Let’s make this crystal clear: Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers absolutely slays, so don’t listen to those people that claim that the Halloween sequels uniformly sucked. Nevertheless, it’s true that the seven – yes, seven – sequels that followed (and that’s before we get to Rob Zombie’s late-noughties remakes of the first two movies) John Carpenter’s genre-defining 1978 slasher movie Halloween needlessly complicated what is essentially a very simple tale about a man with a great big knife killing babysitters (and I say that a massive fan).
So, it’s refreshing that the latest sequel, from director David Gordon Green and with Carpenter onboard as creative consultant, does away with much of the mythology, picking up straight after the original. But it’s not dismissive of the franchise – rather, it’s a love letter to the first movie and even the sequels (for instance, at one point Laurie, played again by Jamie Lee Curtis, sees children wearing Silver Shamrock masks from Halloween III). Laurie’s waited 40 years for Michael to come back – and has had plenty of time to think of ways to annihilate him for good…
And if you think that’s foolhardy, join us on a journey through time and chase as we hunt down the references to the 1978 movie in the latest sequel.
The basic premise
So, yes, in Halloween II (1981), it was established that Michael is Laurie’s brother. In the new movie, though, when her granddaughter is asked, “Wasn’t it her brother who murdered all those babysitters?”, she replies, “No. It was not her brother. That’s something that people made up”. It couldn’t be any clearer that we’re picking up precisely where Carpenter left off in 1978, fusing the movies together like mask and flesh.
There’s a new Loomis
Actor Donald Pleasance, who starred as Michael’s arch-nemesis, the psychiatrist Sam Loomis, sadly died in 1995. In the 2018 ‘Halloween’, we learn that Looms has died, so we’re introduced to a new psychiatrist, Dr Ranbir Sartain (Haluk Bilginer). Laurie comments that he’s “the new Loomis”, a cute bit of self-reflexivity.
That creepy song
In the original ‘Halloween’, there’s a scene where Laurie walks down the street, singing a song to herself, unaware that Michael is watching from afar. As the movie was shot on a minuscule budget, Carpenter couldn’t afford an existing track, so he and Curtis cooked up lyrics that sounded like they were taken from a pop song: “But I wish I had you all alone / Just the two of us / So close to you”. In Halloween 2018, there’s a scene where that’s a hit song that’s playing on a car stereo. “We had a band take that melody and make a big song that’s playing on the radio,” Green told Digital Spy of the cute reference.
Michael steals a car!
In the first movie, Michael steals a car to make his merry way back to Haddonfield (there must have been a good driving instructor at the institution he’s been locked up in), and repeats the trick in the new movie, slaughtering a father and his son in order to nick their wheels.
The ghost sheet
A fantastic scene from the original: Michael kills the randy Bob (John Michael Graham) and covers himself in a sheet to to trick Lynda (P. J. Soles) into believing he’s Bob. In the new movies, Michael covers up Vicky’s (Virginia Gardner) body with a super similar-looking sheet (spooky!).
The super-tense ending
There are inversions aplenty at the tense climax of the movie, as Laurie has Michael cornered in the bedroom. This time, though, he’s the one who may be hiding in the closet and, terrifyingly, she doesn’t know which one. When he finally does strike, she falls from the bedroom window, as he did in the original, and when he peers down to see her, she’s mysteriously vanished – again, a direct inversion of the actions in the 1978 film.
The credits sequence
Maybe the coolest reference comes right at the start, as Green apes the simple, pumpkin-featuring orange-on-black credit sequence of the original and the 1981 sequel. Later movies strayed from the format, but here the director sticks to the original imagery. Wickedly, he has the pumpkin go from rotten to fully formed – the opposite of the originals – which communicates his intention to turn back time on the franchise.