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October 16, 2013

Movie Review: Halloween III - Season of the Witch (Blu-ray)

I'm that guy. Seriously. There are only a couple of us out there, but I really enjoyed Halloween III: Season of the Witch. If you don't agree, you can take a hike.

The most substantive argument against this film is the fact that Michael Meyers did not appear and the storyline went in a completely different direction. As a little history, Golan and Globus, who owned the rights to the Halloween franchise, decided to depart from the Michael Meyers goodness because they felt that the slasher theme had become played out. They felt there wasn't much left to do with the sub-genre and would just be another tired 'killer with a knife' film. You have to admit, by 1983 the slasher genre had become repetitive and derivative and other types of -ive words. The Mutilator, the lesser Friday the 13th sequels (until, sadly, Corey Feldman revived it), New Year's Evil, the Silent Night, Deadly Night sequels... the list is endless. Until filmmakers like Wes Craven hit the scene in, the slasher was tired. You can imagine what tirelessly killing co-ed after co-ed would do to one's ambition. It's tiring. And those masks? Stuffy.

So, Halloween III, produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Tom Atkins was born. It wasn't a slasher film, it was a pulse-pounding thriller that got to the pagan roots of the Halloween tradition (see Samhain and All Soul's Day) and was, technically, one of the first horror films that franchised merchandise specifically for their release. And who could forget the commercial jingle? I sing it all the time... but I'm a bit strange.

The story details the tragic tale of Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), semi-deadbeat dad and drunk hero. He, along with his love interest, Ellie (Stacy Nelkin), discover a plot by the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company. The plot involves getting all the children of America to by the highly popular Silver Shamrock Halloween Masks. These masks, if worn during a special Halloween broadcast, will, literally, melt the heads of the children and cause them to produce all kinds of creepy crawlies from the nether world. Challis and Ellie are in a race against time to stop the broadcast and save the children... including Challis' own.

But why? Why would this evil company want to kill all of our children? That seems to be a sticking point for American audiences. You see, anytime we are required to think and critically analyze a storyline, Americans will reject it. How dare you inject intellectualism into my escapist entertainment! That is exactly what Halloween III did. You see, the evil company was composed of Druidic descendants from ancient Ireland. Stealing a piece of Stonehenge, the druids use their inherited mystical abilities to imbue the masks with the power to kill... because they were conquered and driven out, hunted and massacred, simply because of their beliefs. That would make me angry as well.

For you Hollywood non-conformists, the ending of this film is as bleak as any I've seen. We are not left with that happy-go-lucky feeling that the public usually demands in today's day and age. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Debbie Downer would be proud.

Like I said earlier, this is a great film. The complaint that Michael Meyers isn't in it is a shallow one. In a country where we complain that there are nothing but remakes, sequels that are the same old thing and re-hashed TV shows in our theaters, one would think that Carpenter and company would be welcomed with open arms. So, all you Season of the Witch haters out there, pay attention to what the gas station attendant is watching at the end of the film. You'll get your Meyers fix.

The extras features on this Blu-ray / DVD combo are positively stellar. Scream Factory and Red Shirt Pictures produce what may be the most enjoyable featurette of 2012 with the inclusion of Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III. Included are interviews with Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins and other cast and crew members. You get to know the origins of the Silver Shamrock song and of course the disastrous early history of the film. Some really interesting content is on display here. There are also two fine audio commentaries: one by Director Tommy Lee Wallace and a very candid commentary with the very funny Tom Atkins. To round out the extras, you get some cool TV spots and a featurette surrounding the locations in Halloween III. On another plus side Scream Factory has done in awesome job with the transfer, as the movie has never looked this good.

One more day to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! One more day to Halloween, Silver Shamrock! Highly Recommended.

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