Halloween III: Season of the Witch came out in 1982, four years after the classic original and one year after the inevitably inferior but still quite good part II. Producer/director/writer John Carpenter intended for the villain Michael Myers to die for good at the end of the second film, and to continue the series as an anthology of films unrelated to each other save for the obvious connection in the title. However, the masses were disheartened at the lack of Mike, and the producers gave in and brought him back for future installments.
In case you thought artistic integrity had anything to do with any of this.
Halloween III is not just a Halloween sequel, and not just a horror film. It's every 80s movie ever. The feelings this irrefutable fact engenders inside of you will definitely determine how much you enjoy the film, if at all. It is 1 hour and 38 minutes of a decent story sunk by unimaginative directing and cinematography, turgid dialogue, and acting that fulfills a contract.
It's actually up on YouTube for your possible enjoyment, and in the spirit of the Top Chef finale reviews I did back in the days when I cared, I present a timeline review of Halloween III. Meaning I had to watch the damned thing a second time.
0:33 The opening credits design reminds me of the Swordquest games for Atari, namely the screen that would pop up featuring the numbers a player would need to write down so's to complete the quest.
1:09 Dan O'Herlihy portrays Conal Cochran. Oh fuck, that is a lot of Irish.
2:55 NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. We're out West here. Remember this. I mean they put it up on screen, so they clearly want us to store it in our mind grapes.
3:09 THE 23RD--my birthday! Wow, this is a feeling of pride almost as fulfilling as when part of the Patsy Cline biopic Sweet Dreams was shot in my little-ass elementary school, and the filmmakers didn't even mention us in the end credits. Assholes. We worked our little hands very hard on that paper mache barn Jessica Lange "sang" in front of, I'll have you know.
3:22 The music is spooky. Anytime now, pieces of cobalt sky will plummet and impact the earth below with all the force of a steel elephant. Possibly it will hit this Disheveled Guy who is being pursued by a non-speeding car.
5:09 It's Gary Numan! He's gonna kill Disheveled Guy.
5:43 Gary Numan ends up dead instead, crushed by a car. Yep. The fact that he crunches so much should tip us off to something...
6:46 Nine months on, no one knows what's happened to Stonehenge. It apparently just disappeared.
7:13 The most important moments of the entire movie. It is at this time we are introduced to the Silver Shamrock commercial. You will always remember the first time you heard it. Set to the tune of "London Bridge Is Falling Down," this jingle is not an earworm. It's an ear-anaconda. Be forewarned, one listen is all it takes. Once it sinks the hooks into your brain, they cannot be removed.
8:36 Disheveled Guy practically attacks Black Gas Station Attendant as he rasps out, "They're coming!" In his hand, he clutches a pumpkin mask that looks very much like the one in the commercial.
9:09 Enter the alleged hero, Dr. Challis, portrayed by Tom Atkins, who's usually busy playing cops. Either way, the moustache remains, and it is easily the second-scariest thing in the entire film.
9:56 The way Challis' kids put their stupid Silver Shamrock masks on and start dancing around whilst singing that goddamn commercial jingle makes my forehead pulse. However, it does come on the heels of some fantastic emasculation as delivered by the ex-Mrs. Dr. Challis. Nothing's gonna convince me to ever push out some brats, though. What if they grow up to have poor taste in music? What if they don't like to read? What if someone catches me tying them to the highway median? Too much possible hassle.
10:17 Second time the commercial has appeared and I'm already prepared to impale myself on a dead man's penis if it pops up again. The commercial, I mean.
11:09 Fucking ad runs on the hospital TV while Disheveled Guy is being tended to!
11:46 They keep showing another Gary Numan hovering around. I don't like the film. And I don't like the scenery. And I don't like the set.
13:40 In all the trips I've had to take to (the) hospital in all my time as a mentally ill asthmatic, I can tell you: doctors and nurses do not respect you unless you're being kept in a room with a door. That sheet shit is for the birds, and they know it.
14:10 New Wave revenge, as Disheveled Guy dies via skull ripping.
15:43 This man is able to blink his eyes even after dousing his entire head in gasoline. This seems to indicate something, perhaps.
17:13 I bet Tom Atkins and Stacey Keach used to get together at big ol' Hollywood parties and have stache-offs disguised as friendly conversations.
17:32 Absolutely pointless voiceover of Disheveled Guy's last words, uttered minutes previous as the Silver Shamrock commercial made doves cry: "They're going to kill us."
19:16 Not even one minute after she first appears, I can already tell that Challis is going to bang Disheveled Guy's distraught daughter, Ellie.
19:43 The 27th!
20:57 The 29th!
21:21 The TV references a vague-ass "Big Giveaway" to be held by Silver Shamrock Novelties at 9 PM PST, after a showing of--yep--Halloween. They even show clips of the flick.
21:55 This Ellie bitch has the same blow-dried Brillo poof hairdo and mime-corpse makeup that so many bitches in the 80s did. When Mimi Kuzyk was introduced as the new female cop on Hill Street Blues, you knew it wasn't just because Steven Bochco was kowtowing to network pressure re: gender representation, it was because while Betty Thomas' character kicked ass, she was pretty much a six-foot blonde dyke from the Midwest, and goddamnit, we need our female cops to be glamorous. Mind you, such a character insulted men as well as women, 'cause the implication was transparent that you'd have to be utterly ruled by your penis to even want to stick it into such an ambulatory mannequin.
That's why Captain Furillo, married yet separated as he was, turned down the new woman cop's advances. 'Cause of standards. Decency. And it was in the script.
24:17 Tom Atkins' and I have the same thought: Damn, this woman cannot act.
25:06 That song is worse than "American Pie."
25:39 Ellie's desire to find her father's murderers and Challis' desire to take a nap inside Ellie's vagina lead them to Santa Mira, CA. Info dump included, of course.
27:17 "I'm not ready for this, we need a plan." She says right as they arrive at the Silver Shamrock factory.
27:54 "Good evenin' to ya!"
29:03 Everyone loves Conal Cochran! Despite the fact he drives along the main road at 3 MPH.
Or is it because of the fact? Irish people!
29:40 It's the Kupfer family! Buddy, Betty, and Little Buddy! They happen to be checking into the same hotel as our heroes. Big Buddy is obese and wearing a mismatched shirt/sweater/golf hat combo, while his wife has a perpetually-distracted face and a body like Violet Beauregard after gastric bypass. When she attempts to flirt, it looks for all the world like Bell's Palsy has set in.
30:11 The Elaine Benes of the movie has arrived! GO TO HELL!
30:29 "This place is a zoo!" I wish. There'd be komodo dragons, pandas...
31:10-31:18 Some brief discussion about sleeping arrangements leads to, "Where do you wanna sleep, Dr. Challis?" and the response, "That's a dumb question, Miss Grimridge," and then face-sucking commences but thankfully it's not for very long.
I get the feeling the Challis phallus was a co-defendant in his divorce case.
31:41 Of all the people I thought would incur a 6 o'clock curfew, the Irish would not have been in my top 5. Swedes for sure...Russians...Canadians...but the Irish?
32:44 This portion of the soundtrack has always reminded me of John Carpenter's work for Christine.
33:22 Challis is leaving a store. Um? He has alcohol. UM? Curfew! What the hell. Movie, why aren't you trying?
34:18 Bummy Guy lets out an impassioned "Fuck you!" and the profanity is like spotting an emerald glistening from the viscera of a dead deer.
34:38 Bummy Guy lets Challis know Silver Shamrock is bad news, man. In fact, he's gonna firebomb the place, with bottles of gasoline that he will ignite with his revolting homeless-dude breath.
36:16 Draco Malfoy rips a dummy's head off. More believable sound effects would have done this scene a galaxy of good.
37:25 Elaine is actually named Marge, and she's a motormouth saleswoman with some questions for the Silver Shamrock people. The answer she receives will be definitive.
38:12 Gratuitous partial nudity and faux-sex sounds when no actual sex is involved.
39:31 This bitch packed lingerie. Out on a frightening mission, in a strange Irish-Amish town, hunting the people behind her father's murder, and she packs lingerie. 'Cause this older doctor dude has a stache that makes her lady parts all tingly and she can't just can't help it.
39:41 Terrible alleged sex scene. No one has sex like this. They act like they're moving in a tub of gravy. It's like the director showed them Don't Look Now and said, "Do the opposite of that."
40:24 Post-coital bliss shattered by the bedside radio: "Silver Shamrock!"
40:43 The fact this Dr. Challis has a face that says, "Punch me till your fist breaks" means nothing because he has a sexy thick moustache! I could never trust such. You may think the presence of a face brush would mean the man would be down to shuffle as well as deal, but I'm of the mind it indicates the opposite. Poor Ellie.
41:58 A female Macgyver would have an endless supply of bobby pins. Just like a hillbilly Macgyver would have a bottomless reserve of duct tape.
42:22 Marge's face is superbly mangled. Where once was a mouth is now a fleshy crater that a bug escapes from. That's actually creepy and disgusting! Well done, movie.
I wanna dedicate this one to the movie!
44:09 First appearance of Cochran. Lamentably, not a splash of green on him.
44:16 Challis and Ellie would have the ugliest kids, inside and outside. His stache, her poof hair. Her desire for answers, his willingness to humor her.
47:16 Ellie's got that face like a child watching a clown die.
48:04 The Kupfer family! How great of them to show up at the Silver Shamrock factory at the same time as our protagonists!
48:40 Buddy Kupfer is the number one salesman of Silver Shamrock masks. And yet he's still so humble!
48:57 Pressed to improvise a fake last name, Challis comes up with "Smith." Wow. Post-coital wet brain really endures in some people, huh?
50:53 Conal Cochran is apparently the "all-time genius of the practical joke." He invented sticky toilet paper and the sloth chainsaw. Huh? Did he invent one I've heard of, at all? Like snakes in a can?
51:22 Little Buddy goes nuts over a pumpkin mask. Exactly why is weird, for two reasons. First, all three of the masks Silver Shamrock offers are pedestrian in both concept and execution: skull, witch, jack-o-lantern. The only reason they're selling as well as they are is that vague-ass "big giveaway" which itself is only appealing to people because A) ooh what if it's money I bet it's money ooooh a lot of money and B) that goddamn Hell-song. Second, this boy's dad is the number-one Silver Shamrock salesman in the country and he hasn't already hawked one to his own spawn? Come on.
52:06 Something about the sound of an Irish man laughing makes my soul vomit.
52:40 Cochran's evasive bullshitting technique is weak, but still better than Dr. Challis' naming abilities. Smith, indeed. You cunnilingus-denying premature ejaculator, you.
54:14 These people are so dumb. I'm beyond thrilled that death shall soon come to them.
55:21 THE 30TH!
56:16 Oh no, it's Kraftwerk! They've come to kill!
58:10 The chase through the streets has all the drama of a snowball fight, but like three times the comedy.
1:00:35 Robots! Knew it!
1:01:34 Ewwwww, robots are gross.
1:02:39 The way Cochran says "It'll be morning soon" immediately puts me in mind of Torgo from Manos Hands of Fate. And I wish so much the MST3K guys had gotten to this one.
1:05:27--1:05:34 Cochran stole Stonehenge! And has it in his factory! "We had a time getting it here. You wouldn't believe how we did it!" Unbelievable. They just put that in a script and got human beings to recite it, film it, and release it to other human beings. One of my favorite plot holes ever.
1:05:49 I seriously can't believe he didn't explain it--he's the villain! The villain always overexplains their sinister machinations, that's how they're thwarted.
1:07:24 Relocated to a "test room" with a nice comfy chair, a nicer comfier couch, a lamp, some schizophrenic artwork, and a TV, the Kupfers are ready to watch a new Silver Shamrock commercial. Also, to die.
1:08:14 Betty Kupfer is forever drunk. One of those unsatisfied housewives with fat ugly hubbys and incorrigible brats, so to dull the agony they dress far too young for their age and bolt straight to the bathroom right after they wake up in the morning to take a hearty swig from the liquor bottle they've surreptitiously stashed behind the toilet.
1:08:48 This version of the commercial is the one that will air across the country on Halloween night. Cue repetition of already-redundant melody and a flashing J-O-L face. The voiceover asks that the kids put their masks on, and Buddy does so without hesitation.
1:09:13 As Challis and Cochran watch from a security camera, drunk Betty starts laughing hysterically at the ridiculousness of the entire setup.
1:09:22 Down goes Buddy!
1:09:28 This movie just killed a kid! His head is pumpkin mix! It seriously has that consistency.
1:09:30 And NOW the parents notice their son is twitching and his head has been destroyed. Bad news, Kupfers--your only child is dead. Good news--you get free pumpkin mix!
1:09:36 Ah, shit no, BUGS! Like hundreds of them. Spawning from what was once Buddy's head. The dad's face is so good. That was the first take or I know nothing.
1:09:48 Down goes mom!
1:09:51 Snakes! RATTLESNAKE?! How? This is all down to Druid magic, I guess? I see...Stonehenge slivers in the mask's trademark. Commercial triggers laser. Which in turn triggers ANIMALS.
1:09:54 Ol' Buddy Kupfer loses it here. Despite the presence of a dead boy, his dead mother, his soon-to-be-dead father, and oh yes, bugs and snakes a-poppin', the scariest thing about this whole sequence...the song is still playing. Faster than ever. Oh my Samhain!
1:10:22 The culmination of Dr. Challis' horror, as brought to life by Tom Atkins, is a wonder to behold. I think the figures behind him are actual robots, 'cause real human beings would have blown every single take from laughter.
1:11:35 Montage of children across the country trick-or-treating, and herein the most blatant plot hole of the whole film lies bare, waiting for you to fall on in.
1:11:55 That girl is wearing an SS Pumpkin Mask whilst dressed up as a ballerina whilst riding a skateboard. If only she'd ollie'd over a rampaging tiger.
1:15:10 Movie, the hell? We can bear witness to a guy getting his head ripped off, and a little kid's noggin disintegrating and birthing fucking insects, but seeing a woman taking a drill bit to the head is too much?
1:15:58 Conal Cochran has Dr. Challis trapped and decides to explain his "joke on the children."
1:16:10 Basically, the Celtic traditions of Samhain demand a sacrifice on this Halloween. With the help of magical Stonehenge sliver power, Silver Shamrock is going to kill millions of children as they stare hopefully at their TVs.
Conal Cochran is like Linus Van Pelt, all grown up and Irish.
1:20:41 So of course Challis escapes and of course the means by which he does so are complete movie bullshit.
1:23:52 He saves Ellie. And maybe, eventually, the day? Vagina naps for all!? Ooh, let's all hope.
1:27:10 Wow Ellie sure seems subdued.
1:27:57 Killed by your own Druid-infused trademarks. Classic horror movie staple.
1:28:42 Cochran actually golf claps before he dies. Aw, come on, wherefore art thou, diabolical laughter?
Dude, Cochran just went out like an ELO song.
1:29:46 Ellie sure is traumatized. Hasn't even spoken yet.
1:30:06 Oh shit she's a robot.
1:31:21 The fact Challis left Ellie with no head just hearkens back to the observation I made about three fucking hours ago when they were in the hotel making the bed tremble.
1:33:05 Gas station again! Circle of life, man, I tell you. Attendant must be thinking, Another crazy white motherfucker.
1:33:30 Challis actually sputters out, "Life and death!" Sentence fragments, yeah!
1:33:43 to the end Yeah...this is where we get amazingly ridiculous. You may have thought, as I did, that the ending to Halloween III would be anticlimactic. Like what tops disintegrating young boy head bringing forth animals out of fucking thin air? How about, crazy guy gets on the phone to a major TV network screaming about how everyone's going to die if they don't take that annoying fucking commercial off the air and it actually almost works?
What network is he calling? Not all networks are even affiliated. Why would they trust him? Because he claims to be a doctor and he sounds out of breath? And see, here's the kicker. It's 9 o'clock on the West Coast. It was 9 on the East Coast three hours ago. Two hours ago central, one hour ago Mountain. Millions have already died. You mean to tell me there's no chance maybe someone who was around an exploding little brat managed to escape and run screaming for help? You mean to tell me Stonehenge slivers have the power to lock doors as well? No.
Now I understand, having lived through that time, that communication back then was not what it is now. Social networking was not a thing. Twitter, Facebook, Internet in general, none of that was going on. But we did have phones. Okay so running screaming to a payphone to call the cops and tell them that the Amazon jungle just exploded in your living room isn't as quick and effective as tweeting, "OMG my lil bros head just turned into #pumpkinmix!" but my point is, someone would have known something and told other people. It would have made "breaking news" across America. They would have interrupted regularly-scheduled way-better Halloween movies. The people out West would have received warning.
Of course, logic doesn't work when it comes to so much of our entertainment. And rather than obey the laws of "oh of fucking course," Halloween III gives us an ending for the ages, a five-layer conclusion to one of the most enjoyably cheesy movies I've ever seen.