Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Halloween" Retrospective: HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

Director/Writer: Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy, Nancy Kyes

A.K.A. The Halloween movie without Michael Myers. WHAAAAAATTTTTTT??? I'll get to that in a bit.

A deranged man clutching a Halloween mask announces “They’re coming. They’re coming” as he collapses into a gas station. The mask is from Silver Shamrock Novelties shop whose ads are running nonstop on television as a countdown to Halloween. They are quite creepy and disturbing. He is brought to the hospital where he is placed under the care of Dr. Andrew Challis (Atkins). The next string of events involving the patient put Dr. Challis on high alert.

He can’t seem to shake what happened to his patient and is also being bombarded by the Silver Shamrock masks everywhere he turns. He teams up with the man’s daughter Ellie (Nelkin) to trace the steps leading up to his death. This brings them to Santa Mira, California where the masks are manufactured. The town has that eerie feeling where everyone seems to look a bit odd, they stare at you when you arrive, and believe you are up to no good. He finds out the town and the factory are under the control of Conal Cochran (O’Herlihy). They grow even more suspicious after the death of a hotel guest. What they don’t know is that her death was caused by one of the masks. A group of Cochran’s men pick her body up and take her to the Silver Shamrock factory. Inside the factory lies a nightmare that Challis and Ellie could not have imagined.

Like I previously mentioned, this is not a continuation of the Michael Myers storyline. No Michael, Laurie Strode, or Dr. Loomis will be found. John Carptener and Debra Hill thought a different type of story/nightmare involving Halloween night would be fun. They thought if the movie did well they would release a different type of Halloween themed movie each year. Hill envisioned something involving witchcraft and the computer era would be an interesting concept. She brought in Tommy Lee Wallace who was involved with the first film to direct the movie. Wallace is credited as the sole screenwriter but that is only partially accurate. Writer Nigel Kneale wrote the first draft of the script but wanted his name taken off of the film. Carpenter and Wallace went on to do numerous rewrites. Many others behind the first two films decided to come back as well. Dean Cundey returned as director of photography. Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad are credited as executive producers. Yablans acknowledges he had no involvement in the movie despite his name being in the credits. He thought it was a terrible choice to deviate from the Michael Myers storyline. You may notice a few other connections to the first movie. Nancy Kyes who plays the wife to Dr. Challis played Annie in the first one. Halloween can be seen on TV when Dr. Challis is at the bar flipping channels as well as later in the movie.

The story has some interesting concepts that give it some potential. Like how we saw with Michael Myers, masks can be creepy. Movies with small town conspiracies can be frightening. However, I am not sure if I would claim that this is overly scary. It does have its cringe worthy moments and gruesome deaths. I was definitely squirming in my seat at one point. I’m warning you now if you have a fear of snakes like I do. Ick. The overall execution of the story and some of the reveals take it to a hokey and silly level, which really bring down the quality of the film. The Silver Shamrock commercial set to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down” will get stuck in your head and you may forever think of this when you hear that melody.

Many disregard this film and do not typically associate it with the franchise as it is missing the Michael Myers storyline. I do wonder if it were to have dropped "Halloween" from its title if it would have faired better or even worse. I think many people probably saw this picture in the first place due to the Halloween name. Would as many people have seen it at all if it had been named “Season of the Witch”? Would people enjoy it better if it wasn’t associated with the franchise? Does the lack of Michael completely kill this movie from any sort of warm response? I think it would take numerous viewings and a very clear mental disconnect to the franchise in order to really appreciate this third one.

RATING: * 1/2 (1.5 out of 5 stars)

My Ranking of the Franchise
1. HALLOWEEN (1978
2. HALLOWEEN II (1981)

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