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Halloween III: Season of the Witch(1982)
After the mysterious death of a toyshop owner, a doctor (Tom Atkins) and the man's daughter (Stacy Nelkin) investigate the Irish-dominated Northern California community of Santa Mira, a company town owned by the Silver Shamrock Novelty corporation.
For more about Halloween III: Season of the Witch and the Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray release, see Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 29, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Atkins, Dan O'Herlihy, Nancy Loomis, Stacey Nelkin, Michael Currie, Maidie Norman
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
» See full cast & crew
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray Review
Happy, Happy Halloween, Number Three, Number Three, Happy, Happy Halloween, Now On Blu-ray!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 29, 2012
The world's going to change tonight.
There's a certain expectation for Horror movie franchises, namely that they remain largely stagnant, rightly or wrongly serving up the same old, same old beyond the first film or two, usually tweaking for the worst as time goes on but carrying over the same basic cadence and always with the same killer on the poster for the long haul. It's called "evolution," and every franchise goes through its own at some point. For A Nightmare on Elm Street, it was the transformation of Freddy Krueger from a hard-edged dreamscape killer to a more commercially viable dark comedian of sorts. In Friday the 13th, it was elevating Jason Voorhees to killer status after the death of his mother and, of course, ditching the hood for the iconic hockey mask. The Halloween franchise underwent an entirely different sort of transformation. The original classic was followed up by a strong sequel that picked up right where the first left off, only to see the third picture go in an entirely different direction, a Halloween movie in "name only" if one expects "Halloween" to be synonymous with "Michael Myers," but also a "Halloween" movie in the truest sense of the word. It was something of a noble effort, really, made even before the Horror "sequel" craze really took off in the mid-80s, coming into theaters right on the heels of Friday the 13th Part 3 and before the world was introduced to Freddy Krueger. The film wasn't particularly well-accepted, because, well, first, it wasn't what everyone expected, and second, most saw it is a subpar genre picture, no matter the name attached to it. Yet there's a good bit to like -- not exactly love -- about Season of the Witch, setting aside the title and looking at it as a standalone entity and not necessarily a piece of a larger franchise puzzle.
It's eight more day to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, eight more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock. In Wiltshire, England, a piece of Stonehenge goes missing. In Northern California, things are about to get pretty spooky. A man is chased by unknown assailants but escapes to a fueling station where a kindly attendant rushes him to the hospital. There, he is subsequently murdered and his killer sets himself ablaze in the parking lot. The murder victim was under the care of Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), a divorced father of two who's been too busy with work to spend any time with his kids, kids who are but two of hundreds of thousands of youngsters parading around in Silver Shamrock-branded Halloween masks, all eagerly waiting Halloween Night's Horror television marathon and special giveaway at 9:00 p.m. Challis finds himself immersed in the case. He teams up with the victim's daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), who worked alongside her father at his party store, which sold the Silver Shamrock masks. The trail leads them to the small factory community of Santa Mira, California, home of Silver Shamrock, a 6:00 p.m. curfew, and surveillance cameras on every corner. There, they meet Silver Shamrock's owner, Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy). Little do Challis and Ellie know that a dark secret lies deep beneath the factory, within the walls of the secret final steps of the mask-making process, a final step which could spell the very end of mankind.
Would Halloween III: Season of the Witch be so disliked if it were titled Silver Shamrock instead? Take Halloween out of the equation -- particularly now that the franchise is so saturated with Michael this, Michael that, nearly countless sequels and a couple of remakes. Season of the Witch is literally an island all its own, linked forever to one of the "big three" Horror franchises when it's really a standalone movie with little more than a John Carpenter Producing and Music credit, and the name of course, to tie it in with the big boys. Then again, it was Carpenter's and Producer Debra Hill's intent to branch the series beyond Myers and tell an annual tale of Halloween terror, Season of the Witch slated to be the first of many. Sadly, it didn't work out as planned. That's a good thing for admirers of the Captain Kirk mask-wearing villain, bad news for viewers interested in something a little more out of the ordinary and beyond the somewhat repetitive stalking and slashing of this and other iconic Horror franchises. Season of the Witch aims to add a little fear beyond the tip of a blade and the hulking figure of a masked zombie, for lack of a better term, stalking victim after victim. It's more a psychological Terror picture, a movie that badly wants to tell a story of mind control and world domination through mystery history and technology and mass media while appealing to the innocence, naiveté, and selfish wishes of modern youth. The movie largely succeeds in shaping that world for film, even as it's overshadowed by its namesake.
There's a fairly smart movie inside Season of the Witch, a movie about a hostile, overt takeover for nasty ends (and leaving even nastier gruesomeness in its wake) by an "evil corporation" bent on, well, something to do with ancient traditions (does it matter?) that's not going to sit well with too many folks, those who happen to survive the initial burst of terror in particular. It's evil in the guise of evil, a clever and diabolical plan to use the so-called "Devil's Night" to unleash hell on Earth. There's a grab-bag's worth of commentary and not-so-subtle suggestions as they pertain to big business, consumerism, and the ease with which people may be manipulated in the name of the freebie and the television advertisement for the latest "must have" of today's modern age. This is the equivalent of the Tickle Me Elmo doll being laced with some mind-control substance that turned children to goo and unleashed a hidden cache of nasty bugs. Sadly, Season of the Witch is not quite as much fun as it sounds, nor as smart as it seems, despite its baseline successes. It's fairly generic, really, a bit on the slow side and building up terribly shallow characters who do little more than act adequately confused, angry, or frightened as the script demands. Dr. Challis, Ellie, and Cochran seem like little more than puppets who move the story along, each constructed of basic Horror/Thriller character elements that allow them to emote and little more. The Challis/Ellie relationship moves way too fast, and Cochran's character never ascends above the level of forgettable madman bent on unleashing an equally forgettable end-of-days scenario. Yet it's more the arc, the journey, that makes the movie worthwhile, not the specifics therein. But if nothing else, Season of the Witch is worth watching for the catchy "Silver Shamrock" jingle that will be stuck in audiences' heads for days and days.
Happy, Happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Happy, Happy Halloween Silver Shamrock!
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray, Video Quality
Halloween III: Season of the Witch features a wishy-washy debut Blu-ray transfer. The image is defined, particularly early on, but a pasty, flat appearance. It looks too smooth -- faces in particular are practically devoid of detail beyond basic shapes -- and largely unnatural, certainly not filmic. Even rougher surfaces like brick walls outside the hospital come up lacking. The image tightens up a bit once the action shifts to Santa Mira. Grain makes a few appearances, textures seem more naturally complex, and faces find a bit of life. Fortunately, the image remains fairly sharp throughout, though there are some sporadic edge halos that practically make objects glow, such as a cop inside the hospital early in the film or a shot of the Santa Mira church steeple later on. Colors are fairly bland; early darker scenes are noticeably so, but again, as the film progresses, vibrance and accuracy increase a bit. Black levels are solid, and flesh tones never seem to veer too far away from a natural appearance. There are only a few scattered speckles that shouldn't interfere with one's enjoyment of the film. Overall, this isn't a dazzler by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a passable transfer.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Halloween III: Season of the Witch scares up a DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack for its Blu-ray debut. There's little range and not much energy to this one. Listeners will feel indifferent at best, not particularly engaged or enthused, but that doesn't mean a poor track, just one that's not naturally of the all-in, completely-immersive sort. The synth notes and digital elements heard over the opening titles are adequately presented. There's nothing dynamic, big, or memorable about this portion of the track, but the antiquated effect actually seems to benefit from a somewhat less intrusive sound presentation. The notes and beats and sounds are perhaps a tad mushy but are handled well enough, flowing practically from the direct center of the stage with not much in the way of added spacing. Thunder and drenching rain heard minutes later fail to immerse the listener in the moment; the effects are fairly straightforward and puny, but they convey the sound's basic needs well enough. Light natural outdoor ambience hovers around the middle of the stage, perhaps stretching a bit further than most other elements. A car explosion in chapter three sounds dull and lazy. The famous "Silver Shamrock" jingle musters all the fun it can in the track's limited confines. There's a slightly scratchy feel to it, but the console TV speakers-era authenticity is welcome. Dialogue is even and clear, playing nicely from the center. This is a pretty straightforward track. There are no surprises and really no disappointments. This wasn't going to be the next great sound demo disc, so what's here is fine, all things considered.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Halloween III: Season of the Witch arrives on Blu-ray with a very good array of extra content, which includes two audio commentary tracks, featurettes, and advertising material.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a largely forgettable little picture, linked to history and implanted in the subconscious mind of the Horror aficionado simply because the word "Halloween" appears in its title. It's wrongly decried, but rightfully left out of the upper-echelons of its genre. Ignore the name and enjoy a decent little time waster with a few good ideas and a fair implementation thereof. On the flip side, the characters largely stink. Yet all told this is a fun little Chiller that offers up a smattering of gore, a decent story, and an unforgettable hallmark jingle. Scream Factory's (a subsidiary of Shout! Factory) Blu-ray release of Halloween III: Season of the Witch offers decent video, acceptable audio, and a very nice collection of extras. It's a shame the picture quality isn't a bit better, but overall this is a solid Blu-ray debut for Halloween III and a strong first outing from Scream Factory. Recommended.
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