When is a sequel not a sequel? When it’s Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. As everyone knows by now, H3 is the only entry in the series that doesn’t feature Michael Meyers, or any events related to his hijinks (although we do get to see a glimpse of the original Halloween movie on a TV in the background). H3 was Carpenter’s attempt to turn the Halloween franchise into something unique, a different story every year (or however long in between films). The outcry over the lack of MM in H3 was so loud, however, they went back to the well and drained it starting with H4. It’s a shame because for all intents and purposes, H3 is a decent movie that deserved more attention when it was released. The fact it’s reached an almost cult like status today is testament to the movie’s strength.
H3 starts out with a pretty exciting chase sequence. We see an older man running, clutching a Halloween mask being pursued by men in suits. He manages to get to a service station, where the attendant takes him to the hospital. He’s sedated and taken to a private room while still clutching the mask (I guess no one thought to take it away from him), where he’s attacked and killed by one of the men in suits in a rather gruesome way.
So here’s a piece of trivia before we go on, Nancy Kyes (aka Nancy Loomis), who played Annie Brackett in the original Halloween, has a cameo here as the main characters ex-wife, who it turns out is director Tommy Lee Wallace, her real life ex-husband. Fascinating, isn’t it? I have no doubt she has this role in the film simply as an Easter Egg, as she bears no importance whatsoever in the movie, other than as a thorn in Tom Atkins side.
Ahhh, Mr. Atkins, he of the porn ‘stache and 70’s mode of dress, where would we be without your virile presence? Look, I like Tom, I really do, I think he’s a fine actor, most of the time, and I wouldn’t want to get into a bar fight with him, but he’s not really what I would call a leading man. He’s a fantastic supporting player, but I don’t think he has enough oomph (a technical term) to carry a movie. There are people who will no doubt disagree with that, and they’re entitled to be wrong. Atkins even looks kind of uncomfortable in H3 as well.
Anyway, Atkins plays a Doctor, and he meets the dead man’s daughter when she goes to identify the body. To make a long story short they both agree to investigate her father’s murder because something doesn’t seem right. I guess being murdered in the hospital was their clue. Just from this you can gather they have the investigative prowess of our dear friend Dr. Loomis and his inability to track MM anywhere close to where he actually was. Their initial investigation takes them to the small town of Santa Mira, home of Silver Shamrock, the novelty company that makes Halloween masks. They check into the motel where the owner tells them that Silver Shamrock is responsible for the town’s prosperity. The fact it looks like a ghost town is beside the point I assume. The good doctor signs the log in, and notices that Ellie’s father had stayed their prior to his disappearance. This bit of information means absolutely nothing, as they don’t do anything with it, as they were directed to the factory where they’d planned on going anyway.
While staying the night, the studly Doctor of middle aged boners, beds Ellie who’s half his age, and we then get to see the most horrible sight of the entire movie. Tom Atkin’s ass. In the afterglow as he’s getting dressed, one of the other lodgers finds a button logo that goes on the Halloween masks. As she diddles with the microchip inside, it activates a laser which gives her some free dental work, assorted burns and an untimely death.
As they wheel her out of the motel room, Conal Cochran , the owner of Silver Shamrock shows up, and advises Atkins that she’d get the best care possible. Neither Dr. Challis or Ellie really buy that and they decide to head out to the factory in the morning. Once there, they run into a couple and their son who are also staying at the motel, and wind up getting a tour of the factory with them, led by Conal Cochran himself.
On their way out Ellie sees her father’s car in a garage, and as she approaches, the men in suits block her way. From here , we get into the third act and one of the goofiest endings I can remember. Well, let me explain that, everything after they escape from the factory is pretty damn good, but the way Conal is dealt with is really, really dumb. There’s his iconic speech about Druidism and witchcraft, not to mention Stonehenge-yet when he’s killed, he simply fades away like a ghost. It’s the most wtf death in any of the Halloween movies.
H3’s ending is ambiguous, and I like that, though it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea. However, when all is said and done, the ending is about as chilling as you can get.
Tommy Lee Wallace did a pretty good job handling the direction. No newcomer to the franchise (he was art director on the original), it was his directorial debut. He’ll never be among the ranks of classic horror directors, but he held his own, getting some pretty good performances from his actors. As I said earlier Atkins is fine as the horndog Doctor, but simply isn’t a leading man. His leading lady, Stacey Nelkin is slightly worse, but not unwatchable, and I did feel sorry for her having to lay under Mr. Atkins during their love scene.
Of course the shining jewel in the whole film is Conal Cochran himself, as embodied by the fantastic Dan O’Herlihy. If nothing else, H3 is worth watching for him. Fortunately there’s a lot more to recommend it, but O’Herlihy is at the top of the list.
H3 deserves another look if you haven’t seen it for awhile (the computers in the factory are really pretty funny, looking like something out of Star Trek-the old series). If you can put out of your mind it’s part of the Halloween franchise and take it for it is, you’ll have a good, creepy time.
Tomorrow: Halloween 4: The Return of MIchael Meyers. I’ll let you know if the reunion is everything we hope it could be!