Monday, September 17, 2012

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

         In Northern California, a man named Harry Grimbridge is on the run from some wannabe Mr. Smith looking guys. A concerned gas station attendant gives Harry a lift to the local hospital. Harry begins rambling about "they're going to kill everyone" with a Halloween mask gripped tightly in his hands. That night, one of the Mr. Smith wannabe guys makes his way to the hospital and murders Harry before pouring gasoline on himself inside his car and blowing himself up.  The hospital's main doctor, Dr. Daniel Challis, witnessed what had happened. Challis notices that something strange is going on and teams up with Harry's daughter Ellie to investigate the mystery behind her father's murder.  They end up in a weird little town called Santa Mira that is home to the Silver Shamrock Novelty company.  Dan and Ellie soon discover that Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran plans to use his company's Halloween masks to kill all of the children in the world on Halloween night. Will Cochran be stopped or is it too late? Halloween night, the night nobody came home!

        In 1978, John Carpenter  made the ultimate horror film classic titled Halloween.  Halloween was so successful and set the bar for the slasher genre.   In 1981, Halloween II was released that continued that terrifying night, but did it in a more slasher fashion of gory kills and revealing the siblingship between the film's arch villain Michael Myers and  heroine Laurie Strode.    Fans around the world were curious if there would be more Halloween films and where the story would continue since it looked like Michael Myers and Dr. Sam Loomis both burned to death at the end of Halloween II.   After the success of Halloween II,  it was decided to go ahead and make a third installment.  This time however, Moustapha Akkad and John Carpenter decided to do something completely different with the franchise.  They had ended the whole Michael Myers/Laurie Strode/Sam Loomis story perfectly at the end of Halloween II, so they decided to make the other films all different types of stories that took place on Halloween. Carpenter and Akkad wanted to treat the Halloween franchise like a Tales From The Crypt or Twilight Zone thing, which sounded great.  So, in 1982, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released to theaters.  And you want to know what? Audiences HATED it! It did awful business at the box office and made horror fans furious.  Why? Because Michael Myers was not in it. People wanted Michael Myers. Where's the Boogeyman who stalks and kills babysitters on Halloween night?

            To be perfectly honest, I don't hate Halloween III: Season of the Witch at all. Also, I find the hate for it to be amusing. I can definitely understand the love people have for The Shape, but I didn't think that this film was as bad as many people claim it to be. Is it good? Not really. Is it bad? No. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one of those films that is middle ground for me. It's neither good or bad and has its fair share of both.   Tommy Lee Wallace wrote a pretty average screenplay that had some major plot holes that really dragged the film down for me.  Many people act like this is the worst of the franchise when it really isn't.  The Halloween franchise definitely has more bad installments than good though. Hell, all of the really bad installments actually HAD Michael Myers in them and even he couldn't stop those films from being terrible.  Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers,  Halloween Resurrection, and Rob Zombie's H2: Halloween II (2009) were far worse than this Michael Myers-less third installment.

            I'll begin with the good points of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  I was truly digging the whole mask killing every child in the world concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I enjoy watching innocent children's heads turn into snakes and all kinds of nasty critters. I just find this concept to be very dark and controversial and I tend to love controversial material because of its shock value.   The characters of Dr. Dan Challis and Ellie Grimbridge were interesting to me. Dan is a lady's man, which I'm assuming is why his wife divorced his ass.  The guy may be a flirt, but there was something that I liked about him. Maybe it's because he was played by Tom Atkins, who is a total badass!  Ellie was pretty cute. She had the interest of both my eyes and my penis.  I also kinda liked the film's villain Conal Cochran. He was like if Willy Wonka was a novelty shop owner who went mad and wanted to kill off all of the world's children on Halloween night.  Although, if I wanted an Irish man who wants to give people a deadly case of bad luck, then I will stick with Leprechaun thank you very much!

         The music composed by both John Carpenter and Alan Howarth was pretty good. I liked it a lot.

           I really dug the special FX in this film too.  That scene where the robot guy just pulls off that homeless guy's head was fucking sweet.  Little Buddy Kupfer Jr.'s death was awesome as well.  That kid was such a brat. He reminded me of that kid from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory who always sat in front of the television and was an ass.  I loved it when critters just crawled out from his mask after his face melted.

         And then there is everything else. I believe the biggest problem of all I have with this movie is the lack of reason why Mr. Cochran wants every child in the world  dead on Halloween. There's no motivation with this guy what so ever. Now normally I prefer not to know why someone likes to kill people. It would ruin a character like Michael Myers, Chucky, and Freddy to know why they want to kill people aside from the simple answer that they are all evil and enjoy taking lives.   Here is an example of where motivation is needed. I don't know, maybe Slugworth paid this guy to kill off all of the children so that Willy Wonka would run out of business. Now, that is a harsh revenge my fiends!  Also, what the fuck is up with all of the robots?  I guess Cochran is not only a mask maker, but a robotics expert too. He is probably using robots to do his handy work instead of people because robots can't be killed and are a hell of a lot stronger. I just find it funny that these robot men look like Mr. Smith a little bit from The Matrix.  And they bleed yellow goo.   I'm confused about the purpose of that stone Irish wall. The last time I saw something like that was in Troll 2.   Also, how the hell do those little chips make a kid's head melt and creepy crawlers slither out?  There's a part near the end that kinda confused me too, but I think I have finally figured out what happened to Ellie.   I heard that the actual ending was a homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Actually in fact, a lot of this film gives homage to that old school alien movie.   Speaking of homages, I did enjoy the small homages to the original Halloween on the television in two sequences.

             For a movie with "Season of the Witch" in the title, there were no witches in the film.  When I think of the word witch, I'm thinking  wicked witch of the west or the Hocus Pocus sisters or that lady who liked to turn children into Gingerbread and eat them from Hansel & Gretel. Not some old Irish dude who likes to melt children's faces with his Halloween masks!

           As for that Silver Shamrock theme song, I have to admit that it is pretty catchy. Annoying as hell after playing a zillion times in this film, but catchy nonetheless.  If Jigsaw really wanted to do some serious damage in the next Saw film, he should lock one of the victims in a room with this song playing over and over again with no way to shut it off. I wonder if they would be driven mad or find a way to kill themselves to stop the song.

          The direction by Tommy Lee Wallace was okay.  Could have been better, but could have been worse.  Wallace was the production designer on the original Halloween.  Not a bad directorial debut.

          I thought the cinematography again by Dean Cundey was very good.

        The acting was okay. I actually liked Tom Atkins a lot as Dan Challis. Sure, it's not Atkins' best acting job, but it's a decent one though. I prefer him in John Carpenter's The Fog, Night of the Creeps, and My Bloody Valentine 3D.  Stacey Nelkin was cute and decent as Ellie.  Dan O' Herlihy was pretty good as the villain Conal Cochran. What a bastard this guy was! Too bad I still don't get his beef with kids. Everybody else was alright. There was also a cameo by Nancy Keyes (Annie Brackett from Halloween '78) as Dan's wife.

           Overall, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an alright movie to watch every October. It's considered the black sheep of the Halloween franchise, but it ain't bad.  Definitely worth checking out if you can look past the fact that Michael Myers isn't in it.


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