Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982) Movie Review

“Halloween III” has long been viewed as the bastard child of the “Halloween” series and is frequently the subject of scorn and derision. Michael Myers is glaringly absent, replaced by an entirely new set of circumstances that have little relation to the previous two films. Nevertheless, the third entry is a fair horror flick, although still undeserving of the “Halloween” moniker.

“Halloween III” doesn’t have a killer in a mask, but instead the masks themselves are the killer. The masks were created by the evil head of the Silver Shamrock company, who plans on using them to kill their purchasers on Halloween night. It seems that pieces of Stonehenge are placed in each of the lethal masks and when the Silver Shamrock jingle is played, the wearers die a gory death. Only a hospital doctor and the daughter of a man mysteriously killed can prevent the year’s trick or treating from turning into a slaughter.

With Michael Myers reduced to ashes at the end of “Halloween 2”, the producers tried a different approach to keep the series going. Their idea was to turn the “Halloween” films into a horror anthology series, with each film a completely different tale of terror involving new characters. It was such a brilliant idea that the concept lasted only one film, and there wasn’t another “Halloween” movie for five years.

Primary scribe Nigel Kneale requested his name be removed from the credits, so director Tommy Lee Wallace (“Vampires 2: Los Muertos”) is given sole credit for the script. (That was sure to have done wonders for his resume.) The plot itself isn’t really bad and at times even shows some glimmer of imagination. Corporate conspiracies, evil androids, and mysterious deaths — they’re all jammed into a script that does its best to make you forget Michael Myers isn’t lurking about. The downside is that the Silver Shamrock jingle will haunt your dreams for years to come, and viewers are sure to really appreciate that.

As for the masks themselves, they truly are terrible sights to behold. Whether they are the pumpkin, grim reaper or witch models, they’re probably the last thing you’d want a trick or treater to confront you with on Halloween night. Prop maker Terry Feller certainly did his duty creating the masks, and they’re the highlight of this misguided effort.

In one of his first directorial efforts, veteran Tommy Lee Wallace does a somewhat respectable job. He delivers a fair amount of suspense, keeps the action moving, and presents a good amount of eerie atmosphere as well as a good amount of gore to keep viewers awake. There are some scenes that get under your skin, but sadly not enough to rescue the film. Wallace shows a lot of promise as a director, promises that will later be fulfilled in better projects.

The cast is of little help in this effort. Tom Atkins (“The Fog”) and Stacy Nelkin are serviceable in their roles; they show up, recite their lines and perform just enough to justify their paychecks. But if they’re the ones we’re relying on to save us from a Halloween massacre, then we’re all gonna die. On the other end of the spectrum, Dan O’Herlihy is excellent as the creepy owner of Silver Shamrock. Seemingly friendly at first, he soon reveals a macabre side to his personality — a side that will result in the death of many innocents. O’Herlihy seems to put a lot of effort into his part, and his work ethic is truly appreciated.

If “Halloween III” was simply titled “Season of the Witch”, it would have been a diverting and forgettable fright film that is entertaining to a point, but easy to dismiss. But the producers insisted on keeping the “Halloween” in the title, and that name comes with a U-Haul full of audience expectations. Namely, we expect Michael Myers, since he’s what we’ve come to associate with the “Halloween” series. Taking him out of the film is like making “Jurassic Park” without the dinosaurs or a “Batman” film without the Dark Knight.

Tommy Lee Wallace (director) / Tommy Lee Wallace (screenplay)
CAST: Tom Atkins …. Dr. Dan Challis
Stacy Nelkin …. Ellie Grimbridge
Dan O’Herlihy …. Conal Cochran
Michael Currie …. Rafferty
Ralph Strait …. Buddy Kupfer

Buy Halloween Season of the Witch on DVD