Director – Tommy Lee Wallace
Cast – Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy, Michael Currie, Ralph Strait, Jadeen Barbor, Brad Schacter, Garn Stephens, Nancy Kyes, Jonathan Terry, Al Berry
Release Year – 1982
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This was the last of the original pre-remake Halloween films for me to see when I first came obsessed with the series, and I admit that the reasoning behind me taking my time with this film was due to the negative buzz I had heard about it, mostly concerning its non-usage of the classic star of the series…Michael Myers. I can understand the resentment of a film carrying the Halloween title and not including Michael Myers(we’ll get into that later on), but regardless of this film’s so-called “blasphemy” on it’s own it stands as a fairly solid watch with a macabre storyline and some well-executed horror.
When a bewildered older man is brought to his hospital mumbling about people trying to kill him, Dr. Daniel ‘Dan’ Challis(Tom Atkins; Night of the Creeps, The Fog, Maniac Cop, Two Evil Eyes, Bruiser, My Bloody Valentine remake) thinks nothing of it at first, but things change when the old man is murdered by a mysterious man who then carries out his own suicide before being apprehended. Dan is curious as to why such events would occur in his quiet town, and after meeting with the older man’s daughter, Ellie, he learns that her father had uncovered a potential conspiracy involving a company that produces popular Halloween masks. As their curiosity and investigative matters continue, they learn that on Halloween night the company plans to detonate a device implanted in the numerous masks they have sold to children all over the country, and they only have a few days to stop them.
While the hate for this film is high, it held a special place in the mind of Halloween creator John Carpenter in that this was to be the start of a new beginning. After featuring Michael Myers in Halloween and Halloween II(in which he was to be killed off forever), his goal was to produce a Halloween film every year, with each year delivering a different tale of Halloween terror. That is this film’s inception, and due to its lack of both financial and critical success Michael Myers was brought back into the series, and the rest is now history.
The storyline is what really interested me due to my love of it involving a popular company looking to not only deceive their consumers, but deliver massive chaos in killing all those wearing the mask on the big night by turning their heads to a mush consisting of bugs and snakes. We get the usual investigation element involving Dan and Ellie, and while we are not given any unique ideas thrown into the mix regarding it I still enjoyed watching them try desperately to uncover the mess, infiltrate the factory, and then wage war against a company with massive resources. To make this cooler, the company relies on supernatural Celtic powers resulting from stolen artifacts from Stone Henge, a far -fetched idea but a cool one nonetheless. While director Tommy Lee Wallace is credited as the film’s sole writer, both John Carpenter and original writer Nigel Kneale contributed to the story, which might be the source behind the story’s many flaws due to all of the different ideas at work. At times it felt like the film was a little too silly for its own good, and despite some needless scenes I felt that it paced pretty well, which of course came as a result of the cool story complimented with Wallace’s direction.
This being his debut feature film, director Tommy Lee Wallace did a mostly positive job bringing this bastard story to screen. His atmosphere is good, and he brings on a positive Halloween-esque feel that sets us up for the horrific events that will soon come about. Tom Atkins is his usual awesome self, and all of the other major acting roles came positively executed as well, but Tom Atkins steals the show by simply being as smooth as anyone can be. Saving lives in the ER room while drunk, seducing women, and kicking lots of ass are what Dan is about, and Atkins was perfect to portray him. We get some good gore thrown in the mix as well, however I must admit that the gore was few and far between, and only came about during a few scenes. I will not say this is a fault of the film, but more positive gore would have naturally resulted in a better experience given the nature of this film, and it may have raised the film’s rating as well. Regardless, the horror involved came in awesome form, and Wallace continued his career by giving us Fright Night Part 2, and his best work yet…It.
Overall, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a unfairly underrated film that stands well as a film of its own, but suffers a fateful demise given that it is nonetheless a sequel in the Halloween series. We get an awesome overall storyline that delivers good horror, and mostly-positive direction from Tommy Lee Wallace brings that horror to screen, resulting in a film that I would recommend to those who want to see some good Halloween-oriented horror, regardless of Michael Myers.