I'm sure this came as a surprise to no one, but our article for Halloween III: Season of the Witch is written by our master of the horrors of true crime and author of Inversion - Charles Scott! (Insert crowd roaring here.) Quiet, quiet. The readers can't concentrate over your shouting. Anyway, as always I was thrilled to read Scott's ramblings on about Season of the Witch, mostly because it is such a controversial film with in the horror community. And, if you know Mr. Scott, you are well aware that he tends to side with unpopular opinion, so I was quite excited to hear his thoughts on this film! I'm sure you are too, so I'll stop rambling and welcome the man of all things horror to the stage: Charles Scott! - Channy Dreadful
With an open mind I pushed “play,” prepared to judge the film on its own merits and do battle with the naysayers who turn up their noses at the red-headed stepchild of the Halloween franchise- Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
When Channy Dreadful offered me a chance to review one of the Halloween films, I volunteered to watch Season of the Witch. It had actually been on my “Coming Soon” list anyway. I hadn’t seen it since VHS days- probably around 1992- and only once then. I couldn’t really recall anything about it, other than it was devoid of Michael Myers, and it had something to do with brainwashed kids in Halloween masks- I thought it was more along the lines of a secular Children of the Corn. Turns out I was more wrong than right (and technically Myers is in the film, albeit via the first film’s TV commercial playing in a bar).
Long story short, the movie I thought I was going to see would have been about a zillion times better than Tommy Lee Wallace’s “polished” version of Nigel Kneale’s original screenplay, which sounds more like a psychological thriller than Wallace’s sci-fi horror gorefest- assuming, of course, that your idea of gore is poorly-lit kills and concentrated-orange-juice drooling. A halfhearted attempt at finding the original screenplay didn’t turn up anything.
So, in case you’ve never seen the film, let me summarize it for you:
These emotionless drone dudes in business suits are trying to catch this old dude who’s running around clutching a jack-o-lantern mask in a deathgrip. He ends up collapsing in another dude’s service station, and that dude takes the first dude to the hospital, where, under the care of a lecherous, alcoholic, deadbeat dad, he is finally killed by one of the drone dudes, who then sets himself on fire inside a car for no reason. The next day, the daughter shows up to ID her dad’s body, and then she and the doctor are off to solve the mystery of what the hell is going on. (I say “hell” because Channy won’t let me say “fuck”- let’s see if she actually reads this- muahaha!) [Editor’s note: I’ll allow it. -Mr. Universe]
The doctor, played by Tom Atkins- who has some serious genre cred- and the daughter, played by Stacey Nelkin- whose claims to fame are: being in Halloween III, banging Woody Allen when she was 17, and being in Halloween III, head off to Santa Mira (a fictional California town which just happens to be the setting for my favorite horror movie- 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers,) which has apparently been taken over by the Irish for the purpose of making these Halloween masks which all have computer chips made from a 5-ton chunk of Stonehenge which UberWitch Conal Cochran somehow stole and transported to his lair-slash-factory.
At 9 PM on Halloween, under the auspices of a “giveaway” aired on TV during a horror movie marathon, these chips will all be triggered. As we see during a “demonstration” Cochran gives the doctor, the masks kind of turn the kids’ heads to mush and then lots of crickets and snakes come crawling out and kill any nearby authority figures- a “trick” on the kids and a “treat” for the ancient gods- who aren’t getting any because people have moved on from pagan religions.
The doctor breaks free, rescues the daughter, short circuits all the drone guys, which are- surprise!- robots- thereby foiling the plan, which apparently pisses Stonehenge off, because it zaps Old Man Cochran into oblivion, and the factory probably explodes- it gets all glow-y and shit.
Halfway through the escape, the daughter tries to kill the doctor because she’s been turned into- surprise! - a robot- and after he kills her, her arm, and headlesses her again with a tire iron (cue gratuitous concentrated orange juice), he is able to make one telephone call and have the commercial pre-empted on two channels. But, alas, the third one isn’t interrupted and…roll credits.
I really did want to like this flick, but I couldn’t. The writing is crap, the acting is crap, and the effects are crap. At one point a “really rare robot from the 1700’s” gets its head knocked off (as it sits in a corner knitting creepily) and the hands continue to knit, because the “special effect” is real hands reaching through the headless robot’s clothes- just like the Swedish Chef on The Muppets. And we never do find out what Silver Shamrocks was supposedly giving away.
The best thing about Halloween III: Season of the Witch is Stacey Nelkin’s plastic surgery. She has one of those cute little 80’s noses like the one Morgan Fairchild bought, and an upper lip that wouldn’t move if you hooked marionette strings up to it- but she’s really easy on the eyes. Apparently now she gives relationship advice on YouTube or something (and defends Woody Allen’s honor on any news show that will have her).
To me, the whole movie kind of has a Phantasm rip-off vibe to it, with the old man and the orange-juice-bleeding, and the one lady who takes a Stonehenge laser to the face (which leaves her looking like an orb busted out of her grill and kept on trucking). I kept waiting for Cochran to yell “Booooyyyy!!!!”
You should probably see this once just for franchise completion. Had this been a decent movie, maybe the Halloween series would have turned out more like the recent V/H/S trilogy. It’s rumored that’s what Carpenter wanted- a different theme every year- but we’ll never know. Poor box office receipts led to Michael Myers’ return to the screen in the totally kick ass and aptly-named Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers.
I only wish I’d volunteered to review that instead of this dreck, so I could tell you all about how an 11-year-old girl acted circles around Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween I & II. But I didn’t, so I won’t. But she did. The End.