Reviewed by Ross Hughes
“Its the one chapter that all Michael Myers fans hate,”……..
My biggest shock when reviewing Halloween III is the obvious influence of a certain Terminator. Seriously, just watch the credit sequence and its drum beat and you swear that the name Arnold is going to pop up any minute. The music is a sort of mixture of The Terminator and The Fog and when the film begins of a man running down the street, being chased by what must be a man in black who is actually an android, then I really thought that writer and director Tommy Lee Wallace must have sat down to watch that James Cameron film and came up with this, so I was stunned to realise that Season Of The Witch came out two years before the words “I be back!” would go down in movie history!…. Halloween III may carry the title of the much loved franchise, its the one chapter that all Michael Myers fans hate, simply because there is no sign of the bogyman who loves to wear the William Shatner mask. The reason for his non appearance is not because he burnt to a crisp at the end of Halloween II but because of the insistence of creator John Carpenter to move away from the style of the franchise. Having been pulled into making what he thought was a pointless sequel to the original, there was no chance of the studio getting John to make a third film involving a brother wanting his sister dead, and owning the rights to the franchise, Carpenter had the upper hand when it came to negotiations. What he and Debra Hill planned was to move away from a genre that was dominating the box office and offer something different. The plan was, that on each year on Halloween, they would release a film that would scare the audience, but each new chapter would be different. A kind of like Creepshow but with just one sole episode. The fact that this plan only lasted the one film shows how badly received this was. Yes, the title itself may have sold it to the horror crowd at first, but despite the good intentions of all involved, they deeply underestimated that fans back then going to the pictures to see a Halloween film, expected to see a Halloween film. With Slash films coming out every week, 1982 the year this was released, was still a time when masked fiends were still box office gold, the simple truth is that, Halloween III got lost in the mix and instantly forgotten. But does that mean the film sucks like the reputation is has gained. Well, there are many out there who can not accept the fact what this film is about. You be hard pushed as well to find any favourable reviews from well established critics, who simply pick fault with everything the film offers. For myself and a few, if you can forget about the bogyman for an hour and a half, then you may get a nice little surprise! For a start any film in which plot is to kill young children must be considered dark! Yes, even more dark that the original Halloween film offered, but this is what Season Of The Witch is all about, young children wearing their Halloween masks and having they heads turned to mash and insects, thanks to the most annoying but can not get it out of your head TV advert! Its a quite barmy concept that deserves at least some praise and while the motives behind it all is very unclear, the film manages to hook you from the start, simply because its so damn original.
Regular Carpenter collaborator Tom Atkiens takes over from the Laurie role as the main hero of the picture, as a Doctor who after dealing with a death of a patient, teams up with the daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) to discover why her father was killed. They travel to the town of Santa Mira where they find that the place is in under control of the local factory Silver Shamrock which is owned by the Mr Burns type Conal Cochran (played with relish by Dan O’Herlihy) All the towns money is connected to that damn factory, in which they are also making and selling Halloween masks for kids and are responsible for that damn advert that shows up on the TV. For all those who do not care to remember the annoyance look away now……Four more days for Halloween, Halloween, Four more days for Halloween Silver Shamrock, four more days for Halloween, Halloween, four more days for Halloween, silver shamrock! and so on…. What follows is a barmy piece of story telling involving a piece of stonehenge and computer chips in masks, it is a messy plot that has so many flaws, and on occasions, just to remind the viewer the franchise they are watching, the original Halloween film gets played on the background on some TV! Yes it may sound awful, but I honestly believe that if this did not have Halloween in its title and also not called Season Of The Witch because to be quite honest this is has no mention of any witch, then this would be fondly remembered as one of 80’s most bizarre horror. There is a delicious dark edge throughout with its final sharp blow coming right at the final scene has the words “Stop it! strikes you with venom! The film has a great sound, that even Carpenter himself should be been proud of, there may not be many scenes of scare, but the music itself sweeps you in, carrying a menace that deserves the respect that the film clearly lacks from all horror fans. There are some wonderful imagery, the melting masks followed by snakes and insects is a set piece that even Bava could have come up with, and lets not forget that there are moments here of a rocking chair and of a face being zapped that should be cherished by fans. Yes there is no Myers, but who cares. When you have a film made of so much oddity and originality, then how can you complain and at least this Halloween night, the town of Haddonfield could sleep easy in their beds, well at least for another six years. While Halloween III was made for a partly £2.5 million and made a £14 million return the studio was unhappy with the results. So they had a plan, and soon the man with the William Shatner mask started to stir from his long sleep, leaving many virgins worried, and fans open mouthed at what was going to be a highly anticipated return…….
OVERALL: No where near has bad as the fans and critics put it! Yes there is no bogeyman, damn there is not even a witch, but any film that shows a scene of the good guy being attacked by a robotic severed arm, should not be laughed at, but cherished for all its bizarre and surreal oddity……