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Thorn Cult Trilogy – Halloween 4 (1988), Halloween 5 (1989), and Halloween 6 (1995)
Around the 10th anniversary of the original film, the Halloween franchise brushed away the anthology idea that Season of the Witch attempted to do and brought back the mainstay serial killer Michael Myers in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988). Given that Halloween II had ended with Michael and Loomis burning to death in the hospital explosion, this sequel retconned that plot detail. The film opens with an ambulance crew arriving to transfer a comatose Michael back to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, only for the news that he has a niece back in Haddonfield to awaken the beast, leading to his escape. The niece turns out to be young Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris), who is living with a foster family following Laurie’s death via car accident. Jamie is struggling with the loss of her mom and the bullying at her school, due to her connection with the ‘boogeyman,’ leaving her only happy relationship being with her foster sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell). Meanwhile, a disfigured Loomis is chasing after Michael, hoping to prevent what happened ten years prior from happening again. After Michael kills off the entire police department, an angry mob forms to assist Loomis and the Sheriff in finding Jamie before Michael does. Eventually, Michael is shot at by the mob and is seemingly killed off for good, but a final stinger shows a traumatized Jamie attack her foster mother in the same fashion that Michael did with his sister Judith, the implication being that she has taken her uncle’s mantle.
At least until the next film dismisses that idea, both the death of Michael and Jamie’s predicament. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) is where the stranger aspects of this trilogy begin to take over, starting with the inclusion of what would become the symbol of the Thorn cult and the Man in Black figure that is in the movie from time to time. To counteract Halloween 4’s ending, Jamie is now a mute with a psychic connection to Michael, who managed to survive the assault in the previous film and was taken care of by a homeless man for the past year. The psychic part of Jamie is one of the main plot points of the film, as Loomis uses her to try and find Michael, often not making it in time before another murder occurs, including the early death of Rachel. Given the haphazard nature of this film, there is very little to be attached to other than the returning heroine, and the ending does no favors. The first part features Loomis tranquilizing and beating Michael before succumbing to a heart attack, then when Michael is in jail, the Man in Black kills everyone in the police department and breaks Michael out of jail, leaving Jamie as the sole survivor.
Which leads us to another troubled production in Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). Taking place six years after the end of the previous film, the Cult of Thorn have kidnapped Jamie (played by J.C. Brandy this time) and held her captive all this time, along with Michael. Following the birth of her child, Jamie escapes her captors while Michael does the same in the pursuit of his niece and grandnephew. Jamie manages to hide her baby at a bus depot before Michael kills her. The baby ends up being found by Tommy Doyle (Paul Rudd), the kid that Laurie babysat back in the first Halloween, who has also become obsessed with finding out what makes Michael the type of being he is. After killing Jamie, Michael returns to Haddonfield and sets his sights on the Strode family that now lives in his old house, including single mother Kara (Marianne Hagan) and her son Danny (Devin Gardner). Tommy meets up with Kara and Danny, telling them about the history of the house, Michael, and the Curse of Thorn that drives the murders of the Myers family members, all before Kara, Danny and Jamie’s baby are taken by the Cult, with the intent of having Danny take Michael’s place. Tommy and Loomis manage to stop the ritual from happening and they stop Michael again, but only temporarily.
Events play differently in the Producer’s Cut of Curse of Michael Myers, with Jamie’s death being at the hands of the Man in Black, revealed to be Dr. Wynn (Mitch Ryan), a colleague of Loomis’ from Smith’s Grove. How Jamie’s baby came to be is also different from each film, with the implication being a biological experiment in the Theatrical Cut, and being the product of forced incest in the Producer’s Cut. The biggest change is in the ending, where Tommy stops Michael by using runes that cancel out the powers from the curse of Thorn, and when Loomis goes back to check on him, Michael has escaped and Wynn passes on his duties to Loomis.
It is difficult to call this series the Thorn Trilogy, since it is only the third film that actually uses it as a plot point and the director of Halloween 5, Dominique Othenin-Girard, put the symbols and the Man in Black there without having any idea of what it meant in the end. It could still function as the Jamie Lloyd trilogy, but given her unceremonious demise in the last part, it feels disrespectful to the character. Also of note was that Loomis’ ending was abrupt since Pleasence died before reshoots, so even the mainstay character of the series got an unceremonious send-off. But as the series continued to have diminishing returns in both the box office and critically, the next film in the series would wipe out this part of the continuity and start fresh, with the return of the original heroine Laurie Strode.
The Return of Laurie Part One: Halloween H2O (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Immediately following Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, the slasher genre got a new jolt of energy in Wes Craven’s meta-slasher film Scream (1996). The writer of that film, Kevin Williamson, was asked to helm this new film in the series, originally going to take place in the same continuity as 4-6, but those plans were scrapped, instead starting with a clean slate following the events of Halloween II, and we got Halloween H20 (1998). This one has Michael been in hiding since the 1978 incident, arriving to the home of recently deceased Loomis and discovering Laurie’s file that reveals she has been hiding under the alias Keri Tate all these years, and is now the headmistress of a boarding school with a son named John (Josh Hartnett). She remains haunted from the events twenty years prior and fears that Michael will return for her, which ends up happening that Halloween, when Michael arrives at the school. John and his friends are still there after skipping out on a field trip, and two of them end up getting killed. Laurie and her boyfriend Will save John and his girlfriend Molly and those two get away. Will ends up getting killed by Michael and Laurie manages to fight her brother off, being stopped from killing him by the security guard. At the end of the film, Laurie steals the ambulance holding Michael and kills him off once and for all.
At least until the next film, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), which retcons that to where Laurie killed an ambulance tech who Michael had disguised to look like him before escaping. The opening of the film has Laurie in a mental institution, preparing for her brother to come back. He does and Laurie traps him by hanging him from a ledge but hesitates from killing him, leading Michael to kill her and escape. The rest of the film follows a web series that takes place in the Myers house, where Michael ends up killing most of the cast and crew. A disappointing end for the franchise to say the least, given that H20 would have been a good end. Even then, we had the remake timeline, but before we get to that, there is the matter of the most recent series of films, which serve to be even more of a clean slate than before.
Halloween H2O (1998) Trailer