Friday, October 9, 2015

Frightful Features - Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the third installment in the well-known horror franchise. Unlike the other entries within the series, Season of the Witch does not feature the popular slasher Michael Myers. Instead, the film follows the great Tom Atkins as Dr. Dan Challis as he finds himself drawn into a strange series of events associated with a mask-making company known as Silver Shamrock Novelties.

After traveling to the small town of Santa Mira and delving deeper into the company's secrets, Challis discovers they have a horrifying plan for the children of the country, one that will come to fruition on Halloween night if he doesn't find a way to stop it.

Reactions to Season of the Witch at the time of its release were not very kind. Many criticized the films exclusion of Michael Myers, while others complained about the film being this strange blend of several different genres and ideas instead of just another slasher film like its predecessors. However, Season of the Witch has slowly garnered a cult following and a dedicated fanbase, which I happily belong to.

Season of the Witch offers a compelling story that utilizes the holiday of Halloween very well, great performances from great actors, and some truly chilling moments. British science fiction writer Nigel Kneale really knocked it out of the park with his script, even though he was greatly displeased with the increased graphic violence and gore added by movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis. It brings forth the origins of Halloween, mixing them together with more modern elements, making a story that feels unique.

The acting is great as well. Tom Atkins is great as always, reminding everyone who enjoys genre cinema why we universally love this man. He has this ability to bring so much charisma and personality to a character, causing it to just ooze out of the television screen. Dan O'Herlihy does a fantastic job as the movie's antagonist as well, bringing to life this businessman with a dark plan to return Halloween to its more bloody roots. Heck, that voice alone can send shivers down your spine.

Finally, the special effects are superb. Probably the most memorable scene is with the masked child watching the Silver Shamrock commercial. This scene is still great to this very day and looks utterly grotesque. It's definitely one of the scenes I point to when people ask me why I prefer practical effects over CGI. I dare you to watch those snakes slivering out of the eye holes of that rotting mask and not feel a shiver dance up your spine.

Halloween III Season of the Witch is a great horror film that receives an unfair amount of hate. It's one of my favorite films to watch during the month of October, and playing the drinking game associated with it is definitely fun (take a drink each time you hear that jingle). The story is interesting, the acting is great, and the special effects as awesome. I highly recommend Season of the Witch.