Halloween Kills – O Terror Continua topped the $100 million mark in pandemic times, thus becoming another hit for the white masked assassin Michael Myers franchise, now run by Universal Pictures and production company Blumhouse. The feature is the second in a planned trilogy, continuing the events of Halloween (2018) and concluding its new arc in the coming Halloween Ends, to be released in 2022. To celebrate the success of this new chapter starring the veteran Jamie Lee Curtis and with the creator’s involvement John Carpenter, we’ve already brought a story detailing Halloween II – The Nightmare Continues, which in 2021 completed 40 years of release, and now we’ve decided to look at the “bastard son” of the franchise, the third feature to debut in theaters in 1982, entitled Halloween III – Season of the Witch (No brazil, the night of the witches).
Halloween. Magic and Sorcery. Robots and artificial beings. Technology. Cursed masks. A diabolical company. Unbridled capitalism. And no teenagers. But where are Michael Myers, Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis, you ask? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but you’re in the wrong movie. The third Halloween has none of that and now maybe you understand a little the love-hate relationship that everyone has with this “black sheep” in the franchise.
Read too: Halloween II – The Nightmare Continues (1981) – John Carpenter’s Classic, with Jamie Lee Curtis, turns 40!
Going back a bit to 1978 with the release of the first Halloween. The success was so much that even against his will, the creator John Carpenter he was coerced (read received a jackpot for the job) to take a sequel to his story out of his sleeve. He did, but made sure that this time this story couldn’t continue – and to do so he eliminated both the villain (Myers) and the hero (Loomis) in the end. Again, Halloween it was a success, with the second feature eclipsing rivals like Friday the 13th – Part 2, released the same year. So the producers gave another green light to Carpenter and his producer (and real-life partner) Debra Hill. The idea of the directors this time, however, was to promote an anthology on the big screen, with each new issue telling a completely new plot started from scratch, having in common only the Halloween date where the narrative would be centered.
Thus was given the start to Season of the Witch, something like “The Witch Season”, the subtitle of the third Halloween. One thing that needs to be said is the courage of everyone involved to deliver what they wanted and not what the audience expected – something inconceivable these days, when it’s the viewer who basically says what they want to see on screen. With Carpenter’s idea (signing the script in a way he doesn’t believe), the filmmaker passed the baton to his colleague Tommy Lee Wallace, who directs and scripts. The third Halloween it even changed genders, leaving the teenage slasher aside to become a supernatural horror, more in the mold of what Carpenter had created with The Fog – The Killing Mist (1980); here instead of a ghost story we had a mix of sorcery and technology.
Read too: Halloween | Understand the TOUGH TIME of the famous horror franchise!
Initially, however, the original director would be Joe dante, who had drawn attention the year before (1981) with his werewolf movie, Scream of Horror, of course, would write his name forever in Hollywood by signing the iconic Gremlins (1984), produced by Steven Spielberg. According to one version of the behind-the-scenes story, it was at this time that the plot for Halloween III appeared, with Dante on board. He would have contacted the renowned Nigel Kneale to write the screenplay for the feature, taking advantage of the fact that the Brit was living in Hollywood and had been hired to write a remake of The Black Lagoon Monster (1954 classic), which would be directed by John Landis (An American Werewolf in London). This project did not go forward, but Kneale was embarking on Halloween. It would have been Dante’s desire for a new twist in the franchise, commissioning a script centered on the roots of the Halloween date and its name, in other words, a story that had Celtic culture as a backdrop.
A while later, Joe dante he left the project, and was replaced by the aforementioned Tommy Lee Wallace. And that’s where the drastic changes to Nigel Kneale’s text came. According to the screenwriter, the producer Dino De Laurentiis didn’t understand the kind of humor he wanted to imprint on the film and demanded changes that would make it more violent and dark. So Kneale also left the project and sued the producers to take his name off the credits.
Read too: Halloween H20 (1998) | Remember Jamie Lee Curtis’ first return to the horror franchise[display-posts orderby="rand"]
From to opening, Halloween III it shows a different and unusual idea for the direction of the franchise. In the first two features, the opening credits rotated as the camera approached the figure known as Jack O’Lantern, his face nailed to the pumpkin that is the greatest symbol of the date – as his mascot. In the second film, a skull sprouts from inside the pumpkin. In this third one, there are computer graphics – very typical of the 80’s that turn out to be a virtual pumpkin in the end. The pulsating soundtrack was also created by the producer John Carpenter, showing itself as iconic as the previous ones.
As cited by Kneale and kept from its screenplay, the plot works on the basis of mystery. This is an enigmatic story, where little by little we gather clues and information until we gather the whole in the outcome. All we know at first is that a desperate guy is being chased. It’s not Michael Myers who’s lurking about, but some men in suits, with behavior and movements so cold and calculating that they could very well have been Myers without a mask. These frightening figures are also possessors of extraordinary physical strength. The victim is taken to the hospital, where his stalker follows him and kills him, only to later set himself on fire, sitting in the car, and blow himself up in the parking lot. Dr. Daniel Challis, the veteran’s role, witnessed everything and was taking care of the subject. Tom Atkins, who had worked with Carpenter on The Fog e escape from new york.
Read too: Halloween H20 | Darling ’90s Horror would have ANOTHER Assassin Besides Michael Myers!
Halloween III it’s not teen horror, so the characters in the movie aren’t young babysitters, for example. Our protagonist is Dr. Challis, whom we will accompany on this spiral of madness towards his personal hell. In fact, this feature is very reminiscent of another one from Carpenter’s career: on the brink of madness (1994). In both we have a common subject, crossing his routine reality towards a fantastic and supernatural place. The protagonist then meets Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), the daughter of the initial victim, and together they set out to unravel the riddle behind her father’s murder. The crumbs on the floor lead them straight to a company called Silver Shamrock, a children’s Halloween mask maker whose TV commercials are aired constantly and have a jingle beyond “bubble gum.”
The company’s headquarters are located in a small North American town and there they are welcomed by the seemingly cordial company owner, Conal Cochran, role of Dan O’Herlihy – best known for the role of “Old Man”, the owner of another dubious film company, OCP, which fans may know from early films in Robocop (1987 and 1990). Here, O’Herlihy’s character is even more diabolical and when he leaves drop your mask and reveals his James Bond villain plot, we can feel all the cruel insanity of the guy. It turns out that the three masks sold by the company (a pumpkin head, a skull and a witch), known as “The Big Halloween Three” (an unsubtle allusion to the title) are actually a trap created to kill all the children who have the used on Halloween, being activated at a certain time through the insistent jingle of the commercial. And how does this work you ask? Everything is activated by a rock stolen from the Stonehange, that monument of piled stones in England that had a mystical power behind it. That’s what we see on screen, but behind the scenes we can only imagine that the filmmakers smoked a good one to get something like that out of the picture.
Fragments of the rock are used in the masks and coupled with computer chip technology. As said, the big motto here is the mix of the old with the new, of computer technology with magic and sorcery. And what happens to children when the nefarious plan kicks in? Well we have a sample that the villain proudly displays for the protagonist, making the family of one of his employees a guinea pig. The poor boy collapses on the floor and has his little “brain” melted, from which insects and snakes come out. Before, an unfortunate woman has her face disfigured and melted when she accidentally activates the chip contained in the mask in her hotel room. Halloween III it’s very graphic and even though it’s not a slasher, it displays a lot of gore in its kills. Also, take the risk by paying to see what many movies of this genre refuse to do to this day: put children at risk or make them their main target, actually killing them.
In 2013, the filmmaker Tommy Lee Wallace (which in 1990 would create the miniseries It – A Masterpiece of Fear, based on Stephen King) gave one of the best answers about this crazy production. At an event celebrating the franchise, the moderator asked him, as he is also the screenwriter, what the connection is between Stonehange, Ireland, robots (the explanation of company Silver Shamrock henchmen – all artificial beings) and laser beams that melt the skin and produce snakes and insects from the human body; the director’s response was: “it’s magic, man”. Perfect.
Halloween III it was critical failure, with journalist Roger Ebert putting you on your “most hated” list, for example. Fans on the other hand were confused to realize that the characters they had learned to adore were not on screen. The film, however, was not a box office failure, grossing $14.4 million on a budget of $2.5 million. The negative reviews, however, would be enough to close the anthology proposal and make Carpenter sell the franchise rights, wanting nothing more with these stories. So, six years later, the new producers would pull Michael Myers out of retirement to Halloween 4 (1988).
Halloween III it reappeared years later as a cult item within the franchise, gaining more and more fans over the years. In fact, many have him as a favorite in the franchise. What we can say is that without a doubt it is the most daring and creative (after the original, of course). Even within the mythology itself Season of the Witch is honored, and in 2018 it appeared as a reference in the reboot when children wore the three famous masks from the film. In the Halloween Kills sequel (as we can see in the trailer), Michael arranges three of his victims, wearing such masks, in a playground toy. What is really lacking is the audacity of the producers to continue this narrative line, or at least to continue the abandoned proposal of the anthology.