Halloween Multiverse Theory and the Weight of Sequels


#1

(Some spoilers for some very old horror movies with not particularly interesting stories to follow.)

The trailer for the new Halloween is here. And with it, another Halloween timeline.

So, for those who aren’t horror weirdos like me, a recap. There are 5 Halloween timelines that contain the events of different films.

  1. Halloween > 2 > 4 > 5 > 6
  2. Halloween > 2 > H20 > Resurrection
  3. Halloween 3 (unrelated film where Halloween is presented as fictional film in it’s universe)
  4. Halloween (2007) > Halloween 2 (2009)
    And now finally:
  5. Halloween > Halloween (2018)

As an aside, remake/reboot titles have been annoying for a while but is this the first time a movie has had a sequel with the exact same title? Gross.

BUT, in all media, I also tend to view every sequel as opening up a different timeline. Halloween is a good illustration. At the end of the first Halloween Michael Myers is shot off a balcony, but when they go to check on his body it’s disappeared. The movie ends on an ominous note, implying the terror is still alive, out there somewhere, maybe even in your neighborhood etc. But at the start of Halloween 2 we see he’s actually just booked it to a couple houses down, where he finds a new butcher’s knife and continues his murder spree.

But I don’t carry the full weight of sequels when I watch the originals. To me, at the end of Halloween, he’s just vanished. At the end of Halloween 2 when he’s defeated again (this time his eyes are shot out and he’s exploded) that’s the end. At the end of Halloween 4, when he’s shot by dozens of men with rifles, knocked down a well, and then exploded again with a stick of dynamite that’s also the end.

Halloween 5 ends on a cliffhanger after a mysterious man in black breaks Michael Myers out of prison and kills all the guards, setting up Halloween 6, so that’s a little different. Side-note: this series is ridiculous.

I’m curious, when you go back and rewatch a film that’s part of a series, how much baggage of the series do you bring to it? Can you feel pure triumph at the end of Star Wars or does knowing how things will go on Hoth make it bittersweet? Does Aliens conclude with a makeshift family finally finding peace or is it ruined knowing that Hicks and Newt will soon be killed by a stowaway alien? Is the tantalizing ambiguity of Before Sunrise’s ending now destroyed by the existence of Before Sunset?


#2

not only is it not the first sequel with the exact same title, it’s not the first JOHN CARPENTER movie to get a successor with the exact same title. The Thing got the prequel, The Thing, in 2011. and yeah, that’s dumb as hell

as to your question about sequel baggage: I do my best to bring none at all. were movies not standalone experiences, they would include the content that is found in their sequels. they can supplement each other, but they don’t necessitate each other. feeling that a film utterly requires their sequels, or designing a film so that it will require its sequel, is a disservice to the film. it’s pretty simple for me, and frankly, i feel like fandom in general would be better if members thereof approached their favorite works with the same mindset.


#3

Reading this reminds me how lousy the series turned out - I don’t even particularly like Halloween 2 (the not-Rob Zombie). Halloween 3 has a great ending scene with good ol Tom Atkins, however.

As for this new movie, I don’t know - the trailer came off corny to me, and the necessity to handwave all the dumb sequel stuff feels like an exposition dump waiting to happen.


#4

It’s often very difficult for me to let go of the baggage of sequels/prequels/universes/timelines when I watch/read/play something. This is a problem for me when watching horror movies like Halloween which are part of large, ludicrous, convoluted franchises. Concerns about timelines and the finality of events has largely prevented me from getting into Marvel or DC comics, and it’s bothered me in other franchises (X-Men, the Witcher, Assassin’s Creed). I often feel like I can’t enjoy a piece of afranchise until I understand the whole timeline, the lore or backstory, etc. I spent a day on the Assassin’s Creed wiki before playing Black Flag, even though most of that game can be enjoyed entirely on its own terms, because I needed to understand the whole boring backstory of Abstergo.

I often find myself drawing lines between “proper” entries in a franchise and sequels/expansions which I feel are somehow less valid. For example, I can watch Alien and Aliens without worrying too much about the beginning of Alien 3, because I know that Alien 3 is widely less-respected and was probably a loss cohesive creative project. I certainly don’t worry about what happens in the Alien vs. Predator movies, because it’s easy for me to separate those from the first two movies in terms of quality. I don’t necessarily think that’s a fair way to categorize media, but I do it unconsciously anyway.

One thing I appreciate about the Marvel Universe is how clear the expectations are: for the most part, all of these films build on each other, and you won’t understand everything without seeing all of them. None of the films are non-canonical (with the exception of Edward Norton’s face in the first Hulk movie). But then I run into the baggage problem with the Marvel TV shows. I really liked The Punisher, but it was hard for me to reconcile the relatively grounded story with the knowledge that everybody in the show witnessed an alien invasion like three years ago and nobody talks about it.

Nowadays franchises increasingly dominate the media landscape, and often franchises will bring on very different creative voices to work on the same story or characters in quick succession (JJ Abrams -> Rian Johnson, for example). It might be best for me to treat every movie or book or game or whatever on its own terms, but I find that exceedingly difficult. Also, it’s increasingly common for movies to rely on other media for their stories and characters. Look again at the MCU; you cant ignore prequel baggage in Infinity War, because otherwise the story would be incoherent and the characters would be undeveloped.

When Disney de-canonified the Star Wars extended universe, a lot of hardcore fans got very angry. I thought it was silly (and considering that many of those angry fans when on to do and say a lot of awful things, it’s worse than silly) but on some level I understand their anger. When so much of our media requires the knowledge of other media to work, on a narrative level and an emotional level, it’s frustrating when the Truth or Canon of those networks of media are unclear or fluid.

Sorry for the ramble. I spend entirely too much time worrying about convoluted fictional universes!


#5

This thread was also sort of inspired by the negative reaction to The Last Jedi and while the kind of people that would choose to organize to harass a woman of color with no creative input into the story were always going to be toxic and awful, I wonder how many of the non-monsters who hated The Last Jedi did so in part because they wouldn’t be able to watch the original trilogy the way they used to. I wonder if, pre Disney trilogy, they thought about midi-chlorians when watching Empire Strikes Back.

I think Halloween 2 (1981) is one of the best slashers ever made (number 15 on my personal list) but it gets a LOT of mileage out of having Dean Cundey back as the DP. The trailer for this one felt like an H20 retread, but I was expecting that anyway as soon as they announced Jamie Lee Curtis would be in it. I at least have faith that David Gordon Green will have some sort of interesting visual ideas, but at this point I’m more interested in the meta-story of the franchise and the many tortured ways they’ve tried to bring it back, and what each attempt says about it’s respective era than I am the films themselves.