It was 35 years ago today (October 22, 1982) that Halloween III: Season of the Witch was released, a film that most fans and critics alike initially dismissed as an atrocity, but one that is finally getting the amount of love and admiration it rightfully deserves. It’s taken quite some time and endless arguments with fellow friends and family members on my end, but goddammit if it ain’t a beautiful thing when they finally see the bigger picture here… Halloween III: Season of the Witch isn’t just a Halloween film with the absence of Michael Myers, but actually a great stand-alone movie completely removed from the horror of Haddonfield.
During my adolescent years and well into my twenties I encountered a seething hatred for the unconventional third film in the Halloween franchise anytime it was brought up in conversation. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I really studied the film for which I now adore. There are still many people who are stubbornly unwilling to even give this movie a chance, always exclaiming, “It has nothing to do with Michael Myers.” I’ve heard it so many times that it’s prompted me to give you five damn good reasons to stop giving it so much grief.
For those that may not be hip to it, John Carpenter intended for the Halloween sequels to continue as an anthology series. After enduring bullet wounds, blown-out eyeballs, and then being fully engulfed in flames like a Halloween yule log, Michael was dead at the end of Halloween II. It was a fitting finale to the Haddonfield Halloweenie and was fully expected to stay that way. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the later sequels just as much as the next Halloween aficionado, but I always wonder what could have been had the franchise stayed the alternate course throughout the years.
Anyway, here are five reasons why Halloween III totally rules.
5. The Murderous Magic Pumpkin
The Silver Shamrock commercial will have you dancing an Irish Halloween jig of glee. It has become a Halloween anthem for the month of October as we count down the days until the big giveaway of tricks or treats. However, the possibly seizure-inducing strobe light pumpkin is not just a jingle that will run around like a cracked-out hamster on a wheel for 72 hours, but a forewarning of the doom, and the messenger of death that lies ahead on Halloween night for literally millions watching it. The Magic Pumpkin is a murderous bastard, guys. Not just an annoying flashing jack-o-lantern, but an underrated horror icon.
4. That Beautiful John Carpenter/Alan Howarth Score
I realize this is a bold statement, but the score to Halloween III is one of the greatest horror movie soundtracks ever produced. It’s brilliantly synthesized tone of impending terror and haunting sounds set a perfect background for a 1980’s Halloween film. (The duo of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth also paired for both Halloween II and Big Trouble in Little China‘s score.) If you can’t get on board with the movie itself, the soundtrack on its own is a masterful piece of composed horror art that will put any Halloween Scrooge in the mood for some trick or treating.
3. That Brutal Death Scene… With a Kid!
Very few horror movies have the balls to kill off a child. The kill is so unique and brutally done, and also sets the stage for the grand finale: Halloween III’s main target is the children and this is the fate for ALL OF THEM. That’s pretty gnarly.
2. Tom Atkins: The Man, the Myth, the Mustache
I don’t really think I need to persuade the lot of you that Tom Atkins is a goddamn national treasure to the horror community. With other films like Creepshow, Night of the Creeps, and The Fog, I really feel like he shines his brightest in Season of the Witch. In the film, he plays a booze-lovin’ doctor that takes on Cochran and his army of android henchmen with his bare manly hands. I know that sounds cheesy as hell, but hey, if anyone can save the world from a Pagan madman, it’s gotta be Sir Tom of Atkins, am I right? So, grab a Miller High Life and watch Tom Atkins save the world, won’t ‘cha?
Conal Cochran: The Most Underrated Horror Villain of All Time
I don’t use the word “underrated” lightly, however, I feel it’s quite appropriate here. Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), the proprietor of Silver Shamrock Novelties and sworn allegiance to the dark arts of Witchcraft make him for a dangerous enemy to have indeed; especially if you’re a kid. Cochran, presumably has way more kills under his belt than not only his film predecessor Myers, but the holy trinity of slashers themselves – Freddy, Jason, and Michael. And think about this: The ending is open-ended and leaves us to speculate whether the final commercial ran its full course. If it did, then Cochran would have succeeded in committing mass genocide of children across the United States.
What a dick, eh?
Cochran, who uses his success of his company to coordinate the largest Samhain sacrifice to appease the Celtic Gods on the glorious night of Halloween, is as evil and terrifying as they come. As if his ominous staredowns weren’t creepy enough, his monologue alone is chilling to the bone (the thrill and absolute madness in his voice sells it completely). Cochran is hardcore. I’ll give you all the credit you twisted bastard…
I hope these ramblings have persuaded you to take another look at Halloween III on its 35th anniversary.
Oh, and that whole “Michael Myers isn’t in it” thing? He’s totally in it…. same mannerisms and all, just without the mask, and in the form of an android.