Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, dir. Tommy Lee Wallace)
This is a movie that I first saw at the age of ten or eleven, at home alone, after I picked the lock on my dad’s old wooden VHS storage cabinet. He kept movies that he deemed too disturbing or graphic for me to watch; this practice is quite ironic to me because it was with my dad that I watched such fare as The Exorcist, The Legend of Hell House, just to name a few. I had already seen the first two Halloween entries at my cousins’ house the previous summer. Halloween IIi: Season of the Witch was a movie that I wanted to see for two reasons: 1. Completion of the series (up until that point); 2. Because my cousin had told me that a kid’s face is eaten by a pumpkin and then snakes ooze out of it. He was sort of right about that part of the movie, but he neglected to tell me that this story was a stand alone movie, without Michael Myers, a movie intended to begin an anthology series of films to be released annually.
While this movie has gained a cult following over the years, there is also some tongue-in-cheek, good natured ribbing at its expense from such places as the How Did This Get Made? podcast. This episode is one of my favorite episodes because of the places they go with some of the narrative’s flaws, and they really get into tearing into this movie. Fantastic.
But back to the movie. While I noticed some of the same quirks that the podcast noted, I remember being creeped out by a private army of corporate androids, which to my ten year old imagination were seemingly unstoppable. Even more unsettling to me was the idea that a sorcerer used parts of sanctified sacred stones from Stonehenge to take over the world. And the idea that black magic could be couple with then-cutting edge technology to control and destroy the population as part of a large scale human sacrifice as a part of a pagan ritual for Samhain – that, that just blew my little mind. How the hell does one take magical elements and “process” them into the Silver Shamrock masks, and on top of that program the masks to react to sound cues? I know it’s all “explained” in the narrative, but holy shit, man, what the hell did I sign up for?
The more I watch this movie each year, the more I appreciate the creepy aspects as much as I appreciate the cheesy aspects of the movie as well. This movie has some of the best over-the-top performances by two of my favorite genre actors, Tom Atkins and Daniel O’Herlihy. These two guys just seemed to love every moment on screen, and so did I. O’Herlihy plays the company owner and Samhain worshipping cultist. I didn’t think that Pagans were dangerous with intent, but this movie tries to lead me to think otherwise.
This movie isn’t really scary or creepy measured against other titles so far, but it surely is fun and wacky in its own ways that keep it in classic status for me.