Horror 365, Movie 159: Halloween III- Season Of The Witch

This started off as another list of over and underrated movies, but the one I started off with was Halloween III: Season Of The Witch. Before I knew it, I’d already banged out about 500 words on that movie alone and thought “Well. In for a penny…”

Besides, rarely have I seen a movie pilloried as thoroughly and rabidly as Halloween III. I have never understood why. This movie has everything: evil warlocks, killer androids, science mixed with the supernatural, a stolen 5-ton stone from Stonehenge, a plot to take over the world. What, what I ask you is not to love?

Start with a toy shop owner pursued by some expressionless, vaguely Men In Black (okay more like gray) type dudes. He manages to crush one to death between a couple cars. Ultimately he ends up in a hospital. Of course.

Bring in a womanizing alcoholic doctor, Daniel Challis. Get it? Alcoholic? Challis/chalice? Anyone? Challis is played by long-time character actor Tom Atkins being his usual “I’m the only one capable of saving humanity’s bacon” character type who somehow manages to cross and re-cross that line that separates stalwart from borderline histrionic. He quickly develops a few suspicions and theories of his own.

Mix in the young woman who teams up with Challis. This is Ellie (Stacey Nelkin, looking every inch like an extra from the set of MacGyver), whose father was killed early on. She wants answers about her father’s death and also now serves as a kind of love or at least sex interest whom Challis becomes hellbent on rescuing (a little predatory and concerning though since he doesn’t think to ask how old she is until after he sleeps with her).

Next, set them to investigatin’ Santa Mira, the weird little town where The Big Bad’s factory, Silver Shamrock, is located. The town has a 6pm curfew and is under constant factory surveillance.

Now let’s add the Big Bad, Conal Cochran himself. After checking with Castle Blogferatu’s crack team of cultists researchers in the “Where The Fuck Else Have I Seen That Person Department,” I can tell you he was The Old Man from RoboCop.

Anyway, Cochran creates masks that will gruesomely destroy whoever is wearing them when a special broadcast goes out over those big ol’ 1982 tee-vees. It’s a flashing pumpkin accompanied by a song sung to the tune of “London Bridge Is Falling Down:”

Happy happy Halloween,
Halloween, Halloween.
Happy happy Halloween,
Silver Shamrock.

All the mask-wearin’ kiddies will be watching thanks to an ongoing marketing campaign and the announcement of Silver Shamrock’s Big Giveaway at 9pm on Halloween. This in turn will act as a massive scale human sacrifice intended to reignite some bygone age of witchcraft that’s part of Cochran’s centuries-old family history and restore Halloween to what Cochran believes was its former blood-soaked glory. It’s genius.

Top the whole thing off with one of those catastrophic endings that will be cleverly retooled in The Cleansing Hour and in a way, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me of all things. *chef’s kiss*

To be fair, the movie has its flaws. For example, if the Men In Black dudes are really androids, why does the first one to kill someone wear gloves? A) he’s an android, and 2) he then dumps gasoline over himself and blows himself up in a car in the parking lot. I’m guessing there were a couple plastic bags fulla gas in the trunk. Similarly, if the androids can rip a guy’s head off bare-handed, why does one need a drill to kill someone later?

These kinds of things keep me up at night.

Trivia includes the fictional town of Santa Mira which first showed up as the 1956 setting of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and went on to show up in a mess o’ books and movies after Halloween III. Also, one of the victims is in bed reading Carlos Castaneda who wrote about his training in shamanism. Oh the irony.

Supposedly Carpenter at some point considered that Halloween might become a franchise, sort of a thematically linked anthology series. I’m guessing the masks and Cochran may have found some tie-in to Michael Myers–as in perhaps it was the mask itself (or maybe a prototype?) that made him into what he was.

One can only wonder.

BODIES- 28 onscreen (mostly androids), 1 off
Stream- AMC+
Rent- Google Play, iTunes, Prime, YouTube, Vudu
P.S. Now I have the damn Silver Shamrock song in my head. And you probably do too. You’re welcome.
P.P.S. For those of you reading this in some other place or time, the “plastic bags of gas” refers to May 2021 when the Colonial Pipeline got hacked which impeded gasoline distribution along the southeast coast of the U.S. Even though there was no fuel shortage, and service was going to be restored, the hoarding started. This included but was not limited to people filling plastic bags with gasoline. Cuz people are stupid.

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