Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Kids everywhere want masks from the Silver Shamrock company. While a murder happens at a hospital where Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) is working at, Challis decides to investigate if there is any connection from the company producing the masks with the murder.

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Cast: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy, Michael Currie, Wendy Wessberg, Ralph Strait

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language, intense moments, and sexual content

Run Time: 1hr 38min

Fun Fact: While this film was not quite a success that the production team had hoped for, a movie tie in novelization sold well.

You might be wondering why I have a review for Halloween III: Season of the Witch without even reviewing the first two installments of the Halloween franchise. In case you didn’t know, series creator John Carpenter had only intended to make one film. Carpenter ended up making a second film which the intention was to stop there. When Universal Studios went to him talking about a third film, Carpenter was hesitant on doing so. The decision was made to make Halloween films be their own stand-alone films. Each year when a new movie would be released it would be a different story and different characters etc. You can watch this movie without watching the first two and completely get what’s going on.

I admire the risk and decision to go this route but, audiences and fans of the series did not. The major complaint at the time was why is this marketed as a Halloween film where no Michael Myers is present. Director Tommy Lee Wallace had said if they just went with the title Season of the Witch then the backlash wouldn’t have happened. Today it has a pretty big cult following and some have said that it’s underappreciated. So with all of that lets talk about the film.

Lead protagonist Daniel Challis is awful and one of the worst I’ve seen in a film. This isn’t a criticism on actor Tom Atkins. Tom Atkins was working with the material that was given to him and he doesn’t do a bad job in the film in a way. He was just given a bad character. Challis really doesn’t have any motive to investigate the Silver Shamrock company other than when a pretty lady comes to the hospital because her father is murdered. His doctor characterization never comes out to play and he becomes a detective for the rest of the film. Challis neglects what’s left of his relationship with his family to help this lady out and get that dreaded 80’s characterization on wanting to get some action. He says creepy things and flirts with all of his colleagues and is constantly asking for them to help him out in this wild goose chase. His relationship with Ellie Grimbridge (Stacey Nelkin) is both once again boring and creepy. There is at least a 20-year age difference in the characters, and they do get intimate and it’s just ugh. I just want to reiterate that this isn’t on the actors but a criticism on the characters.

Presentation wise this film is ridiculous and over the top where it gets comical. We get guys in suits that don’t say anything and go around killing people. These guys where never frightening to say the least and they all die in over the top ways. It has this weird horror and science fiction combo that will leave you scratching your head. These elements are really featured in the climax where it gets really comical. It takes us a while to get there because we have to go through a pretty boring detective story and a weird relationship with the lead protagonists. The climax also feels like it takes forever to get to the ending. To prevent spoilers, it has all these twists and turns that are strange. The film also references the first Halloween film many times. Characters are watching it on television, and it’s referenced as an immortal classic but the film we are watching is also a sequel to that film.

WHAT IS THIS MOVIE?!

There are some things that I did enjoy about this film. The cinematography by Dean Cundey was nice. The angles are focused well, and the film does legitimately look good. While you might not have seen this film, but you might know the London Bridges esq jingle that is played constantly in the film. While the jingle does get annoying there is a part where it’s sped up and it gets nerve racking in a way. They have a scene where this commercial is tested, and it does bring out a nerve inducing part in a good way that’s effective. While John Carpenter didn’t write or direct this film, he was a producer and worked on the musical score. I can’t talk about a Carpenter production without talking about his musical work. While it’s just pretty much a synthesizer and most people will call it dated, I will always be a sucker for those types of music. Whenever I hear a synthesizer, I get excited. His score does bring out some much-needed tension in certain scenes, unintentionally funny or not.

Overall, Halloween: III: Season of the Witch is just a weird, over the top, sometimes boring, and unintentionally comical film. I don’t even think it knows what it wants to be at times. I admire and respect the fact that the film makers wanted to go this direction with the series. The thing is the film that is presented to us is just strange and can’t really be taken seriously. We get some terrible lead characters and that’s not on the work of the actors but on a bad script. There are good production values to it though with the cinematography and the music. For the first time I think even though you might know what verdict I’m going to give it, but I do have something to say about it. Check it out if you can because this review was kind of hard not to give out spoilers. It’s one of those films where you need to see it to believe it. Maybe if it wasn’t labeled as a Halloween film it wouldn’t have gotten the backlash that it did but in a way, it helped it out. If it was its own stand-alone film, we wouldn’t even be talking about it forty years later.

Verdict: Miss (Recommend you see it though just to see how insane it is)

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