October Horror: Halloween Marathon 3 – ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’ (1982)

halloween_3Halloween III: Season of the Witch now lives on mainly as a curio. It’s a demonstration of what this franchise could have been, indeed what it was intended to become but never did as a direct result of this film’s financial failure.

Halloween II was supposed to be the end of Michael Myers and his murdering antics. Series creator John Carpenter (who returns again to produce with Debra Hill, but not write) didn’t want to continue making new sequels featuring the same characters and concept. Instead he envisioned a horror anthology series, a different movie would come out each year from a different director, featuring its own individual story, with the theme and setting of Halloween being the only real connective tissue.

On reflection, it sounds like a pretty good idea. Here was a way new horror movies could easily get financed and released by using the Halloween brand, but audiences would be spared from watching the same teenage-killing events re-hashed over and over again. I wonder why no-ones doing something like this at the moment; it sounds like a concept that would fit it even better with today’s name-recognition heavy climate.

Halloween III doesn’t just feature a new set of characters, it completely drops the slasher movie template for a bizarre mixture of sci-fi and Celtic mythology inspired horror. The plot concerns Dr Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) investigating some strange deaths involving anonymous men in suits with the daughter of one victim (Stacey Nelkin). This leads them to a small California town whose main business is the “Silver Shamrock Novelties” factory, leading the whole place to have something of an Irish theme.

There are a number of enjoyable ideas in Halloween III, but director Tommy Lee Wallace (The It miniseries, who replaced original choice Joe Dante) doesn’t always present them especially well. The truth behind the mysterious suited murderers is fairly easy to deduce long before it’s actually revealed. There’s some startling imagery on a few occasions but overall the film isn’t particularly scary or suspenseful at all. There are also a few uninteresting soapy romantic scenes as the two leads bond. The villain’s overall plot is entertainingly ridiculous, but there are a few too many duller sequences before it really comes into play.

In recent year, Halloween III has seen its reputation re-evaluated a little, boasting a number of passionate fans. It’s deviation from the slasher formula could make it seem ahead of its time, and who knows, maybe if Halloween had become an anthology series it might be far more beloved as a franchise now. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is its own individual movie, and deserves to be looked back on as that, but it’s just not a very good one.

2/5

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