Halloween 3: Season of the Witch

Directors - Tommy Lee Wallace

Cast - Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy

Country of Origin - USA

Discs - 1

MSRP - 29.83

Distributor - Shout Factory

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

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The  Film (4/5)
 

   In the early 90's as my friends and I were slowly becoming the devoted horror film fans we are today, we would fill the gaps in our horror knowledge by holding all night horror video tape marathons supplied by our local Video Library. The Video Library closest to our neighborhood had a horror, cult, and sci-fi sections that could be described as epic, and they offered 5 movies for 6 bucks, we could not resist.

   Most of us had seen the first Halloween, a few of us had seen a sequel or two, but prior to the release of Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers we decided to do a marathon run of the first 5 Halloween films to fully fill in our knowledge of the Michael Myers mythos.  The first one was, and will always be the series best. We enjoyed the second, simply because it was a direct continuation of the story we just finished, and I don't believe any of us had ever seen a movie told in that manner before.  We all had just come off a slasher movie high with Halloween 2, and we quickly  through in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.  The movie starts, and a random guy is running away from someone, is it Michael Myers?

     No, it's a couple of guys in suits.

     We continue watching, eventually we come to a scene with Dr. Challis in a bar, and on the TV is John Carpenter's Halloween, and there is Michael Myers.  The only Michael Myers we would see for the rest of the movie.  At that moment we realized that this was not to be a Michael Myers movie, and that we were duped by the Halloween name in the title.  We finished the movie in absolute close-minded disappointment, shocked by what wasn't there, and refusing to accept what we were given instead.

     Still we couldn't get that Silver Shamrock theme out of our head for well, ever.

     And while we were happier at the time with entries number 4 and 5 in the Halloween series which picked back up with Michael Myers, Doctor Loomis, and the story set forth in the first 2 entries, it would be Halloween 3: Season of the Witch I would find myself coming back to year after year from that point on. While the first Halloween is the undisputed classic of the series, and 2 is a decent follow up, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is a very good conspiracy thriller that under any other title may have been recognized much earlier on as the classic it actually is.

     Halloween 3: Season of the Witch features Tom Atkins as Dr. Dan Challis, one night while working an unexpected night shift a raving man named, Harry Grimbridge, is brought into his E.R. clutching a Silver Shamrock Halloween mask. A few hours later one of the aforementioned men in suits, comes in and kills the man,  leaves the hosptial, and sets himself, and his car on fire. The next day Grimbridge's daughter Ellie comes to the hospital to identify her Father's body, and ends up joining the Dr. Challis on a trip to the town of Santa Mira, the location of the Silver Shamrock company where Harry Grimbridge was last known to be seen.  The two of them begin to unlock a conspiracy spearheaded by Silver Shamock company President Conal Cochran that can endanger the world unless they can stop it by Halloween night.

   Halloween 3: Season of the Witch's script is attributed in the opening credits to director Tommy Lee Wallace.  In actually the script is based off a concept by John Carpenter and Debra Hill, and written by Quatermass's Nigel Kneale with rewrites by both John Carpenter and Tommy Lee Wallace. The reason I go out of my way to point this out, is because how much of this feels like it could be a Nigel Kneale scripted thriller. Now, my 12 year old self which wouldn't know Quatermass from Doctor Who (it would be a year before the latter, about 3 before the former), wouldn't care, but for my 30 year old self, that connection made the film  a slight bit more enjoyable than usual. 

   Of course, Halloween 3 is one of the those films that has numerous plot holes, that my adult brain has to choose to ignore to enjoy.  I understand that advertising means a lot to sales, but even with all the advertising heft, not every child would want one of the 3 Silver Shamrock mask being sold that year. Also, and this is a major SPOILER so skip down if you haven't seen, but how does a Doctor with no connection to the television industry suddenly have a magic phone number to get 3 major networks to shut down their advertising just by his word on mouth?

   That being said, I tend to ignore these, and other minor nit picky script faults, because the atmosphere of the film is just too good.  I have probably watched Halloween 3, every other Autumn for the last 18 years, and it just seems to improve with each subsequent viewing.  The performances from the always reliable Tom Atkins down to Dan O'Herlihy as Conal Cochran are really fitting to the material. Tommy Lee Wallace a lifelong friend of producer John Carpenter really strikes a good balance between what's on the page, with the atmosphere and visuals needed to pull off the film.

   Halloween 3 is a great seasonal treat. It's a fantastic conspiracy thriller that could be a semi-classic in it's own right, but is restricted simply because of it's name.  Over the last 30 years the film has broken free in many horror circles of it's undeserved reputation, but for many this is still the redheaded stepchild of the Halloween series.  It, however, is a fantastic little thriller, and a great way to kick off Halloween season.

 

Audio/Video (4/5)

     I have watched Halloween 3 on VHS and DVD numerous times.  It has always just sort of been released without much in the way of fanfare, so when Scream Factory announced a Honest to Bob special edition of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch on Blu-ray, I was definitely surprised.  I was even more surprised when I saw the results of the work they did in restoring the film.  Scream Factory have presented Halloween 3 : Season of the Witch in an absolutely stunning 2:39:1 1080p AVC Encoded transfer.  The colors on this transfer pop from the screen, black levels are nice, inky, and deep. The grain structure in intact, but not intrusive, and it has a nice warm Autumnal  tone to the whole film.

   This transfer is nothing short of brilliant. I am in awe that Halloween 3 looks this good, bye bye Good Times DVD.

   Scream Factory have presented the audio in a similarly solid manner with a Dolby Digital DTS-HD mono track in English.  The audio on the track sounds great with dialogue coming across clean and crisp throughout the track. The music and effects are mixed well, and nothing appears to overpower anything else.  There are no traces of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.

 

Extras (3.5/5)

   Not only do we have the best looking Halloween 3 transfer EVER, but Scream Factory have been awesome enough to include a nice slew of extras on this release.  The disc kicks off with 2 commentary tracks one with actor Tom Atkins, and the other featuring director Tommy Lee Wallace.  We then have an excellent making of featurette called Stand Alone, that interviews many members of the cast and crew of the film about the experience making the film.  This is a total blast to watch, and of course, I couldn't believe I was actually watching a making of Halloween 3, so that may have contributed to my enjoyment a little. We then have Horror's Hallowed Ground revisiting the locations of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch.  The disc is rounded off by a stills gallery, trailers, and TV Spots.

 

Overall

   Halloween 3 : Season of the Witch, is in my opinion the greatest of all Halloween sequels. That being said, it has nothing at all to do with that lot of them, which got increasingly bad throughout the run (See Resurrection for the epitome of badness).  What we have here is a Nigel Kneale co-scripted conspiracy thriller set in a small town, it is suspenseful, atmospheric, and has some unique kills fore the gore buffs in the audience.  The restoration is nothing short of brilliant, the extras are elaborate and interesting. This release comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED>