I’ll admit to being more than a little leery about watching Halloween III: Season of the Witch. This film’s reputation precedes it, and I’ve known for years that this is considered the “weird one” of the franchise, not least because it’s the only Halloween film to not feature Michael Myers. This is because John Carpenter had it in mind to turn Halloween in to an anthology series, with each film covering something different, but still connected to Halloween. Well that backfired because by then Michael Myers had become such a popular villain that audiences rejected a Halloween film without him in it, though it has since gained a cult following.
With that in mind, I was fully prepared to be disappointed by Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but it turns out it’s not all that bad.
Halloween III, unlike the previous entries, takes place in California. The whole story revolves around a mysterious toy company, the Silver Shamrock company, a set of popular Halloween masks they’re selling, and a vast conspiracy revolving around a “big giveaway” the company is promoting for Halloween night. Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) gets mixed up in everything when one of his patients is mysteriously killed and soon finds himself in over his head as Halloween night ticks ever closer.
It is so hard to think of this movie as a Halloween movie because Michael isn’t present. The iconic Halloween theme isn’t there either, which makes it really hard to think of this film as belonging to the franchise. The story itself is also really strange: it doesn’t quite know if it’s fantasy horror or sci-fi horror and it really tries to be both, which doesn’t work at all. That being said, Conal Cochran makes for a satisfying villain, one with truly nefarious intentions once the story begins to unfold.
Cochran’s plot may be weird, with multiple references to the supernatural, but once it’s demonstrated exactly what Cochran wants to DO, that’s when the true horror kicked in for me. Yeah, I’m talking about THAT scene with Buddy and his family. I wasn’t truly horrified until that moment happened, and I already knew the scene existed (I never go into a Halloween film blind, I’m too chicken). What really gets me is that this is children Cochran wants to do this too, and in a sense that makes him somewhat worse than Michael. Because sure, Michael goes after teenagers, but Cochran is targeting young children, something Michael (to that point) hadn’t really done in the previous two films (I know this changes in Halloween 4 and 5 but at this point those movies hadn’t happened yet).
I will say that the ending of Halloween III bothers me. Not that the ending is left ambiguous, I get why that was done. I just don’t buy the TV stations removing the commercial from the air simply because Dr. Challis begged them to. There’s no reason for the stations to listen to Challis, who by this point is raving to the point of insanity (with good reason given everything that’s happened). Also, I find it a little hard to believe that he wouldn’t call home and at least get his own children to take their Silver Shamrock masks off before time ran out.
One other plot point I don’t understand is what happens to Ellie. Maybe I’m missing the point but what purpose does her horrible fate serve? Oh sure, it’s a terrifying reveal, but why do it at all? Unless…well I do have a theory about that. Cochran did admit earlier in the story that he “loves a good joke.” And wouldn’t it be the biggest joke of all for Challis to think he’d managed to “save/get the girl” only to find out it was all for naught? That’s the only possible explanation I can think of, because otherwise the moment doesn’t really work for me (I also feel it went on several beats too long).
I’m glad I made it through Halloween III, but I will admit to being more than ready to getting back to the story of Michael Myers starting with Halloween 4.
Let me know what you think about Halloween III: Season of the Witch in the comments below and have a great day!
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