October Extras #27 - Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

OCTOBER 27, 2007


I must credit the source of today’s October Extra to Ryan Rotten of ShockTillYouDrop.com, who informed me of a theatrical screening of my beloved Halloween III: Season Of The Witch right here in LA. I skipped multiple parties and had to listen to Game 3 of the World Series (which the Sox won, wooo) on the goddamn radio in order to attend this rare event, but I have no regrets at all.

More than probably any other entry in the series, III deserves to be seen with a big crowd and on a big screen. It’s such a delightfully odd and mean-spirited film, there’s no way one could TRULY experience it without the film being presented larger than life, in a room full of appreciative fans. As many times as I have seen the film, I never noticed the totally fake fireman hat in the early hospital scene until it was magnified and pointed out by an audience member. Go back and watch the scene (widescreen version only) after the guy blows up at the hospital, and keep your eye on the fireman on the left. It’s breathtaking in its cheapness.

Also, come on people, let’s be honest: Tom Atkins is Oscar-worthy here. From his rampant hitting on of every woman who crosses his path, to his utterly horrified reaction to a generic cartoon playing at the bar (the one he frequents so much that his co-workers “said he could be found here” – keep in mind he’s a doctor), to his ass scene, the crowd cheered almost every time he appeared on screen. The scene where he calls his wife and tells her he has to go to some medical conference before grabbing a six pack and heading off to visit a mask factory with some chick he just met a few hours before (and of course, nails a few hours later) is possibly the greatest scene in any Halloween film.

Which brings us to the most controversial aspect of the film: the total lack of Michael Myers (something that escaped Roger Ebert, who, in his review, claimed that “the film begins where II left off, with the killer being immolated in the hospital parking lot” – dumbass!). Since we see clips of the original in the film, we are to believe that III exists in the “real world” (if so, I need to buy more 6 packs and make up more medical conferences than I already do), despite retaining the Halloween name. Everyone by now knows that this was Carpenter’s intent all along, to make a different film about Halloween every year, but he was vetoed by the money men and thus left the franchise after this one, and the “franchise entry” Halloween 4 was made, apparently by the people who survived the likely apocalypse at the end of this film. The long running argument is “If they didn’t call it Halloween I would probably like it”, which just speaks volumes as to how ignorant people are. If The Godfather was called “Horse Head In A Guy’s Bed”, I’m pretty sure it would still be a great movie.

Back to the film itself and how amazing it is. Let’s see, we got a kid’s head turning into snakes and insects because a computer chip with a piece of Stonehenge inside it reacted to an epileptic TV commercial, and... well really, what the fuck else do you need out of a movie? Atkins’ ass has already been mentioned.

The film’s most memorable contribution to pop culture is of course, the Silver Shamrock theme. Set to the tune of London Bridge, it is simply impossible to watch the film and not sing along to the ad (which we hear about a dozen times) at least once. Carpenter and Howarth’s score is one of their best collaborations (love the main theme over the computerized pumpkin assembly/credits), and even a die hard Myers fan would be hard-pressed to claim otherwise.

One thing I don’t get about the movie is the timing of the “Big Giveaway”. So this tiny mask company somehow convinced all major networks to show Halloween at the same time across the country (starting at half past the hour no less), and everyone was watching it? At one point, Cochran is told “they” are getting a 41 share, so maybe he owns all the networks and just chose not to sink any of his money into a more impressive factory.

But who cares. I love this movie, and watching in theaters with a couple friends and 30 other like-minded folks was one of the best theater experiences I’ve had this year. Another friend didn’t understand why I would pay 10 bucks and miss out on a party to go see a film I have on DVD (twice in fact) – but people like that just don’t get how important the theatrical experience is in terms of enjoyment. I almost feel bad when I see a film (especially one that wasn’t direct to video) for the first time on DVD. And revival screenings such as this are even more fun, because you get to sort of see the film for the first time again.

I usually never censor my comments, but I will make an exception here – anyone who posts “This movie sucks because there’s no Michael Myers”, even to be sarcastic, that comment will be deleted. I want good feelings and love here! Myers or not, there’s nothing anyone can do to convince me that any of the last 4 films (though H20 I can go either way on) is somehow truer to the spirit of Halloween (the film or the holiday) than III. BUT, if you can explain in a way that has nothing to do with Myers, or the title, why this film is somehow bad, I am all ears. Or, eyes, I guess, in this context.

What say you?


  1. Great review, and I am in total agreement. I actually saw this in the theater when it was released originally, but I was too young to remember much about the experience. I just remember that damn commerical jingle being stuck in my head for days.

    Seen it quite a bit since, and just can't get enough of it. I've read that Ebert review as well; I'm glad someone else pointed out the stupidity of it. I've got to go watch it again to see if I can catch that fireman's hat. Maybe it'll eventually be out on Blu Ray, and I will have a better shot at noticing it.

    My favorite scene though is the shots of the kids across America skipping around with the masks on even though the rest of their costumes (Ballerina and Clown outfits) don't match the head gear. I've always found it funny that someone would be able to corner the market on Halloween masks, and especially ones as generic as these. Cochran is actually a household name because he has a Skull, Pumpkin, and Witch mask on the market. How does it get any better than that?

    Tommy Wallace, you are a God, my friend; A Freaking God!!!

  2. I remember that happy happy Halloween jingle - it stuck in my head for weeks, or months even, after seeing this film in the 80s. Thanks for bringing it back to me :-)

  3. Well,you've convinced me that I need to watch this one again, even though I've seen it twice before and hated it more the second time--for reasons that have nothing to do with the lack of Myers.

    I've discussed this with you in previous comments, but basically when I watched this (originally at the time of its VHS release, and again a few years later) the whole thing felt to me like a bad Ray Bradbury rip-off. The Stonehenge theft was Bond-villain stuff, the Shamrock song just annoyed me, the plot hole of "What about the folks who AREN'T watching?" was too big, and of course my biggest gripe:


    The super-strong, head-crushing machines, which somehow run on clockwork. That must be one hell of a main spring they've got. I just couldn't get past it--less the second time than the first.

    But I am willing to allow that I watched this, both times, years before my passion for weird and wild b-movies became all-consuming, and on paper it sounds like something I SHOULD like. I mean, Paul Naschy movies are WAY goofier, and I dig the shit out of those. So I'll do it. I'll watch it again, with an open mind (as open as I can get, anyway--prior experience is a bitch), and report my findings back.

    It may be a while, though. I have other movies in the queue that I actually WANT to watch. ;)

  4. Hahaha I forgot to bring that up as another reason why this movie is amazing - the automaton was said to have been built in 1765 or something by the Germans. Score another for German efficiency!!!

  5. I actually love this movie. Definitely underrated. They should be screening this at cinemas across the country tonite instead of 4+5.

  6. my f avorite! i love everything about this movie, seriously. i'm so excited you reviewed it!


  7. Ok, for starters, The movie was good on the concept that "Halloween" were supposed to present a different story each year (talk about an anthology series! no chapters, movies! tales from the crypt my ass!) and THAT was a lot better idea that keep coming with sequels that contradicted themselves every new entry, you know?, h4 and h20? and everything between?, on the other hand, this kind of movies are just for fun, so the mask mechanic stuff it´s just as valid as a guy who gets shot at, hung, incinerated, slashed, etc, etc and keeps coming back!! To my taste Meyers was a lot better character and a better back story that Jason for the first two movies, after that, they were pretty much the same, almighty and with kills more and more ridiculous.

    But like I said sometimes you just got to trow some logic out of the window and enjoy the ride, otherwise most (if not any) of the horror movies we love and treasure
    would never been made (vampires? werewolves? living corpses? demons?, well, you get the idea)
    Unless you're talking about terror toons (f..k them!) some movies don´t deserve a release.....

  8. And there was me thinking I was the ony person alive (or dead) who enjoyed Halloween III!

    Finally I no longer have to live in shame; I surely owe you one of those life debt things!

  9. I, too, weigh in as one of the "closet appreciative" of Halloween III and am damned happy to find a nest of them.

    Believe it or not, the paperback novelization of the movie (yes there was a paperback) came to our little town before the movie made it to the theater. Once the film did arrive, I had read the book twice and not only liked the absent Myers (harbor no doubts, "Halloween" is my favorite horror film - it barely rears its head among a dozen others, but it is my favorite with the original TCM holding a close second) but thought the idea of a similarly titled series with plots not related to their predecessors was genius ... except television has been doing that for a long long time (Twilight Zone? Outer Limits? The Veil?) but extending that idea to films - especially with horror - seemed delicious.

    But I was busted as a HIII devotee only moments before I saw the movie. Single at the time, I arrived at the theater early, when the lights were still bright, found a secluded seat and nonchalantly slipped the novelization from my pocket and began to read where my third trip through had left off.

    Naturally I had picked the night and time that a group of friends chose. They recognized my distinctive hat (which I always remove once the theater darkens) there in an isolated section of seats and descended upon me. One grabbed my book and it became the night's joke. And the next day's, and the next month's ...

    It's as difficult to do justice to a film with a novelization as it is to justice to a novel by filming it.

    While the movie unfurled and my companions hurled and lurched against "that-which-cannot-be-spoken-here", I was enthralled.

    Movies have to grab my imagination, point it in a direction that is too succulent to deny and offer me a place at the table.

    Plot holes? Lapses in logic? Violation of space, time and various physical laws? Lopsided science and wide scale demand for suspension of disbelief? Hey! That's what I'm talking about.

    My chosen genre often begins with "There's this woman that comes back from the dead ..." or "A werewolf..." or "There are these Halloween masks filled with electronics and chips from Stonehenge..."

    "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" was an idea that should have caught on. Halloween comes once a year. Grab a director a year. Title them "Halloween 2007", "Halloween 2008", etc. Send john Carpenter a percentile chunk for being bold enough to come up with the idea (and let him do one whenever he wants) and thrill the rest of us.

    Tom Atkins needs his own category and only he is allowed to play it. He was smooth killer delivery in "Night of the Creeps". Righteous actor.

    Glad to find my kindred here.

    Silver Shamrocks to everyone.

  10. Hey BC,I rented this movie the other day and FINALLY gave it a chance....I rented it once in high school with my friends during our yearly halloween marathon and watched maybe 20 minutes and turned it off due to the lack of MICHAEL MYERS...so i read about it here and finally sat down and watched it...this is a freakin awesome movie....it is different...if it wasnt titled HALLOWEEN it would have been a big hit, but everyone was expecting MICHAEL MYERS and when he didnt show up, people didnt watch. Oh well..their Loss....The fact the little annoying kids head turns into a rattle snake "btw i am terrified of snakes" made the movie classic to me. I am planning on buying it...I really wish they would come out with a BOX SET of all the Halloween movies....as for BLU RAY Halloween...i bought that the day it came out and love it....i stayed up watching the extras before i even watched the movie....take care...off to the HELLRAISER SERIES (finally saw 1 and 2...on to 3 and etc)

  11. Is it any wonder why people are leaving rave reviews of this awful movie? Because they don't want their comments deleted! As I'm sure mine will be.

  12. to this day i have not seen this movie. when i was young and woudl go to Blockbuster and rent all the halloween movies, they didnt have number 3 and i asked the counter why, adn they said "you dont need to see it Michael Myers isnt even in it". so i never got around to it. altho i own it.

  13. I have always maintained that this is a great movie. I can't stand it when people use the "myers isn't in it" argument. It's a great story, and overall it was done quite well

    Although that song pissed me off by the end

    The ending was sweet too....didn't expect that

  14. I completely agree with this review also. I will point out - this soundtrack for III is probably one of the best. and as far as trying to get you to appreciate the other 4 i won't bother - except to mention the credit sequence to 5 is pretty great - the pumpkin carving was a nice tough.

  15. This is the only Halloween movie I've ever seen. I'm perfectly okay with that.

  16. I love this flick.

    You had me at Tom Atkins. Next to Brian Blessed, the man emotes like a crazy train.

  17. Hey everyone! It's great to see that this is a cult hit and can be appreciated as much as the first two films. You're so lucky to have been able to see the film on the big screen. Was it the 35mm print or digital? I keep asking my local arthouse cinema to show this as I'm dying to finally see it the way it was intended, but so far it hasn't happened.

    I will start by saying that I saw Halloween III in 1987 at age 10, two years after I saw the original Halloween. I really didn't question why Michael Myers wasn't in it and just went along with the story and enjoyed it as it unfolded. I've gotta say that it's my favourite sequel, though I do like Halloween II which is a guilty pleasure, lol!

    The whole way that it builds with the location shots of the town, the dates on screen as Halloween moves closer, etc. It's so eerie when the town closes up at 6 o clock following the curfew, knowing that the robots are around watching Tom and Stacey. I can't get enough of it and am happy to have finally tracked down a high quality UNCUT widescreen edition of the DVD and it's just as good as I remember it as a kid.

    I tend to stay away from indb becuase of the bashing that it's had over the years and the ignorant reviewers that have written about it. I've found that there are fan sites and tributes to it on facebook.com and Myspace.com by people who appreciate it. If anyone wants to come along and join the groups then that would be great. The more, the better!

  18. Maybe Roadwarrior is a moron. Best to go back and watch crap like Halloween II instead. Halloween III is super.

  19. after a few years of refusing to watch it, i finally gave in since u liked it..really dug it for the first 2 acts then i thought the wheels fell off a little with the stonehege bit but i can see why u dig it, tom atkins is the tits

  20. I don’t think the film is a classic, but there is *something* about it. It has a really strange atmosphere. The score is awesome. It has Tom Atkins. It has a child with snakes coming out of his imploded head.

    As for Myers not being in it, it bothered me when I was young but now I could care less. I’d take this one over “Curse” or “Resurrection” any day.

    This film weirdly enough was a great lesson to me when it comes to violence onscreen. The first time I saw it all the gore had been cut out (e.g. the murder in the hospital. You see the finger come down and then it cuts to the killer wiping the blood off his hand). The implied violence was still pretty disturbing. But when I saw it uncut a few years later seeing the full impact of it was even more disturbing then what I’d imagined.

  21. Man, when you mentioned that Carpenter planned on making each movie a different story, I could not help but think of Ryan Murphy's approach to American Horror Story. I really wish Carpenter would have had his chance to make more Halloween stories, because it's hard to tell what other great movies we would have to watch every October. Most people I know despise number 3, but I have always enjoyed it more than most of the sequels.

  22. Sorry for "double commenting" here, but I was just looking around for info on the differences between Kneale's original story and the edited version that was used in the movie. I found an article about a screening of this movie at The New Beverly in 2010, in which Tommy Lee Wallace attended.

    Just wondering if you made it to that screening, and if any differences in the original/edited stories were mentioned at the screening that was not mentioned in the article.


    1. Sure did... I was the moderator the author of the article kept referring to (weird that he took such thorough notes about the Q&A but couldn't bother to remember my name).

      I think that was pretty much it for the differences that were discussed. There might be more but if so they either weren't talked about or I simply don't remember. The Q&A was recorded for a DVD special edition that Universal opted not to make (even though the "bonus features" were already complete), maybe the guys that shot it will put it online someday.

  23. I love the tagline, which is a play on the original Halloween. Where Halloween's tagline was "The Night that HE comes Home", Halloween III had the tagline "The Night that NO ONE comes Home"...totally classic...!!!



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