October 28, 2011

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)



"A large Halloween mask-making company has plans to kill millions of American children with something sinister hidden in Halloween masks."

I finally got round to rewatching one of my favourite Hallowe'en movies of all time, "Halloween III: Season of the Witch". It's taken a while because I remember nearly every scene of the film so clearly that it's hard to forget enough of it to ever watch it from a fresh perspective again.

Of course, this time I was on a mission to totally blow Ebert's "review" (such as it is) out of the water especially as "Halloween III" is on his "most hated" list but, since I couldn't care less what that old dinosaur has to say about anything, I soon just relaxed and enjoyed the film for what it was instead.

Without spoiling too much for you, here are a few things I noticed which make this one of the best Hallowe'en movies of all time. I'll write them as a list since I haven't done one of those for ages either.


1. Stacey Nelkin. She was simply one of the cutest and sexiest actresses of the '80s. Even though her "sex scene" with Tom Atkins was a little bit vile, the contrast with how flawless she looked and his craggy old ass (which you get to see in all its glory) was perfect. She could actually act too.

2. Dan O'Herlihy. He really was Irish as Conal Cochran and, although most people will remember him as the "The Old Man" from "Robocop" (1987), he was a very fine actor indeed with a huge body of work behind him. His performance in "Halloween II" was as subtly sinister as it could possibly be and he absolutely owned this film by stealing every scene that he was in.

3. Tom Atkins. What can I possibly say about this guy that you don't already know? Well, in spite of his looks, he came across as a genuinely civilised and heroic character. He was much better here than in another favourite film of mine, "The Fog" (1982), although it took another four years for him to truly shine in "Night of the Creeps" (1986).

4. The Silver Shamrock theme. Yes, it's just "London Bridge is Falling Down" with new words and it's annoying as can be but it's still the most famous Hallowe'en jingle ever.

5. The plot. Killing all the children as a massive sacrifice for Samhain was an inspired idea and one that I, as somebody who can't stand children in the first place, could totally get behind. Of course there were a couple of plotholes but what do you expect? It's a horror film and every horror film ever made has plotholes.

6. Robots. Why does everybody hate the organic robots in this film? If you can believe that a mask containing a speck of Stonehenge can turn an annoying kid into a pool of bugs and snakes then it isn't much more of a stretch to imagine Conal Cochran's black magic being able to create goop-filled likenesses of human beings as well.

7. No Michael Myers. Actually that's not true there was a brief flash of him near the beginning. "Halloween" got played on TV in the film too but it was actually quite refreshing to not have a stupid slasher movie for Hallowe'en and have something more fittingly supernatural instead. I wish that the trend had continued and Michael Myers had never returned for the rest of the "Halloween" franchise.

8. Camerawork. It was all shot beautifully with no annoying shakycams and so few continuity errors that I didn't even notice them.

9. Teddy. The sexy, ginger, female doctor played by Wendy Wessberg really did it for me. I wish that there had been a lot more to her role.

10. Cats. There were two cats in the film neither of which were used for jump scares and no harm came to them. I think that was great.

I could go on by listing things but you can look up a ton of cross references to how "Halloween III" was designed to fit into the series perfectly well on your own. Jamie Lee Curtis as the curfew announcer was one that I never realised before and, obviously, Nancy Loomis and Dick Warlock were both in "Halloween II".

Another piece of trivia which I've only recently picked up is that Sierra Madre, which is the real name of Santa Mira, was also the setting for the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956). What's not to love about "Halloween III"?

"Halloween III" was and still is an exciting and inventively gory "B movie" horror which most people only hate because it doesn't fit in with the rest of the Michael Myers stories. If "Halloween" had been taken out of the title, nobody would have been complaining at all but, as my South African friends say, you can't educate pork.

Do I even have to tell you that "Halloween III" is staying in my "Video Vault" as one of the best horror films ever made? No, I thought not. Just clear your mind of prejudices and give it another try. You'll probably be very surprised at how much you actually enjoy it.

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