Tag Archives: horror

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch Is The Imperfectly Perfect Halloween Film

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-intensive 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?

Books To Read For Halloween Part II Stephen King Edition

Welcome back, my Nasties! It’s time to dim the lights, cozy up with the corpse of your dreams, and spice the cider as we discuss more terrifying tales to titillate your tinglers this Halloween!

In my previous post, there was a definite lack of Stephen King’s wide variety of grizzly works. Nearly every book he’s written has gone on to become a certain masterpiece in the field of horror and his career has given nightmares to generations since his first published work.

Dedicating time to discuss each of his books would be a miniseries of reviews in of itself, and, admittedly, almost all of his books in their own way can be enjoyed for Halloween, I’ve selected those paranormal powerhouses that I tend to re-read this time of year.

‘Salem’s Lot


This was the book that introduced me to King’s work and I’ve been hooked ever since. Upon a first read – back in my teens – I would have told you the book is primarily about vampires, and, to be fair, it is teeming with legions of undead fiends of the night. The vampires here are ruthless, uncaring, and bestial with blood-lust. King envelops the reader with a phantasmagorical atmosphere much like how the quiet town of ‘Salem’s Lot is slowly engulfed by creeping vampires. It sets a malignant mood for eerie spooks and chills that’s required for Halloween.

Upon re-reading the book last year though I was struck by a new revelation. Something I somehow missed in my youth. This is an exceptional haunted house story. It all has to do with that old corpse of a house looming gravely atop the hill.

Yes, there are the vampires, but the center of the story, the rotted and tacky black core all has to do with that old accursed house where bad things happen and worse things are drawn towards. It’s the demonic heart of the story. In one book King does something very difficult and he does it very, very well. He reinvents gothic horror by utilizing universally established vampire lore set within the shadows of the old haunted (dark) house legend. Bravo, sir. This is a must-read for horror fans.

IT


The book opens upon a dark and rainy day when innocents is taken by the reawakening of an eldritch evil lingering deep in the roots of Derry, Maine. Given the movie’s (both of them now) global success everyone knows who Pennywise the Dancing Clown is. IT’s become a household name now. I picked this one not just because it’s my favorite Stephen King book but because if you like monsters for your Halloween – especially the classic ones – you’ll not want to miss out on reading this book!

Stephen King wrote IT because he wanted a book where he could include all those wonderful Universal guys like Mummy, Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s monster. Plus Rodan just for the Hell of it. Pennywise was his chance to use these monsters he grew up loving. Pennywise takes on the face and image of what people fear, and if children fear monsters they’ve seen in movies that’s precisely what he, IT, will become. This is a macabre terror train monster extravaganza and boasts some truly chilling moments.

You grow to love the main cast of characters and come to fear for their safety. Something that marks the work of a great writer. And King was in his element with this book. The story also allows us to step back in time for a glimpse back to the happier days of childhood. Along the way are monsters, Lovecraftian sized terror, and a Killer Clown. No wonder this is my favorite one!

Needful Things


Often overlooked by its big brothers, this book is an underrated horror gem for fans! For one thing it just screams Autumn to me. Fallen leaves, crisp air, long nights and a haunting presence lurking in unnatural shadows.

As is his favored way of approaching stories, a sleepy little town in Maine finds itself in the center of a hellacious onslaught once a humble emporium opens up. Needful Things, it reads in the window and inside the kindly Mr. Gaunt awaits you with a warm smile and cheerful eyes.

His shop also just happens to have exactly what you’ve wanted your whole life. Can you believe your luck? Your holy grail here in your hometown! The coveted treasure of your heart’s desire. And Gaunt offers you one Hell of a deal. You just have to do him a little favor and it’s all yours. You just have to pull a little prank for him. A trick for your treat.

What starts out as seemingly innocent pranks pulled on local neighbors quickly escalate to harsh offenses. Those deeply buried little irritations that have piled up over the years are like dried corn husks in the mind. Gaunt simply hands every customer a match. He doesn’t make them set the flame. But he does encourage it.

Once again proving how dangerous everyday people are Needful Things establishes the worst kind of monsters are those who wear human faces. And if you want a bit of Devil for Halloween you won’t want to miss out on this one.

Night Shift

Sometimes devoting so much time to a larger book like IT can feel a bit overwhelming. So there’s Night Shift for those of us who want to read a microwave version of King’s horrific imagination. Night Shift is a collection of King’s earlier short stories and includes classics like Children of the Corn, Sometimes They Come Back, and Graveyard Shift among the gruesome tales.

Pet Sematary

Another of his books that just screams Halloween to me. What’s considered to be his very best work by many fans, Pet Sematary is a ghoulish tale of loss, of the sanctity of the grave, and those who would defy the natural course of life. At least on the surface, and that already is a great stuff! But Stephen King always has something wicked underneath it all. And in this case it’s the Wendigo.

Rising out of the dark of night is the demon of starvation, of famine, and of unrelenting desire. The Natives of the land knew of it, became wise to its evil presence once it settled down in those parts, and wisely feared the thing of evil. The ground – the one far beyond the solemn little child-built cemetery – went sour ages ago by the substance of that thing’s evil and the very woods themselves try to keep curious men from ever discovering the accursed grounds dedicated to the Wendigo. It’s a place where things refuse to stay buried.

Who doesn’t love seeing the dead rising from their restless graves? It fits in with Halloween tradition! And this book has plenty of it, but, the book’s primary concern is the evil spirit, Wendigo, who has soured the land and – much like how Pennywise works Derry – pulls the strings to feed its vile needs.

If you’ve only watched the movies you’ve missed half the story. I was hoping with the remake they might feature the Wendigo in a more prominent role but the filmmakers wussed out and left the monster out of the movie. That’s real smart ain’t it? Make a monster movie without the monster. Yes, those buried in the old forsaken Micmac Burial Ground are cursed with unwholesome existence and rise with the stink of the unholy earth on them. But what both films missed is what the power behind the Micmac Burial Ground is.

In the remake we see those creepy kids acting out the ritual to bury their dead pets while they play drums and wear creepy masks. Like some pagan tradition. A tradition revolving around some ancient spirit…like, oh fuck I don’t know, the Wendigo? The movie teased at the presence of the Wendigo and mention it but that’s where it stopped. The evil spirit is active in the book and gives the story a more sinister vibe. Like you know the poor Creed family was doomed the moment they moved into that new house. The Wendigo already stretched out its hand to claim them.

Knowing that the reader can only sit back and read about the doom that befell them.

Stephen King’s “Silver Bullet”- The Criminally Underrated Halloween Movie

Last year’s full moon came on Halloween; and a happy coincidence left me fully convinced in the All Hallows Blue Moonlight on a notion that I had always known deep down. That Stephen King’s Silver Bullet was truly a criminally underrated Halloween film.

Heh. I hope you read that in your best Jane voice.

Now, it’s obvious that the film itself models a timeline of sorts from the 1983 novella; which acts like a calendar of chapters rummaging through each month of this chaotic year where a werewolf is violently tormenting the residents of Tarkers’ Mills. The movie starts off in late Spring and the majority of the film is actually set in the Summer with a few big scenes leading up to and taking place on Independence Day. In which case, makes my argument here a tad trying but I’m here to fight and will die on the hill that’s forever a Halloween movie.

Midway through the movie, Fall sets in with the climatic final confrontation and ending landing on Halloween itself and although as stated, most of the film is staged at different points of time throughout the year, the last half of the movie really sells that Autumn ambience flowing into the Halloween Full Moon final chapter. The changing of the leaves, that you can hear crunching in between scenes. The sinister aura surrounding the town is much heavier now giving off that Halloween lurking around the corner feeling- you all know exactly what I’m talking about. You can practically SMELL the Fall atmosphere. Especially when we get to the last ten minutes or so of the movie where Jack-O-Lanterns and die cut paper skeletons are seen outside the Coslaw residence.

So to me, it feels more like a Halloween flick than anything else. And I’m kind of pissed AMC Fearfest opts to show Stephen King’s Carrie 20 times a month in October and Silver Bullet a mere ONE TIME. Sure, I get films like Carrie are more universally popular. However, the fact that Silver Bullet consistently gets the shaft both in the cinematic horrorthons and in the horror community, kind of bums me out. It’s underappreciated, underrated, and the best werewolf movie out of the slew of Lycanthrope films that came out in the early 80s’,

YEAH I SAID IT. Corey Haim in a gas powered motorcycle of a wheelchair and Gary Busey wrasslin’ reverend werewolves? Sorry but there’s no competition happening here.

Stephen King’s first hand-written screenplay from his own novella adaption deserves a little more respect this Halloween. Give it a viewing closer to the holiday and you’ll get the same Halloween ambient fuzzies as I do every time I watch it.

Pick it up here from Amazon if you don’t own this cinematic masterpiece yet!