Ah, Halloween. The one night of the year when it’s perfectly normal for your children to go around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and begging for candy. It’s my favorite holiday. Candy Corn (the scariest part of this particular holiday), pumpkin carving, rubber bats and fake cobwebs. Not to mention that for the entire month of October, you’re hard pressed to find a cable channel that is not airing horror movies or some sort of spooky programming. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
It’s during this time that we all have our own little Halloween traditions. Whether it’s gathering around the TV for the annual viewing of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! or the always entertaining Treehouse Of Horror episode of The Simpsons, or just a list of scary movies that you watch with friends and family every October, we all have them. My list of annually viewed horror movies is a long one, which I won’t bore you with, but I will share one of the films on that list. The 1978 John Carpenter classic entitled, simply, Halloween. It’s one of my favorite horror films and quite possibly my favorite John Carpenter film (though I keep flip-flopping between Halloween and The Thing). But seeing as this is BadSequels.Com and The Thing doesn’t have a shitty sequel (shitty remake/prequel, yes), you can probably guess where I’m going with this.
Halloween III holds the distinction of being the only horror movie sequel that I can think of that is not actually a sequel to anything at all. Seriously. None of the same characters, none of the same plot lines, nothing. The only links this movie has to the previous two Halloween films are that it takes place around Halloween, involves kids in masks, and has the title Halloween III. There are some who believe that, if only this movie had never been linked to the Halloween franchise, if only it had simply been called Season of the Witch and was never marketed as the third piece of the Halloween puzzle, it would be reflected upon with more fondness. Those people are wrong. Even as a stand-alone film, this movie is no cinematic gem. Turd, maybe. Gem, not so much.
The film opens on Saturday October 23rd in Northern California. I know this because of the handy subtitles that appear to tell you that.
This is exactly how I remember Northern California.
While we’re trying to decipher the vagueness of “Northern California” (Northern California is pretty big, where exactly is this? Sacramento? Davis? Napa Valley?), a terrified man runs into frame, a car giving awkwardly slow chase behind him. He ducks into a junk yard and, after knocking on all of the locked doors, attempts to hide. The car drives by the junk yard in slow motion and the man comes out, thinking he’s safe. But wait! The car backs up (also very slowly, are his pursuers trying to save gas here? or is he being hunted by a senior citizen?) and he’s forced back into hiding. He tries to make his way around the corner, but is stopped by an abnormally strong man in a business suit. The suited man knocks him to the ground and tries to strangle him, but luckily he’s able to grab a nearby chain.
“Oh, he’ll use the chain as a weapon!” you might exclaim while watching this scene. The chain is attached to a cinder block that is holding a very large car in place. The cinder block moves, the car rolls forward and crushes the Kryptonian businessman. Our hero squirms out from under the car and gets away safely. The slow moving car pulls up and another strongman in a suit exits and gives chase on foot.
An hour later, we find a gas station attendant watching a news item about the mysterious theft of a piece of Stonehenge (Foreshadowing!), which is followed by a creepy-ass commercial for Halloween masks produced by a company called Silver Shamrock Novelties (More foreshadowing!). Before he can enjoy the ending of said creepy-ass commercial, the nearly-strangulated man from the previous scene leaps into the room and shouts “They’re coming! They’re coming!” before falling to the ground, clutching one of the Halloween masks from the commercial (Even more foreshadowing!). The attendant decides that perhaps this lost soul needs some medical/psychological help and drives him to the hospital in his tow truck.
Meanwhile, a divorced man (Played by horror genre character actor Tom Atkins) brings his children the gift of Halloween masks, only to find that their mother has already bought them Halloween masks from Silver Shamrock Novelties (Wow, there’s a lot of foreshadowing going on in this movie). The kids put on their masks and turn on the TV just in time for the Silver Shamrock commercial to air. Before he and their mother can get into a fight over Halloween masks, his pager goes off. It turns out that he’s a doctor and he’s needed at the hospital right away (Something about a crazy guy clutching a Halloween mask?).
Doctor Tom Atkins arrives at the hospital to find crazy mask guy sleeping quietly on a gurney while the gas station attendant/tow truck ambulance driver explains that he just came out of the rain, ranting and raving. It’s while Dr. Atkins (Yes, I know that’s not his character’s name. no, I don’t care) is thanking the attendant for being a good samaritan, that the same damn Silver Shamrock commercial comes on a nearby television. Mask guy’s eyes shoot open, he grabs Dr. Atkins by the arm and starts chanting “They’re going to kill us! All of us!” until Dr. Atkins gives him some happy time medicine and sends him off to dream land. The gas station attendant, maybe having seen too many horror movies in which someone says “They’re going to kill all of us”, gets the hell out of there.
Crazy mask guy is sleeping comfortably, Halloween mask still held tightly in his hands, when Dr. Atkins and his nurse decide to leave him be. A little light hearted sexual harassment while they’re walking down the hall prevents either of them from noticing the man in the business suit walking into his room and killing him by shoving his hand into the man’s face. The nurse walks in, too late to stop him, and asks “What are you doing here?” before seeing the guy with the smashed face laying in the hospital bed. She screams at the top of her lungs, while the man in the business suit walks by her and out of the hospital, like he’s late for a dinner reservation at Chili’s.
Dr. Atkins follows the man outside, where he gets into his car. “Hey!” shouts Dr. Atkins, but it’s too late. The man in the business suit pours gasoline over his face and body and lights himself on fire because fuck dinner reservations at Chili’s. This causes the car to explode and leaves poor Dr. Atkins to stare at the wreckage with a baffled look on his face.
The same look on my face while I watched this scene.
If you have read this far and have uttered “What the fuck?” no less than three times, then you are no different than most after watching this film for the first time. However, if the above description of the first sixteen minutes of Halloween III: Season of the Witch seemed perfectly normal to you, then please stay the hell away from me and my family. The rest of the film is one long “what the fuck?”, as it includes murderous androids, a plot to kill a shit-ton of children on Halloween, even some good old fashioned Celtic witchcraft. You know, just like the first two Halloween movies.
This movie is not without merit, as it does feature a few unsung heroes from the world of cheesy horror movies. Tom Atkins alone might be worth checking it out, if you’re a huge fan of Maniac Cop (and who isn’t?).
Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe if this film had been released as simply Season of the Witch, then maybe we would look back on it as a decent 1980s horror movie instead of a terrible entry to a beloved horror film franchise, during which every single person watching it found themselves asking “Where the hell is Michael Myers? What does this have to do with Laurie Strode? Am I high right now?”
But I’m probably not wrong, you guys.