Thursday, June 16, 2011

Halloween III

Reviewer: John
Review Date: November 12, 2002

Released by: GoodTimes
Release date: 9/29/1998
MSRP: $9.95 (Out of Print)
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: No

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the most unconventional sequel in the history of film. Having nothing to do with the plot of its predecessors, the third installment angered many fans during its theatrical run. Even today, many horror fans dismiss it as an entry into the Halloween franchise. Is it worth another look though? You may be surprised how well 20 years will help a movie lose such a harsh reputation. development and Jamie Lee Curtis was merely a horror actress.

Clenching a Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask, Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry) is on the run. The look of fear on his face tells us that he knows something that he shouldn't. Now his life is in danger because of this knowledge. Soon, bright headlights begin to make their way up the road. The pursuit is on. John Carpenter's score lets us know that time is running short for old Harry, who is in a junkyard desperately looking for refuge. When the car stops, we get our first look at the pursuers. They walk very methodically in business suits and their eyes are lifeless. Harry manages to elude his would be captors and gets help at a gas station from Walter Jones (Essex Smith). Walter takes him to the hospital where Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) takes him under his care. Harry still has a death grip on the pumpkin mask as he sleeps. A notoriously well dressed man finds his way into the hospital room to silence Harry for good, and then casually walks out of the room. Dr. Challis, or Dan, tries to run down the man before he leaves the hospital. He manages to get close enough to witness the killer get into his car, cover himself in gasoline, and spark up. Now Dan is left with a lot of questions and very few answers.

Harry's daughter Ellie Grimbridge (Stacy Nelkin) doesn't want to accept anything less than the truth about the death of her father. She talks Dan into accompanying her to Santa Mira, the location of the Silver Shamrock factory. Harry's final days were in Santa Mira picking up a shipment of masks for his store. Ellie hopes to find out what her "Papa" knew about Silver Shamrock and why his life was taken. Dan and Ellie get more than their share of horrific sights during their short stay in Santa Mira. All along, mass marketing for the masks, and an annoyingly catchy jingle, serve as a countdown for the morbid plans that Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy) has in store for all of the Silver Shamrock trick-or-treaters.

First off, get Michael Myers out of your head. He is nowhere to be seen in this movie (except on the TV screen between Silver Shamrock commercials). The original idea behind the Halloween series was to give a scary, Halloween themed tale each year for viewers to enjoy. Halloween featured Michael Myers, the boogeyman who stalked babysitters and grew a fondness for Laurie Strode. Halloween 2 supposedly killed Myers off to make way for a new story. The third installment was designed to scare trick-or-treaters by giving them a glimpse into the mad mind of a mask maker. The idea of a fresh story for each Halloween chapter is a great one. It gives viewers some variety on how they would like to be scared each October. The one thing director/writer Tommy Lee Wallace didn't think about was the popularity of Michael Myers. From 1978 on, fans swear by any Halloween movie that centers on Myers. The thought of anyone else killing in the series is considered blasphemy. This has given Halloween 3 a backlash that it has never recovered from. Released in 1982, fans have had twenty years to get over the fact that this movie is different from the others. It is strange that Tommy Lee Wallace, John Carpenter, Debra Hill, etc. are supposed to be apologetic for giving fans an original concept, rather than regurgitating another Michael Myers story. Was I upset initially? Hell yes! Still, I have come to appreciate Season of the Witch with time and feel it is a solid entry into the series.

Something that certainly stands out is the deaths in the film. While some are what you would expect from a horror movie, a couple of kills are a bit disturbing. For those who have seen Season of the Witch, you probably know which ones I am talking about. Two deaths in particular really punctuate just how deranged Santa Mira 'savior' Conal Cochran actually is. By tapping into some everyday fears of the audience, Tommy Lee Wallace gives Halloween 3 a much darker edge that has not been seen in any of the other Halloween movies. Also, as with many early 80's slashers, the kills are more graphic than what we would see on the screen today. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of other movies that are gorier, more over-the-top, etc. Halloween 3 just manages to get you to squirm a bit while you watch it. It certainly beats the "grab a sharp object, stab, and repeat" lull that other horror movies fall into.

The most refreshing aspect regarding Halloween 3 is that it doesn't feel like a sequel at all. It certainly contains sequel type flaws though. A far fetched plot, some unconvincing actors, and a huge question mark in the Silver Shamrock jingle.

"Eight more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween.
Eight more days till Halloween. Silver Shamrock."

Don't act innocent. I know that anyone who is reading this, and has seen the movie, was singing along. So is this jingle simply annoying or does it a great way to promote the movie? Just like when a song on the radio gets stuck in your head, Silver Shamrock lingers with you for days. Let's break this down. When you think of the jingle, you think of the movie. When you think of the movie, you rent/buy the movie. When you rent/buy the movie, Moustapha Akkad (the executive producer of all entries in the Halloween series) wins. Are Moustapha Akkad and Conal Cochran the same person? Do the three masks in the movie actually symbolize the three entries into the Halloween series? It certainly is a strange coincidence. World domination through horror movies? Now that's a scary thought. Just to be on the safe side, this conspiracy theorist is going to make sure my DVD isn't embedded with a piece from Stonehenge.  

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