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The 13 creepiest Halloween movie moments

In 1978, John Carpenter made a low-budget horror movie that unexpectedly birthed an entire franchise. Unnervingly simplistic in premise, yet hugely stylish, Halloween followed a creepy white-faced lunatic as he stalked, then slashed a group of wholesome babysitters including Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode (the film's original title was The Babysitter Murders).

Since then, Halloween has become synonymous with slasher flicks. Eight sequels followed (the last, 2002's Halloween: Resurrection , is easily the worst, which is no mean feat givenHalloween 5 has Tina), plus Rob Zombie's muscular reboot and its sequel. And with October 31 just around the corner, we decided to take a look at some of the franchise's most skin-crawling moments...

1. Killer opening

The movie: Halloween (1978)

The moment: How could this NOT be number one? John Carpenter's sparse slasher flick borrows the POV technique from Bob Clark's Black Christmas and delivers one of the most memorable openings of a film ever shot as we watch an unknown figure enter a house, put on a mask and stab a topless teen to death. That the POV approach only breaks to reveal that the attacker is actually a kid in a clown costume only ups the chill factor. This is one heck of a way to open a horror film, and it only gets better from there on in...

2. Wakey wakey

The movie: Halloween (1978)

The moment: Poor Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has just survived a Michael attack at the Doyle's house, which included her hiding in the closet, being dramatically discovered and then using a coat hanger as a weapon. After a fight, she seems to have incapacitated her attacker, which means she can have a little sit down by the door to recover. But then unbeknownst to Laurie, Michael sits up in the background. Cue screams, wails and full-body heebie-jeebies.

3. Grave

The movie: Halloween (1978)

The moment: If you're a horror movie heroine, the last thing you should be doing is checking up on anybody. Your friends? Yeah, honey, they're pretty much dead. And you've just put yourself in life-threatening danger. That's what happens when Laurie heads over to the Wallace's house to make sure her buddies Annie (Nancy Kyes) and Lynda (PJ Soles) are alright. Instead, she discovers everybody's dead. Oh, and Annie's been laid out on a bed that now bears the gravestone of Judith Myers. Creeeeepy.

4. Jamie

The movie: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The moment: It's not often that a stalk-n-slash flick attempts to examine the psychological repercussions of being repeatedly stalked by a creepy guy in a white mask, but Halloween 4 isn't just any stalk-n-slash flick. At least, it's not in its final moments, when the POV-killer gambit is given another airing as somebody grabs a clown mask and stabs young Jamie's (Danielle Harris) mother to death. The big reveal: it's Jamie herself, pulling a Michael in a clown costume and breathing heavily over the credits. Shudder.

5. Door drama

The movie: Halloween (1978)

The moment: The ultimate slasher suspense scene unfolds as Laurie, fresh from discovering all her friends dead at the hands, phone-cord and butcher's knife of Mr Myers, attempts to get back into the Doyle's house. With Michael in hot pursuit (well, creepily strolling at least), she makes it to the front door – except it's locked. As Michael approaches, Laurie screams at the kids to let her in, and only just makes it in time. The scene's so effective it's no wonder it's been copied ad nauseum in just about every slasher film since – the best being Sarah Michelle Gellar's store-front stagger in I Know What You Did Last Summer.

6. Multiple Michael

The movie: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)

The moment: Having returned to Haddonfield 10 years after he first followed Michael there, Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence) drives around town with Sheriff Ben Meeker (Beau Starr) looking for the pasty-faced pugilist. They have a somewhat unsettling encounter in the darkened streets, though, when a whole army of Michaels slink out of the shadows to stand watching them. Luckily, it turns out to be kids messing around, but it's a really creepy sequence that momentarily has you believing Michael's able to duplicate himself. Well, he IS all supernatural and stuff.

7. Nightmare

The movie: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers (1988)

The moment: The non-sequel sequel thing didn't work in Halloween III, so it's back to basics with this fourth instalment in the franchise, made and set 10 years after that first night HE came home. We're introduced to our new young protag, Jamie, in typically skin-crawling fashion as the wee Final Girl sees a strange masked man in her bedroom after crying over a photo of her dead mum (that'd be Laurie). The under-bed hand grab is particularly scream-inducing...

8. He's Back

The movie: Halloween H20 (1998)

The moment: The eeriness of this scene owes a lot to the crud of what went before it. After the almighty horror hiccups that were Halloween 5 and 6 , it's a chill-inducing joy to see Michael being taken seriously again in Halloween H20 . Here, he's back to basics, playing games with doors and skulking in and out of the shadows as he stalks Marion Chambers (Nancy Stephens) in her home.

See, she served as Loomis' nurse when he got too ill to look after himself, and Michael is after Loomis' files in the hope that they'll contain clues to the whereabouts of Laurie. After slicing his way through a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he finally offs Marion. Cue some really creepy opening credits that recollect the history of the franchise...

9. Getting Shafted

The movie: Halloween 5: The Revenge Of Michael Myers (1989)

The moment: Alright, we all know that Halloween 5 stinks. The odds are stacked massively against it thanks to the inclusion of Tina (aka the most irritating slasher heroine ever created), that stupid bozo-police music and the death of beloved Final Girl Rachel (Ellie Cornell).

BUT, that doesn't mean the scene in which Jamie acts as bait in the abandoned old Myers house isn't one that'll leave your fingernails shredded and your hair pulled out in bits. Alone in the house with Michael (in a franchise-worst mask), Jamie gets trapped in a waste shaft and only just avoids the knife blows as he attempts to take her down once and for all... Not bad for one of the worst slashers ever made.

10. Stalker

The movie: Halloween (1978)

The moment: It's touches like these that really raise Halloween above lesser slasher efforts. Laurie keeps spotting a white-faced figure watching her – first in school, then down the street. When she gets home, she thinks she sees him lingering in her back garden, but she can't be sure if she's imagined the whole thing. Which causes us to get giant goosebumps. Plus that shot of Michael standing amidst the flapping bedsheets is too unsettling for words.

11. Thief

The movie: Halloween II (1981)

The moment: In a clear nod to the first film's POV approach to horror movie stalking, Halloween II opens with Michael entering the home of an old lady. As we begin to fear that he's going to kill her, the tension's eked out by Michael playing a little game of stalk and seek, but all he wants is a butcher's knife. With that in hand, he heads next door to kill his real victim, a young teen who spends too much time gabbing on the phone. Say what you like about Michael, but it's sort of sweet that he favoured the teen over an OAP, right?

12. Shamrock

The movie: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

The moment: In this weird third instalment, Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) attempts to get to the bottom of the sinister plans masterminded by the head of a novelty company. He's given a chilling demonstration of Silver Shamrock's devilish designs when they show him what happens when a Halloween ad plays while a kid is wearing one of the Silver Shamrock masks.  In short, the mask unleashes a torrent of slithering serpents and scuttling bugs that devoir the kid's head. Grim. Really, really grim

13. Face To Mask

The movie: Halloween H20 (1998)

The moment: It's been 20 years since Michael attempted to kill little sister Laurie for no apparent reason, and this franchise-wiping sequel is here to show that once Michael sets his mind to something, he ain't going to stop until he gets the job done. Laurie's now going by the name Keri Tate and working as the headmistress of an elite school, which is the perfect place for Michael to kick off another game of cat-and-mouse. And – finally – the two come face-to-face through a door window in a scene that can't help but induce full-body chills.

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, New Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Jack Shepherd. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.