John Carpenter’s Halloween was never meant to be the recipient of any sequels as originally conceived, yet it birthed seven. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the odd man out in the franchise because Michael Meyers is nowhere to be found to the detriment of the box office, but the benefit of the story.
While there are Halloween fans that detest the film, and casual film goers don’t even seem to know it exists, I find this offbeat, highly atmospheric film to be the best of all of the sequels.
Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) and Ellie Grimsbridge (Stacey Nelkin) travel to the small town of Santa Mira, California to investigate Silver Shamrock Novelties. They are a huge maker of Halloween masks, and the duo are convinced the company has something to do with the murder of her father at the hospital where Dr. Challis works. It’s a bleak little story that has a very un-American horror film feel. As part of a slasher franchise, it’s more of a detective thriller than anything else, and a wild one at that.
Atkins and Nelkin make a nice team, and their chemistry in and out of the bedroom scenes is welcome. However, the film really does belong to Conal Cochran, the owner of Silver Shamrock Novelties. This super creepy villain is played by Dan O’Herlihy, who really steals the show.
Interestingly, there isn’t a completely likeable character in the whole bunch; even Atkins’ “hero” is a doctor with a drinking problem and isn’t the most sympathetic guy, but somehow it works. It’s a testament to the script that this collection of damaged people are so compelling, and you aren’t just sitting around waiting for them to die as is the case in many films of the era.
Shout! Factory has done an amazing job with the image on this Blu-ray. I did not see the initial theatrical release of the film, but I highly doubt the film looked this good. There is not a single flaw to be seen in this image, and for a film that is often very dark, the blacks are beautiful and true. The few instances of pastel colors really leap off the screen, and the daytime fall shots are clean and crisp. Audio wise, dialogue is nicely mixed, and the score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth does the film a great service.
Michael Felsher and Red Shirt pictures provide another great retrospective documentary with interviews from Tom Atkins, Tommy Lee Wallace, cinematographer Dean Cundey and several other people involved in the film. Next up is a pair of commentaries, one featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, and another with Tom Atkins. A few trailers, TV and radio spots, and a photo gallery finish things up.
Although it’s the red headed stepchild of the Halloween franchise, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a chilling and nihilistic film. Stacked with some startling images, challenging characters, a smart script, and that creepy “Silver Shamrock” jingle, this movie gets a solid recommendation. Just don’t go looking for Michael Myers behind any of these masks.