Halloween H20: 20 Years Later

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Halloween H20:
20 Years Later
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Miner
Screenplay by
Story by
Based onCharacters created
by Debra Hill
John Carpenter
Produced byPaul Freeman
CinematographyDaryn Okada
Edited byPatrick Lussier
Music byJohn Ottman
Marco Beltrami
Distributed byMiramax Films
Release date
  • August 5, 1998 (1998-08-05)
Running time
86 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17 million[3]
Box office$75 million[4]

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (also known as simply Halloween H20) is a 1998 American slasher film directed by Steve Miner, and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, and Josh Hartnett. It is the seventh installment in the Halloween franchise. Not making reference to the Jamie Lloyd story arc of the previous three installments, H20 is a direct sequel to the first two films and follows a post-traumatic Laurie Strode, who has faked her death in order to go into hiding from her brother, Michael Myers, who finds her working at a private boarding school in California.

Released in the United States on August 5, 1998, Halloween H20 grossed $75 million worldwide on a budget of $17 million, and received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, with many considering it to be the best sequel in the series at the time of its release. A sequel, Halloween: Resurrection (2002), was released four years later.


On October 29, 1998, Michael Myers (Chris Durand), burglarizes Dr. Sam Loomis' (voiced by Tom Kane) retirement house in Langdon, Illinois. Loomis' former colleague, Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens), who took care of Dr. Loomis until he died, arrives and discovers that the file on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is presumed dead in an automobile accident, is missing. Michael murders her, her teenage neighbor Jimmy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his friend Tony (Branden Williams), before leaving the house in Jimmy’s car with Laurie's file.

In Summer Glen, California, Laurie, having faked her death to avoid Michael, lives under an assumed name "Keri Tate", having a career as the headmistress of Hillcrest Academy, a private boarding school. Laurie is also in a relationship with Hillcrest guidance counselor Will Brennan (Adam Arkin). However, Laurie is far from happy, as the tragic events from 1978 still haunt her; she lives in fear that Michael may return for her. While a woman and her daughter are at a rest stop, Michael steals their car. At the academy campus, the students leave to attend a school trip to Yosemite, leaving only Laurie, Will, security guard Ronny Jones (LL Cool J), Laurie's son, John, (Josh Hartnett) and his girlfriend Molly Cartwell (Michelle Williams) and their classmates Charlie Deveraux (Adam Hann-Byrd) and his girlfriend Sarah Wainthrope (Jodi Lyn O'Keefe), who are having a Halloween party in the school basement.

Later that night, Laurie reveals her true identity to Will and realizing that Michael has most likely returned to kill her upon realizing that John is the same age she was when the murders from 1978 happened. Michael, meanwhile arrives with a stolen old panel truck at Hillcrest and kills Charlie and Sarah. John and Molly are chased by Michael through the school grounds. Will and Laurie save John and Molly from Michael, and he and Laurie come face-to-face for the first time in twenty years. Will accidentally shoots Ronny, who had been patrolling the hallway, when he mistakes Ronny's shadow for Michael, and Michael kills Will while Will and Laurie are examining Ronny's body.

Laurie manages to get John and Molly to safety, and realizing that she'll never be safe from Michael as long as he's alive, starts fighting Michael face to face. Laurie stabs Michael numerous times and pushes him over a balcony. She prepares to stab him again, but Ronny, who survived the shooting, convinces her to stop. The authorities arrive at the scene and load Michael into a coroner's van, but Laurie, knowing that Michael is still alive, steals the van to kill him for good. Michael awakens and attacks Laurie, who stops, causing Michael to fly through the windshield. Laurie drives the van into Michael, and she proceeds to drive off the road, down a steep hill. Laurie tumbles out, and Michael is pinned between the van and a tree. Michael reaches out to Laurie and they almost touch hands right before she decapitates him with a fire axe.



The original idea for the seventh Halloween film began as the second half of the treatment written by Daniel Farrands during pre-production of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which he later submitted as a new treatment entitled Michael Myers: Lord of the Dead.[5][6] The story would have opened immediately after the events of the previous film and involved Tommy Doyle discovering that the entire town of Haddonfield was involved in a conspiracy to control Michael Myers. Farrands compared the story to The Wicker Man, The Hitcher, Rosemary's Baby, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," and Dennis Etchison's rejected screenplay for Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.[6][7] Farrands later decided not to continue with the series "since I honestly could not bear to watch another one of my scripts turned into a debacle – especially another Halloween."[5]

Another idea pitched after the Farrands treatment was Halloween 7: Two Faces of Evil, written by Robert Zappia. Originally intended to be a direct-to-video film, this would have involved Michael Myers stalking an all women's boarding school. The plot eventually also revealed a copycat killer, causing many fans to compare such a twist to The Silence of the Lambs. The pitch itself was changed a couple of times, changing the title to Halloween: Blood Ties as they involved Laurie Strode into the storyline, before scrapping the idea entirely.[8]

The screenplay was based on a story by Kevin Williamson,[9] with the original working title for the film being Halloween 7: The Revenge of Laurie Strode.[10] Williamson was initially hired to write a script, and the story was situated as a sequel to the previous six films, thereby keeping the timeline's continuity.[10][11][better source needed] When Williamson first outlined Halloween H20, he created the storyline in which Laurie Strode has faked her own death and taken on a new identity as a specific way of retconning the character's death in Halloween 4. In Williamson's original treatment, there are scenes in which a Hillcrest student does a report on Michael Myers' killing spree, mentioning the death of Jamie, complete with flashbacks to 4–6 mentioned in the text. "Keri"/Laurie responds to hearing the student's report on the death of her daughter by going into a restroom and throwing up.[12]

In the film, the voice of Dr. Loomis is heard giving the same speech that he gave to Sheriff Brackett when they were inside Michael's abandoned childhood home in the original film. Audio clips from Halloween were initially considered when playing his monologue.[citation needed] However, instead of the voice of Donald Pleasence himself, sound-alike voice actor Tom Kane provides this voice-over.

John Carpenter was originally in consideration 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 film, but his starting fee as director was $10 million, so he demanded a three-picture deal with Dimension Films. Carpenter's bargain was denied by the Weinsteins, and therefore no deal took place. Carpenter rationalized this by believing the hefty fee was compensation for revenue he had never received from the original Halloween, a matter that was still a contention between Carpenter and Halloween producer Moustapha Akkad even after twenty years. When Akkad balked at Carpenter's fee, Carpenter quit the project. Steve Miner assumed directing.

Scream writer/producer Kevin Williamson was involved in various areas of production. Although not directly credited, he provided rewrites in character dialogue and helped make alterations and sketches of the script. He also came up with the paramedic storyline that explained how Michael survived the ending, which was partially filmed the day after principal photography ended and later utilized in the film's sequel. The writers of Halloween H20 were left with a dilemma when Curtis wanted to end the series, but Moustapha Akkad had a clause that legally wouldn't allow the writers to kill Michael Myers off. According to the Blu-ray released by Scream Factory, Curtis almost left the project just weeks before filming, until Kevin Williamson came up with the paramedic storyline and presented it to Akkad. Curtis finally agreed to be a part of the film under the condition that no footage hinting toward a sequel would be presented by the film, and that the audience would believe that Michael was dead until the inevitable sequel was announced. Halloween: Resurrection's first shot of Michael in the paramedic uniform was filmed the day after H20's principal photography ended, according to H20's editor, Patrick Lussier.[13]


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.[14][better source needed] Dimension Films chief Bob Weinstein demanded musical changes after being dissatisfied with Ottman's score,[15] instating the song "What's This Life For" by rock music group Creed, which is featured in the film during a party sequence and also during the end credits.

In addition a small tribute to Bernard Herrman's score from Psycho can be heard as Janet Leigh's character Norma Watson walks to her car before leaving work for the day.

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

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. It has yet to be released anywhere else, but the deleted scenes can be found on YouTube.[16]


Box office[edit]

Until the release of the 2018 film Halloween, Halloween H20 was the highest-grossing film in the Halloween franchise. It was released on August 5, 1998 in the US and later in many other countries. H20 cost $17 million to produce and returned $55,041,738 in domestic box office sales with an opening weekend of $16,187,724, and $24,753,129 since its Wednesday debut.[3] The film also had an gross of €3,247,003 in Germany equivalent to $3,548,860.[17] Internationally it grossed $20 million for a worldwide total of $75 million.[4]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 52% based on 61 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Halloween: H20 is the best of the many sequels, yet still pales in comparison to the original Halloween."[18] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[19] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[20]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film two out of four stars,[21] while Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times wrote that "the throwaway jokes are few and far between, and after a pre-title sequence reintroduces Michael and shows just how far up suspense and thrills can be ratcheted, Halloween H20 declines into the routine," adding: "Nobody is going to be surprised by who lives and who dies."[22] Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle praised the film's referentiality, as well as Curtis's performance, writing: "Slasher films often seem merely a joke, and with good reason, but in this case that's too bad. Curtis, with her plain, unglamorous appearance, rises to the occasion and delivers as compelling a performance as any this summer."[23] Writing for the Austin Chronicle, Marc Savlov said of the film: "Miner strives to imbue the film with the requisite autumnal haze of the original but then gives up midway through and instead resorts to the standard stalk 'n' slash formulas. It's heartening to see a beloved character revived like this (at one point during the screening I attended, audience members actually stood up and cheered), but H20—for all its good, gory intentions—is barely a shadow of the original."[24]

Home media[edit]

Halloween H20 was released on VHS and LaserDisc by Buena Vista Home Video. In the United Kingdom, the film was released on VHS on December 15, 1998.

The film was first released on DVD by Dimension Films on October 19, 1999 as part of the "Dimension Collector's Series". It was released in the UK on October 22, 2001 and re-released on April 25, 2011. It was also released 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, but rather a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer.[25] Echo Bridge later re-released the film in a triple feature set with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection.[26]

Halloween H20 was released in Canada on Blu-ray by Alliance along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Halloween: Resurrection on January 12, 2010.[27] On May 3, 2011 it was released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment in the US but with an open matte 16:9 transfer, rather than the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Its sound was downmixed to stereo, rather than the 5.1 theatrical mix. The Blu-ray received negative reviews, with Blu-ray.com calling it "a mess on every level".[28] It was also released along with Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in one Blu-ray collection.[29]

It was released again on Blu-ray on September 23, 2014 in its original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in the Halloween: The Complete Collection box set from Anchor Bay Entertainment, with a disc produced by Scream Factory, featuring a new commentary with Jamie Lee Curtis and Steve Miner and extra features including behind the scenes footage and archival interviews not seen on any other release.[28]


  1. ^ "Halloween: H20". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  2. ^ "Halloween H20 - 20 Years Later". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Halloween: H20 (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (January 25, 1999). "The Top 125 Worldwide". Variety. p. 36.
  5. ^ a b "Daniel Farrands Interview (1997)". 73 Miles to Haddonfield. August 12, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "[Interview] Daniel Farrands Reveals 'Halloween 6' and '7' That Could Have Been". Halloween Daily News. October 24, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  7. ^ "Halloween 6 writer reveals sequel's insane original ending". 1428 Elm. October 3, 2017. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  8. ^ Millman, Ashleigh (May 8, 2019). "Every Halloween Movie (They Never Actually Made)". WhatCulture.com. Retrieved September 17, 2020.
  9. ^ "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later". HORRORPEDIA. October 20, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Halloween H20 Original Script Continued Jamie Lloyd's Story". ScreenRant. April 14, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  11. ^ "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later: Did You Know?". LairofHorror.Tripod.com. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  12. ^ Williamson, Kevin. "Halloween 7 treatment
  13. ^ Wallace, Amy (August 4, 1998). "Horror Comes Full Circle in 'H20'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  14. ^ Blood is Thicker Than Water – The Making of Halloween: H20. Halloween: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray) |format= requires |url= (help). Scream Factory. 2014.
  15. ^ Halloween: H20 score at Filmtracks. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  16. ^ Wurm, Gerald (December 6, 2009). "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (Comparison: Theatrical Version - TV Version) - Movie-Censorship.com". Movie-Censorship.com. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  17. ^ "Blickpunkt:Film | Film | Halloween: H20".
  18. ^ "Halloween H20 (1998)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  19. ^ "Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  20. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 5, 1998). "Halloween H20". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 30, 2017 – via RogerEbert.com. 2/5 stars
  22. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (August 5, 1998). "'Halloween H20': Monster and Victim: Older Not Wiser". The New York Times. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  23. ^ Graham, Bob (August 5, 1998). "Sweet Revenge: Jamie Lee Curtis returns to face down her killer brother in 'Halloween: H20'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  24. ^ Savlov, Marc (August 7, 1998). "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  25. ^ "Halloween: H20". Amazon. April 26, 2011. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  26. ^ "The Halloween Collection: Halloween Resurrection / Halloween: H2O / Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers", Amazon, September 6, 2011, retrieved March 31, 2019
  27. ^ "Halloween Triple Feature Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  28. ^ a b "Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later Blu-ray". blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  29. ^ "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers / Halloween: H20 Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved October 27, 2011.

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