Mandatory Movie Battle: ‘Halloween’ (1978) Versus ‘Halloween’ (2018)

Photo: Blumhouse Productions

In the new Halloween sequel produced by Jason Blum and executive produced by John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Halloween (2018) was directed by David Gordon Green, who co-wrote the screenplay with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley. The film ignores the continuity of the previous sequels in favor of telling its own story taking place 40 years after Carpenter’s original Halloween movie. Green’s sequel complements the original with a story that infuses horror with humor as it explores the various effects of trauma and PTSD, intersects with real, timely culture as Laurie stands up to her attacker and brilliantly calls back to the original film and sequels.

That said, there can only be one winner for which movie stands out between the two. In this movie battle, we examine what the new Halloween brings to the table. Warning: major spoilers ahead!

Paying Homage

Besides watching Laurie Strode take back her life and kicking The Shape’s ass, one of the best parts about the newest Halloween are the various Easter Eggs sprinkled throughout the film. There are lots of references to the original movie and even to some of the sequels. For example, there’s the scene where the mental patients escape from the crashed transportation bus, dressed in white, and Michael is now on the loose, which clearly references when Dr. Loomis and Marion Chambers come across a group of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium patients set free by Michael when he makes his escape in the original film.

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There’s also the podcasting journalists visiting Judith Myers’ tombstone, which references Loomis visiting the grave in the original as well as in Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake. Then the costumed kids running directly into Michael on the street while trick-or-treating just like in the original and Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. There’s also the role-reversal between Laurie and Michael at the end of the movie, with Michael being the one in the closet and Laurie crashing through a window and landing on the ground, only to disappear into the darkness the way Michael did in the original.

Addressing Trauma

Curtis discussed how the movie is about trauma, including generational trauma, and explained why, especially in this day and age, it’s important:

 

Halloween (2018) explores that trauma through Laurie’s paranoia and PTSD, understandable and justified after Michael escapes and comes for the Strode family; Laurie’s daughter’s attempts at normalcy after living a childhood of preparing for this exact day to come; and a granddaughter, Allyson, trying to connect with her grandmother and ultimately continuing the cycle of trauma after coming face-to-face with her grandma’s tormentor. By the end of the movie, a dazed Allyson is gripping the knife she used to help take down Michael Myers, forever changed by her experience with the Boogeyman and Dr. Sartain.

Intersecting with Real Culture

One of the most important elements about the new Halloween is the reflection of our current culture. Curtis’ character is standing up to her attacker whose actions have tormented her for decades. The movie was written right before the #metoo and Time’s Up movements and debuted after Bill Cosby went to prison and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford told her story in front of the whole world.

Laurie is traumatized, but like the survivors speaking out today, she is empowered and is finally able to confront her abuser. As Curtis said, “Women started talking about stories of violence perpetrated against them, sexual violence perpetrated against them, oppression perpetrated against them by powerful men in powerful positions who stole their innocence… a bunch of those perpetrators are in prison today. And the women who helped put them there are relieved, a little bit, of that trauma.” And that’s what Laurie’s story in the new film represents.

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Connecting the Story

One of the biggest issues with Halloween II (1981) was making Laurie and Michael siblings. What made Michael so terrifying in the original was the idea of an unstoppable Boogeyman, purely evil and with “no reason, no conscience” as Dr. Loomis put it, stalking and murdering teenagers on the anniversary of killing his actual sister when he was six. Providing that blood connection in the original sequel humanized Michael in a way because for some audiences, at least there was finally a reason behind the murders that gave viewers a little bit of comfort. A soulless monster killing for the sake of killing is far scarier.

The 2018’s Halloween opening credit sequence is similar to the original and its 1981 sequel, with the bright orange font and the jack-o’-lantern flickering on the left side of the screen. An interesting update, though, is that the pumpkin starts out smashed and is slowly fixed, symbolizing the resetting of the timeline and going back to the franchise’s roots.

Michael Myers is an unkillable evil with an established pattern of killing on Halloween, and in the original movie, he targeted Laurie and her friends simply because he spotted Laurie and little Tommy Doyle outside of his home and then stalked them, picking out victims for the holiday. It stems from that one moment, and if you were unlucky enough to catch his attention or get in his way, you became next on the list. No actual reasoning, just a monster following its instincts, which is terrifying.

In the new film, he has unfinished business with Laurie and the Strodes and kills those he sees connected to them, the occasional unlucky bystander alone at home, and anyone who could possibly help the three women, before facing off with them at Laurie’s brilliantly created trap for a home.

Photo: Blumhouse Productions

The 1978 Halloween is a classic slasher film that reinvented the genre and is arguably scarier than the 2018 version, which earned a $77.5 million domestic debut over the weekend. Where the 2018 Halloween has an edge is its clever, updated humor that fits a new generation of characters very well; its exploration of mental health; the fun cameos and homages; and the very timely theme of women taking the lead and standing up to their attacker. That said, the new Halloween is only as special as it is because of the foundation established by the original, which is what makes it the perfect sequel, and a fitting No. 2, to one of horror’s most iconic films.