As we gear up for David Gordon Green’s HALLOWEEN, it’s time to reexamine the most maligned entry in the franchise…
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Stars: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy
Michael Myers goes on vacation and gives someone else a chance.
We’ve covered our share of bad HALLOWEEN movies over the years, from Paul Rudd’s biggest regret (HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS) to Busta Rhymes’ greatest accomplishment (HALLOWEEN: RESURECTION). Inevitably, people keep suggesting the third HALLOWEEN movie for Awfully Good, so I’m going to do something a little different and actually defend this film:
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is not that bad.
Sally learned the hard way why you should always use protection when having sex with Lo Pan.
I get it. Making a movie called HALLOWEEN III that doesn’t feature Michael Myers is, at best, a stupid and confusing idea, so the disappointment is valid. Going from the first modern slasher movie to a Twilight Zone-style thriller where the only killers are J. Crew robot men was bound to dissatisy fans. Even Roger Ebert famously panned this movie, including it on his Most Hated list.
But if the film was titled anything else and not a seeming ploy to capitalize on the success of a burgeoning franchise, I doubt it would suffer the same scorn and ridicule. In fact, it was John Carpenter’s idea to turn the franchise in to an anthology series, one that didn’t subject Michael Myers to the law of diminishing returns. The idea for the first entry makes sense: a HALLOWEEN movie that’s actually about Halloween, centered around the pagan ritual of the holiday and its Celtic origins. (And in an attempt to either appease or troll fans, they even feature a vocal cameo from Jamie Lee Curtis and show people watching the original movie on TV.)
Friday nights were often lonely for Skeletor.
Taken in that context, HALLOWEEN III is pretty good. It’s well-made, directed by HALLOWEEN production designer Tommy Lee Wallace, with a great Carpenter synth score and solid performances by genre vets Tom Atkins and Dan O’Herlihy. There are a few good scares, a couple memorable kills and a central mystery that remains intriguing most of the way through.
Atkins plays a doctor who begins investigating the very odd murder of one of his patients: a man in a suit walks in to a hospital, breaks the face of a dying man with his bare hands, and immediately sets himself on fire in the parking lot. The doctor hooks up with the victim’s daughter and together their search for answers leads them to a small town run by a toy company that makes popular Halloween masks. (Funnily enough, the company, a hugely successful brand run by one of the wealthiest men in the world, only makes three different masks because that’s all the film’s $2.5 million production could afford). As they dig deeper in to the town and its weird inhabitants, they realize there’s something very wrong with the masks being distributed to children all over the world.
Is SEASON OF THE WITCH a great movie? No, but it’s definitely not the worst HALLOWEEN sequel. Honestly, I would rather watch HALLOWEEN III more than any of the other post HALLOWEEN II sequels and remakes that only progressively tarnished the mythology of Michael Myers.
What actually happens when you get bitten by a radioactive spider.
Not to leave Awfully Good fans completely unsatisfied, there are some laughable moments and unintentional fun to be had. First is the romantic subplot, which may count for the most rushed love story ever. A young girl meets the doctor who treated her dead father and the two of them immediately drive to the town where he died, check in to a hotel posing as husband and wife, and start having sex as soon as they get in the room. (Thankfully the girl packed lingerie on a trip to investigate her dad’s murder.) (Also, the doctor, who’s old enough to be her dad, waits until after they’re done having sex to ask her how old she is, which is a weird moment to include in the script.) Now before you think the pair completely forgot about their original mission in between all the lovemaking—YES, you should definitely think that because it’s 100% true. The two literally hear someone being murdered in the room next door while they’re doing it and the girl says, “What’s that noise?” only for the hero of the movie to respond: “It doesn’t matter!”
Me after seeing a Christmas commerical in October.
The end reveal to the film’s central mystery is also memorable for how silly it is. Turns out the toy company stole a piece of Stonehenge, which apparently has magical evil Halloween powers thanks to the druids. Their ultimate plan? Put small pieces of Stonehenge inside a microchip embedded in every Halloween mask, so when they play their commercial on TV it will trigger the masks to kill the children wearing it and release bugs and snakes from their bodies, which supposedly will bring about a new age of Gaelic witchcraft. It’s one of those great movie schemes that’s so crazy and convoluted you almost want it to succeed. It also leads to a hilariously underwhelming finale where the hero just casually dumps a box of computer chips on people in a warehouse, which for some reason causes everyone to die and all the remaining masks to explode.
Hey, at least Busta Rhymes doesn’t do kung fu in this one.
Some unintentionally funny lines and of course that annoyingly catchy theme song.
Four of the film’s best kills.
Both male and female! Happy Halloween!
Got the Silver Shamrock song stuck in your head? Buy this movie here!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- The Silver Shamrock theme song is played
Double shot if:
- The original HALLOWEEN movie is shown on TV.
Thanks to the many, many people who suggested this week’s movie!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.
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