Ever since John Carpenter unleashed Michael Myers onto the world with 1978’s Halloween, viewers and residents of Haddonfield, Illinois alike have lived in fear of October 31st. Wearing the iconic white mask and blue coveralls, Myers set out to kill all of his existing relatives, starting with Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode before moving on to her daughter Jamie (Danielle Harris) and then Jamie’s son and a few other extended family members.
Before Rob Zombie rebooted the franchise in 2007, Myers slashed his way through Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), 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 (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002).
As he went from film to film, the iconic slasher grew stronger and meaner with his kills, though he always seemed to appreciate a level of theatricality whenever possible. Whether he staged the bodies to reveal themselves as the final girl ran through a particular house or drew out a kill for an entire night – and sometimes decades – Michael always wanted to make an impression with his work.
This list contains huge spoilers for the Halloween franchise and a variety of clips that are NSFW, so consider yourself warned.
10. Judith Myers (Halloween)
The one that started it all. On Halloween night, 1963, Michael Myers spied his sister making out with her boyfriend, grabbed a knife, donned a mask, climbed the stairs and stabbed his older sister Judith to death. He then walked outside and calmly waited for his parents to arrive. He was six years old.
This first murder really sets the tone for the rest of Michael’s mayhem. There’s a familial element as well as the obvious sexual overtones, but even as a kid he makes sure to put on the mask and then stroll outside to present his horrific actions to his parents and anyone else out on the street that night. Basically, after that he’s just trying to live up to that first kill, but that’s a dangerous dragon to chase!
9. Lynda van der Klok (Halloween)
Dr. Sam Loomis, Michael’s psychologist-turned-longtime nemesis, said in the first film, that the masked murderer planned for his first attacks for fifteen years. While he might not have been able to see every single aspect of that Halloween night in 1978, he did seem to have a generally theatrical bent between posing bodies for Laurie to find at the end and drawing out his attempt on her life all day even though he could have taken her out several times.
The most dramatic of Michael’s modern murders in the first film has to be Lynda’s. After having sex with her boyfriend, Lynda sends Bob downstairs for some beers. Instead of getting a buzz, Bob gets pinned to the wall with a kitchen knife. Not content to just trudge upstairs and do the same to Lynda, Michael instead dons a sheet and Bob’s glasses before heading up. Essentially playing the ghost of her dead boyfriend, Michael appears before Lynda who flashes him before calling Laurie. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he walks up behind the unsuspecting Lynda and strangles her with the phone chord, which Laurie mistakes for the sounds of passion. So, in addition to being a sadistic murder, he also inadvertently makes lewd phone calls!
8. Nurse Karen Bailey (Halloween II)
Many of the kills in Halloween II – which picks right up where the first film leaves off and continues the action in the Haddonfield hospital – were off camera. The doctor with the needle in the eye and the nurse made to bleed out all over the floor were seen after the fact. But one of the more brutal on-screen kills follows another naughty naked session.
Throughout the first part of the film, ambulance driver Budd tries to play it cool and calm, disregarding much of the hoopla over the night’s killings. Instead, he’s far more interested in getting together with his girlfriend, Karen Bailey, a nurse at the hospital. He soon gets his way and the two meet up in the hospital’s hot tub room.
Michael sneaks in and turns the heat up in the tub which lures Budd away to another room. Once there, Myers strangles him, then creeps up on Karen, putting a hand on her shoulder. After she kisses and licks his hand, pressing it to her chest, Michael takes offense and proceeds to repeatedly shove her face into the increasingly hot water until she not only drowns, but also scalds to death. Shouldn’t he have to kill himself after thinking naughty thoughts about another human being?
7. Kelly Meeker (Halloween 4)
After seven years without a film – Halloween III: Season of the Witch was an attempt to make a different kind of franchise – Michael Myers returned in Halloween 4 to menace Jamie Lloyd, the daughter of Laurie Strode who reportedly died in a car accident. Jamie lives with a foster family including her big sister-like Rachel, who winds up babysitting her on Halloween night. After a run-in with Michael and a general realization that something’s wrong, Rachel and Jamie meet up with Loomis and Sheriff Meeker who takes them all back to his house for safekeeping.
Earlier in the movie, though, Rachel discovered that Meeker’s daughter Kelly was hanging out with her boyfriend, sans pants. Not long after Kelly tells Rachel he “won’t be the last man you lose to another woman,” Kelly brings tea to the cop keeping watch over the house. She talks to him casually as he sits in his rocking chair before lighting a match to see that the cop is actually dead and crumpled up in front of her. The man in the chair reveals himself to be Michael Myers, wielding a shotgun. Not one to take the easy route, the killer shoves the double barrel through her guts so hard it lifts her off the ground and breaks through the wall. Kinda makes you wonder how long he was sitting there and how long he would have stayed if she hadn’t felt like making him a spot of tea.
6. Rachel Carruthers (Halloween 5)
Rachel made a lot of fans thanks to her ceaseless dedication to keeping Jamie safe in Halloween 4. She returns in the next film from college to visit Jamie in the children’s psychological ward where she now lives because of events at the end of previous installment.
Back home, Rachel changes in her room, unknowingly giving Michael a little peep show as he hides in the closet before moving on to other parts of the house. Luring her into another room, Michael appears from behind a door and stabs her with scissors which also sets off Jamie’s psychic link to her uncle.
Rachel’s actual death isn’t that out-there, which is actually part of the problem. She’s one of the franchise’s most beloved characters – up there with Laurie and Jamie – and yet she gets dispatched in a few moments early on in one of the franchise’s weaker entries. That’s not cool, Halloween people! She deserved so much better, but at least actress Ellie Cornell got to reprise her role unlike…someone else on the list.
5. Spitz & Samantha (Halloween 5)
After Rachel’s death, Halloween 5 switches focus to her friends Tina and Samantha. The duo have big plans for a Halloween party that night at the tower farm that acts as an important location for the end of the film as Michael Myers just can’t resist ruining October 31st for as many people as possible.
Samantha and her boyfriend Spitz decide to have some fun in a nearby barn, which Myers takes offense to. While going at it, he buries a pitchfork in Spitz’s chest (he was on top). Instead of driving it into Sam as well or finishing the job right away, he gives her enough time to scream, dislodge the pitchfork – did I mention she’s wearing a devil costume? – and try to defend herself against the scythe-wielding madman. You don’t actually see Samantha lose her head for Michael, but it’s implied by a far-too-small spray of blood. Maybe he just nicked her?
4. Jamie Lloyd (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers)
Danielle Harris played Jamie Lloyd in the fourth and fifth Halloween movies with a surprising level of gravity for a child actor. And yet, she was replaced by the time the ill-fated Curse of Michael Myers came along because the studio didn’t want to shell out the cash for her.
Either way, the character of Jamie spent six years with the cult that abducted her and Michael at the end of the previous film. In that time, she was impregnated and gives birth at the beginning of this one. Thanks to a benevolent nurse, Jamie steals a truck and escapes with her baby to a bus station though her maniacal uncle is close behind.
To keep her baby safe, she hides it in the bus station before luring Myers away by taking off in her stolen truck. Michael makes them crash into an old barn filled with pumpkins (of course) where he shoves her body onto a corn thresher. She reaches her arms out to hug him, which he seems to respond to, but instead jams her on the machine even further. To put the bloody cherry on the sundae, Uncle Mikey turns the machine on and gives her the threshing of a lifetime.
3. John Strode (Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers)
Unlike a lot of the other slasher franchises out there, Halloween tended to steer clear of filling its films with complete assholes just waiting to be offed. However, the biggest ass of the bunch debuted in Curse of Michael Myers. Thanks to some somewhat complicated familial relationships, the story focuses on Laurie Strode’s cousin’s family which is lead by John Strode, a man who not only berates his daughter at the breakfast table, but calls her son a bastard with him in the room and slaps her across the face all during one meal.
The S.O.B. comes home drunk on Halloween night after Michael already paid a visit to his wife. Following a mysterious sound in the basement, John discovers his wife’s body in the washing machine just before Myers reveals himself (again with the dramatic timing). Michael impales John, carries him across the room and shoves him into some kind of electrical outlet. Taking the charge himself, Michael stands there as his victim twitches until his whole body explodes! Siding with mass murderers might not be recommended as a general rule, but in this case Michael Myers probably had the right idea.
2. The Paramedic (Halloween: H20)
Halloween: H20 reinvigorated the franchise two decades after the first film debuted. It was a big deal because it marked the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. At the same time, plenty of franchise fans were disappointed that this movie and its sequel disregarded everything but the first two films. Still, the sequel presented a realistic look at what it would be like for Laurie Strode – now going by Keri Tate – as she tries to make a life for herself after the all-time worst Halloween experience.
Laurie soon discovers that she’s in for another rough October 31st as her brother returns to kill her and her 17-year-old son John. After killing some of John’s friends and Laurie’s boyfriend, the siblings begin an epic game of cat and mouse that ends with Laurie hijacking the ambulance holding Michael’s seemingly unconscious body. After they go off the road, Laurie confronts her trapped brother, thinks about showing mercy for about a second and then chops his head clean off with a fire axe.
Or so she thinks. As we learn in Halloween: Resurrection, the man in the Michael Myers mask was actually a paramedic that the murderer switched places with. So, while Michael might not have actually killed the paramedic, he did set him up to die and also damaged Laurie so badly that she herself wound up in an institution, carrying on the family tradition. It just goes to show that, for Michael, the kill isn’t always good enough. He wants them to suffer.
1. Laurie Strode (Halloween: Resurrection)
Laurie lived for three years in that asylum before her brother paid her a final visit. In the beginning of Halloween: Resurrection, we see her looking pretty rough, though smartly hiding her medication away in a stuffed animal. When Michael finally does show up, she’s ready, having done some planning of her own for just such an occasion.
Laurie leads Michael up to the roof where he walks right into a snare trap. After some pretty big talk about not being afraid of him, Laurie needs to make sure she’s killing the right guy this time, so she moves to check his mask, but that’s all the leeway Michael needs. Moments later he grabs her wrist, the rope snaps and both of them tumble over the side of the building. Michael holds on to the edge, which swings Laurie right into him and his awaiting knife.
In case you were wondering, yes, after 20-some-odd years of waiting and planning, the world’s most nefarious masked killer fell for a Looney Tunes trap and then literally stabbed his target in the back. Michael probably loved the symbolism, but it could have used a huge dose of style and theatricality. He didn’t even trick anyone with a silly costume!
Previously by TJ Dietsch