Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 19, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Sony (Australia). Region 4 & 5, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 96 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy, Michael Currie, Ralph Strait
Screenplay: Tommy Lee Wallace
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
As a teenager, Tom Atkins was one of my heroes. Why? He was a craggy faced, porno-moustached every-man type who pulled through in desperate situations with a hot chick at his side: and there is NOTHING wrong with being like that!! Atkins was in some of my favourites of the eighties, including The Fog, Escape From New York, Night of the Creeps, Maniac Cop and this film, the underrated and much maligned Halloween 3: The Season of the Witch.

After the death of Michael Myers at the end of Halloween 2 (gee, I hope I didn't give anything away there), John Carpenter's idea was to produce a series of unrelated movies all based around the holiday of Halloween; a fantastic idea that was met with much dismay as all and sundry seemed to prefer the idea of bringing someone back from a certain death. I recall a workmate I had many years ago say to me that the best thing about Halloween 3 was the brief appearance Myers made on a TV screen that a character in the film was watching.

Her name was Lisa… and she was wrong!

Carpenter's idea was a sound one, and this series would have benefited from such an idea, instead of the deplorable nonsensical sequels we then had to endure afterwards, which really only had one positive: giving the world Danielle Harris, who went on to go topless in the Halloween remake! Let's face it: most movie series' have gotten worse the longer they have gone on; not better!

Halloween 3 starts with a terrified man on the run from some pursuers, who seem intent on killing him. He hides in a yard where he is captured, but manages to escape, injured, to a petrol station. The petrol station attendant takes the man to the local hospital, where he is assessed and admitted by Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), who is concerned by the fact that he will not let go of a Halloween mask he is holding, and also that the only thing that seems to break his catatonia is a commercial on TV, which just happens to be for The Silver Shamrock Novelty Company, the company that makes said masks.

A few hours after his admittance, a stealthy intruder in a suit makes his way into the room of the man, and kills him, violently. When one of the nurses alerts Dan to the murder, he pursues the man to the car park, where he finds the assassin in a car, covering himself in petrol, and setting himself alight, killing him and destroying the car he was in.

The next day, Dan meets the salesman's daughter Ellie (Stacy Nelkin), who believes the foul play surrounding her fathers death comes from the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company, which is the last place Ellie knows he went. Ellie convinces Dan to accompany her to the small town of Santa Mira, where the company has its headquarters, and they find the town to be a strange place, more or less run by the company and its owner, the enigmatic Conal Cochrane (Dan O'Herlihy).

They pretend to be a married couple stopping in the town and begin their investigation, eventually uncovering the detail of Ellie's father's murder, and how the company has dreadful plans of its own, which may result in the death of hundreds of thousands of children…

One of the things I liked about this film is its similarities to The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers: a hysterical man begins the events that lead a small few to uncover plans that threaten mankind. Ironically I also discovered that the town of Santa Mira, in which this was set, was also the name of the town from the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, so maybe that wasn't an accident.

The movie screams 'the eighties' at you, and while it is no classic by any means, it is certainly a fun watch. The script, like the acting, isn't bad… but it's not brilliant. Some of the decisions made by the characters are, typically for this time in genre films, illogical, or just plain stupid. For example, while carrying a bag with some kind of hooch in it, Dan is stopped by a bum who asks to share his drink, claiming that he hasn't any diseases… yeah, I'd let a bum share my beer with that kind of affirmation. And the female lead is very quick to play a game of hide the sausage with our hero. Now I don't really have a problem with this, but I do want to know where these loose, yet respectable women are… not for me, a happily married man, but more for some members of this site who are desperate for some action.

I can best compare this movie to another I like which has similar origins: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning. It is a part of a series, but sits differently from the rest, not adhering to any rules already set, and certainly a step in the right direction before the succeeding films, which paved the formulaic 'he's not dead' sequel fodder  that ended up littering the cinemas of the late eighties.

By the way: keep an ear open for a special appearance by Jamie Lee Curtis as the Santa Mira telephone operator.
Video
This film is presented in a clean 16.9 enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and looks great!
Audio
Only in 2.0 stereo, I am afraid, but a competent and glitch free soundtrack. Let's face it; John Carpenter's Moog tracks sound heaps better in stereo!
Extra Features
The only extra on this disc is a trailer, and not a 'proper' trailer, with scenes from the film, but what looks like a cheap, shot quickly piece announcing the films existence, rather than advising the viewer that no, this film does not feature Michael Myers.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I really like this entry into the Halloween series; it is a shame the title is detrimental to the content. If this had been called just 'The Season of the Witch' I am sure it wouldn't have as bad a rap as it does!! A great example of non- sequel oriented eighties horror even though it does have a '3' in its title! The real pity is that no extras could be dug up for it, even some retrospective hoo-ha or commentary from Tom Atkins or Stacy Nelkin would have been welcome, but instead: just a trailer! If you do choose to purchase this film though, make sure you grab the Region 1 release: it may cost a dollar or two more, but at least it isn't trimmed, like this R4 release.

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