Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray Review (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Monday, September 17, 2012
I don’t know if my story is like yours, but it goes like this. I never watched the likes of Halloween in the theater. I was far too young to see the first two adventures of Michael Myers. Years later, when I was introduced to these films, I tackled one and two, but was given the advice that three had nothing to do with Michael so “skip it”. Skipping it is something I have done for years. Not any longer. I can finally cross Halloween III: Season of the Witch off my list.
Shout! Factory has recently obtained the rights to distribute new releases of both Halloween 2 (see column) and Halloween 3. They could have sat back and turned the same old thing out as everyone else has, but they didn’t. Shout! Factory applied the same approach as their Roger Corman releases and delivered to fans a plethora of special features, multiple commentaries, a new “making of”, recent interviews, and alternate covers. In short, it’s what every fan or film aficionado could want. With that said, let us get into Halloween III: Season of the Witch Collector’s Edition Blu-ray.
Let us address the immediate issue and one that the producers should have addressed back in 1982. Michael Myers is not in the Season of the Witch. He makes an appearance, but only in a TV ad for the film. Yes, you read that right, Michael Myers only appears in a commercial for a TV airing of the film Halloween. It was the Studio’s idea that “Halloween” be a series of films that feature a horrific tale that takes place during the Halloween season. There would be one every year and, perhaps, they, too, could spawn their own sequels. This idea failed as the audience wanted more of Michael and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). This idea would in fact succeed, years later in the Saw Saga (the once a year on Halloween part). All this was revealed in a 30 minute documentary: “Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch”, where cast and crew discuss their memories and reactions to both making and seeing the film.
To “Stand Alone” is an excellent way to watch this film. To put it bluntly, think of this film as a horror film called “Season of the Witch”. The moniker of Halloween was a great way to get people to go, but it backlashed horribly. Thankfully, I had years of preparation to sit down and watch the film. A film which oddly enough featured most of the same crew behind the camera that also worked on Halloween and Halloween 2.
The film opens with a lone man (Al Berry) running in the darkness. Obviously, he is being chased, but by what and whom? Out of breath and seemingly out of his mind, he keeps saying “they’re coming”. Enter Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) who treats the man at his hospital. The man seems okay after some treatment, but, once the TV plays a commercial for Silver Shamrock Halloween Masks (see below), he returns to his hysteria. Later that night, Dan’s patient is murdered in his sleep. Dan chases the suited assailant only to watch him ignite himself and then blow up in his car. Dan’s only clue is a Silver Shamrock Mask his patient was clutching. Dan meets his patient’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), and the two are off to find out why all this happened.
As I mentioned before, the film starts off with a great mystery. Why was this man so terrified? Why would his killer kill himself in such a manner? Why the mask? Why is that commercial so damn catchy? As Dan and Ellie come to Santa Mira (Invasion of the Body Snatchers fans, recognize this name?), headquarters and plant of Silver Shamrock, they start to unravel a dastardly plan to change the world that takes place on Halloween Night.
Writer/ Director Tommy Lee Wallace really does craft a good old fashioned horror story, here. The other thing, besides no Michael Myers, that may have turned audiences off was the lack of hack-and-slash in the film. This isn’t a “killer with a weapon” type of tale that populated the cinemas of the day. There are legends and folklore involved and it really is something a little bit different. Wallace even invokes a Hitchcock type trick and gives you the “McGuffin” without even knowing it.
The film is not without a few logical flaws (which is strange because I can buy into the Celtic mysticisms that run deep into the movie). First, Dan and Ellie immediately hook up. They have known each other for all but a day and already have a relationship. What is this relationship built on? The film’s ending hinges on an exact time. Yet, what about the different time zones and airing of TV programs? The Silver Shamrock Surprise is to take place at 9pm. By the time Dan is trying to stop it in California, the event might have already taken place three or four times already. The ending may raise a few questions, but that’s nothing compared to the struggle between two of the main characters towards the end.
All in all, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has gotten a bad wrap. However, the film, itself, is a fun and horrific tale that takes place at Halloween. Forget the whole Michael Myers and his robotic slayings for an evening. Take a leap and enjoy this odd Celtic tale remastered in brilliant 1080p with incredible sound. You’ll regret that you skipped it all these years.
Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace
Audio Commentary With Actor Tom Atkins
Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch Featuring Interviews With
Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace, Actors Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Brad Schacter, Stunt
Coordinator Dick Warlock, Executive Producer Irwin Yablans, Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Co-Composer Alan Howarth and more!
Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations Of Halloween III – Host Sean Clark And Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace Revisit The Original Shooting Locations Of The Film
TV & Radio Spots
Mania Grade: B
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy
Written By: Tommy Lee Wallace
Directed By: Tommy Lee Wallace
Distributor: Shout! Factory
Original Year of Release: 1982 (Film), 2012 (Blu-ray)
Special Features: See Below