Shout! Factory gives some appreciation to the black sheep of the Halloween franchise.
It's only a few days before Halloween, but something doesn't sit right with Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins). One of his patients has been brutally murdered, and his killer shortly thereafter sets himself on fire. Why? Before being killed, the patient kept screaming, “THEY'RE GOING TO KILL US ALL!” while clutching a pumpkin mask. With the police dismissing the case, Challis takes it upon himself to investigate the incident. Together with the victim's daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), they embark on a journey that reveals the sinister agenda of the Silver Shamrock company and its C.E.O. Conal Cochran (Daniel O'Herlihy).
One is usually of two minds when watching this film. You either hate the movie for just completely dropping the whole universe that was established in the previous two, or you love and accept the film for what it is and what it attempted to do. That the people behind the first two films set out to make an anthology series were each movie thereafter would be its own beast but be around the holiday of Halloween. Then also accept that the said idea blew up in the creator's faces given this movie bombed since the former had to much a voice and thus Michael Myers returned with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988).
I choose to view it as its own beast and in a way I enjoy it, but also have my issues with it. The elements I enjoy about the film are the direction, atmosphere established by the cameras/musical score, and the villains of the piece. This is a hard movie and one that isn't afraid to pull any shots. This isn't a slasher movie where the “rules” are in effect. There are no rules in this one and thus everyone is fair game. Even the ending to the film is quite brave as well. It doesn't go for the easy out.
Though it's a double edged sword, the film is daring; this means that fans and viewers in general might have a problem with it. Challis, the main character isn't a nice character. He isn't like the virginal Laurie Strode from the first two Halloween movies. This is a guy who has problems like any normal human being: he doesn't spend that much time with his kids or family at all. He's recently divorced and the issues the couple have issues that you can see that eventually lead to a split amongst the two if this Silver Shamrock incident hadn't exceeded it. The moment that hits on his lap, Challis takes first chance he's got of going on this adventure with a hot young woman and succumbs to the temptation. It does make him a human being, but there are times you find yourself hard to root for the guy since has pretty much all but abandoned his life for this journey.
However, then when you begin to realize that even though Challis is a bastard, he's not an unholy monster like Cochran is. Daniel O'Herlihy as Corchran steals the show and is a very fascinating villain and a very imposing character as a whole, doing everything with the sweetest of smiles until he shows his true nature. I'd say my favorite scene of the character's is his monologue to Challis on why he's doing all of this. I get chills everytime I hear it.
Likewise, his underlings have this The Thing (1982) or Invasion of the Body Snatchers quality to them, making them fascinating. Most of his lackeys aren't human (in fact they're androids). The chilling fact that's even exploited in the movie is they could be anyone and can strike at any time. When they do they have this almost slasher-esque never quit until the job is done. Well until they meet Challis that is who owns them all throughout the movie.
Regardless, I enjoy the film for what it tried to set out to do and that it never strayed from the message it wanted to tell. I find Halloween 3: Season of the Witch quite engaging even with the plot holes and problems with some of its characters. Plus there's elements of John Carpenter all over the film (given this was his final foray along with Debra Hill into this franchise). Those fans of Carpenter should give this film another look and enjoy what director Tommy Lee Wallace gave us in the end. Of the Halloween sequels I'd say this was one of the better ones, even more so than its predecessor and could be watched over again along with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween: 20 Years Later (1998), along with the original masterpiece that started it all, Halloween (1978).
4 out of 5
Picture Transfer & Sound Quality
Much like it's predecessor, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is given a very good digital makeover by Shout! Factory with a very crystal clear transfer. The move just makes one appreciate the film even more from the special effects down to the atmosphere the movie creates. I can't help but feel like a little child and just enjoy the little details in the gore and how even though this is an early 80s film.
Picture: 5 out of 5
Sound: 5 out of 5
Much like, it's Halloween 2 (1981) counterpart, Shout! Factory spared no expense when just dumping extras onto this Blu-Ray disc. You have new commentary from the various people who worked on the film. The obvious trailers, TV spots, and production art from the film.
The real meat and potatoes that Shout! Factory gives us, again like it's predecessor is a nice almost fifty minute documentary on the making of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. This one however delves into more of the cast and crew than Halloween 2 does by having key stars Tom Atkins and Stacey Nelkin talk about their roles and certain scenes. Along with one of it's producers who just absolutely HATES this film given the lack of Michael Myers and how much he feels this film was a mistake. The documentary holds nothing back. Another nice little bonus is the town were most of this movie was filmed is revisited and we see various sites filmed in the movie as they are now. How can one go wrong with all the extras given here?
5 out of 5
Halloween 3: Season of the Witch maybe considered the bastard son of the entire franchise, but I think if you buy this Blu-Ray DVD you might get a second opinion on it. The stuff included on this release is just a treasure trove of extras to a movie that I'm surprised is getting all this love. It just makes me wish another movie that came out earlier this month got this sort of attention. YOU LISTENING WARNER BROTHERS?! Regardless, this is one you should add to your horror collection. It really is a neat treat.
5 out of 5