Halloween III: Season of the Witch – USA, 1982 – overview and reviews

Halloween III Season of the Witch Quad

‘The night no one comes home’

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 American science fiction horror feature film and the third instalment in the Halloween franchise. It is the only Halloween that does not revolve around Michael Myers, Laurie Strode, Samuel Loomis, or any elements from Halloween (1978) or Halloween II (1981).

Written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, the film stars Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin and Dan O’Herlihy (Good Against EvilThe Cabinet of Caligari).

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Halloween III departs from the slasher film genre which the original two instalments spawned, instead featuring a “witchcraft” theme. Originally after Halloween II, John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted to turn the brand into an anthology series with a new Halloween season-themed sequel each year.

According to the director, Tommy Lee Wallace, “there are enough stories in All Hallows Eve that you could go on for years and years and years doing fresh ideas and stories about this phenomenon and this was supposed to be the first in a long series”.

However, after the film’s disappointing critical reception and box-office grosses ($14.4 million in the US), the antagonist character Michael Myers was brought back seven years later in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, although the reputation of the third instalment – with its distinctive storyline and memorable theme – has grown over the years.

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Producers recruited British science fiction writer Nigel Kneale to write the original screenplay mostly because Carpenter admired his Quatermass series. Kneale said his script did not include “horror for horror’s sake.” He added: “The main story had to do with deception, psychological shocks rather than physical ones.”

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Kneale asserted that movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis (Cat’s Eye; FirestarterKing Kong), owner of the film’s distribution rights, did not care for his script treatment and ordered more graphic violence and gore. While much of the plot remained the same, the alterations displeased Kneale, and he requested that his name be removed from the credits. Director Tommy Lee Wallace was then assigned to revise the script.

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  • Two audio commentaries, the first with director Tommy Lee Wallace, who’s joined by Rob G. from “Icons of Fright”, and a second track with Tom Atkins and special features producer Michael Felsher.
  • “Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (33 min) with comments from Wallace, Atkins, Nelkin, Dick Warlock, DP Dean Cundey, Costume Designer Jane Ruhm, and producer Irwin Yablans.
  • “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Revisiting the Original Shooting Locales” (20 min.).
  • Theatrical trailer, three TV spots and a stills gallery

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …a deliberately OTT, horrid sitcom family are briskly decimated, the camera lingering with relish on the brat’s cranium as it is pulped by a mess of worms, snakes and insects. It’s the highlight of a movie that, once regarded as a misfire, now increasingly looks like one of the best American horror films of the 1980’s.” Horrorscreams Videovault

“It is the failed experiment, but remains one of the most interesting chapters in the franchise for not following that easy road that so many took after the original success.” DVD Verdict

“The movie never telegraphs where it’s going, nor does it stop dead in its tracks to carefully explain everything to the audience.  It’s a strange, spooky, wildly unpredictable, and borderline-insane story about witchcraft in an age of technology.” DVD Talk

” … it offers up a terrific plot (the combination of ancient evil Celtic magic with technology is brilliant), great acting, excellent music, and some outstanding gore courtesy of f/x expert Tom Burman.” Lee Marohn, Hidden Horror

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“Unfortunately, the script by director Tommy Lee Wallace works itself into a corner and can’t find it’s way out … The effects are bloody and imaginative.” Mike Mayo, The Horror Show Guide

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One Comment on “Halloween III: Season of the Witch – USA, 1982 – overview and reviews”

  1. Well, let me get the flaws out the way One of those films/TV shows where it was presumably going to be Midnight in every American time zone. Was the hero calling (at the time) the big 3 networks, or just the local affiliates? How did he know what buttons to push on the computers to make them go wonky? And what a miraculous toss of that mask onto the camera. But in the end, I don’t care. It’s got a great premise, lots of atmosphere, and one hell of a performance from Dan O’Herlihy. Certainly one of my all time favorite movie villains. Not perfect but totally worthwhile in the end.

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