Halloween III: The Season of the Witch

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch

 

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 horror film and the third installment in the Halloween series. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin and Dan O’Herlihy. The film is based on an original screenplay by Nigel Kneale and focuses on an evil scheme by the owner of a mask company to kill the children of America on Halloween night through a series of popular Halloween masks – a witch, a jack-o’-lantern, and a skull.

Season of the Witch is unrelated to the previous films featuring the character Michael Myers, and was intended to begin Halloween as an anthology series, releasing a new Halloween storyline every year. The only connection this movie has with the others in the series is a scene where the trailer for Halloween is on TV. Besides wholly abandoning the Michael Myers plotline, Halloween III departs from the slasher film genre which the original Halloween spawned in 1978. The focus on a psychopathic killer is replaced by a “mad scientist and witchcraft” theme. Moreover, the frequency of graphic violence and gore is less than that of Halloween II (1981), although scenes that depict the deaths of characters remain intense.

Produced on a budget of $2.5 million, Halloween III grossed $14.4 million at the box office in the United States, making it the poorest performing film in the Halloween series at the time. In addition to relatively weak box office returns, most critics gave the film negative reviews. Where Halloween had broken new ground and was imitated by many genre films following in its wake, this third installment seemed hackneyed to many: one critic twenty years later suggests that if Halloween III was not part of the Halloween series, then it would simply be “a fairly nondescript eighties horror flick, no worse and no better than many others.”

Trivia:

  • The original writer of the story was Nigel Kneale but he sued the producers to take his name off the movie after seeing how violent it was.
  • A milk factory was used for the setting of the Silver Shamrock factory.
  • After Michael Myers died at the end of Halloween II (1981), the plan by John Carpenter was to make a new “Halloween” movie each year, each telling a different Halloween-related story. After this movie underperformed at the box office, the film-makers decided to bring Michael back to life for future sequels.
  • The tagline “The night nobody comes home” is a play on the original Halloween movie’s tagline, “The night HE came home.”
  • Michael Myers does appear briefly in this film, on a television advertising the original Halloween (1978). It comes near the beginning when Dan Challis is drinking in a bar.
  • When Challis fills in the register at the motel office, he scans the list of names for evidence of Ellie’s father’s stay. All of the other names on the list are the names of the crew.
  • The small town of Santa Mira was also the setting for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
  • The voice of the operator that Challis keeps getting when he tries to call out of Santa Mira is Jamie Lee Curtis.
  • The book that Marge Guttman is reading before her death in the motel room is “The Eagle’s Gift” by Carlos Castaneda.
  • The music playing on the radio when Marge Guttman notices the tag on the floor was also played in John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980).
  • Supposedly, part of the genesis of this film came from a comment made by film critic Rex Reed. Reed panned Halloween II (1981), saying it was so bad that, “If they make a Halloween III, I’ll turn in my press card.”
  • The voice of the announcer in the Silver Shamrock commercials and radio spots is that of the film’s writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace.
  • “Season of the Witch” was the original working title of Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973). “Season Of The Witch” is also the name of a song by Donovan and an alternative name for the George A. Romero film Hungry Wives (1972). Also the name of an upcoming Nicolas Cage movie: Season of the Witch (2010).
  • A novelization of the film was published in 1982 by science-fiction writer Dennis Etchison under the pseudonym Jack Martin. Despite the film’s commercial failure, the book became a best-seller and was even reissued two years after the film’s release, in 1984.
  • Using the original molds, the skull, witch, and jack-o’-lantern masks seen in the film were mass-produced by Don Post Studios and sold in retail stores to promote the film’s release.
  • ‘John Carpenter’ revealed in an interview with Gilles Boulenger (for the book John Carpenter: The Prince of Darkness) that the original director for Halloween III: Season of the Witch was ‘Joe Dante’.
  • Dick Warlock, the stunt man who played Michael Myers in Halloween II (1981), is credited under ‘assassin’ in the credits.
  • The film’s original director, ‘Joe Dante’, approached Nigel Kneale to write the film while Kneale was temporarily living in Hollywood writing the remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) for director John Landis that was never made due to budget cost. Dante wanted a new and different story than the two previous films in the series, so he suggested Kneale write a treatment around the word Halloween. The producers liked the idea, and after Joe Dante moved on to another project, producer John Carpenter’s regular collaborator, Tommy Lee Wallace, came in as the new director. Kneale initially blamed the drastic changes to his script on executive producer ‘Dino De Laurentiis’ not understanding his dialogue when it was translated to Italian. Kneale requested his writing screen credit be removed once his comical mystery screenplay was rewritten by an uncredited Carpenter, and then later Wallace (who received sole screen credit as writer), to include more gore and simplify the story.
  • Garn Stephens refused to wear the prosthetic mask during the misfire scene. So a body double was used to complete the scene.

GoreMaster.com

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