Halloween as we know it has finally come to an end. No longer will The Boogeyman be haunting the streets of Haddonfield. With the release of Halloween Ends, and before the series is inevitably rebooted again, it’s time now to take stock of the franchise and its best moments. Over the course of 44 years, the Michael Myers saga has given us plenty of frights. There have been exciting highs and terribly grim lows. Through it all, there’s always been something worth talking about, no matter how divisive.
While the franchise’s carnage is always up for discussion, I wanted to focus in on those non-kill scenes一mostly, I may have snuck in one or two一that linger with you long after the movie has ended. From character monologues to heart-pounding chase sequences (and everything in between), this list celebrates the 20 best scenes in the Halloween universe, including a few from 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
But first, here are three honorable mentions: the car chase scene in Halloween 5 through the field behind Tower Farm; the gnarly conclusion in Halloween Kills during which Michael slaughters countless townspeople; and the revelation that Ellie is a robot in Halloween III.
Now, onto the list…
The Devil’s Eyes – Halloween
In his most iconic monologue, Dr. Loomis clues the audience and Sheriff Brackett (Charles Cyphers) into the evil lurking behind The Shape’s mask. “I met this six-year-old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes 一 the Devil’s eyes,” he says. “I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up, because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” Set within the decrepit Myers house, the verbose speech slices to the heart of one of the most iconic horror villains, and it’s still enough to make your blood run cold.
Face-to-Face – Halloween H20
When John (Josh Hartnett) and Molly (Michelle Williams) discover Sarah’s (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) body hanging from a light fixture, they run for their lives through the campus. Paired with the score, it’s a heart-pounding sequence that catapults the audience into the thrilling third act. From Molly slamming a rock into Michael Myers’ head to her dropping the keys, it’s one of the series’ best chase scenes. “Someone open the fucking door!” screams John, pounding on the inner door. Fortunately, Laurie and Will (Adam Arkin) are on hand, and it leads to the epic, long-awaited family reunion. Their face-to-face is one for the books.
Up on the Rooftop – Halloween 4
Rachel (Ellie Cornell) more than earned her place in the Final Girl Hall of Fame. When confronted with the literal incarnation of evil, she held her own every step of the way. Once Michael has slaughtered everyone else in the Meeker house, only Rachel and Jamie (Danielle Harris) remain. Thinking on her feet, Rachel knocks out an attic window with a suitcase and climbs out onto the roof with Jamie clinging to her back. The Halloween Theme kicks in, and it’s a full-throttle sequence. Somehow incredibly agile, Michael peeks over the ridge and creeps his way toward them. Except for the shocking ending (more on that later), it’s the film’s finest hour.
“Stop it!” – Halloween III
Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) is a man on a mission. Throughout the film, he uncovers a diabolical plot to kill every child in America. The secret cult is led by Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), who masks his scheme behind children’s masks manufactured by Silver Shamrock. There’s a big giveaway happening on Halloween, and promotion, including that earworm of a jingle, is in full swing. When the clock counts down, it appears to be true and that anyone wearing one of the company’s masks will have their head crushed and turned into insects and snakes. In the final scene of the film, Dr. Challis has made his way to a nearby gas station where he begins dialing up various local TV stations to convince them to stop running the disturbing commercial. “Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!” he screams into the phone. Challis’ look to the camera pierces right to your soul.
You’ve Got One Shot – Halloween (2018)
Michael’s return to Haddonfield has been 40 years in the making. It’s Halloween night, and the neighborhood buzzes with children darting down the streets, collecting candy and talking about the spooky house across the street. Michael bumps into two kids before taking a detour through several houses, murdering along the way. It’s a gliding sequence that features a one-shot take, following behind the Boogeyman into one house and out and back into another. It’s a masterclass of filmmaking if I ever saw one.
Laurie’s Masterpiece – Halloween Ends
Laurie gets another stab (quite literally) at killing the Boogeyman. After Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell) shows up to kill her, Laurie fires two deadly shots in his chest. Corey then professes his love for Allyson and stabs himself in the throat. Moments later, Michael Myers finally shows up, and the two have their final confrontation. And it feels real this time. Laurie manages to crucify Michael on the kitchen island by stabbing him through the hands. She then topples the refrigerator so he can’t move and proceeds to unmask him and slit his throat. Once the cavalry arrives, Michael is strapped to the roof of a car and taken to the junkyard where he is shoved through a metal shredder. His body is mutilated into a million fleshy bits. All the death and trauma have led to this, and it’s quite satisfying.
Doing Laundry – Halloween 5
Halloween 5 might have some befuddling creative choices, but you can’t argue that it doesn’t have some terrifically tense scenes and gothic style all its own. In the third act, it becomes clear that Michael Myers can’t possibly be stopped, even if Dr. Loomis is delusional enough to think so. After luring The Shape back to his childhood home, Jamie sneaks into the laundry chute to hide. It’s a good idea on paper, but she soon realizes that nowhere is safe. Once he discovers his niece holding on for dear life, he reaches down the chute and causes her to fall all the way down to the basement. What ensues is a nail-biting moment that involves Michael stabbing through the metal chute and nicking Jamie in the leg. The fact she’s just a child makes it all even more terrifying.
Michael’s Capture – Halloween Kills
The nearly 10-minute opening scene in Halloween Kills is what dreams are made of. Flashing back to 1978, David Gordon Green extends the ending of the original film to add further context and justification for his trilogy. Following the events of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Michael Myers disappeared into the night, only to appear ghost-like around town and eventually making his way to the Myers house. There, deputy Hawkins (Thomas Mann) and his partner face off against the evil force, which results in Hawkins accidentally missing his target and killing his partner instead. Dr. Loomis (played by Tom Jones Jr. and voiced by Colin Mahan) and the entire police force show up in time to capture Michael before he can do any more damage. Regardless of the film as a whole, this opening scene is exemplary filmmaking.
Seeing Men Behind Bushes – Halloween
What makes Halloween such an effective chiller isn’t the jump scares. It’s the slow-burning tension and stalking scenes. While sitting in English class, Laurie spots Michael peeping through the blinds from across the street. One moment he’s there, and the next he vanishes into thin air. Later, while walking home with Annie, Michael appears in the distance standing next to a bush 一 you know the iconic shot. It’s broad daylight, and that makes it even more haunting. A little while later, Laurie sees The Shape standing in her backyard among sheets flapping in the wind. He literally disappears before her eyes as quickly as he appeared.
Passing the Torch – Halloween 4
Halloween 4 is a solid reentry in the Myers saga. Directed by Dwight Little, it features all the tricks and treats you can expect in a slasher movie with a few surprises thrown into the mix. The biggest shock in the film comes with the ending. That ending. After everything Jamie and Rachel have been through, Michael’s supposed death is not the end of things. Oh, no. When Jamie’s foster mother Darlene (Karen Alston) prepared a hot bath for her, Jamie grabs a pair of scissors, pulls down her clown mask, and stabs Darlene in the shoulder. Halloween 4 goes for the oh-my-god moment, ala the original film, and it works on every single level.
All Hallow’s Eve – Halloween 6
Halloween 6 has the best sense of mood since the original. Amidst Michael’s latest rampage, the best scene is not quite what you might expect. Mrs. Blankenship (Janice Knickrehm) runs a boarding house, where Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd) resides, and doesn’t talk much with the other tenants. But when she does, she speaks with authority. With a storm building outside, she shares the history behind Halloween and why we celebrate with a wide-eyed Danny (Devin Gardner). The scene cuts between the story and Tommy wandering through the Halloween festival, eerie fire crackling in the background. The moment is a brief one, yet it captures the entire essence of the sixth film.
Test Room A – Halloween III
Masks are all the rage. The pumpkin, the witch, and the skull are the hot ticket items, manufactured by Silver Shamrock. Being the best seller that year, Buddy Kupfer (Ralph Strait) and his family get a special demonstration in Test Room A. It’s all a bit strange, as his wife Betty (Jadeen Barbor) points out. When the TV set flickers on, playing the undeniable earworm, little Buddy (Brad Schacter) slips on his mask and quickly has his head melted and transformed into a host of slithering bugs and snakes. His parents scream bloody murder. As the room is inescapable, they soon succumb to various venomous bites. Dr. Challis looks on in utter shock from the control room.
It’s Just a Dream – Rob Zombie’s Halloween II
Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is still recovering from the trauma she endured a year prior. So much so, she has nightmares about the boogeyman every single night that leave her screaming for dear life. In one of those dreams, she imagines herself back in the hospital the night following the tragic events. She’s been through strenuous surgeries to repair the many deep wounds and wears a cast boot to protect her leg. The night is quiet, too quiet. The only sound is the thunderstorm raging outside. But it doesn’t stay quiet for long. Michael tears through the hospital staff and chases Laurie out into the storm to the security guard shed. It’s a shame it’s all dream, as it does set quite the tone for the rest of the film.
Motion Sensor, Dumbass – Halloween (2018)
Following the high school Halloween dance, Allyson (Andi Matichak) and her friend Oscar (Drew Sheid) make their way through the dark Haddonfield streets toward home. When Oscar makes an unwanted advance, Allyson leaves him on the lawn in someone’s backyard. He’s clearly drunk and starts a conversation with Michael, who Oscar believes is Mr. Elrod. Through a clever use of a motion sensor spotlight, the scene toys with the audience. Michael lurks in the shadows and pounces once the sensor flicks back on again. Oscar is first stabbed and then his jaw is slammed through an iron fence. Allyson discovers her friend’s lifeless body and subsequently runs for her life, screaming for someone to help her. The dramatic score makes this moment absolutely chilling.
One Good Scare – Halloween
Halloween builds and builds to the last 20 minutes, and the payoff is more than worth it. Michael has killed everyone around Laurie and lures her over to the Wallace house, where she discovers the bodies of her friends. From the moment Michael emerges from the dark to Laurie’s tumble over the banister and the claustrophobic closet scene, the third act is a relentless tour de force. For every attack Michael makes, Laurie strikes in return, including wielding a knitting needle into his neck and stabbing him in the eye with a metal clothes hanger. Michael might ultimately be unstoppable, but Laurie gives him one helluva fight.
Laurie Fights Back – Halloween H20
Speaking of third act confrontations, Halloween H20 takes what the original film did and pumps it full of adrenaline. Laurie sends her son John and his girlfriend Molly down the road to call the police, grabs an ax, and delivers the epic, “Michael!” scream. Confronting her demon is the only way she can move on with her life. Through using anything she can to fight back, Laurie does everything right in the finale. An ax, a flag pole, and a whole drawer of knives 一 nothing is off limits. She even kicks Michael in the groin. When none of that works, she steals the coroner van and drives off into the night to make sure the deed is done. After driving the van over a cliff, she finds the ax again and chops off his head. Nothing gets better than that.
Smith’s Grove – Rob Zombie’s Halloween
Say what you will about Rob Zombie’s remake; he at least takes some big creative swings, even if they don’t always work. It’s not even my cup of tea, but I can give credit where it’s due. The middle section revolving around Michael’s treatment in Smith’s Grove stands above the rest of the film. It’s a fascinating glimpse into his psyche and how he’s completely compartmentalized the murder of his step-father, sister, and sister’s boyfriend. The dynamic between patient and doctor is equally compelling, as Michael’s slow descent into madness quickens with each scene.
Run Lindsay Run – Halloween Kills
Where Halloween (2018) failed to have a lengthy chase scene, Halloween Kills makes up for it with a chase involving returning character Lindsay Wallace (Kyle Richards). Once Michael dispatches everyone in the car, including Nurse Marion (Nancy Stephens), Lindsay shows up with a pillowcase of bricks and slams it into Michael’s head. After Michael grabs her by the throat and throws her up against the car, she narrowly escapes and runs for dear life through a nearby cluster of trees down to a quiet stream, nestled in the darkness. She slides into the riverbank and hides out. Michael takes his time surveying the scene, only his heavy breathing filling the scene. He eventually gives up the hunt and leaves the park by way of a wooden bridge. If you’re looking for good ole fashioned tension, this is it.
Between the Eyes, Halloween II
There are few things as satisfying as Laurie shooting Michael between the eyes. When you can’t have a decapitation without the powers that be explaining it away, it’s the next best thing. In the fiery ending to Halloween II, Laurie is once again chased through the hospital parking lot and only saved in the nick of time by Dr. Loomis and Nurse Marion. Then, after Michael kills the marshal, Loomis and Laurie dash through the halls to find a hiding spot and find themselves in an operating room. Michael easily breaks through the door and stabs Loomis with a scalpel. That leaves Laurie to defend herself, and at the very last second, she picks up a revolver and fires two shots straight into Michael’s eyes. Blood oozes in eerie tear tracks. Loomis quickly recovers and sets the entire wing ablaze. It’s perhaps his finest moment in any Halloween film.
It Was an Accident – Halloween Ends
In the film’s opening scene, Corey is babysitting a young boy named Jeremy (Jaxon Goldenberg), who’s not too keen on having an “ugly boy babysitter.” Instead of making paper airplanes, Jeremy wants to watch a monster movie, even if it scares him. When he makes a snarky comment, Corey says he has only five more minutes before it’s lights out. But Jeremy’s a spoiled brat, so he seizes an opportunity to play a practical joke. He pretends a killer has broken into the house and acts as though he’s been killed in an upstairs bedroom. His screams lure Corey to the second floor, and Jeremy locks him in a room. Corey begins kicking the door and screaming to be freed, and when the door bursts open, it smacks Jeremy in the head and shoves him over the banister to his death on the first floor… right in front of his parents. It’s magnificently brutal and sets quite the tone for the film.