Sunday, October 11, 2015

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Most people know the Halloween series for one thing: Michael Myers, that lovable lunk-head who likes to go around and kill his family members on Halloween every year. I guess he’s a bit one dimensional, but hey, he had spirit to him. But if there’s an outlier to the series, most people would point to the 1982 sequel, Season of the Witch.

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin

Co-written with Michelle.

This was the only one not to feature Myers as the killer, as the studio wanted to turn this series into an anthology with different stories every year. But the movie bombed and people were unhappy with the lack of Myers, so they ended up scrapping that idea completely, like a bunch of pussies, and brought back Myers for a bunch of sequels almost no one liked.

But this isn’t TOO bad, is it? I mean, it’s got a pretty cool soundtrack. And it has plenty of children running around, happy that Halloween is right around the corner. Ahh, yes. I can feel the autumnal ambiance already…except in the opening scene, where we see a man being chased by a bunch of guys in suits, who are apparently trying to kill him for some reason. That’s not very nice of them.

The movie is about this doctor, Daniel Challis, who is doing normal doctor things like disappointing his family on Halloween by having to go back into work for an emergency, and grabbing nurses’ asses like a fucking creep. He’s the best guy ever. But the reason he was called in is to tend to the guy from the opening chase scene. He’s been brought in almost dead and clutching a pumpkin mask, and he uses his last dying breath to tell a doctor they’re all going to die. Makes sense to me. I’m gonna use my last words on Earth to say things that sound ominous like for a horror movie trailer, too!

"Nothing can save you now...was that good enough for a trailer quote?"
"Eh, sure."

Challis is also constantly surrounded by, well, the catchiest song in the universe.

Yes, this commercial jingle in the movie’s world is for Silver Shamrock, a company which makes a bunch of masks for kids - well, really only a bunch of copies of the same three masks for kids. Because, apparently, what little kids really want is to be mindless conformist drones all wearing the exact same fucking costumes. The song is played probably two or three dozen times in this movie. I’m tempted to say it’s actually the starring role here.

The plot is, I guess, that the guy who died was delivering something for that mask company and caught wind of what they were really doing, which is why they sent those Terminator-esque guys to silence him. One of them sneaks back in later and finishes the job:

But before he can be prosecuted, he does the typical criminal thing and lights himself on fire in his own car. God dammit. Another one slips through the cracks of the American justice system...

I can't tell you how many times this very specific incidence has prevented the justice system from being able to prosecute a killer. Damn, just damn.

The dead guy’s daughter, Ellie, played by Stacey Nelkin, shows up and is obviously distraught. This character shows a lot of realistic grief and gives the movie a somber tone. Nah, just kidding; she teams up with Challis instantly to go on a ludicrous adventure to solve her father’s murder. That’s a pretty unusual way to grieve. “Hey, random doctor who works at the hospital where my father died! Let’s go solve the murder!”

It's especially baffling when you remember that Challis is a doctor, and most doctors are not usually qualified to solve murders. A lot of the time, cops handle that instead. I guess the cops in this movie's world were just too busy doing other things, like playing pub trivia or looking for the next best deal on used furniture. So solving crimes just fell to the next rank down the pecking order, doctors, to take care of solving the murders.

Their investigation leads them to this small town where Silver Shamrock masks are made in a giant cliche looking evil factory. In the hotel at night, Challis initially offers to sleep on the floor or in his car, which is nice of him, being a gentleman. Then Ellie asks him where he wants to sleep, eyes wide like a deer in headlights (though I believe it’s supposed to be a flirtatious look), and Challis doesn’t miss a beat. He immediately goes “Where do you THINK I want to sleep?”

Clearly, he was just waiting for this. He is a big fan of ‘my father just died and we’re trying to solve his murder’ sex, you know - the popular fetish.

It's an aphrodisiac.

Most of the movie after this point is just the characters wandering around trying to spy on Silver Shamrock, which turns the movie into a bigger budget version of you and your friends playing James Bond as kids in the backyard. Seriously, how many scenes are there in this movie of Challis just running from place to place? What is the director’s fetish with that?

But I guess I can see why Silver Shamrock is scary. I mean, their malfunctioning equipment is still deadly enough to kill people with laser beams to the face!

Then a bug comes out of her face, but I'm pretty sure the bug was always in there, and the laser just let it out.

It turns out the mastermind behind all this is a man named Conal Cochran, who gets the prize for being the most affable mass murder aspirer ever. Seriously, he may be trying to kill children with evil masks, but listening to his deep, comforting voice, you almost want to believe that the batshit nonsense he is spewing makes sense.

He could convince you to eat your own pinkie toe, he's so charismatic.

They find out that for some reason, they can’t contact anyone outside the town! That’s no good. It’s implied heavily that Cochran is behind this because, who the fuck else would it be in this movie? So they go ahead and break into the Silver Shamrock factory. They almost immediately get into a fight with the army of robots inside. Yes, really. An army of robots. I know it sounds like I’m just doing mad libs at this point, but it’s true.

And then the army of (blank) kidnapped the hero, who works as a (blank) so he wouldn't stop the evil (blank) from doing (blank) to all the children of the world.

They catch both Challis and Ellie and tie them up. Meanwhile, all the kids in the country are buying the same three stupid masks from this company for Halloween, which Cochran reveals will kill them if they see the commercial while wearing them. Okay, for one, that’s pretty cool technology, which I am sure Apple or Google is already developing. And two, really? All the kids buy those masks? There was no one buying a Batman costume or a cowboy one? Everyone just wanted those three same masks? I gotta say - the movie is making an excellent critique of ‘be like everybody else’ mass marketing culture.

...or, maybe, it’s just dumb. Yeah. Maybe that.

"Alright, we got three masks! Hooray for variety!"

We also see what happens when the mask activates: it collapses your head and makes bugs come out. That’s pretty cool.

Eh, it was before the current safety standards were enacted. What can you do?

There’s also a scene where Cochran explains his plan to Challis - he’s going to kill all the children in the world with masks because he doesn’t like how commercialized Halloween has become, wanting to return it to its original Pagan roots. Well, hey, seems a bit extreme, but we all need a hobby.

They escape, killing the robots and for some reason leaving Cochran alive - seriously, it didn't show him dying. He could still be out there now!

Then later in the car, it’s revealed that Ellie herself is a robot now, and she tries to kill Challis in the car. I actually think it’s because she had a delayed reaction to him sleeping with her while they were trying to solve her father’s murder. She just realized, hey, this guy is a dickbag. But it’s okay, he kills her and leaves her on the side of the road. Wow. Once a douchebag, always a douchebag.

This screenshot sums up the whole movie for me, actually.

Then he tries to stop everyone from showing the commercial, making several frantic calls to TV stations. A couple of them, surprisingly, actually do it - I guess they always listen to insane doctors screaming on the phone and change their scheduled programming for them. But most do not, as the commercial is apparently on every single station. The movie ends with mask-wearing kids watching the commercial and Challis screaming as Armageddon comes. So overall, a happy ending.

"If you could see how wide I'm opening my mouth right now, you would definitely give me what I want!"

Halloween III is a silly movie. It's got a slow, trudging pace and a lot of silly moments. When you think about the plot, it makes no sense. Why were there robots working for Conal Cochran? How did they make those masks? The rest of the story, like the whole 'doctor and beautiful girl team up to solve murder and have sex' plot, is pretty hilariously dated. The movie is slow-paced almost to a fault.

...but, somehow, it still works!

Yeah. It's just got that corny, fun vibe about it. The soundtrack is great and the plot is ghoulishly fun. It could be a lot better, and some just won't be able to look beyond the flaws. But I thought it was a nice slice of October fun with a goofy plot like they just don't make anymore. If you want a fun horror flick to watch this Halloween, this wouldn't be a bad choice. And at least it's better than 90% of the actual Michael Myers Halloween movies...

Images copyright of their original owners, I own none of them.