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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 333: Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch

Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch
I don't remember Halloween being so red

The Halloween movie franchise is Michael Myers. Just like Jason in Friday The 13th and Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare On Elm Street, it's hard to conceive of a Halloween movie without the blank-faced killer. It actually happened, though, believe it or not. The Halloween movie series was planned to produce a different horror story every year under the Halloween name. Michael Myers was never really supposed to be the face of the franchise. The idea wasn't a terrible one in theory as it would keep the franchise from being boring and predictable. It only happened once though. Could the non-Michael Myers Halloween be that bad as to completely throw out the original plan and go back to the slasher well?

Halloween 3 is a science-fiction horror movie starring Tom Atkins (Maniac Cop, Night Of The Creeps) as Dr. Dan Challis. On October 23rd, store owner Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry, Re-Animator, The Last Starfighter) is chased down and attacked by mysterious men in suits. He collapses at a gas station , is taken to a hospital, and placed in the care of Dr. Dan Challis. Dan notices that Harry is clutching a jack-o'-lantern mask from the Silver Shamrock toy company. Commercials for the masks have been playing nonstop, advertising some sort of raffle on Halloween night for anyone who purchases a mask. Even Dan's children have the masks. Another man in a suit finds Grimbridge in the hospital and kills him before blowing himself up in the hospital parking lot. Bothered by the incident, Dan begins to investigate the incident with Grimbridge's daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin, Bullets Over Broadway, The Twilight Zone). They travel to the small town of Santa Mira, home of the Silver Shamrock company. The town is practically abandoned other than the factory and it's workers. One night in their motel, a saleswoman for Silver Shamrock notices a small chip that falls off a mask. The chip shoots a laser into her face, burning her horribly and releasing bugs from her mouth. Dan and Ellie, who slept together the night before, receive a tour of the factory from the owner, Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy, Robocop, Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe). Dan sees the men in suits near the factory and also notices Cochran's secretive “finishing” process for the masks. What does Conal Cochran have planned with his killer masks and will Dan be able to stop him in time?

"No, I'm not happy with my long-distance rates!"

Well, this is a pretty huge departure from the first two Halloween movies. And I mean that in more ways than one. Gone is the slasher theme, the large amount of gore and violence, the pacing, the fear, and just about everything that made the first two Halloween movies so good. I understand the desire to separate the third movie and I don't really have a problem with wanting to do something different. I have a problem with a story that is so convoluted it makes my head hurt. It's as if three or four different horror movies were blended together and someone forgot to have things make sense. I thought the movie was going to be something about supernatural masks that kill the wearers, but instead we have a goofy sci-fi plot with some magic thrown in for the hell of it. Cochran's plan is as confusing as it is silly. I still have no idea why the men in suits were needed in the movie, adding a strange and unnecessary subplot.

The first two Halloween movies had a lot of suspense and plenty of fears. Halloween 3 has neither. The middle is incredibly slow and devoid of atmosphere. There isn't much in the way of scares either. The movie is strictly by-the-numbers and, if not for the Halloween name, would probably have been lost to the campy 80's horror dustbin a long time ago. Co-writer John Carpenter manages to get in plenty of social commentary, taking shots at commercialism, consumerism, and marketing. It's good commentary that makes sense, though it comes wrapped in the extremely annoying theme music for Silver Shamrock's commercial. The acting is ok, but nothing special. Tom Atkins plays his usual tough and gruff self, which would have been fine if his character was a police officer or investigator. Instead, he's a doctor, but never really acts like it. The one truly good thing the movie does is the ending. I don't think I've seen a movie where I hated 99% of it, but loved the last 20 seconds. Those last 20 seconds were everything the movie wasn't. It was intense to the point where I was literally leaning forward in anticipation.

This calls for Green Jelly's "Rock And Roll Pumpkin"

Switching things up in Halloween may have been full of good intentions, but it ended up damaging the franchise to the point where they decided to just stick with Michael Myers. Halloween 3 did poorly at the box office and for good reason. The movie is simply not good. The story is all over the place, a hodge-podge of different ideas that don't work. There isn't a lot of action and almost no suspense or fear. The social commentary is good, but heavy at times. The movie isn't a total loss as the masks are cool to look at and the ending is intense. Sometimes it's good to mix things up, keeping a franchise fresh and interesting. Of course, having a good story helps.



  1. Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin...

    I forgot about Green Jelly for at least a few years.

    Not any more.

    1. Rock and roll pumpkin! (Say it again!)

      They occasionally tour, but it's poorly advertised.