It’s only the second entrance of this series (third, if we consider the original Halloween as part of it) and I feel like Season of the Witch will cause some controversy.
In fact, this is the first and only Halloween film that doesn’t feature Michael Myers! Can you imagine having a Nightmare without Freddy and a Friday the 13th without Jason? Pure madness! And a perfectly fair explanation to why most people hate this movie.
What’s Season of the Witch about, then? After a random character is killed in a hospital after being attacked by anonymous assailants, Doctor Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) smells something fishy and, alongside the man’s daughter Ellie, seeks to uncover a plot that aims to kill people through a Silver Shamrock’s commercial, a company that sells Halloween masks.
The first, humongous mistake that Season of the Witch makes is using Halloween in the title and linking itself to the franchise created by John Carpenter. This film has nothing to do with the previous entrances and can’t even be considered a slasher flick!
Instead, Season of the Witch is mostly a mystery movie about a shady cult with a few slasher elements in it.
However, as a mystery, the film works for the most part. Thanks to decent performances (Tom Atkins is really good in the movie) and an uneasy vibe that’s built up throughout, Season of the Witch is a very watchable and creepy 80s movie. Besides, the cinematography is neat and well thought, backed up by the use of Steadicam introduced only two years before by The Shining. Especially a few sequences in the hospital hallways are fantastic. The real show stealer, though, is the music: this film sounds great thanks to a soundtrack that fits in perfectly, albeit not too original and very 80s-like.
Yet, Season of the Witch is a rather unapologetic and gruesome film: violence and brutal killings are sparse but surely out-there for its time. Although not quite convincing towards the end.
Once the mystery is revealed, though, the movie falls flat and the viewer is only waiting for it to end. Also, Season of the Witch forces the romance between Daniel and Ellie – completely unnecessary – and throws in some pointless references to the first Halloween movie, only to justify its presence in the franchise.
There’s not much else to say about this disposable, middle-of-the-road 80s horror flick. Except from the marketing.
Halloween III is one of the first notorious horror films victim of a terrible marketing strategy: before its release, the movie had been sold as a direct sequel to Halloween II and people had been convinced this would have been another chapter in the story of Michael Myers. Despite its bad reviews, Season of the Witched grossed shitloads of money: this formula is still being applied today to trick audiences to watch movie they would avoid otherwise.
Yet, it’s worth mentioning that Carpenter and Hill believed that the Halloween series had the potential to branch into an anthology series of horror films that centered around the night of Halloween, with each film containing its own characters, setting, and storyline. However, after the film’s disappointing critical reception and box-office gross, production companies and filmmakers thought it would have been better to reintroduce Michael Myers in the Halloween movies.
All in all, I’m not a hater of Halloween III: Season of the Witch and, although I don’t think the film is great, I’m pretty sure its marketing made it more harm than good in the long run.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch 6/10
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