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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Where is Michael Meyers?

Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) is an emergency room physician treating a patient (Al Berry) who arrives in the facility clutching a Halloween mask and stating that someone is out to kill him. When the man does end up being killed Dan becomes suspicious that it may have something to do with the mask. He teams up with the victim’s daughter Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) and the two find that the trouble began when her father visited the Silver Shamrock factory. It is here that they meet the company owner Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) who turns out to be a maniacal man who has created Halloween masks that have a computer chip implanted in them that will kill the children wearing them.

Although listed as the third part of the Halloween franchise there is no Michael Meyers here, nor any of the other familiar characters. The idea was to continue the series by having creepy stories with some connection to the Halloween holiday released each year, but this film did so poorly at the box office that the idea was dropped. The original script by Nigel Kneale was meant to be a dark comedy, but producer Dino De Laurentis wanted to play it as a straight horror film and striped the screenplay of the humor. Had it been kept in the humorous vein it might have worked, but the idea is too ludicrous to be taken seriously with glaring plot holes that defy all logic.

One of the biggest ones is the fact that Cochran plans on killing the children by having them all watch an advertisement his company has created and will be broadcast on all the channels at 9:00 Halloween night. Supposedly there is some sort of signal in the ad that will set of the computer chips in the masks, which the children are all supposed to be wearing while they watch the ad that will kill them instantly while also creating deadly snakes and spiders in the process. How a computer chip could create live creatures is ridiculous enough, but the fact that somehow Cochran does this by using pieces of a Stonehenge rock that he has stolen is even more absurd. There is also the fact that if the commercial airs at 9:00 eastern time it would only be 6:00 on the west coast. Therefore the commercial would be delayed by four hours, which would be enough time for the authorities to figure out what was going on and pull the ad before it ever even aired in California and probably have Cochran under arrest by then.

There also the fact that Cochran seems to have no plan B here. The reason for why he is doing this is murky at best, but what he hopes to gain from it is even more elusive. There is also the question of how he plans to escape once it becomes obvious to everyone what happened. None of this of course is ever explained and these are just a few of a myriad of implausibilities that the story spits out. There are so many of them that they aren’t even worth explaining, but clearly any film that expects the viewer to overlook so many glaring loopholes is not good. The film is like a flimsy outline to an idea that no one bothered to think through with the details.

I was also unimpressed with the masks themselves and couldn’t understand why all the children would be so excited to have them. They looked like something one could pick-up at a cheap dime store and had nothing unique or distinctive about them except that they could supposedly glow in the dark. The factory where the masks where is made is equally unimpressive looking like an old, rundown, non-descript building that had no visual presence. I was expecting the building especially from a company that could create such a nefarious technology as these masks to be sleek, modern, and imposing, which would have helped create a more foreboding feeling. The commercial used to advertise the masks is unimaginative and cheap looking. The jingle used in the ad, which was set to the melody of ‘London Bridges’ because apparently that was under public domain at the time, becomes irritating to listen to and gets overplayed.

One of the few things that I liked about the movie was the fact that the protagonist was a middle-aged man instead of teenagers. The gruesome special effects are okay and veteran actor O’Herlihy shows enough sinister mugs to the camera to be fun. I also liked at the end how Ellie for some unexplained reason turns into a robot and keeps on attacking Dan even as he vigorously dismantles it.

Segments from the original Halloween can be seen in this one. The first time it is shown while Dan is watching TV at a bar it is a clever in-joke, but when it gets shown again near the end it becomes a mistake because it reminds the viewer how much better that movie is compared to this one.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: October 22, 1982

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated R

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video