Wicked Wednesday: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a film with a pretty abysmal reputation. What’s a Halloween film without Michael Myres, eh? Well, it turns out, it’s all okay, folks. This is a movie that can stand on its own two legs.

As someone who is not personally attached the masked man, it doesn’t bother me that the great oaf doesn’t make an appearance. Though, in my mind, it’s a film that should be approached as a separate entity. It certainly can’t even touch the glory of John Carpenter’s original (but then again, not much can).

Eight days before Halloween, a man trying to run away and hide from a car. He manages to escape from the men pursuing him and ends up in a gas station, where he seeks help. While waiting inside, a Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play. The man begins to shout “they’re coming” and collapses to the floor.

That night, Doctor Dan Challis visits his ex-wife and his two children. He gives them the gift of two plastic masks, but they tell him that their mom already bought them Silver Shamrock masks, which they show off to him. Before he can feel too bad, he gets a call that brings him back to the hospital.

The patient awaiting his care is Harry Grimbridge, the man who fainted in the gas station. Dan examines the patient when Harry grabs him and says, “They’re going to kill us.” After the little episode, Dan has Harry moved to a private room.

Later in the night, a man goes into the hospital and presses his thumbs into Harry’s eyes. The nurse catches the murderer before he can leave the room. But the murderer manages to escape. Dan chases after him, but the man gets into the car and blows himself up before anyone can get near to him.

The next day, Harry’s daughter Ellie arrives to identify the body. She later follows Dan into a bar to question him about her father’s last moments. He finally tells her the truth about the vague “going to kill us” statements. He also tells her that Harry was holding onto a Silver Shamrock pumpkin mask.

Ellie drags Dan into the investigation of her father’s death. Together they go to Harry’s shop, where she tells Dan that her father had gone to a town called Santa Mira to pick up an order of Silver Shamrock masks.

Together, the pair head off to the Californian town. When they arrive, they find that the locals are super strange (they like to stare) and they’re all gushing with praise of Conal Cochran – the founder of Silver Shamrock.

While checking into their hotel, Dan sneaks away and looks at the log book, quickly discovering that it is the same hotel where Harry had stayed. As they finish their check-in, another shop owner and a family arrive, all having with business with Cochran.

The shop owner, Marge, finds a silver button that has fallen off the back of one of the Silver Shamrock masks. While examining it at night, a beam of light from the button strikes her, and her face begins to peel open.

Dan and Ellie (who apparently are having sex now because romance) hear something outside their room. Outside, a group of men in white coats are gathered around. Marge’s body, covered in a sheet and on a gurney, is removed from her room and put into a van. Ellie begins to become distressed, but a man, introduced as Cochran, says that Marge will be receiving good care.

The following morning, Dan, Ellie and the other family in the hotel all go to the Silver Shamrock factory where the popular masks are produced. Cochran hints that there is a “final process” that happens behind closed doors, but no one is allowed to see it due to the volatile chemicals involved.

When the group leaves their tour, Ellie spots her father’s car. She eventually leaves it alone, but not before catching the attention of the supremely-stoic black-suited men hanging about. It’s no surprise that the girl goes missing that night.

After realising that Ellie is gone and that he cannot connect any calls, Dan goes back to the factory. He’s obviously never seen the never-been-made classic Don’t Go in the Factory… Alone! This is clearly a bad idea, and he gets caught by Cochran and his robot lackeys.

Dan’s taken to the “final process” room where a stone from ancient sacrificial site Stonehenge sits. Men are slowly chipping away at the rock. Cochran explains that they use the stone in their masks.

Dan’s attention is then drawn to a video of the family from earlier. They’re all dragged into a testing room where the Silver Shamrock commercial begins to play on the television. The little boy tugs on a pumpkin mask, but struggles to take it off once it begins to hurt him. The boy collapses and his head turns to bugs, worms and snakes. His parents are then killed by the creepy crawlies emerging from their son.

Children all over America are waiting to wear their Silver Shamrock masks. As it’s Halloween, they’ll be everywhere. The twisted company plan a giveaway at 9 that night. Cochran’s plan is for all the children to gather around to watch the commercial, and then die. In his mind, it is merely celebrating Halloween in the old, pagan fashion: with lots of scarifies! Oh and to bring back the age of the witches.

He’s an ambitious fellow.

Dan is then tied up and left in a room wearing a mask. He’s placed in front of a television where the countdown to his death begins. But when he’s left alone, the doctor manages to smash the TV in. He uses a shard of the broken glass to cut himself free. When he manages to escape through a air duct, he calls his ex-wife to warn her about the masks. She refuses to believe him, and thinks he’s drunk.

So the man moves on to saving Ellie, who has been tied up inside the factory. The two manage to dump a box of the Silver Shamrock’s computer chip/Stonehenge bits around the computers, which end up killing the workers when the commercial is triggered. Even Cochran himself is killed by the power of the stone.

Ellie and Dan seemingly escape together, but Ellie attacks him while they’re driving away. The two crash into a tree when Dan discovers that Ellie has been replaced by a robot. He manages to fight her off and go to the gas station from the beginning of the film. He calls the television channels and manages to convince channels one and two to take the commercial off. But he watches in horror as channel three goes away with airing the commercial – seemingly to kill all the children.

It’s a wonderfully chilling ending. Sure the robots don’t make any sense (why wasn’t a coven written into this?), but Halloween III is a deliciously wicked movie. I mean, the evil plot revolves around sacrificing children to a television commercial!

I can’t really see why this film is slatted so much. It’s certainly a flawed film. The soundtrack is abysmal, and the plot is a bit convoluted, but the imagery is great, it’s pretty sick, and it stars Tom Atkins! I recently watched the excellent Profondo Rosso, and if there’s one thing I can swear by, it’s that a creepy children’s song will always make me uncomfortable in a horror movie.

Halloween III should be regarded as a separate entity from its predecessors. Judge it on its own merits. Hate it or love it for the right reasons.


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