Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
The infamous Halloween III. The film is still discussed in horror circles to this day and it is a hot or cold subject for fans (I’d be surprised if this review doesn’t stir up a little debate!). It's truly a love it or hate it kind of movie, and it's too bad because there's a lot here to enjoy. I'm firmly in the love it crowd and I'm going to tell you why. I'm also going to investigate how well the film has aged over the years to and explain why it has cemented itself as a cult classic. Without further ado, let's take a look at the most controversial Halloween in the long running series.
First of all, let’s take a look at the trailer, which did absolutely nothing to help matters:
The problem here isn't the movie itself...it's the title. John Carpenter created one of the greatest movie maniacs of all time in Michael Myers and decided to put him on the shelf after two films. The idea was to do a Halloween movie every year after that with a different director and a different topic. It seemed like a good idea but the public disagreed. Though the movie did well at the box office it just didn't sit well that there was no Michael Myers on screen. Throughout the 80's and 90's it was laughed off as a hiccup, an aberration, and often left off as part of the series. I can understand some of the vitriol, though I don't take it out on the film. I don't consider it as part of the Halloween canon, but it's a great early 80's horror film that's gotten a tremendously unfair treatment. Thankfully the last decade and a half have been much kinder. Halloween III has garnered quite a bit of a cult following and has had big collector's edition blu-ray releases and got lots of love in the Halloween series box set.
Even if you can’t stand the movie, you have to admit that Carpenter’s score is one of his best. There’s also no denying the influence it has had on the current mainstream synthwave sound:
The film is well shot, has a stellar soundtrack (like I just mentioned), and the setting of Santa Mira is one of the best of the early 80's. Director Tommy Lee Wallace, who worked on the previous two films, put a lot of love into this one as well. Tom Atkins, one of the all time great man's man actors, plays the classic horror protagonist against the enigmatic Dan O'Herlihy (who had a great decade as villains in the 80's), who is up to all kind of occultish shenanigans. Clockwork men, beheadings, bugs and snakes erupting from exploded faces, and Stonehenge comes into play as it winds to a very dark ending. Season of the Witch is one of the few films brave enough to say "no" to the glossed over Hollywood ending and I love it all the more for it.
If you look at Halloween III as a stand alone early 80's horror film and not as a part of the iconic Michael Myers powered machine, it may change your perspective a bit. Tommy Lee Wallace is finally getting the credit he deserves for one of the better films of the early part of the 1980's and it is long overdue. Halloween III has it all...but lost it all due to miscues before it came out. I highly recommend giving it another shot. If you've never seen it then you will be finding a hidden gem of classic, over the top, genuinely creepy early 80's goodness