R for gross kid death. I take it back. There's one entry in the franchise that gets even weirder for its MPAA choices. This is about kid genocide and gross kid genocide to boot. There's nudity and a question about whether or not a relationship could be considered statutory rape. There's human gore and robot gore. Honestly, there's a lot going on here and it all deserves to be R-rated.
DIRECTOR: Tommy Lee Wallace
Oh man, is it possible to like a movie for five seconds worth of footage? Halloween III: Season of the Witch is hard to love. I know that there are die hard Season of the Witch fans, but man alive, there's some absolute stupidity going on. But then something happened and the absolute last shot of the movie was great. Like, it's honestly pretty amazing, especially considering how mediocre the rest of the film is. Can I say I liked a movie because it completely stuck the landing in my book?
There are movies where the end is better than the film as a whole. But usually, it is the final act that really sells the end. Maybe it's a solid resolution to a film that kind of makes you look at the whole thing in a new light. This is not that. This is literally a fantastic five second shot that completely wraps up the movie. LET'S JUST MAKE THIS SPOILER HEAVY: The movie does a silly misdirect and doesn't allow itself to rest on its laurels. It's pretty fantastic. The entire movie is about trying to shut down a television commercial before it kills the kids of America. A novelty company is trying to appease the old gods by selling masks that will kill kids if they watch a television commercial that is being broadcast nationwide at the same time. If they watch that commercial with their masks on, their heads will melt into snakes and bugs. It's really gross. It happens to a kid three-quarters of the way through the movie. Now, this seems like it is a lost cause. This doctor from po-dunk nowhere tries to stop the major networks from not showing this commercial once he escapes these Irish druids. If you could watch me watch this part, you would have seen my eyes roll back into my head. This guy couldn't convince his ex-wife not to show his kids this commercial, let alone convince the networks to remove this commercial because "they have to believe him." But this guy on the other end of the phone believes him. The commercials are interrupted just at the right moment with a "technical difficulties" problem. And I nearly lost it for copping out of the movie. Except that it only did that error message on two of the three networks. The kids kept changing the channel to the third channel that still broadcast the ad. How great is that? I'm not doing it justice. Season of the Witch fans, you know what I'm talking about. That ending is way better than this movie deserves. It teased us with a happy ending and then just pulled the rug out from us without warning. I'm used to the horror movie having the secretly evil ending. The guy gets up and it implies that he's going to kill everyone again. I'm used to that. But immediately after you think the protagonist has won? Good for you, Mr. Wallace. I'm sure you wrote this story with simply the ending and then worked backwards because that ending is fantastic. Also, extra points for making the victims kids. It took the taboo and made it the standard. (I'm not pro-killing kids. I just like the idea that a horror narrative doesn't create a safe space.)
But the movie is really dumb. Like, it's really bad. I'm not treading on new ground here. I'm going to get all list-y, so I apologize for the writing style that I'm normally trying to avoid. The plot is dumb and I'll get to that in a second, but the protagonist is the worst. I don't know what this movie was shooting for in terms of crafting the main character. Dr. Daniel Challis is an alcoholic womanizer, but we're supposed to be supporting that? It kind of felt like I was hanging out with members of my extended family who drink way too much and expecting me to support them with their drinking problems. There are jokes about how fun drinking is. Narratively, it explains why Challis isn't home with his kids and why his ex-wife doesn't believe him. Okay, but Wallace makes Challis's ex-wife look like the bad guy in every scene she is in. While most movies celebrate booze while secretly condemning it, this movie gives the message of "Yay, Booze" (or as in Jamaica, they say, "Hooray, Beer!") while making it inadvertently look really gross. But to make matters worse, Challis cheats on everyone constantly. I think every female character under the age of fifty sleeps with Challis. A) I'm sorry, Tom Atkins, but that doesn't scan. B) Are you trying to make Challis look like a bad guy. In my head, this is the James Bond mentality. The old guard used to think that, the more women that James Bond sleeps with, the cooler he comes across. But even that doesn't play in the classic Bond movies. Bond would seduce the female protagonist (I feel gross writing this) because he would develop a relationship with her. He may sleep with a villain after that, but usually to glean information or escape from some death trap. It's gross in both, but it's just completely botched in Season of the Witch. He keeps secrets of whom he is sleeping with from the other characters. I spent a long time trying to find out the name of the character who is doing his research. For some reason, I'm just not seeing her on IMDB, but he slaps her butt and kisses her. Then he sleeps with the daughter of the guy who just died. After they sleep together, he asks if she is old enough that it wouldn't be considered statutory rape. That's gross. The guy is clearly old enough to be her father. I'm surprised that isn't their cover story because that makes a lot more sense. Season of the Witch is kind of the pervy version of what someone takes away from a Bond movie. It's how James Bond would look like in real life, only the director isn't aware that is the joke. It's very weird. We're supposed to follow this guy into the destruction of this evil cult? No thank you.
The story is absolutely goofy. Honestly, it feels like something that came out of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark? That show was awesome, so I don't want to besmirch it while I talk about this, but the story is about Halloween masks that kill. Season of the Witch is the weirdest experiment I can think of. You know how some people say that some people say that a concept sounds dumb, but will be cooler in execution. Season of the Witch actually lives up to that plug, but that's not the best thing in the world. The movie is entrenched in 1982. It looks very 1982 and for some things, that's awesome. The gore effects and stuff like that look pretty rad. But this is also the era with the horrible lighting special effects. So the movie looks cool considering how dumb the actual plot is. It is the best version of a bad idea. Like, it checks off all of the boxes for just dumb ideas. I can never bring myself to read Christine because it just sounds silly. Killer Halloween masks are in the same camp. Then you add Stonehenge. Yup, Stonehenge makes a cameo. There's a weird Irish thing that is supposed to make sense, but attaching a shamrock to Halloween makes this seem like an evil St. Patrick's Day story. Also, this is so superficially covering what is actually believed that it almost comes across as insulting. When I wrote about They Live, I complained that Carpenter painted with wide strokes. Pretty much every character in here is an archetype. They all seem to be walking around without a wardrobe department to make them interesting an unique. The bad guy is the fake corporate dad type. Outside of the protagonist, who is also an archetype, but just extremely poorly executed, there isn't an original character in this movie. Why didn't a lot of this get stopped way beforehand? Now I'm going to seem petty, but there are just a billion plotholes that are just the worst. They do know that time zones exist, right? Is that why there is a horror movie marathon going on? They want to murder all these kids, but are kids really staying up to watch John Carpenter's Halloween? On top of that, the idea that every kid is buying the same three masks at Halloween? I guess Tickle-Me-Elmo existed for a while, but there's some part of your brain that you have to shut off to make this work.
But again, there are cool moments. I mean, a lady gets a hole shot through her face and bugs came out of it. A guy got his face broken open through the nose when a robot killed him. It's a weirdly gross movie for such a dumb concept. But you know what really rescues this movie besides the baller ending? It's only an hour-and-a-half. I can do horror that is an hour-and-a-half long. Yeah, it's phenomenally dumb, but I can also say that I didn't regret watching this for a second. I can't go as far as to say it was fun, but I do want to make Silver Shamrock jokes forever. But I can't stress this enough: You don't have to watch this movie. It has almost nothing to do with the Michael Myers entries of the Halloween movies (except for a Jamie Lee Curtis voiceover and television commercials for the other films). I think if you want decent '80s schlock, Season of the Witch can provide that. Otherwise, avo--WAITAMINUTE!
Why is it even called Season of the Witch? They got me!
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.