Halloween III [retro review]

“What’s the matter? Don’t you have any Halloween spirit?”

The Scoop: 1982 R, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Tom Atkins, Stacy Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy

Tagline: The night no one comes home.

Summary Capsule: A booze-loving doctor uses a mysteriously murdered patient to get out of time with his kids, get lucky with the dead guy’s hot daughter, and save the world’s children from messy deaths if he can drag himself out of the bottle to do it.

Kyle’s Rating: Man, this movie is lame. But it might be more rewatchable than Halloween 5

Kyle’s Review: Let me share with you a secret of life that you probably will never hear from my Mutant brethren, considering the collective state of their relationship statuses: adultery is cool. I’m talking super-cool! I mean, it’s hurtful, deceitful, and blah blah blah to the person who’s getting cheated on and all that, but in the grand American cultural scheme of things, it’s awesome. I’m going to get sooooo chewed out over this point-of-view, but it really does play into my opinion of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch; I promise.

See, I had technically never seen this movie. I knew it didn’t star Michael Myers, so I wasn’t too interested. And despite the cool looking rental box cover (the weird-looking witch/skull thing with the three little kids walking along the top of a hill around sunset) it never seemed worth the $1 to rent it. But it was usually one of the films they’d play on Halloween on cable channels, and after years of getting too tired/drunk/tied up by female ghouls to actually watch it, I managed to watch a little bit of it. And it sure didn’t seem as bad as horror reviews had claimed. In fact, part of it appeared to be Tom Atkins’ “heroic” character doing cool things like drinking all the time despite being a doctor, smoking a lot, and (most importantly) ditching his wife and kids to engage on an murder mystery adventure with the daughter of a murdered patient; a girl he eventually get it on with. Yeah, baby!

Turns out it’s the guy’s ex-wife, so morally it’s fairly acceptable. All the rest is valid, though, and he does kind of bail on his kids to hang with the hot-for-the-80’s Stacy Nelkin while knowing all the time he’s probably going freaky with her.

And that’s REAL ULTIMATE POWER!

I’m typing this while I watch the unrated Dawn of the Dead remake, and man: that movie is as awesome as adultery. If you have a brain in your head, you should know Dawn is a whole lot better than this stupid sequel. Man, even the original Romero Dawn of the Dead is better. Which is a drag, because I’m a fan of John Carpenter’s work. Even though he only produced this film, it’s pretty clear that director Tommy Lee Wallace is a devotee of Carpenter’s work, because Halloween 3 looks exactly as if he did direct it himself. Which makes it all the more surprising that it’s lame in a made-for-SciFi kinda way.

See, it’s cool that we don’t get a whole lot of the backstory to the grand villainous scheme. There’s this sentimental Irish guy (an amusingly charming Dan O’Herlihy) who also happens to have no problem killing all the kids in the nation with supernaturally-powered Halloween masks in order to achieve… well, something. There are also evil robot duplicates who like smashing, crushing, or drilling into human heads, and that’s cool. Plus, when the evil masks are activated, they cause stuff like flesh-obliterating streams of blue light and a horde of insects, spiders, and snakes to pour out of the victim’s skulls. Oh, and somehow a big 4-ton stolen piece of Stonehedge plays a nebulous part in the film. There’s a ton of bizarre craziness in an Irish vein going on in this movie, and it helps that “rewatchability” factor. There is also some snappin’ dialogue, all things considered. So why isn’t the film as a whole better because of its various cool parts?

A big problem is that until late in the film, we only see like seven or so characters. So it’s hard to feel tense about the children of America (and possibly the world, the extent of the scheme is never quite clear) when we barely see them. And by the time we do get a montage of masked children happily skipping to their scheduled doom, it’s not quite enough to get us interested. I can understand working with a small budget, but get a couple crowd scenes in there early so we know what’s at stake, you know?

Plus, Halloween was a classic because Carpenter did a masterful job of building the suspense: we got some stalk sequences and some normal, boring everyday stuff going on, but we also knew that Michael Myers was maliciously lurking in the background. With Halloween 3, we don’t know what the heck is menacing the background, and when we find out, we still don’t really know. I barely know what happened in this movie. Does the villain win? Lose? I would certainly like to know, but spoiler it’s none too clear. Oh well.

I’m pretty sick of this review. Don’t see Halloween 3. If you’re a Michael Myers fan like me it’s just a total abomination, and I can’t imagine it’s very worthwhile for anyone else other than hardcore horror fans who have to see every installment of a horror series. I can almost see how it could be a fun movie for somebody out there. But I can’t exactly envision who that person is, or what he/she looks like. I don’t know that I’d want to know that person, either. Who am I to judge, though? Don’t see it unless you have to, or really, really want to. It’s lame, especially since there is some cool stuff here that just gets utterly wasted by an overall “blah” feeling. See The Fog instead if you want some interesting-yet-sub-par John Carpenter horror action. And definitely see the new Dawn of the Dead, rated or unrated. That movie is awesome!

Honey? Time to throw out Timmy. He's gone rotten.

Intermission!

  • The grand scheme involves making sure all the kids wearing the evil masks watch a televised special broadcast that’ll use electronics and unnatural technology to do something to the kids. I guess it involves a great sacrifice or something. I don’t even know. You think I would know from having watched the movie, but that would be incorrect. Oh, but the special broadcast follows a showing of the first Halloween film, so technically Michael Myers does make an appearance in this film: as a character in a movie playing on a television set someone is watching.
  • As most have noticed: the tagline for this film (“The night no one comes home”) is a play on Halloween’s “The night HE comes home” tagline. Cute!
  • The voice of the operator that Challis keeps getting when he tries to call out of Santa Mira is Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • The small town of Santa Mira was also the setting for 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
  • When Challis fills in the register at the motel office, he scans the list of names for evidence of Ellie’s father’s stay. All of the other names on the list are the names of the crew.
  • Supposedly, part of the genesis of this film came from a comment made by film critic Rex Reed. Reed panned Halloween II, saying it was so bad that, “if they make a Halloween III, I’ll turn in my press card.”
  • After Michael Myers died in Halloween II, the plan by John Carpenter was to make a new “Halloween” movie each year, each telling a different Halloween related story. After this movie failed at the box office, the film-makers decided to bring Michael back to life for future sequels.
  • The original writer of the story was Nigel Kneale but he sued the producers to take his name off the movie after seeing how violent it was.
  • A milk factory was used for the setting of the Silver Shamrock factory.
  • The music playing on the radio when Marge Guttman notices the tag on the floor was also played in John Carpenter’s The Fog.

Groovy Quotes

Harry Grimbridge: They’re going to kill us. All of us! All of us!

Daniel Challis: I saw something that night… I don’t know, your father came into the hospital. He- I thought he was crazy, out of his mind. He’s hanging onto a Halloween mask, he wouldn’t let it go… And what he said was, “They’re gonna kill us all”. And in a little while he was dead. And I don’t know what the hell is going on!

Conal Cochran: You don’t really know much about Halloween. You thought no further than the strange custom of having your children wear masks and go out begging for candy.

Ellie Grimbridge: Irish Halloween masks?
Daniel Challis: In California, you never know.

Ellie Grimbridge: Where do you want to sleep, Dr. Challis?
Daniel Challis: [Staring at her] That’s a dumb question, Miss Grimbridge.

Ellie Grimbridge: I feel like a goldfish.
Daniel Challis: Company town.

Conal Cochran: I do love a good joke and this is the best ever: a joke on the children.

Commercial Announcer: It’s time. It’s time. Time for the big giveaway. Halloween has come. All you lucky kids with Silver Shamrock masks, gather ’round your TV set, put on your masks and watch. All witches, all skeletons, all Jack-O-Lanterns, gather ’round and watch. Watch the magic pumpkin. Watch…

If you liked this movie, try these:

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Your Questions About Halloween 3

  2. Pingback: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  3. Pingback: The Fog (1980) | Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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