Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 film directed by Tommy Lee Wallace based on a screenplay reworked several times by Wallace himself and John Carpenter, starting from a story by Nigel Kneale.
The idea behind the film in my opinion was brilliant: instead of continuing to propose films with Michael Myers slowly killing various people with knives (like Halloween and Halloween II), why not make the Halloween saga a series of horror films unrelated with each other apart from all of them taking place on Halloween night? Needless to say, this movie bombed and already in the fourth chapter Michael Myers was back. Was this Halloween III so bad that the idea was doomed from the start?
Let’s be honest: it’s certainly not a great movie, even if it’s not totally bad as somebody claims. The plot can be summarized as follows: Halloween is coming and Silver Shamrock sells well its children masks thanks to a great advertising campaign with a really catchy jingle (the melody is that of London Bridge is Falling Down). However, Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) discovers that something shady lurks behind that toy factory after witnessing the death of a shopkeeper, Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry). Together with the victim’s daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), Dr. Challis meets the owner of the factory Conal Cochran (Dan O’Erlihy) and learns a disturbing truth…
Wallace made a good film whose most striking weakness is, and it hurts me to admit it, the script. The story doesn’t hold, the relationship between Challis and Ellie is forced (Tom Atkins must have been considered really cool at the time, even in The Fog, 1980, he sleeps with a beautiful girl much younger than him shortly after meeting her), and there are many plot holes that never find an explanation.
- Where did the androids come from?
- Why did somebody steal a stone from Stonehenge and take it to the United States to make long-abandoned human sacrifices?
- What are the powers of those Silver Shamrock chips that sometimes shoot laser beams, sometimes turn people into bugs?
- Who can Challis talk to to stop the broadcasts of three channels (or maybe just two?) with a simple phone call? With the Lord of TV? And he lets himself (or herself) be convinced by a clearly delusional man talking on the phone?
On the other hand, however, it must be said that John Carpenter’s soundtrack is excellent and that Michael Myers’ cameos seen on TV in a couple of scenes are great. Also, the message behind the film about the media, in this case TV, controlling the masses is still relevant today. Advertisements not only govern us, but also lead us to premature death, this seems to be Halloween III‘s message with its absurd story of Celtic rites brought to the modern era. And even if the TV nowadays continues to have a big influence, today the message should be updated by adding the so-called social networks!
Even the city of Santa Mira filled with CCTV spying on citizens living under constant curfew is something that sounds awfully familiar nowadays where there are cameras all over the place and due to Covid-19 in many countries around the world there has been a night curfew for quite some time!
All the murder scenes also work very well, each one different from the other and with its own way of creating tension and terror. Particularly terrible is that of the child of the Kupfer family in front of the TV used as a guinea pig by Cochran to test the mechanism of his masks.
I read that the credits were originally supposed to be accompanied by the screams of terror from thousands of children killed in front of their televisions. A little too macabre, perhaps, but I must say that it’s a very interesting idea for a horror film! In short, I don’t throw this film away entirely: despite its flaws, there are many interesting scenes, Tom Atkins is convincing as the protagonist, and the main message is clever. You cannot say that about all horror movies! Ciao!