Every week, I like to recommend a more obscure lesser known horror film that a good portion of the population probably hasn't seen. But this week, i'm going in a different direction by suggesting you watch, or re-watch, a film from one of the biggest horror movie franchises around.
Halloween 3 : Season Of The Witch
I want you to remove all negative feelings you have towards this film. I know, it's a Halloween movie and it's got nothing to do with Michael Myers. Get over it. Remove the "Halloween 3" from the title and pretend it's just "Season of the Witch", a totally stand alone horror film that's got nothing to do with the Halloween series. My belief is that it's actually a pretty damn good movie, people are just too blinded by the Myers-less hatred to see that. With Halloween literally just right around the corner, this movie is perfect viewing for right now and would probably be one of the classic movies genre fans pop in every year around this time if they weren't so biased against it. So what's so good about it?
Just take a look at this plot. Silver Shamrock Novelties is a Halloween mask company, the most popular of the year in the fact. But it's run by an evil dude with some pretty sinister Halloween night plans. He's created three special masks ; a witch, a pumpkin, and a skeleton. Now each of these three masks has a computer chip implanted in it that, when the Silver Shamrock commercial is played on Halloween night, will activate and make the children who are wearing the masks heads dissolve and spew insects and snakes. How cool is that!? The lives at stake in this movie are pretty much solely children and with three very generic masks that kids would surely eat up, you can bet your ass a lot of 'em are gonna die.
The film stars frequent Carpenter collaborator Tom Atkins. You may remember that sexy face from The Fog and Escape From New York. I've always been a big Atkins fan and seeing him in a movie just makes it feel special to me. He's also a hell of a nice guy, as i've met him at a couple conventions. Jamie Lee Curtis has a small uncredited voice only role as both a telephone operator and a curfew announcer and there's even an appearance from Nancy Kyes, who played Annie Brackett in the original Halloween. And Season of the Witch isn't totally absent of Michael Myers either. Dick Warlock, the actor who played him in Halloween 2, plays one of Silver Shamrocks henchmen (who's a bit Myers-like) and in one scene where Tom Atkins is at the local pub, the tv quickly flips past an advertisement for an airing of Carpenter's Halloween. Not that you'll get your Myers fill from that, but he's in there and there's at least a few nods to the Halloween franchise as we know and love it.
There's one particularly brutal and memorable scene where a family is locked in a "testing room" by the Silver Shamrock robot employees, under the guise that they want the father's opinion of their commercial. They give the son one of the Halloween masks and play the commercial which activates the chip in his mask as a way to make sure it's all gonna work properly on the mass public. Sure enough, the boys head totally disintegrates and hundreds of snakes and bugs pour out of his mask, which then kill his mother and father. The gore all around in the movie, while not too excessive, is pretty fun and cool and way more over the top then is usually seen from the Halloween films. Skulls are ripped apart, heads are torn off, and it's just a wild and fun time.
The ending to this movie is fuckin awesomely cynical. You probably expect Atkins to save the day and prevent the commercial from airing, thus saving the lives of all the towns children, right? WRONG! While he manages to get most of the channels showing the commercial to take it off the air, one does not and while it's not shown, it's implied that all the kids wearing the masks and watching their tv's at that moment meet horrific ends. The movie ends with Atkins frantically screaming into the telephone to stop the commercial while a couple kids sit back and watch, the implication being that thousands upon thousands of children are dying in that moment.
So you may be wondering, why the decision to have no Michael Myers in this? John Carpenter himself decided that after Myers was killed in part 2, they should turn the franchise into a Twilight Zone like yearly anthology based around Halloween time. When the film flopped, the decision was made to bring Myers back from the dead. Whether you like this one or not, you've gotta applaud Carpenter for wanting to take a chance with his hugely successful franchise and for not merely wanting to capitalize on his money making villain. Dare I say, Halloween 3 is one of my favorites in the entire series. Like I said, get over the fact that Mikeys not in it, and you'll probably enjoy it. After all, there's more than enough Myers material in other installments to satisfy your appetites.
So go ahead. Give it another shot.
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Story Of Ricky
Three Extremes - Cut