From the time it was announced, there was little doubt that David Gordon Green’s new sequel to Halloween was going to be a love letter to the 1978 original. The director took pains to seek out the approval and appreciation of the original film’s director, John Carpenter, and star Jamie Lee Curtis (both are also executive producers), and he elected to make it a direct sequel to the slasher classic, ignoring all the sequels and reboots that followed. And so, with that connection made so explicit, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his Halloween is peppered with references to its predecessor: visual homages, character callbacks, and inside jokes, some obvious and some nearly buried, all there to assure the franchise’s superfans that they know their stuff. And in spite of their wholesale dismissal of the follow-ups, there are a couple of winks to those movies as well.
[SPOILER WARNING: Because there are references to the original Halloween throughout the new one, up to and including its ending, the details of those scenes are discussed here. You’ve been warned.]
Babysitter Murders: When Hawkins (Will Patton) is briefing Sheriff Barker (Omar Dorsey) on the transport bus accident, he points out a name on the list of patients. “One stuck out: 82201,” he says. “Michael Myers. Babysitter murders, 1978?” As detailed here, when producer Irwin Yablans cooked up the premise for Halloween, he had a different title in mind for that 1978 movie: The Babysitter Murders.
Bedsheet Ghosts: When Hawkins discovers the dead body of babysitter Vicky, she’s covered in a makeshift ghost-sheet costume — just like the one Michael wears just before he murders blonde babysitter Linda (P.J. Soles), Vicky’s closest avatar, in the first film. And when Hawkins goes downstairs after that discovery, he finds Vicky’s boyfriend Dave (Miles Robbins) pinned to the wall with a knife; in the original, Linda’s boyfriend Bob (John Michael Graham) is dispatched in the same way.
Bystander Effect, Reversed!: In the 1978 Halloween, Laurie discovers the bodies of her friends, and with Michael in pursuit, screams and bangs on neighbors’ doors, begging for help. She is ignored and left to fend for herself, but Green subverts that scene: When Laurie’s granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) goes screaming for help after finding her friend dead, the alerted neighbors (a) open the door, (b) call the police for her, and (c) give her a glass of water while she waits! See, Haddonfield is a kinder, safer place in the year 2018.
Check the Backseat: Michael’s first onscreen kill in the new movie is right in his comfort zone: He crouches in the backseat of a pickup truck to choke the kid who climbs in (and snap his neck), all seen through the vehicle’s fogged-up windshield. This is the same way he kills Annie (Nancy Loomis) in the original film, and it’s even framed in a similar, foggy shot.
Dangertainment Returns: When Aaron (Jefferson Hall) is gassing up his rental car right before his death, he eyeballs a van nearby, with hand-painted signage for “Resurrection Church.” Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s an acknowledgment of Halloween: Resurrection, the very worst movie in the franchise.
“Do As I Say!”: Once Laurie is certain that Michael is back in Haddonfield, she attempts to gather up her family. But Allyson is at her Halloween dance, so she leaves a voicemail directing her granddaughter to her home: “We’re all gonna be together. Now do as I say!” Those four words are a bit of a catchphrase for Laurie, who uses them the original (“I want you to tell them to call the police and tell them to send them over here. Now, do you understand me? Go do as I say!”) and repeats them in H20 (sending her son and his girlfriend away from danger with a pointed “Do as I say, now”).
Haddonfield’s Keystone Cops: Late in the new film, a pair of Haddonfield cops share a bit of comic chitchat about lunch preparation and bánh mì sandwiches. It seems totally atonal, but lest we forget, Halloween 5 throws in a couple of wacky Haddonfield cops as “comic relief” (complete with circus-music accompaniment) — itself presumably an homage to the wildly out-of-place comic-relief cops in Wes Craven’s classic Last House on the Left. So you see, there’s a rich tradition behind this otherwise inexplicable scene!
Mini Halloween II: Once Michael returns to Haddonfield, Green stages a scene where he floats through a neighborhood, encountering a woman in red robe making a ham sandwich, then a couple on their way to a Halloween party in doctor-and-nurse costumes, and then a woman in her home (in dark pants and a white top), who gets a phone call warning her about the killer on the loose, right before he kills her. It’s a clever piece of establishing work, done in what appears to be a single shot; it’s also an extended shout-out to Halloween II, which opens with Michael stealing a knife from a ham-sandwich-making woman in a red robe, killing a young woman in dark pants and a white top after she gets a warning phone call, and then going to the Haddonfield Hospital, where he ices a number of doctors and nurses.
Lonnie Elam: Multiple mentions are made in the new film of Lonnie, the father of Allyson’s boyfriend Cameron Elam (Dylan Arnold); he was apparently a bit of a burnout, though Allyson’s dad (Toby Huss) has pleasant memories of when they used to “trip balls out in the woods.” This is the same Lonnie who teases little Tommy Doyle in the original, and whose friends dare him to approach the door of the haunted Myers house, only to be scared away by Dr. Loomis, that prankster.
Setups, Mirrored: Both movies feature an early scene of exposition, introducing our three key teens, who stroll through Haddonfield discussing their Halloween plans. Each is followed shortly thereafter by a scene of a graveyard caretaker directing a supporting character (or characters) to Judith Myers’s grave site — though this time, the tombstone is there to guide them.
They’ll Never Learn: In the original Halloween, Loomis and nurse Marion are en route to transfer Michael to another facility when he breaks out. A botched transfer also leads to his escape in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. And sure enough, in the new one, Michael manages to escape during a transfer to another mental facility (we even see the inmates wandering in the road, just as Loomis and Marion did). Hey, here’s an idea: Let’s just leave this guy in the one place, eh?
Trading Places: Early in the new sequel, Allyson sits in the back row of her classroom, listening to a lecture about fate; she looks out the window and sees Laurie outside. In the original film, Laurie listens to a lecture about fate, and when she glances out of the classroom window, Michael is outside, in his stolen car, beginning the stalking that consumes the rest of the narrative.
Trading Places, Sidebar: By the way, the teacher giving that lecture is once again heard and not seen — but according to the end credits, it’s P.J. Soles, who played Linda in the original. Also noteworthy are the shifts in that lecture’s substance: In the first film, the discussion circles the philosophy of the fictitious “Samuels,” who felt that fate is a natural, nonreligious element of our lives, so we’re destined for whatever fate has in store for us — and Laurie is destined to meet the man lurking outside her window, who will change her life forever.
But in the new film, the teacher points at “Frankl’s interpretation” of fate, presumably referencing physicist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. “He said fate took a different course,” the teacher explains, and the tiniest bit of Googling reveals this quote from his essential work Man’s Search for Meaning: “The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity — even under the most difficult circumstances — to add a deeper meaning to his life… Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.” In that quote lies the journey for Laurie that ends with this movie.
Trading Places II: During the new film’s agonizingly suspenseful climax, as Laurie meticulously searches her home for her potential killer, he seems to be hiding in not one, but two closets with slatted wooden doors. In the original film, Laurie hid in a closet with those doors, which Michael broke down; she barely escaped with the help of a wire hanger.
Trading Places III: One more Freaky Friday scenario (sorry, so sorry): In the new film’s climax, we note that Laurie’s bedroom has French doors that open to a small balcony, just like the bedroom at the end of the 1978 film, where Michael tumbles over it to the ground after being shot, only to disappear from the grass when Dr. Loomis looks over. This time, Michael sends Laurie over the balcony, yet when he makes his way to the edge, the lawn is empty. By that point, she has truly become his boogeyman — if their shared traumas caused their personalities to merge after their paths crossed, they’ve now switched roles, with Laurie hunting down and killing her old predator.