Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie Review: Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch

After the success of the second film, Producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill decided to bring the series into a different direction. So they brought in Tommy Lee Wallace, the producer of the first movie, to write and direct a project which would eventually become Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch.
I think it was how rushed the production was is the reason why people have so many problems with this sequel. The filmmakers started the project a year after Halloween 2, which sort of hyped up audience's expectation that it will yet be another sequel involving Michael Myers. So I think that's how the movie became one of the worst Halloween sequels made.
But what's my opinion on it? Well, I don't think it's all that bad. Don't get me wrong, this movie is filled with flaws and inconsistences. There are many problems I have with this movie but nothing major.
Let me start at the beginning. When I first saw this, I was kind of confused when the title said Halloween 3 but didn't have Michael Myers in it. That's one of my few problems. If the movie was just called Season Of The Witch and would later be associated with the Halloween universe, I think people would be less harsh to it because when the fans watch a Halloween movie they would expect Michael Myers to be in it. So as I watched it, I begin to be very bored by it. I just didn't get into the plot and I thought the whole warlock with killer robots angle was just strange to me. Though, I was only a kid back then. Now looking at it with fresh eyes, I could see that the movie had a lot potential, however, if the writing would've been a bit better this could've been a cult hit.
The Story: On October 23, 1982, shop owner Harry Grimbridge is chased by mysterious figures wearing business suits. He collapses at the gas station while clutching a jack-o-lantern mask. While at the hospital, he is put under the care of Dr. Daniel Challis, while the police investigates the connection between the man and the mask. But meanwhile at the hospital, one of the malicious businessmen kills Harry with his own bare hands. So the next day, Dr. Challis, tries to put two and two together and decides to play amateur detective all the while tagging along Harry's grieving daughter Ellie. The two soon drive off into a weird desolate town from where the mysterious Jack-o-lantern mask was manufactured and runs into an established toymaker Mr. Conal Corchan, owner of the silver shamrock masks company. Once Daniel and Ellie dig deeper and uncover the town's seedy origins, the plot thickens and the silver shamrock company has a much more sinister plan beneath their grip.

The majority of the cast was great, especially given the strong performances of Tom Atkins and Dan 'O Herhily. I like how it focuses on everyday normal people instead of your usual horror movie stock characters. And I like how in horror movies when regular normal people gets trapped in a extraordinary situation. And that's how a horror movie should work. It's not about people walking into danger, it's about the situation at hand that danger comes to them.

Dr. Dan Challis played by the classically handsome Tom Atkins is a flawed character. He doesn't spend that much time with his kids, he's a bit of boozer, and he's also a notorious womanizer. There's also an indication that he was going to be much "worse" in the script. So it's a good thing that Tom Atkins was cast in the role. He just has that presence of an action hero that makes the character work for him. At first, I didn't know why he was dragged into the plot given that's he just a doctor and if he was an actual police detective it would make much sense. But the circumstances coming from the events at the hospital( the death of Harry Grimbridge, the robot henchman igniting himself in a car) It would make a bit of sense for him to be intrigued by the shamrock plot which also involves his own children who seems obsessed with the toy company's advertisements.

Overall, Tom Atkins is a really good actor and gave a much more down to earth and humble performance. He is a truly an underrated actor. And have I mentioned he has a nice ass?

Ellie Grimbridge played by Stacey Nelkin, on the other hand, does an okay job. I'm not saying she's a bad actress or anything, she just comes off bland for most of the time. As for her character, there really isn't much to talk about.

Sure, she is a plot point but from then on there's not anything for the character to do other than just being a shoe-in love interest.

Speaking of which, I didn't get Dan and Ellie's "supposed" romance, if anything it was nothing more than just a hook up. Not only have they just met each other but given that the girl just lost her father and all of a sudden wants to have sex with a man she doesn't know, is just weird to me. But seeing that Tom Atkins is a handsome man, I don't blame her.

Conal Cochran played by Dan O' Herlihy is probably one of the most scariest villains I've seen in a while. The way he gives his speeches in a cold emotionless manner will give a chill down your spine. he is an example of a corrupt cooperate executive but on a more sinister level, as he is the head of a toy company called Silver Shamrock Cooperation, but it's only a ploy to lure the children to wear the masks which has a chip that denigrates their bodies into mutilated bug infested mess in order to sacrifice for the Celtic figure Samhain.

This villain is probably much more scarier than, dare I say it, Michael Myers. It's only because of how detailed his evil plan is and it all boils down to Dan O' Herlihy. He is just perfect in this type of role because he can smile in your face in one scene and give you the evil eye in another. Even in the final scene of his defeat, it shows that the character isn't afraid of death. This shows how cold and unfeeling the villain is. He is not human or has any remorse on human life whatsoever.

And I would like to add a special note, that it was funny to see Nancy Loomis who was known as the pot-smoking, free-spirited Annie, now playing this uptight suburban mom. Cosmic.
I may not like this movie as a kid but there were certain scenes in this that creep me out.

First there was this scene where one of the townspeople discovers the missing chip from one of the masks, once she picks at it a little, all of sudden a big zap hits her mouth and her face begins to mutate. It's. Batshit. INSANE.

But the one scene that really got me was this one. The death of a child is always unnerving and I really thought this scene was really disturbing. It was just too much to handle. Plus that annoying yet creepy theme song ringing in my ears is very haunting

Speaking of the theme song, I found it to be annoying at first but seeing how the song plays plus the even creepier advertisement to go with it, can actually kill you, it kind of gives you the goosebumps.
But guys, there is one big problem I have with this film. And that is the plot twist involving Ellie.

Okay, it turns out that Ellie is actually an female android. So the purpose of her plan was to seduce Dan and lure him to Conal Cochran? If that the case how did he know of Dan? Or did Conal Cochran and his henchman killed the real Ellie and replace her with a real robot, Stepford wife style? Whatever the case, It still lives a lot of open questions for me and I think this is one of the weakest aspects of the movie.
But there's one thing to make up for the flaws of this movie and that's the atmosphere and the film's musical score, it all adds up to the sense of dread, even at the beginning with a touch of John Carpenter's classic Halloween score tweaked into ominous techno synth.
Now for some trivia:
Jamie Lee Curtis makes an uncredited cameo as a phone operator and as the voice announcer informing the town's curfew.
The whole "witchcraft in the computer age", you can just thank Debra Hill for that.
Dino De Laurentiis didn't like Nigel Kneale's first draft of the script that much and through the course of weeks, there were constant re-writes to the point where Nigel Kneale walked off  the project, later having Tommy Lee Wallace and John Carpenter taking over the writing credits, which explains why I think some of the writing is kind of weak.
This was the last Halloween movie to use the pumpkin introduction, this time with a digital computer screen.
This was Nancy Loomis (or Keyes for that matter) last appearance in a Halloween film before retiring from acting.
The film would mark the last series entry of John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Barry Benardi, and Dan Cundey.
The movie was a box office flop, ranking in 14.4 million dollars less from the two previous movies. It was universally hated by fans and critics, having problems with the weird story plot and the absence of Michael. But what some of you don't know was that John Carpenter was planning an anthology series instead of a franchise involving The Shape.
I feel like if the movie was made years later with time and care, It would've been a much better film. I'm not say this is my favorite movie or anything, I'm sort of in the middle with this. It's not bad but  it's not great either. But at least the creators tried to bring something new to the table. So in the end, this would've been a potential what could've been.
My Last word: It won't hurt to at least give a watch. Whether you like or not, it's your choice.


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