In my quest to review 31 horror movies in October, I really felt the need to look back on some of the more obscure entries of some of the most popular franchises. As loved as those series are, they each have at least one, but especially a certain one, that is looked upon as kind of an oddball of the series. Sometimes a writer and/or director will grab hold of the franchise and turn it on it's head, hoping to inject some originality into something they see has grown stagnant. Sometimes this can be for good, but oftentimes it's for naught. After all, if you have a winning formula, why change it? Sometimes this oddball of the group comes late in a franchise, after umpteen sequels, like, say "Jason X", where after 9 sequels, they decided to try something different and put Jason in space (which was waaaaay better than it sounds), or they'll try something that fails so miserably, you have to wonder if it was intentional ('Leprechaun In Tha Hood', anyone?) Which brings me to tonight's movie, the third film in the Halloween series, "Season of the Witch".
The story goes, after Halloween 1 and 2, and John Carpenter was no longer associated with the series, they wanted to take it into a completely different direction. Having felt they'd told the story of Michael Myers/The Shape to fulfillment, they're idea was actually a pretty good one. They'd turn the Halloween series into something of an anthology series, with each movie being a tale centered around the holiday itself, but each story every year would be new and self containing. It's a great idea that holds practically infinite potential. You would never run out of stories to tell. As smart an idea as it was, it came with a price. Everyone already associated the Halloween name with Michael Myers, but that was the only way the series could continue in any form, to live off that title. I can just imagine all of the confusion back when this movie came out, expecting to see a Michael Myers flick, and then seeing nothing of the sorts. Kind of a blessing for the movie, to be able to piggyback off the name, but probably more of a curse. The movie itself isn't bad, as it's just not great. Oddly enough, it's become quite a cult classic, for reasons unknown to me.
Starring Tom Atkins mustache, he plays a doctor at a hospital. But first, let's set it up. The movie begins with this guy running away from someone or something. Could be anything. In fact, the way it's set up, could even be Michael Myers. I *know* that's what people had to be thinking in theaters. Strange thing is, he has a death grip on a pumpkin Halloween mask. Anyway, after some hijinks in a junkyard with a guy in a suit trying to kill him, he escapes to a gas station, where Shaft takes him to the ER. This is where we're introduced to Mr. Atkins mustache. He is the Doctor on duty. While they are pushing this man down the hall, one of the tv's in a room starts playing this weird commercial, featuring these Halloween masks, made by the Silver Shamrock company. It's a weird, disorienting commercial that has this insane jingle, and the commercial has made these masks THE thing to have this Halloween. While the man is laying semi-comatose, upon hearing the commercial, he tightens his death grip on the mask. Why they didn't remove it from his hands, I don't know. So while in his room, he's visited by a man that looks very similar to the man who was after him in the junkyard. In a great effects scene, the guy sticks his fingers through the eye sockets of the old man, why, I'm not entirely sure. After the deed is done, the Dr. chases after the man, who gets into a car, douses himself with gasoline, and blows himself up.
From here on out, the movie is about the Dr. and the old man's daughter, on a quest to solve this mystery about who these men were and what the deal is with these masks. They're led to a remote little town, the kind of town where people peak out their curtains when someone new drives down the street. If you've seen the unbelievably awesome "Troll 2", this is basically Nilbog. While here, they run into a cast of odd people, who act very peculiar. While investigating, they're introduced to an elderly businessman by the name of Mr. Cochran, played by the bad guy from 'Robocop'. Mr. Cochran, as it turns out, owns and operates the Silver Shamrock company and factory that manufactures those Halloween masks. What is the world is going on here? After some chase scenes, etc., we discover the evil that lies in the heart of the Silver Shamrock Co. They're plan is to basically murder every kid in America on Halloween night! You see, each mask is made with this little electronic beeper button thing, and the plan is, on Halloween night, while showing this commercial that keeps hinting at "The Big Giveaway" and encouraging kids to be sure and tune in at 9:00 PM on Halloween night, it will activate these masks and kill every kid that's wearing one. Seems kind of extreme, but okay. The means of murder is actually pretty odd, as they test it out on a kid just to show how it works. While this bratty little kid is watching, with his mask on of course, the mask kind of vacuums to his face, kills him, he falls to the ground, and all sorts of snakes and bugs and creepy crawlies slither out of the mask. The purpose of this? Something to do with reclaiming the true meaning of Halloween for Irish people. And something to do with Stonehenge, which they have a piece of in the factory. I've honestly never really been able to make too much sense of this story.
All of the employees of the factory are robots (duh), and our Dr gets them out of the way. But in a cruel twist of fate, he is not quick enough. He is not able to stop the video from playing all across the country at 9:00 PM, and we're shown a montage of kids trick-or-treating in all different places in the US. I actually love that they gave us a downer ending, instead of a cliché, good-guy-saves-the-day ending. What I find unbelievable, among many things, is the fact that there are only 3 different kinds of masks in this lineup, a skull, a witch, and a pumpkin. Now, as someone that's been trick-or-treating for the better part of 29 years now, I remember as a kid, you always wanted to be different, and NEVER wanted to have the same mask or costume as the other kids. Yet from what we see, every kid in America wants 1 of these 3 masks. I understand the plot device, and they are cool masks, but please.
All in all, it's not a bad movie really. It's a fun movie for the season, you just have to forget about the title and the baggage and expectations that come with it. I think it would've been better served to have possibly been a section of an anthology film like "Creepshow", though, as opposed to being fleshed out for a 90-minute movie. They could've trimmed a lot of the convoluted stuff out (the Irish history, Stonehenge, the planets aligning, etc.), and just told a basic story of an evil company wanting to kill kids via their Halloween masks, and just kept of the surprisingly cool and violent gore. But I can't fault them. It was written as it's own standalone story, then they slapped the "Halloween" title on it in order to get it made, literally. When I was growing up, I heard nothing but how much this movie sucked, how terrible it was. It's certainly not that bad, but I often wonder how it's amassed it's pretty sizeable cult following in recent years. My money is on Tom Atkins mustache.
"Halloween III: Season of the Witch" gets 7 Stonehenges out of 10!