REVIEW: ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch” is perfect Halloween viewing

Bundle up this Halloween with this reevaluated cult classic

Bradley Hinkson

Happy Halloween, everyone! Why not spend today recommending some horror films to get everyone in the mood for the spooky spirit?

Halloween is finally here, but it’s cancelled. There’s no parties and there’s no trick-or-treating, well there isn’t if you’re smart and stay home. You’ve got plenty of films you can watch that are prime viewing for the holiday. So why not spend some time at home watching a film that has witchcraft, stonehenge and kids’ heads spewing out bugs and snakes?

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After a man dies at a hospital under mysterious circumstances with a Halloween mask in hand, Daniel Challis, played by Tom Atkins, must figure out why the company Silver Shamrock is somehow involved, and he has to do this before Halloween night.

“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” has had to go through quite the journey to become a cult favorite. Originally intended by producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill to take the “Halloween” franchise toward a more anthology approach, the film was a disaster both commercially and critically. Though over time, the film has rightfully started to gain more of an audience and appreciation.

What makes “Season of the Witch” stand out is its very strange and insane story. For many, a story that blends evil corporate robots, stonehenge and black magic might be just a tad too ridiculous, but anyone who can get into the feeling of the film will find themselves in for a treat. All of the strange routes this film takes feel so in tune with the spooky season. Of course, you’ve got your witchcraft for anyone who likes some spells being cast during the season, but also a little bit of some sci-fi horror.

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The film also brings in a lot of cynicism to the Halloween season, specifically toward the mass amount of consumerism. This constant theme throughout the film shows that it’d be so easy to bring in people to their deaths, all you have to do is sell an appealing product to an easily persuaded consumer culture. The easiest targets: children. Sometimes we can become so numb and unaware to companies selling to us that we could even have them running small towns and not even bat an eye about it. For a holiday so built on capitalism and how people spend and spend on decorations, costumes and candy, it’s refreshing to see a film rightfully attack it and utilize fun genre tropes to play around with it.

It’s a film unafraid to have a nasty edge to it. While the film may not be overly gory, the kills here aren’t the same as the slasher kills of the first two films, so much of them are so disturbing without becoming too graphic. I can’t imagine seeing anything as painful as a man getting his nose broken by having someone’s hand go through his eye sockets. Though the most disturbing part is the infamous scene of a poor child who is an unwilling example of what exactly the Silver Shamrock company is up to. It’s the moment in the film that will probably stick with most people. Got to give a film credit for actually willing to kill a child in such a horrible manner.

Though Carpenter takes a producer credit here, his touch is still felt within the piece. Whether it is that underlying sense of dread throughout the film that is seen in his other works like “The Thing” and “Prince of Darkness” or its social commentary on how easily persuadable capitalism can make us, which Carpenter would explore even further some years later with “They Live.” He also does provide the score for the film and it’s some of his most underrated work. The synth perfectly creates a sense of mystery and chills that feels right in with the Halloween aesthetic.

Director Tommy Lee Wallace captures Carpenter’s sense of dread quite well while never feeling like he’s downright copying Carpenter’s style. Wallace worked as an editor and production designer for the first “Halloween” and “The Fog,” so you know that Carpenter knew he could trust him. Even Jamie Lee Curtis makes a quick voice cameo in the film, so despite having no narrative connection to the first “Halloween” film, some of the major players are still there.

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It’s almost impossible to discuss this film without bringing up the incredibly catchy and iconic Silver Shamrock jingle. The Silver Shamrock commercial plays constantly throughout the film and what starts off as some innocent commercial made to excite kids and make them buy the Silver Shamrock masks, becomes eerie with its upbeat tempo once more is revealed as to the plans the company has. It continuously counts down to Halloween day but for the audience it starts to feel like a countdown to doom. Especially in a moment when it plays over a montage of kids around the country going trick-or-treating or buying the masks. The poor kids don’t know what’s coming.

The original “Halloween” will always stand as a classic and there’s nothing that can change that, but “Season of the Witch” deserves its love as well. It would be amazing to see the timeline where this was a success and we got to see different films focused on Halloween that expanded into different territories and stories. Alas we never did, but thankfully we have this incredibly fun film to remind us of what could have been.

You can watch “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” on Cinemax or rent and buy it digitally through Amazon, Apple TV and YouTube.