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Monday, March 28, 2011

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

"The Night No One Comes Home!"

     Yes I know- it's the most hated of the franchise. Virtually everybody in the world it seems to absolutely detest HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH.  But in all honesty, that's hard for me to swallow.  I'm used to being in the minority anyway when it comes to the things I truly dig, so here goes. I actually find the third installment much more entertaining and creative than the rest of the franchise. Yes, I said it. It's true. And I'm not ashamed to admit this either...

     This was a terrible flop when released,  as audiences in 1982 simply wanted gore and more gore, and they wanted Michael Myers providing it. HALLOWEEN 3 came hot off the heels of the sequel, which grossed $25.5 million in 1981.  Movie-goers didn't quite feel the same way about the third, and I just can't understand why.  I honestly believe that if the movie was never released as a HALLOWEEN film at all, it would have an entirely different reputation. The only reason people hate this movie so much is the absence of Michael Myers and Jamie Lee Curtis. If it had simply been titled SEASON OF THE WITCH, with no reference to the HALLOWEEN films at all, I think the film's reputation would have been far greater today.

     Because in all honesty, it's actually quite good. I'm being totally serious here. This movie is nowhere as "bad" as it's supposed to be, and there's lots to love here.People just can't seem to grasp the concept that Carpenter and crew figured that Michael Myers was actually dead at the end of HALLOWEEN 2,and that they never intended to be an anthology of films featuring him anyway, so why bring him back?

     Instead, they thought that a whole slew of spooky stories about October 31st would be a much more creative and energetic series. The original idea was to do a Twilight Zone-like series of movies, all having something to do with the actual date of October 31st, but not the storyline of the original. No Haddonfield. No Laurie Strode. No Dr. Loomis. No Michael Myers. Just a bunch of creepy stories centering around Halloween and all its rich atmosphere. So after the success of HALLOWEEN 2,  the powers that be figured audiences would be ready for this new direction in the series. Which... they weren't. Slashers were white hot at the time- fantasy/horror hadn't become popular yet.  Audiences still wanted a masked killer with a knife offing horny teens, and I think this film was a bit too intelligent and ahead of its time.

      I still firmly believe that the original concept would have been a much more rewarding and creative series of movies. I mean, think about this for a minute. Imagine the possibilities of say, ten different films, all taking place on or around October 31st, but all different, original storylines... Are you seeing what I'm getting at here?  Imagine the possibilities!

      SEASON OF THE WITCH is actually much better written, has much better cinematography, direction and acting, and is honestly just put together better overall than all of those later HALLOWEEN films combined.  It's actually a dark and strange little horror movie, the kind of story you might find in an old issue of "Tales From the Crypt" or a hoary old episode of that late-night staple, "Tales From the Darkside". It offers a taste of what the series could and should have been, instead of the disappointing and annoying HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS...  This movie offers an amazing sense of dread and fear- great atmosphere.  Superb October atmosphere, to be exact.

     The film is based on an idea that there is a evil plot by a mask company who with the aid of witchcraft,  intend to kill the children of America on Halloween night through a series of masks- witch, skull, and jack-o-lantern. Sounds silly, right?  Sure. It is silly. But HALLOWEEN 3 really is just like a good episode of the old "Tales From the Darkside" that I used to watch late at night.  I mean, you get Tom Atkins,  first and foremost, which I'll take in any movie. It's Tom Atkins!  Plus you get a great and eerie electronic score, creepy Stepford-like men in suits, an INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS-type conspiracy, witchcraft, tons of bugs and snakes, and some clever homages to the original HALLOWEEN and other classic horror films. Oh and that damn Silver Shamrock jingle that will not leave your head once you've heard it.  I find myself endlessly fascinated and mystified by SEASON OF THE WITCH, because it's just so different and daring. And dark. This really is a twisted and diabolical little movie.  It's just frustrating because so many people have such a closed mind when it comes to this movie.

     Now as far as actually being as 'scary' as the original?  No, it's not. But it is a quietly disturbing little horror movie that actually does have a lot to offer, if only given the chance. People complain about how formulaic and un-creative Hollywood can be, yet when they actually do try something creative, they're crucified for it.  Let's face it- the latter HALLOWEEN movies are just nowhere near the level of the first two films in the series.  They are mindless sequels only made to satisfy the masses and to top the latest FRIDAY THE 13TH and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET installment. And it shows. Get some half-assed Michael Myers killing teenagers.  That's basically about it.  If you ask me, those movies have tarnished the good name of the series, not the third installment.  At least this movie had some creative thought behind it, even though it didn't turn out as good as it could have been.  Not a perfect movie by any means, but it's still far better than most make it out to be. I actually find this to be a very cool movie, and there's a reason why it's always shown on television around Halloween.  I love it!  The original, the sequel, and this one make the perfect October trilogy.  Skip the rest.  Trust me.


Dr. Theda said...

I too enjoyed this movie ...Before the release of the film I got the chance to talk to a Don Post Studios Representative who let me in on some of the storyline...(back when I worked for "Dr. Evil")
...the Doctor

Waxdude said...

I think it's way underrated! And much better than the crappy sequels that followed...

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