Essential Halloween Viewing – Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The night no one comes home.

Right away at the mere mention of the so-called bastard child of the Halloween franchise, I’m fairly certain some of you despise me already for even suggesting this installment of the beloved licensed films that “mostly” feature the iconic Michael Myers. And perhaps I think, no, I know the most damning argument I hear among fans about how terrible this film is, is that The Shape (with the exception of the Halloween TV spot commercials inside the film) is out of the picture, focusing on an entirely different story.

While I don’t expect to change anyone’s negative views on the movie, nor do I desire to as everyone has a right to an opinion, this piece is entirely dedicated to some of those horror fans out there who may have been on the fence about even giving it a try at all based on the fact the franchise’s main antagonist Myers is absent. Instead of Myers, we have something that, in my eyes, is equally as sinister or even, dare to say, more frightening when you look at it at in a much larger perspective..

Mr. Conal Cochran

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On October 22, 1982, horror gave birth to possibly one of the most sinister minds of the horror genre. Conal Cochran, the owner and proprietor of Silver Shamrock Novelties, has an overwhelmingly strong handle on his Celtic beliefs and is awfully tired of watching the festival of Samhain basically taken over by the children of the world. Cochran wants to bring back the true meaning of Halloween and does so by concocting an ingenious plan of using his line of popular Halloween masks to not only pull the ultimate prank on the little trick-or-treaters, but to also commit the largest Samhain sacrifice in over 3,000 years to appease the Celtic gods.

Now, I love Myers as much as the next horror fan; however, I don’t ever recall Michael committing mass genocide. OF CHILDREN no less. Although we never really know how successful Cochran’s evil plan was at the end of the day, as the film leaves it up to speculation, given the ending we did receive, it’s fairly safe to assume he did end up getting the last laugh.

Speaking of children, Season of the Witch is the only film in the series to show its massive set of hairy balls to not only kill a kid, but do it in an extremely gruesome and violent fashion. In Halloween 4 and 5, Jamie Lloyd was of course the main target, but she was never killed. Roughed up a fuck-ton, yes, but never murdered. They saved that little treasure for Part 6 when she was a little older.

This scene from Halloween III that involves one of Cochran’s top salesmen and his family still holds up to this day as visually disturbing and mentally mind-fucking. This right here was Cochran giving us a taste of what was in store for the children everywhere on Halloween night. Screw the poison candy and razor blades in chocolates. I’m going to make a mask with a chip inside that basically tears your skull inside out.

Dr. Challis, who has been spying on Cochran with his newfound… umm… friend Ellie, while trying to piece together what exactly happened to Ellie’s father in the town where Silver Shamrock Novelties lies, looks on in absolute horror and realizes he has fallen into something a lot more sinister than he could have ever imagined. Tom Atkins, who plays the charming Daniel Challis, brings his firm stance for justice to the story, as he is well-known for his roles in the horror genre.

His no-bullshit-taking 80s mustache is the perfect foe for Conal Cochran. You see, Challis has become so overrun with work and his nagging ex-wife that he has turned to alcohol to help soften the view of what seems like his out-of-control life. It is only when Ellie’s father gets murdered under his watch in the hospital and Ellie comes to him looking for answers that he sees an opportunity to take control of SOMETHING. And when he finds that very sinister something, he takes it upon himself to put a stop to it. Don’t ever mess with an overworked, on-the-edge doctor with a manly 80s ‘stashe.

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The final little tidbit I really need to give attention to is the original score to this film. Halloween III not only embodies the very essence of the holiday, but the musical score hits all the right notes, giving Halloween a sinister tone throughout the film – and also one catchy tune that ultimately ends up getting stuck in my head for 28 hours. Exactly 28 hours. That Silver Shamrock jingle has kind of become our official countdown song leading up to the 31st, and you just can’t duplicate something like that.

I recently took a trip to the BEST in Las Vegas and my favorite local haunt The Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror; and in one of the three amazingly exceptional haunted houses they run called The Coven, we entered a room full of fog, and a familiar song blaring from the speakers. Oh yes. It was that wonderful, can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head Silver Shamrock tune. We may or may not have stayed in that room for longer than expected as it pretty much became a dance party of sorts with the beautifully made up actor in said room. It’s definitely refreshing to see a well established haunt give homage to a film that it seems a good portion of horror fans just wants to forget. So if you’re in Vegas and give The Freakling Bros. a visit, make sure to tip your hat to those guys.

Writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace’s Season of the Witch may not fit in with the rest of the franchise, but this is due to the fact Carpenter originally wanted to continue the Halloween series with different stories, exploring urban legends and myths about our favorite holiday. Of course, it didn’t fare well initially with fans, which in turn brought Myers back from the dead so to speak. It’s only been in recent years that fans are more accepting of this red-headed stepchild of a sequel.

And that’s a start. A start to embracing this film for what it is – a damn good Halloween film – and not hating it for what it isn’t – another Michael Myers movie.

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Patti Pauley

What is normal to the spider, is chaos to the fly.

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