Deadly Movie Connections | Halloween Franchise
Over the past 21 years the Halloween franchise has picked up a somewhat odd but interesting tradition for self referentialism. This symptom usually manifests itself in the form of on-screen-on-screen in jokes. This being the use of other films featured on TV within the fictional world of Halloween. It’s always useful to keep a keen eye on what the residents of Haddonfield are watching and what this means to the filmmaker.
Halloween (1978) Dir John Carpenter: Lindsay and Tommy (the kids being babysat by Laurie and Annie) settle down for a horror movie marathon, including prolonged on-screen shots of Howard Hawks’ The Thing From Another World (1951) and Phantom Planet (1961). At the time this was a just a nod from Carpenter to two of his favourite films. However, four years later, this would have more resonance when Carpenter made his own vision of The Thing in 1982. Halloween ends up being a nice bridge between the two films, a rather loving touch by Carpenter.
Halloween 2 (1981) Dir Rick Rosenthal: For no apparent reason than to carry on the theme of horror films existing in the Halloween fictional world, Halloween 2 features George A. Romero’s seminal zombie classic Night of the Living Dead (1968). However this does neatly tie the timeline together in so much that this sequel is supposed to take place on the same night as the original Halloween, meaning Night of the Living Dead is part of the very same horror movie marathon previously being watched by Lindsay and Tommy.
Halloween 3 Season of the Witch (1982) Dir Tommy Lee Wallace: Halloween 3 goes all postmodern and dual universe on us when it features none other than 1978s Halloween on a bar-room TV. Apart from trying to be clever there doesn’t really seem to be any other reason from this apart from perhaps trying to remind the audience that this is not a Michael Myers film. Halloween 3 after all was an attempt to restart the franchise without Loomis, Myers, and Laure. This also adds to the mystique of Halloween 3 as the distant, distant, really friggin distant cousin of the Halloween franchise.
Halloween The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) Dir Joe Chappelle. This is Part 6 if you didn’t already know and features the character Mrs Blackenship watching The Phantom of the Opera (1925). There’s no particular nuance to this other than the fact that in horror films people tend to be watching old black and white horror films. However there was a missed opportunity here. The original script called for John to return home from work and find Halloween 3 Season of the Witch on TV. This would have worked nicely as a nod back to Halloween 3 which had already used the same technique to place itself outside of the on-going Halloween storyline. Sadly this was cut. The character name of Mre Blackenship is a namedrop reference in itself to a throwaway line in Halloween 3. So it would have made perfect sense for her to be watching Halloween 3 as opposed to Phantom of the Opera. But hey ho, it’s a shitty film anyway.
Halloween H20 (1998) Dir Steve Miner: In the girls dorm room (sweet) the TV is showing Scream 2 (1997) a rather obvious nod to the fact that Scream itself played a TV homage (and much better one than this) to the original Halloween (1978). Interestingly, and at least slightly more fun, was the assertion that, originally, the girls were watching So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) a film starring Mike Myers and a nice play on the Michael Myers name. This was changed to Scream 2 in post.
Halloween (2007) Dir Rob Zombie: Zombie repeats Carpenters use of The Thing From Another World (1951) in the exact same scene as the original Halloween. This is a cool touch but you can’t help but think that it would have made far more sense, and been much more fun for the fans, if Zombie had used Carpenters 1982 remake The Thing. That would have given a nice tie-in to three generations of films and filmmakers.