Friday, February 16, 2007

Must Be the Season of the Witch

This was originally posted to my old blog in November of 06.

For a movie I have claimed to dislike for over twenty years, I have an unhealthy fascination with Halloween III: Season of the Witch. My initial dislike goes back to the age of nine, when as a young horror enthusiast, I decided to throw a Halloween party. The centerpiece of which would be the viewing of a horror movie. Since my parents were divorced, procuring a horror film would not be an easy task, my father was the parent that allowed me to watch scary movies, but he was no longer living with us. I also knew I would be unable to convince my mom to rent a Halloween themed film, or at least one that didn't involve Mickey Mouse in some way. Fortunately for myself, I was a bit of a electronic guru at that young age and knew how to program the family's sole VCR. A few nights before the holiday, Channel 2 (KTVU, in their independent years before they became the local FOX affiliate) aired Halloween III and I recorded it. While I hadn't seen either of the first two films, I knew a little bit about the series, my dad often would tell me plots of horror films as little ghost stories. So I assumed the film I would be showing to my friends would be the latest exploits of one Michael Myers, serial killer extraordinare of Haddonfield, Il.

Disappointment abounded when Michael Meyers never shows up in the third installment, which instead revolves around a madman bent on killing the children of the world by manufacturing masks through his corporation, Silver Shamrock, that will eventually kill all who wear them on Halloween while they watch a catchy jingle infused advertisement.

While I went back to the film once, probably at the age of 16 when I use to rent entire horror series in bulk, I have not watched the film in its entirety for over a decade. However, AMC, the channel formerly known as American Movie Classics, now known as the channel that will air anything they can get for cheap, has been showing it frequently prior to Halloween as part of its Horrorfest programming. I caught a good chunk of the movie a couple of times and plan on rewatching the film in its entirety on DVD in the near future (or at least by next Halloween).

Still, I find myself asking why the fascination with the film? Well, here's a few things I do know I find interesting, bullet pointed for your pleasure:

* With no shame whatsoever, I love the poster design (to the left). The eerie melting pumpkin face, the red dawn sky and the elongated silhouettes of children. It looks as if something as gone wrong in the town from another 1982 Universal release, Spielberg's E.T. I prefer it over the Miramax horror poster style of the late 90s where they put their good looking cast members in a row behind some image of danger culled from the film (the Scream series and Halloween: H20) and the current Lionsgate style of showing some abstract gruesome detail, usually not actually in the film itself. (Saw and its sequels, Hostel, and even the more clever The Descent poster being prime examples)

* I was too young to appreciate it at the time, but John Carpenter's original intent for continuing the Halloween series was commendable. Instead of the rehashing of the original and resurrecting Michael Myers each episode, he decided that beginning with part 3 each Halloween sequel would have an entirely different plot, pertaining to some sort of horror taking place on Halloween. In a way he foresaw The Simpson's Treehouse of Terror conceit. However after part 3 bombed, they never continued with that line of think and Universal would lose the title rights and in 1988, Michael Myers would return once more in the aptly titled: Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers.

* The insanely, and some say, annoyingly catchy Silver Shamrock jingle and the idea that kids would willingly watch a television commercial on Halloween is a pretty clever indictment of the wave of consumerism aimed at youth that was and has been prevalent since the Reagan era.

* Something that I found kind of ridiculous, but in an enjoyable way, below is a picture of your leading man of Halloween III, one Tom Atkins :

So here's the thing, its not the most indicative photo of him, but basically you get the point, not the most attractive guy, even of his day (no Tom Selleck, he). Anyway, basically he plays a doctor in the film, a doctor who decides to skip work and town to go investigate the death of one of his patient with the aid of the patient's daughter, a nubile early twenty something. Not only does he leave work, probably causing some poor guy who was probably looking forward to the time off to cover for him and possibly endangering various ill and injured persons, he also lies to his wife and children, and ends up sleeping with the hottie. I repeat, he is our hero in the film. (Don't get my wrong I like Mr. Atkins, and thought he was particularly great in the still MIA on DVD cult horror film, Night of the Creeps)

* Early meta. The characters in Halloween III watch the original Halloween on television throughout the film. (In blow your mind trivia, in the original film, Jamie Lee Curtis and the kids she babysit watch Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another Planet, which Jon Carpenter would remake in 1982, the same year Season of the Witch was released).

* And last, but certainly not least, it certainly cannot be titled the worst film to carry the Halloween moniker. No, that would go to Halloween: Resurrection the post-respectable Halloween: H20 sequel, where not only Michael Myers returns again, this time after decapitation, Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode is killed off, there's a lame cyber-web reality show based plot, and it ends with Busta Ryhmes going all Jackie Chan on Mikey's ass. It's probably better than parts 4-6 too, put that would require further research (aka new viewings)

If this entry has helped to whet your Halloween III jones:

Here's Wikipedia's surprisingly expansive page on the film.

The original teaser trailer

And of course, I couldn't leave you without a word from our sponsor, Silver Shamrock

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