Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982): Review

Halloween III is a 1982 horror sequel. The film is directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (IT, Fright Night part 2) and stars Tom Atkins (The Fog) and Dan O' Herlihy (Robocop) . Although this instalment was not directed by John Carpenter, he did co produce and create the soundtrack.

Season of the Witch is a numbered sequel in the Halloween franchise, however, It does not feature Michael Myers as the antagonist or have much to do with the other films, other than being set at Halloween. The film centres around the mysterious Silver Shamrock company and their wildly popular Halloween masks which are being snapped up by children everywhere. When a local shop owner is murdered by a suit in the local hospital, doctor Challis (Atkins) and the shopowners daughter Ellie travel to the hometown of Silver Shamrock to uncover a clandestine, pagan plot to take over the world.

I have distinct memories of watching this movie as a kid and being bitterly disappointed by the lack of Michael Myers, who had been the iconic villain for much of the franchise. However, in recent years the movie has been reappraised and reassessed as a standout of the series and now I can see why. In retrospect, the decision to ditch your iconic villain and make a film that was distinctly not a slasher has to be regarded as an extremely brave and original move. Rather than buckle under the pressure of the first 2 films, as so many other threequels do, Halloween III is arguably the finest sequel to the greatest horror film ever made (that one isn't arguable).

The concept of a new world pagan cult who try to take over the world through children's masks is a great one, but the choice to fuse that with a satire of corporate America (as Carpenter himself would do with They Live) is inspired. Speaking of Carpenter, this feels like a Carpenter film in almost every way, particularly through the excellent score which veers wildy from the kind of minimalist synth used in The Thing (1982) to maniacal organs during the more hypnotic moments. The special effects and gore are also at a high point for the franchise and it's evident that the film was influenced by the groundbreaking effects in The Thing, released earlier that year.

If I had to nitpick, I would say it's an idea that feels a little stretched at times and more like an anthology segment or a Tales From the Crypt episode. There's also a part of me that wants THAT music to kick in and for the shape to appear at certain points. However, on the whole, Season of the Witch is a perfect example of a horror sequel tearing up the rulebook and refusing to cower in the shadow of it's predecessors...happy, happy Halloween from the Silver Shamrock corporation!

**** 4 stars

What do you think of Halloween III? How did you feel about the absence of Michael Myers?


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