on all cylinders, delivering one of _Halloween’_s greatest finales. This timeline finds Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode having gone all Sarah Connor, so by the time Michael comes for her again she’s spent four decades waiting for the chance to kill him. Cue a brilliantly tense traipse round Laurie’s trap-laden house, locking down rooms one on one as she closes in on the boogeyman. Not only is it thrilling to see a horror hero with a plan (and see that plan work very well), but witnessing three generations of Strodes unite to take Michael down – Laurie, her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) – is a perfect pay-off to the film’s ideas of inter-generational trauma. It went out in a blaze of glory – maybe, it really should have ended there.
1) Halloween (1978)
The classic for a reason. While Carpenter’s original film is an all-timer from front to back, you can trace the enduring appeal of Halloween and Michael Myers to one precise chilling moment: Laurie thinks she’s taken out her masked attacker, puncturing his eye with a coat-hanger and plunging a kitchen knife into his chest – but as she sits in the doorway catching her breath, Myers silently sits bolt upright behind her. It’s masterfully done – and in the tussle that follows, Laurie actually, for once, succeeds at unmasking the man behind her misery. The real legend of Myers is born in this brawl, an apparently mortal man whose imperviousness to knife wounds or gunshots suggests (but never confirms) something more supernatural – and after tumbling over the balcony, he swiftly disappears into the ether. It’s a finale that earned Laurie, Michael and the film itself mythical status – spawning everything that would come since. Happy Halloween, kids.
Halloween Ends is out now in UK cinemas