Halloween III: Season of the Witch chose to take the Halloween series in a direction audience’s weren’t ready to deal with but is never the less one of the great horror films of the 1980’s.
Produced by Halloween (1978) creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill, with Carpenter also providing the pulsing electronic scores, Halloween III: Season of the Witch took the Halloween series on a path inspired by E.C. horror comics of the 1950’s and horror anthology series such Night Gallery (1970-1973). The idea was to have a series of films all taking place around Halloween and various spooky plots. By 1982, however, for better or worse, the slasher genre had become fully embedded in the pop culture consciousness and could not, for the moment, be forgotten. Striving to innovate in an already repetitive genre, like a fine wine Halloween III only gets better with age.
Perhaps the most imaginative entry in the Halloween cannon, Season of the Witch revolves around a series of Halloween masks made to brainwash children in connection to the Gaelic festival Samhain. Doctor Daniel Challis, portrayed by horror legend Tom Adkins, is called in to care for a local shop owner, Harry Grimbridge, who later dies at the hospital in an apparent suicide. After tracking down a series of leads concerning a mysterious Halloween mask Challis and Grimbridge’s daughter Ellie unearth an evil cabal surrounding the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company’s Halloween masks. Of course, there is a rich, evil mastermind at the center of it all.
The style of the film is that of a classic thriller and is one of the more daring Halloween films in terms of extreme shots and editing techniques. Of particular interest are the brainwashing Halloween mask commercials complete with proto-techno music and strobing television sets.
Choosing to skewer American Commercialism with deeply psychological scares instead simpler slasher fare. The Halloween had still maintained a sense of dignity in the early 1980’s in comparison with films such as Friday the 13th (1980), Prom Night (1980), and Happy Birthday to Me (1981) by ignoring trends in the genre and instead choosing to simply tell a creepy story and to tell it well. In the vein of Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) Halloween III revisits a time before gore fests when spooky houses and creepy businessmen were en vogue. As producer Debra Hill stated in Fangoria Season of the Witch “was supposed to be a ‘pod’ movie, not a ‘knife’ movie.” Hill hit the nail of the head as indeed Season of the Witch has much more in common with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) than with the original Halloween.
With an amazing John Carpenter score, a classically inspired plot and mind boggling scenes of horror, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a seminal film for fan of the Halloween series and for horror fans in general.
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Tommy Lee Wallace
Stars: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin and Dan O’Herlihy
Release Date: 22 October 1982 (USA)
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