5.10.2008

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

DIRECTED BY
Tommy Lee Wallace



STARRING
Tom Atkins - Dan Challis
Stacey Nelkin - Ellie Grimbridge
Don O'Herlihy - Conal Cochran

Year - 1982

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4


In 1981's HALLOWEEN II, producers/writers John Carpenter and Debra Hill put an end to the whole Michael Myers/Laurie Strode saga by murdering both Myers and his doctor, Sam Loomis at the end of the film. The film made some decent cash, increasing interest for another HALLOWEEN installment from Carpenter and Hill again. The two quickly agreed, since they didn't have to write another Michael Myers story, and decided to use the HALLOWEEN name and sequels to create a horror anthology of sorts, like THE TWILIGHT ZONE was doing. Bringing HALLOWEEN production designer and art director Tommy Lee Wallace along to direct the new HALLOWEEN film, the three decided to get away from the whole "guy stalks people and kills" to more of a horror story based on witchcraft and science fiction. While that was a nice idea that could led to a decent series of films, the film did horribly critically and commercially for obvious reasons that I'll get into. Here's another film with an interesting premise that's executed horribly for whatever reason.

PLOT
Some old fart runs around like a chicken without a head while being chased by dudes who dress like Jehovah Witnesses ready to convert you. Holding some Halloween mask, he manages to get himself away in time to find a gas station owner who takes the old man to the hospital. Here, we meet alcoholic and all-around pimp daddy, Doctor Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), who grows quite concerned when the old man warns everyone that they're gonna die...especially when one of the Jehovah Witnesses visits the hospital to kill the old man and then himself.


If the film couldn't get any worse, we meet the old man's very young amateur-acting daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), who displays "shock" when she learns of her father's death. Wanting to find answers to the situation, Ellie finds Dan in a bar [what a surprise!] and convinces him to help her figure out this whole mess. In other words, the two have May-December sex and don't find jack shit.

On the trail to their investigation, they go to Santa Mira, which is the home of the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company, which creates Halloween masks [a witch, a reaper, and a jack-o-lantern] every year that seems popular with the kids for some stupid reason. I blame MTV. Anyway, Ellie's father was a novelty shop owner that purchased products from Silver Shamrock before his death, which causes Dan and Ellie to believe the two are connected [NO! YOU THINK?]. Anyway, the two stay at a hotel and meet the owner of Silver Shamrock, Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herilhy). Conal plays nice with Dan and Ellie, as well as the other guests of Santa Mira, meaning he's nothing but pure evil. Don't believe me? Well Cochran wants to use his masks to kill the children and their parents on Halloween Night. Why? Who in the hell knows? I stopped caring after I heard that annoying Silver Shamrock song twice and learning that Stonehenge was involved.

REVIEW
While not the worst HALLOWEEN sequel [that belongs to HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS], HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is pretty bad for all the wrong reasons. Now the first thing you'll probably say is that I don't like it because Michael Myers isn't in the film. That's far from the truth. Michael Myers IS in this film [in that commercial for the much better HALLOWEEN at the bar]. So you're excuse doesn't count. HA! Seriously, I actually admire the producers for trying to do something different with the franchise at the time. I mean, they killed off Michael Myers and ended his story. They had no choice but to do a different story [until HALLOWEEN 4 where good ol' Mike did return]. And the whole idea of some bastard killing kids with masks is pretty awesome, I think. Wouldn't that be every parents' fear of their child dying due to the mask and/or costume they wear while trick-or-treating? This film could have been great and actually memorable for what it did right, but unfortunately the punch got spiked to the point where the execution of the filmmaking process got blurry and we ended up with this.

Let me start off with the positives:

1) I actually liked the beginning of the film. It's probably the best part of the film because it grabs you to the point where you kind of want to know what's gonna happen. It's very quick-paced and there is a tiny drop of tension used. The first death of that Jehovah Witness android is pretty lame [yet extremely funny as to how a slow moving car could kill a robot] but the old man's death is pretty entertaining on some weird level. And then the gasoline car death by the killer android, ridiculous as to how quickly he explodes but I like explosions and this one wasn't so badly filmed. Too bad there was 70 more minutes of the film.

2) The direction by Tommy Lee Wallace isn't horrible. Like Rick Rosenthal in HALLOWEEN II, Wallace is also John Carpenter-lite with his shots. We get the usual first person subjective shot by the killers, the dark lighting where the killer instantly appears out of the dark into the light to kill, and the film looks nice on a cinematography level. Even though some of the editing was weird [nighttime edits for day scenes and daytime edits for night scenes] and the direction got lazy after the android blowing himself up in his car, I've seen worse. So that has to count for something.

3) Little Buddy's death towards the end. While I don't understand how a Stonehenge-powered mask could kill you and release crickets and snakes from your head, the effect was pretty cool. Plus, I hated that little bastard and his family anyway, so their deaths gets points from me. Plus the lady who played with the Silver Shamrock microchip until a laser fried her ugly mug was a pretty cool memorable scene. I hated her too, so it was all good.

4) The HALLOWEEN commercial and scenes inserted into the film. Besides the beginning, they were the only other 2 minutes worth watching. Not a good idea to use scenes from a better film when you're current film is an inferior product. Just my opinion.

Now there's everything else. Where do I begin?

Okay, let's begin with that fuckin' Silver Shamrock song. Oh God, I wanted to shoot myself in the head everytime that played. I hated that song when I was younger and I loathe it now. Such an annoying song in the tune to "London Bridge Is Falling Down", it was played a total of 15 times in this film. Once was enough, thank you! It's catchy at the beginning, but when the last few times the song was played, it just kept going and going and going until I wanted to bash myself in the head with my remote control until I was so far brain dead that I wouldn't have to hear that fuckin' song anymore! Now I know what the mute button was created for. Geez!

We also have the villain of the film, Conal Cochran. Horror film villains are supposed to be memorable, whether the characters/acting is good or bad. This dude was neither, therefore forgettable. I didn't understand this dude at all. He's a businessman, making a shitload of cash, yet he wants to murder all his customers on Halloween. Aren't you supposed to bring in revenue when you're running a business? Why are you going to kill the people who made you money? Oh, that's right. He wants to follow some kind of Celtic tradition of serving sacrifices to something or another on Halloween night. Why? No fuckin' clue. It's never explained! While I like mystery in my villains, this mystery wasn't worthy of being solved. The dude explained his entire plan to our supposed hero of the story, Dan Challis, like those old James Bond villains who talk about their evil goals but never get around to accomplishing them because they're too busy playing with their hairy balls to get them done. And when he does explain some backstory to the sacrifice idea, he leaves it at that. And it's never spoken about again. If the reasoning was never explained, fine. I could live with that. But if you're gonna explain something to me, at least finish so I can care somewhat about your motivations. And why tell your victim about what you're gonna do instead of just kill him so you can just do it? Would that make too much sense? Then I apologize.

And the way he's going around it to kill everyone - it would never work. If he plans on doing it at 9 pm in every time zone, wouldn't the Pacific, Mountain, and Central Time Zones get word of this mess mostly everyone dies suddenly on the East Coast? The whole plan would backfire on the old man! Didn't anyone involved in this production see what a major flaw this was? I guess not!

And don't get me started on the Stonehenge thing. What is it with these less-than-good horror films and Stonehenge? Okay, so Stonehenge is believed to have healing powers and/or powers relating to Satan himself. That's fine. Still doesn't explain how 4 tons of this legendary wonder of the world was stolen from Europe and not at all detected by anyone. Or how these rocks allowed evil magic to flow into tiny microchips to shoot lasers into people that would give birth to bugs and snakes. Or how Cochran teleported and turned blue when Stonehenge struck his old Irish ass at the end of the film. I don't get it. I wish the whole thing about Stonehenge was explained, but it was only treated like an afterthought as if it wasn't important to the story. But it was! I don't know why I'm trying to create logic out of this whole mess, I really don't.

And the rest of the characters. Am I supposed to care about these people? Whether they'll live or die? Dan Challis, our "hero", was a cheating alcoholic who slept with a much younger woman he just met and had some young lab technician waiting for his flabby ass on the side. Okay, so screwing younger chicks at his age is very admirable, but were these women blind? Did they take a real good look at the guy they were fucking and getting STD's from? First of all, the dude had a big ass head. Second, he looked like he hadn't bathed in days, yet he was a doctor. Third, his idea of foreplay was letting the woman do all the work. And finally, his mustache held more germs than the entire United States hold in their mouths. I really like to know how this dude did it. I mean, I'm WAY better looking than Tom Atkins, yet I'm single? Fuck that Pick Up Artist dude, Mystery. Mr. Atkins is the real ladies' man. Back to my point: the man was totally immoral and not likable at all. He cared more about his career and banging younger chicks rather than taking his kids out trick-or-treating. He's no better than my own father.

And the younger woman, Ellie - can you say skankwhore? In between her battles with the art of acting, she fucked a dude she just met a day after her father was buried. Talk about grieving for your loved one and getting over the pain or losing someone. I mean, she brought a teddy with her on their trip together. You know, just in case she got plowed like snow in winter? I wish I could meet a girl like that. But then again, I refuse to scratch myself down there the day after due to an infestation of crabs. And she was probably one of the stupidest characters I've ever seen on film. She's incognito, but once she sees her father's car at the mask factory, she rushes towards it. What a fuckin' genius! And this is someone I actually want to survive this bull?

And the rest of the supporting characters. From the butch woman who complained about her mask orders, to the annoying family, to Dan's PMS-infected ex-wife [played by the emotionless Nancy Kyes from the original HALLOWEEN], I wanted all these people dead or gone. I didn't care how. I just wanted it to happen. And while it did happen, it didn't happen quickly enough for me.

And the androids, what was the point of them? Why was Cochran turning all these people into robots? Other than control and fear? I mean, why kill some people and keep others as robots? It didn't really make sense. Plus, they weren't really technologically advanced. My DVD player has more complex parts than these humanoids. And why did they bleed caramel? GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH!!

The problem with this film is that they didn't focus on the real victims here: the children who were about to be slaughtered by Cochran. They were the targets! Not these 7 or 8 idiots I had to watch for 90 minutes! While it's a horrible thing to do, I didn't really give a fuck whether Cochran succeeded or not. If the story had focused somewhat on the children as much as these boring characters, maybe the film would have been a little better. But then again, that would be too logical. I apologize again for using my brain.

The acting here is eh. Tom Atkins as Dan Challis does what he can and gets paid for it. I think his mustache was a better actor than he was in this film [and he was pretty good in 1980's THE FOG]. I still like to know how he bangs these hot chicks though. He needs to write a book or something. Stacey Nelkin as Ellie couldn't act out of a paper bag. I've seen porn actresses do a better job. Hell, put Jenna Jameson or Tera Patrick in the same role and they'd be up for Academy Award nominations compared to this bimbo. The character wasn't made to look stupid, I don't think, but she sure acted like it. The only time she was good was when she was playing an android. Maybe that's because all she did was stare quietly and strangle Atkins in a car. I swear, I wanted to smack her with my dick just because I couldn't stand the bitch. What a dreadful performance. At least she had a nice rack and ass [from what I saw anyway]. Don O'Herlihy as Conal Conchran was actually good in the role as the villain. He was the only one in the film who seemed to enjoy his role, as he was charming from the moment we see him to the final moment where Stonehenge transports to who knows where. I wish I knew a bit more about the guy and his reasons for killing his customers, though. Maybe I would have cared more about Conchran because O'Herilhy did his best with the role. And the other actors were alright, but nothing memorable. Just not a great cast at all. Didn't help that the script was kinda lame. Oh well.

THINGS I LEARNED WHILE TRYING TO GET THAT SILVER SHAMROCK SONG OUT OF MY HEAD

1.) Four tons of Stonehenge were stolen without a notice. Flight customs were really non-existent back in the early 80s, weren't they? And we wonder how terrorists manage to hijack our planes?

2) Nancy Kyes, who played Annie in HALLOWEEN, returns here as Tom Atkin's shrew of a wife. I guess there really are worst fates than death.

3) When you get your nose crushed back into your skull and brain, you look alot like late actor Jack Palance. And I'm sure this comment just made him roll around in his grave. Sorry Mr. Palance.

4) If you like to run, don't be a doctor. It seems working in the medical field will only slow you down, to the point where you can't even catch up to someone walking away slowly who's several feet ahead of you. If you ever need emergency surgery, I hope you have life insurance.

5) If you pour gasoline on yourself and then light yourself on fire while sitting in a car, you'll go against the laws of chemistry and physics by exploding in a matter of seconds. It must have been an American car. Only explanation I can think of.

6) For a doctor, Dan Challis looks totally unhygenic. How is that even possible?

7) Older men don't have much stamina when it comes to having sex with younger women. So why is Katie Holmes always smiling? I guess she's a better actress than we all thought.

8) The west coast was nighttime before the east coast. Time zones are just as ass-backwards as this film.

9) The lab technician got drilled in the skull by an android. I'm sure the sensation of that was a lot more pleasurable than sleeping with "Mr. I Can't Keep or Stay Up" Dan Challis.

10) Dr. Challis kept yelling "STOP IT!!" over and over again at the end of the film. I was yelling the exact same thing ever since the opening credits rolled. Finally, me and this film agree on something.

THE FINAL HOWL
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is not as horrible as its reputation would make you believe. After each watch, it does tend to grow on you. But as of now, I still don't think it's a good horror film. I like the idea behind the film, but the script no way reflected or complimented it. The original writer for the story, Nigel Kneale, wanted nothing to do with this film due to its violence. I don't think he refused credit because of the violence. I think he refused because he knew this film would not live up to expectations. The black sheep of the HALLOWEEN franchise, SEASON OF THE WITCH is not a must-see for Michael Myers fans. Still as bad as it is, I still continue to watch it each year around Halloween time. Why? Because it's kind of entertaining for unintentional reasons. I would like to see this film remade at some point without the HALLOWEEN title. In the right hands, this could be a good film. We'll see if that happens.

3 comments:

  1. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobNovember 9, 2008 at 8:16 AM

    this is easily the best of all the halloween movies, (i got sick and tired of the michael myers storyline halfway through the second movie), and one of the most absurdly under-rated horror films of all time, the only thing about the film that has ever got on my nerves is the fact that we never got to see stacy nelkin naked, she was close to the peak of her physical attractiveness and desirability at the time this movie was made and i desperately wanted to see her arse, twat, tits, and every square inch of her beautiful soft young feminine body, but that did not materialise, and to this day that still slightly spoils the movie for me when i watch it, but its still a great horror film easily worthy of a 3.5 howl rating.

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  2. Have you ever read Roger Ebert's review for this? He insults the movie for being a clip show for the previous Halloween movies at its start. He really thinks that the opening where the android guy kills the other guy in a hospital, then blows himself up in his car was stock footage from the ending to Halloween II! He thought that the android guy was Michael Myers! Haha!

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19821031/REVIEWS/41006007/1023

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