I love Halloween, and I love Halloween. But I have a confession to make. Despite being a bona fide horror fan, I have not seen all of the Halloween films. I had seen most of them, but not all, and especially not Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, because that one doesn’t even have Michael Myers, so, I mean, come on! And from what I had heard growing up, it was just a lame movie about some deadly masks. How silly, right?
Wrong! Throughout my perusing of the Internet over the last few years, I have come across a clip from Halloween 3. You probably know it, but here it is again. [youtube id=”ssS4T_OcltU” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
The mask basically dissolved that kid’s head, and all kinds of creepy crawlies spewed out from underneath. THAT’S FUCKED UP! I kept wondering how a movie with such a horrifying scene could be considered a blemish on the Halloween franchise, and the horror genre itself. So I decided to finally watch it. I was not disappointed. Halloween III is not about Michael Myers. Once you acknowledge this, and the expectation shifts away from watching people flee from a Shatner-masked slasher, you will have a fine horror experience. This time, the story revolves around a mysterious company called Silver Shamrock, whose national TV commercials advertising their masks and the upcoming Halloween holiday are inescapable. A man named Harry Grimbridge is admitted to the hospital grasping a mask and warning that “they” are going to kill everyone; he is promptly killed by an emotionless goon in a dapper suit. Our hero, Dr. Challis, chases the man into the parking lot, where the goon kills himself in spectacular fashion. All kinds of mysteries shroud these events. Why was Harry so frightened? Who was after him? Why did his murderer kill himself? When Challis meets Harry’s daughter, Ellie, they discover that Harry had visited the Silver Shamrock factory in Santa Mira just days before. The two set out to the small town in search of answers. When they arrive, it is clear that this is no ordinary small town. A surveillance camera follows their car as they drive in, and the local motel manager has only high praise for Mr. Cochran, the owner of Silver Shamrock—as if, were he to say anything unsatisfactory about Mr. Cochran, his life would be in danger. Later, we watch as the town shutters itself at six o’clock for curfew. This place just isn’t right.
As Ellie and Challis continue to dig deeper into the secrets of Silver Shamrock and its ubiquitous jingle (set to the tune of “London Bridge is Falling Down”), the film builds an ominous sense of dread. Something awful is on tap for Halloween night, and we are constantly reminded of the approaching doom by the countdown presented by the advertisements as the days wear on (“Eight more days ‘til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! Eight more days ‘til Halloween, Silver Shamrock!”). [youtube id=”WJa8WtoSWVE” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”no”]
So what of the villain, now that we don’t have Michael Myers? Instead of one knife-wielding boogeyman, the villain is an omnipotent company run by a man with a taste for old-school Samhain sacrificing, which is just as terrifying. Michael Myers may be more timeless, but don’t discount Silver Shamrock; with its dastardly uses of surveillance and mass communication, the movie may have been ahead of its time with this villain. After watching this for the first time, I can only imagine that it received so much hate simply because it didn’t feature Michael Myers. That may have been understandable when it was released in 1982, but now we have gotten plenty more Halloween films with Michael Myers, so in a way we can have our cake and eat it too. The bottom line is, when viewed as a stand-alone horror film, Halloween III delivers. Give it a(nother) chance.
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