HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH
Guess what was the first book I ever read by Dennis Etchison. Go on, I double-dare you. Did you guess THE DARK COUNTRY? Nope! DARK SIDE? Nope. It was the novelization of a movie that I went totally gaga over back in 1982: HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH!!! (Which he wrote under his pseudonym Jack Martin). I was so psyched by that movie that I rushed out and read the book, too, which is the first and only time I’ve ever done that.
Oddly, HALLOWEEN 3 (directed by Tommy Lee Wallace) was panned upon its release, and died a sad death at the cinemas. It’s only sin? BEING TOO AWESOME. That, and the experiment executive producer John Carpenter tried. He thought, instead of just rehashing the old lumbering-goon-in-Shatner-mask-chases-babysitter-with-knife thing, over and over, why not turn the HALLOWEEN series into an anthology of sorts, with a completely new story each year? Well, the public just wasn’t ready for that shit, so after SEASON OF THE WITCH, they went back to lumbering goons and diminishing returns.
HALLOWEEN 3, though… So FULL of ideas and energy, it’s like five horror/science fiction movies mashed into one, and constantly twists and turns as it goes from dark comedy to some seriously horrific shenanigans. It also sports at least one killer early 80s mustache, provided by the great Tom Atkins. He plays Dr. Dan Challis, an ER doctor who gets sucked into the bizarre mystery surrounding the Silver Shamrock novelty company, when one of his patients is murdered in the hospital and the killer walks outside and casually lights himself on fire (!). Dr. Dan teams up with the daughter of the murdered man, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), and the intrepid pair heads to Santa Mira, California, home of Silver Shamrock’s headquarters.
The fun of this movie is that it moves along at an energetic clip, while also retaining a sense of what the eff is going on here? Are there are killer androids? Why, yes there are. Is there an evil plot involving stealing mother effing Stonehenge and breaking it into teensy pieces? Roger that, Blue Eagle. An evil toy company with the catchiest jingle possibly OF ALL TIME? Decapitation via tire iron? Sweaty 80s sex scene for no real reason? Yes, yes, YES!!! It’s all that and so very much more.
For my money, Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran’s (Dan O’Herlihy) evil plan is one of the most ingeniously awful things ever put into a movie. We only see it tested on one (very unlucky) family touring the plant, but that scene is HORRIFYING (Mr. Etchison has a field day with it in the novelization, by the way). Suddenly, in this weirdly black comic movie, the threat turns real, and it’s a BAD ONE. I don’t want to give away much more of this, because if you haven’t seen it yet, you really ought to go in as fresh as you can, but I will say that Cochran’s reason behind what he’s doing, and his reaction to being vanquished, have never really been topped for me. Like, ever…
Yes, it’s cheesy. No, it doesn’t all work. If you try to isolate many of the individual elements, they kinda suck. But DAMN if the thing doesn’t weave some kind of hokey pagan 80s magic as a whole. David Lynch once described his film WILD AT HEART as “a whole hive of B movies”, and that is also a perfect description of HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH. There are many of us out there who have secretly loved this movie for years, warts and all, and it’s nice to finally see it getting some love.
Join us, won’t you?