Good Times Home Video // 1982 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 4th, 2001
The Halloween horror continues...
1982 was a bad year for diehard Halloween fans. By the end of Halloween II, Michael Myers was dead, dead, DEAD...we're talkin' fricasseed potatoes here. The powers that be decided that a sequel was warranted nonetheless. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was produced by creator John Carpenter (who also co-wrote the score with Alan Howarth) and starred The Fog holdover Tom Atkins. "Foul!" cried fans of this strange departure, and it would be six years later until we saw another sequel in this series. Goodtimes Home Video gives us a widescreen version of this horrific tale of masks, robots and Irishmen.
"Eight more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Eight more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock!"
If you can get that song out of your head by the end of this movie, I applaud you. You are superhuman.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch takes the theme of Halloween and gives it a whole new storyline. In this third sequel there are no killers in masks...just killer masks. The shady Silver Shamrock Novelty Company is designing some new Halloween masks that are THE big thing this Halloween. They come in three groovy designs: a pumpkin, a witch, and a skeleton. They're all the rage...but what's the little plastic gizmo on the back of them for? Hmm...
When an elderly man grasping a Silver Shamrock mask in brought into a local California hospital, Dr. Daniel Challis (Atkins) thinks there's something afoot. That night while everyone is busy, a strange man in a business suit comes in, crushes the old man's skull, and leaves. Dr. Challis follows him and realizes that this is no ordinary murder. He meets the old man's daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and the two are soon caught up in a mystery to discover what happened to Ellie's father, and what the Silver Shamrock Company has to do with it. They also hop in the sack and do the sideways mambo just for fun.
Silver Shamrock is run by Conal Cochran (Academy Award nominee Dan O'Herlihy), a lecherous old man with a seemingly hidden agenda. He's the man behind the sickeningly annoying commercials for the Silver Shamrock masks. And all his assistants carry themselves as stiffly as Ron Jeremy. Something strange is a-brewin'.
So what exactly do these masks do? Well, I don't want to spoil the surprise, but when the TV is on and the mask is in place, it ain't pretty. Will Dr. Challis be able to stop the evil that is Silver Shamrock? Or will this be the most terrifying Halloween yet?
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is certainly a departure for John Carpenter's original vision of Halloween. It's kind of like if they decided to make a sequel to Star Wars, kept the whole outer space idea, but instead created a musical comedy. It would just be sort of strange, wouldn't it?
Halloween III scores points for at least trying to be original and taking the series in a new direction. I'm all for repeat business (like the Friday the 13th series), but it's fun to see the producers try something new as well. While Halloween III tends to fail on many levels, it succeeds in the "I tried!" department. This kid deserves a cookie just for putting forth the effort. It may be that my nostalgia is running circles around my critiquing skills (I remember seeing this a few times when I was a kid), but Halloween III: Season of the Witch is not half as bad as it could be.
As written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, Halloween III shambles along slowly at first, than picks up some speed near the middle-to-end segments. The plot is pretty laughable; apparently Cochran has discovered that Stonehenge has a mystical power that he is trying to harness into the Halloween masks. At 9:30 A.M. on Halloween, the ultimate trick or treat will be played on the children. And we wonder why Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers tried to pull off the same Druid theme (with lesser results).
The performers try their hardest to give the material credit, especially Tom Atkins as Dr. Challis, a hard drinkin', hard livin' (are there any other kind?) doctor turned detective. Atkins has been a staple in the horror genre, popping up in such semi-classics as Carpenter's ho-hum The Fog and the zombie dance party Night of the Creeps. There's something about him that screams "Hey! I'm from the 1980s!" The rest of cast goes though the motions, playing either bad guys, good guys, or hapless victims. The most entertaining of the cast are the Cochran's bodyguards. I won't give the secret away, but they are usually vastly more entertaining to watch than the rest of the cast.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. For a company that is not known as a releaser of quality transfers, this looks surprisingly good. Colors tended to be a bit faded, but overall the image was clean and clear. The letterbox bars on the top and bottom tended to be a bit bright which became a small distraction, but it's fun to have this little flick in its original format.
Audio is Dolby 2.0 mono and sounds only passable. This is an old film, and I wasn't surprised to see the mono soundtrack. Bass was deep, dialogue was clear and Carpenter/Howarth's score was very presentable. Halloween III: Season of the Witch also includes captions in English, French and Spanish.
Goodtimes has only given us a nice menu and some chapter stops. A theatrical trailer would have been nice, but apparently Goodtimes decided to do a trick instead of a treat this time.
Although Halloween III: Season of the Witch has its fun moments, make no mistake that this is a much lesser film than its early predecessors (but not as bad as what was to come). The ideas are interesting, but the follow-though is less than stellar. For you big time Halloween fans, you'll be sorely disappointed that there is no Michael Myers in this one, though the original Halloween does play in the background on some TV sets (making it a nice inside joke for horror fans).
This is a cheap title (going for about 10-15 bucks) so you won't be breaking your wallet too wide. Not sure as I can say this is a great buy, but as a renter it's a lot of fun. Maybe someday Universal (Halloween III's original distributor) will give us a special edition featuring all kinds of goodies.
Though I doubt it.
Found innocent on account of nostalgic value. Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Good Times Home Video
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Rated R