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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Review: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Screenplay: Tommy Lee Wallace
Year: 1982

Happy, happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Happy, happy Halloween; Silver Shamrock.

While the expected thing to do would have been that I had closed the “31 Days of Halloween” on Halloween day with the movie “Halloween”, I preferred to take another path and end it with the most controversial movie in this franchise: “Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”. This movie takes a bad reputation for being the only one on the franchise where Michael Meyers does not appear and for being a story completely unrelated to the previous two. However, this move receives undeserving hate for carrying the name of a franchise that has been associated with a character, though recently it has had a comeback and fans are starting to appreciate it for what it is. 

In “Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”, in the height of the Halloween season, all kids want to wear the masks from the company Silver Shamrock as part of their costumes. Dr. Challis suspects that there is something sinister going on after Ellis’ father suffered an accident and then died at the hospital under strange circumstances with a mask in his hands. They both start investigating the operations of the toy company and discover a horrible conspiration that puts the lives of many in danger as a Halloween day sacrifice.

The “Halloween” franchise was thought of by John Carpenter, director of the first one and writer of the first two parts, as a horror anthology, where every movie would be a story related to the Halloween celebration. The director and screenwriter Tommy Lee Wallace (“The Fog”) continues this idea in “Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”, which proved to be a complete failure. Although Carpenter’s idea is good, he hadn't counted on the popularity that the Michel Meyers character would garner and the deception of the public after seeing that this third entry had nothing to do with him or with the previous two films.

“Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” was the directorial debut of Wallace, which ruled his career. After this movie, even when showing that he is a competent director and screenwriter,  he only was able to continue his career as a director mainly with made for TV movies and his most famous title, besides this one, is “Fright Night Part 2”. Something that cannot be denied about this director in this movie is that he was bold with a very dark plot and an open ending that is equally dark, something not many directors dare do.

The work of John Carpenter as a director is hard to match and Wallace recognizes this and, while the influence of Carpenter is palpable, Wallace seeks his own style. He shows to be competent by establishing and maintaining the tone of the movie and being capable behind cameras with a few interesting tricks, as well as getting a good performance out of his cast starring Tom Atkins (“Night of the Creeps”), Stacey Nelkin (“Yellowbeard”), and Dan O’Herlihy (“RoboCop”). Carpenter keeps out of the director’s chair, but continues working on the franchise as a composer and in this movie, he presents one of his best works on this side of his career, not well appreciated by the negative fame this movie generated. This work is contrasted by the irritating Silver Shamrock theme song, which comes up too many times during the movie and you end up hating, but it keeps playing in your head.

I don’t want to sound like a cape and sword defender of a movie that undoubtedly has plenty of flaws. The screenplay has plot holes that don’t allow it to flow properly, for example, the success of the Silver Shamrock company mainly through sales of only three Halloween masks. Some decisions are somewhat absurd and only work to push the story forward and do little favors for it to be at least credible and to keep faithful to how the characters have been portrayed to that point. An example of this is the tremendous ability that Dr. Challis has when throwing a mask to a security camera while having his hands tied. Also, the special effects, seen 37 years after its release, have not aged well.

“Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” has won an impressive amount of detractors only for carrying a name associated with a character. If this movie didn’t have “Halloween III” in its name, I’m sure that the reception would have been completely different and it is impressive that those involved in making this decision would have thought that this name would be a positive idea for this movie. “Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” is not on the same level as the previous two entries to the “Halloween” franchise, but it presents an original idea and keeps being a very good movie to watch during the Halloween season, especially on October 31st.

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