If you would have told me ten years ago I’d be writing these following words, I would absolutely say you were out of your fucking mind. HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH is finally recognized by most fans as a worthy entry in the beloved horror franchise; and honestly I couldn’t be more pleased that SOB Colonel Cochran is part of the inclusive horror legends club.
Now, John Carpenter’s Halloween and it’s sequels, particularly 2 and 4, are of course amazing and essential Halloween viewing. However, Season of the Witch is an entirely different bag of dicks in the franchise as we all know and although the fans have been much kinder to the red-headed stepchild of the series in recent years, the hatred still exists for those unwilling to accept a non-Michael Myers Halloween movie.
To that, I just have this to say…
Which brings me to a very good point that we can only watch Myers gut up teenagers so many times before our brain sensors tell us enough; we want something else. Which is precisely what John Carpenter had in mind when studios were pushing for another Halloween film from the director after burning Michael alive in Halloween II. The Shape was dead and Carpenter grew tired of the story- hence Season of the Witch came to be with the idea of a Halloween horror anthology series focusing on different and terrifying urban legends and folklore surrounding the holiday. The main idea of the film would be “witchcraft meets the computer age.” They brought in Joe Dante ( Gremlins) to direct, and hired the remarkable Nigel Kneale (the Quatermass films) to pen the script, which focused on modern-day Druids practicing Halloween in the old-fashioned way. Oh and well, with a couple of androids thrown in. After all, the early to mid-eighties movies focused a LOT on technologic advances; peering into the future with slave robots and such.
Now get Pauley that beer SICO.
Dante dropped out of the project when Steven Spielberg and John Landis offered him a chance to participate in Twilight Zone: The Movie. Even though Halloween III was a box-office bomb, I’d much rather be associated with Season of the Witch than a movie that contributed to the death of three people. Anyways, in stepped in Tommy Lee Wallace to direct who also helped Carpenter coin that Silver Shamrock jingle that is forever imbedded into our brains as some sort of fucked up version of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”; which is exactly what the tune was modeled after.
Halloween III may be the most “halloweeniest” of all the movies in the franchise- yeah, I just made that word up for all intents and purposes. It takes every aspect of the beloved holiday and throws it all together in this film like a delightful bowl of Halloween candy varieties. When you think of Halloween, you think costumes, children, trick or treating- and this installment has it all and then some. Along with aheavy dose of old-world style witchcraft. For the longest time, society has paired witches and Halloween together in an unholy matrimony. It’s sort of problematic to practicing witches, as they are who they are all year round, and they are certainly not evil, but that’s an argument for another day. It’s never been a deal breaker for me so let’s move on.
While, other films in the franchise may have scenes involving Trick or Treating that set the nostalgic Halloween mood, Halloween III focuses on the premise of DEATH by trick or treating and their beloved masks. That’s pretty fucked up and to boot, the film had the balls to kill a kid very brutally in front of us. It was trailblazing at its finest.
As for atmospheric settings, one could never forget the montage near the end with that Silver Shamrock jingle going off in the background like some sort of death march for the children decked out in their Silver Shamrock masks rushing through a night of candy- collecting all in an effort to get home in time for “the big giveaway”. Beyond the opening credits and nighttime neighborhood scenes in Halloween 4, this movie gives off the some of the most Spidey-senses worthy moments of the holiday ever captured in these films. My favorite moment, and maybe the most iconic, is the group of children trekking across a dark landscape, silhouetted against a pumpkin-orange sky. Few images in the Halloween series better sum up the spirit of Halloween night as much as this one moment right here.
It’s a true aesthetic pleasure to say the very least.
Then, there’s Conal Cochran: the most underrated horror villain of Halloween… EVER.
I don’t use the word “underrated” lightly, however, I feel it’s quite appropriate here. Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy), the proprietor of Silver Shamrock Novelties and sworn allegiance to the dark arts of Witchcraft make him for a dangerous enemy to have indeed; especially if you’re a kid. Cochran, presumably has way more kills under his belt than not only his film predecessor Myers, but the holy trinity of slashers themselves – Freddy, Jason, and Michael. And think about this: The ending is open-ended and leaves us to speculate whether the final commercial ran its full course. If it did, then Cochran would have succeeded in committing mass genocide of children across the United States.
What a dick, eh? Cochran, who uses his success of his company to coordinate the largest Samhain sacrifice to appease the Celtic Gods on the glorious night of Halloween, is as evil and terrifying as they come. As if his ominous stare downs weren’t creepy enough, his monologue alone is chilling to the bone (the thrill and absolute madness in his voice sells it completely). Cochran is hardcore. But as tough as he was, he was no match for Tom Atkins: The Man, The Myth, The Mustache. If anyone can save the world from a Pagan madman, beer guzzling- womanizing Dr. Challis was gonna be that guy.
While the movie has gained moderate success over the past few years, maybe the key factor in acceptance of the bastard installment is our own maturity and longing for the nostalgia aspect of what Halloween once represented. As children, we hated it. As adults, we embraced it as the perfectly imperfect Halloween film it is. What a grand joke on the children, eh?