Halloween III: Season of the Witch

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Our rating: three lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

Shamrocks at Halloween? What gives?
Halloween 3 is a film we remember fondly from our early teens, when it finally found its way to TV. (Our moms didn't let us go to R movies in the theater, so TV was the best we could do.) Even in its edited form, the film's premise and images were enough to set our little adolescent minds on edge, and certainly induced us to swear off latex masks for Halloween.

Despite its use of the Halloween name, Halloween III does not take place within the Halloween-Michael Myers storyline. Sorry kids, no psychopathic murderers in William Shatner masks here. Instead, there's a maddeningly repetitive little commercial (to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down") advertising Silver Shamrock Halloween masks.

Three more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween,
Three more days till Halloween
Silver Shamrock.

Annoying but innocent (at first), the commercial represents the largest manufacturer of Halloween masks in the world. How that's possible when they have only three masks to choose from, we don't know, but in a movie like this you don't ask questions. Amusingly, the Silver Shamrock Novelties company promises to play John Carpenter's classic horror film, Halloween, at seven o'clock on Halloween night, with a "big giveaway" at nine.

This we all learn in the first half-hour of the film, during which Dr Daniel Challis has a strange encounter. One of his patients, who arrives clutching a latex mask, tells him that "They're going to kill us!" Later, that patient is murdered by a strange man in a business suit who then kills himself by torching his own car. Challis, shaken and scared, files a report with the police and retires to the nearest bar.

At the bar, he is approached by Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of the murdered patient. She is desperate to find out why her father was murdered, and enlists Challis' help in her investigation. Challis, angered that a man was murdered in his hospital, and somewhat smitten with Ellie, agrees.

Ellie and Daniel drive to the small California company town where Silver Shamrock is located and pose as agents of her father's business, looking for the shipment that never arrived. They are soon booked at the local hotel, along with the representatives of several other toy retailers.

Ellie and Daniel escape from Silver Shamrock.
Of course, Ellie and Daniel shack up in a major way, so we know something bad will soon befall them. Luckily, being the main protagonists in a horror film has a way of shielding people from actual harm, and so the usual "have sex, get killed" effect bounces into the next room. There, a curious woman dies a gruesome death after tampering with the tag from a sample mask. The town cronies soon cover it up.

Some time later, Ellie and Daniel are given a tour of the mask factory, and when they leave the tour group, they soon discover the truth behind the evil Silver Shamrock company and its founder, Conal Cochran. Will they be able to stop Cochran's plan to kill trick-or-treaters across America?

Halloween 3 probably should have had a different title, but it might not have gained as much attention without the franchise name. Certainly, some Michael Myers fans were disappointed, but we think the overall vision of evil presented here is in keeping with Carpenter's original film. (We hope so -- Carpenter is listed as a producer of this movie.) There is a rumor that the original screenplay was penned by Nigel Kneale, a British writer who wrote the Quartermass stories and 1955's The Creature. Kneale apparently distanced himself from the film when he found out how much gore the director wanted to add. Kneale's influence on the final product is still there, in that Cochran's plan is almost startlingly original and not at all what you would expect. Prepare yourself to be surprised. In the end the screenplay is credited to director Tommy Lee Wallace.

Despite all this, Halloween 3 is a cerebral and spooky member of the Halloween family, and deserves your rental dollar far more than the other sequels. Just don't blame us when you can't get that damn tune out of your head.

Rent or Buy from Reel.

Review date: 10/31/97

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