Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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Halloween H20:
20 Years Later
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Steve Miner
Produced by Paul Freeman[1]
Written by
Story by Robert Zappia
Based on Characters 
by John Carpenter
& Debra Hill
Music by
Cinematography Daryn Okada
Edited by Patrick Lussier
Distributed by Dimension Films
Release dates
  • August 5, 1998 (1998-08-05)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million[2]
Box office $55 million[2]

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later is a 1998 American slasher film and the seventh installment in the Halloween film series. It was directed by Steve Miner and starred Jamie Lee Curtis, LL Cool J, Josh Hartnett, and Michelle Williams. The film was released on August 5, 1998, to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Halloween (1978).

The story was developed and created by Robert Zappia. The screenplay was written by Robert Zappia and Matt Greenberg. It is a direct sequel to John Carpenter's Halloween and Halloween II and retcons the events that transpired in the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments, rendering them as non-canon in this film. Set twenty years after the events of the first two movies, H20 centers on a post-traumatic Laurie Strode living in fear of her murderous brother, Michael Myers, who attempted to kill her all those years ago. When Michael eventually appears, Laurie must face evil one last time, while the life of her teenage son hangs in the balance.

The film also features many nods and homages to the original film as well as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and Scream (1996), two of the most critically acclaimed slasher films in history with an influential connection to Carpenter's 1978 film; Psycho inspired the original Halloween and Scream was inspired by the original Halloween. In addition, Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis's real life mother, who portrayed Marion Crane in Psycho appears in the film as Norma Watson.

The film received mixed reviews from critics, praising the script, direction of Steve Miner and the performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Josh Hartnett, but received criticism for certain plot points (such as ignoring some of the previous films) and its short running time.


On October 29, 1998, Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), Dr. Sam Loomis' former colleague, returns to her home in Langdon, Illinois, to find it has been burglarized. After having her neighbor Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his friend Tony call the police, Jimmy searches the house and finds nothing. While waiting for the police, Marion discovers a file is missing, the one on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michael Myers' sister. She also realizes that someone has been in her house and immediately rushes back over to Jimmy's house, where she finds him and Tony dead. Michael Myers (Chris Durand) appears, and kills Marion. Michael leaves the house with Laurie's file.

On Halloween, two days later, Laurie Strode awakens from a nightmare, having to be calmed by her son, John (Josh Hartnett). Since 1978, she has tried to get her life together with the hope that her older brother would never come after her again. She faked her death in a car accident, and then relocated to California under the assumed name "Keri Tate". She has a seemingly perfect life with John, her boyfriend Will (Adam Arkin), and a career as headmistress at Hillcrest Academy, a private boarding school where John attends. Unfortunately, Laurie is far from happy, as the tragic events from 1978 still haunt her.

While a woman and her daughter are using a bathroom at a rest stop, the two narrowly avoid Michael, who steals the woman's car. At the campus, the students leave for an overnight field trip at the Yosemite National Park. Later that evening, John and his friends are having an intimate Halloween party in the basement when John's friend, Charlie (Adam Hann-Byrd), is attacked and killed by Michael. When Charlie's girlfriend Sarah (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe) goes looking for him, she finds him dead in the kitchen dumbwaiter with a corkscrew embedded in his throat, and Michael appears. She manages to get into the dumbwaiter next to Charlie and just as she closes the door Michael stabs her in the leg. The dumbwaiter heads up a level and as Sarah gets out Michael slashes the rope, causing the dumbwaiter to fall onto Sarah's leg, savagely disfiguring it. As she attempts to crawl for help Michael stabs her to death.

John and his girlfriend Molly (Michelle Williams) go looking for their friends. They find Sarah's body hung in the pantry and are chased by Michael through the school grounds. At one point in the chase, John is stabbed in the leg by Michael. Just as Michael is about to get Molly and John, they are saved by Laurie and Will, who open the door for them just in time. Just as the door closes behind them, Laurie and Michael come face to face for the first time since their last encounter twenty years ago. Laurie and Will hide Molly and John and decide to try to kill Michael.

When Will sees a shape approaching from the far end of the hall, he takes Laurie's handgun and shoots at the shape five times. When they check the downed shape, they discover that it was actually the school's security guard, Ronny (James Todd Smith). Michael then appears and stabs Will in the back, killing him. Laurie helps John and Molly escape but she tells them to go for help while she chooses to go back to the school with a fire ax. She finds Michael and attempts to kill him several times, and finally after stabbing him multiple times, he topples over a balcony. She approaches his body and pulls one of the knives out of his chest. She slowly raises the knife high above her head, but before she can deliver the final blow, Ronny suddenly appears, having survived the shooting, and grabs her. He restrains her from attacking Michael and drags her out of the cafeteria insisting that Michael is dead.

The police come and put Michael in a body bag, loading it into a coroner's van. Laurie grabs the ax from earlier and an officer's gun, and she steals the van. While driving away, Michael sits up and escapes the body bag. She slams on the brakes, throwing him through the windshield. She then tries to run him over and the vehicle tumbles down a cliff, pinning Michael between the van and a tree. Laurie recovers the axe and approaches him. She decapitates Michael, finally killing him. Police sirens are heard as Laurie exhales.



John Carpenter was originally in the running to be the director for this particular follow-up since Curtis wanted to reunite the cast and crew of the original to have active involvement in it. It was believed that Carpenter opted out because he wanted no active part in the sequel; however, this is not the case. Carpenter agreed to direct the movie, but his starting fee as director was $10 million. Carpenter rationalized this by believing the hefty fee was compensation for revenue he never received from the original Halloween, a matter that was still a point of contention between Carpenter and Akkad even after twenty years had passed. When Akkad balked at Carpenter's fee, Carpenter walked away from the project, though supposedly served as an uncredited producer.

Scream writer/producer Kevin Williamson was involved in various areas of production. Although not directly credited, he provided rewrites in character dialogue, which is seen heavily throughout the teen moments. Miramax/Dimension Films felt his involvement as a co-executive producer merited being credited. The original working title for the film was Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode.


The original music score was composed by John Ottman, but some music from Scream was added to the chase scenes later on during post-production. Ottman expressed some displeasure about this action in an interview featured on the Halloween: 25 Years of Terror DVD released in 2006. Ottman's score was supplemented with Marco Beltrami's scores from Scream, Scream 2, and Mimic by a team of music editors as well as new cues written by Beltrami during the final days of sound mixing on the film. Dimension Films chief Bob Weinstein demanded the musical changes after being dissatisfied with Ottman's score.[3]

The song "What's This Life For" by the music group Creed was featured in the film during a party sequence and is also heard during the credits of the film.

The theme from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was briefly used during the scene (at 42:00) where Laurie Strode speaks with Norma Watson (played by Janet Leigh, Jamie Lee Curtis' real life mother). (In addition Janet Leigh stands in front of a 1957 Ford Sedan, license plate NFB 418, which was her car in the movie Psycho.)

No official soundtrack was ever released for the film, but a compilation album by John Ottman was released in the United States and Germany under the Varese Sarabande label and includes the original score by Ottman and numerous other cuts.


As said on Halloween: 25 Years of Terror, Halloween H20 had scenes re-shot due to complaints of the Myers mask used in the film. Scenes that could not be re-shot had a CGI mask replace them frame by frame. Four masks were made for the film.

Alternate Television Version[edit]

In February 2003, the FX network premiered an alternate version of the film, adding and extending footage not seen in the original release.[4]


Box office[edit]

In terms of total gross, Halloween: H20 is the second highest-grossing film in the Halloween franchise, behind Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of the original. It was released on August 5, 1998 in the US and later in many other countries. H20 cost $17 million to produce and returned over $55 million in domestic box office sales with an opening weekend of $16,187,724.[2] As for video/DVD rentals, the film grossed over $21 million.

Critical response[edit]

Halloween H20 received mixed reviews. with a rating of 51% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews; the site's general consensus is "Halloween: H20 is the best of the many sequels, yet still pales in comparison to the original Halloween." The film was mainly praised for its writing, directing and the acting, particularly for the performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Josh Hartnett.[5]


  • As originally conceived, the plot device in which Laurie had faked her death was written expressly to account for her reported "death" in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and the original story treatment for H20 acknowledged the events depicted in the fourth through sixth films in the series, including the existence and death of Laurie's daughter, Jamie Lloyd as well as the Thorn curse; however, the filmmakers ultimately chose to ignore the continuity of the previous three sequels to focus more on Jamie Lee Curtis's character, Laurie Strode. Although Laurie's faked death remained in the script, the scenes mentioning Jamie were removed from the story, and the film's dialogue was adjusted to indicate that Michael Myers had not been heard from in the twenty years since the night depicted in the first two films.
  • Michael's 20 missing years are explained in the comic book series Halloween: Sam, which also explains what happened to Dr. Loomis in the new continuity and further goes on to explain that Loomis and Laurie both knew he would return and she was placed in a witness protection program. The new continuity explains that Michael's body was never recovered from the hospital.
  • Halloween H20 also features the return of Nurse Marion Chambers-Wittington, who appeared in the first two films as an associate of Dr. Loomis. In Halloween, she was the nurse who drove with Loomis to the asylum when Myers made his escape, and she reprised her role in Halloween II.
  • The Halloween comic book series, published by Chaos Comics in 2001, bridged the continuity between Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween H20, but in doing so made the plot of Halloween: Resurrection (unreleased at the time) impossible.
  • Some scenes that were dropped from the other three movies were placed in H20. For example, the scene where Laurie is hiding beneath a table in the dining hall, Michael starts flipping the tables over. This was originally going to be placed in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, where Michael chases Jamie Lloyd through the elementary school. It was written that she would hide under a desk and Michael was going to flip the desks over. This was dropped due to time constraints. However, Moustapha Akkad remembered and filmed it as part of H20.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis' mother, Janet Leigh, appears in this film as Mrs. Watson. Janet Leigh is best known for her role as Marion Crane in Psycho (1960). There is a scene where we see Mrs. Watson's car behind her. It is a 1957 Ford Custom 300. This is the same car that Marion trades her car for in Psycho when she is on the run. It is rumored to be the same exact car.
  • Judith Myers' death is briefly mentioned just like in previous Halloween films. It is brought up by Laurie Strode when she reveals her true identity to her boyfriend, Will; and Laurie says Judith was 17 years old at the time of her death. According to John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), however, the dates on Judith's tombstone are November 10, 1947 – October 31, 1963 making her 15 years old at the time of death. It is believed that the writers of Halloween: H20 changed Judith's age so that it would correspond with the character Laurie Strode's age from the original Halloween film of 1978.
  • One of the newspaper headlines shows a pair of bloody scissors, meaning that the disregarded sequels (Halloween 4-6) still could've taken place since both the 4th and 5th films featured someone getting killed by a pair of scissors.
  • The yearbook shown in the beginning of the film lists Laurie as being part of the Class of 1978. However, if she was still in school in October 1978, she would have been part of the Class of 1979.

Home media[edit]

In the United States, Halloween H20 was released on VHS and laserdisc by Buena Vista Home Video. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on VHS in 1998, a re-release was made on September 1, 2000.

On DVD, the film was first released by Dimension Films on October 19, 1999 as part of the "Dimension Collector's Series" on DVD. It was released in the UK on October 22, 2001 and re-released on April 25, 2011. It was also released exclusively in the UK in 2004, as part of the complete collection, consisting of the first eight films, a set that is now out of print. It was re-released in the US by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment on April 26, 2011, although, it does not contain its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it now features a new 1.66:1 widescreen transfer.[6] Echo Bridge later re-released the film in a triple feature set with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection.[7]

Halloween H20 was released in Canada for the first time ever on Blu-ray by Alliance released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection on January 12, 2010.[8] On May 3, 2011 it was released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment in the US but with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (not cropped from the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but rather open-matte due to the film being shot in Super 35).[9] It was also released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in one Blu-ray collection.[10]


  1. ^ "Halloween: H20". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-07-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Halloween: H20 at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Halloween: H20 score at Filmtracks
  4. ^ Movie-censorship.com
  5. ^ Halloween H20 - Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "Halloween: H20". amazon.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ Amazon.com
  8. ^ "Halloween Triple Feature Blu-ray". blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray". blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers / Halloween: H20 Blu-ray". blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011. 

External links[edit]