Cult Film Review: Halloween III Season of the Witch

“No more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween!  Silver Shamrock!”

Just in time for Halloween, we’re investigating the oddball sequel of the Halloween films.  The strange thing about this film is it has NOTHING to do with Michael Myers and his killings.  Long story short, Halloween was pitched as an anthology series, with this being a part of it.  After that idea was scrapped, this film faded into the abyss… even though the Return of Michael Myers was “Halloween 4.”

This film has long since gathered notoriety for its annoying Silver Shamrock tune, it’s strange decision to try an anthology style after a sequel that brought back Michael Myers (Halloween II), and just being downright insane! From the intro with one of the worst character deaths I’ve ever seen in cinema, you can tell this film is going to be something truly unique.  Whether that’s good or bad is up to you…  Although, you’re likely in the camp that finds it bad.  But hold on one second, it’s just the beginning! Hell, the beginning is a good metaphor for what a chaotic mess the rest of the movie is. So, why is the rest of this picture a frenzied pile of mush? Well, we’ll have to continue watching to find out, now won’t we?

So, some mechanic guy is nearly killed off by a weirdo in a suit as the weirdo gets crushed by two cars. Meanwhile, our protagonist (we’ll call him “Doctor pornstache”) in begins to observe some weird stuff going on. The mechanic gets assassinated in the middle of the night, leaving behind a disfigured body. Dr. Pornstache comes to see a hysterical (and useless) Nurse babble about a mystery man killing the mechanic. Upon being discovered, the mystery man commits suicide by exploding the car he’s in. Doc Stache isn’t convinced with the cops’ bullshit investigation, so he plays pseudo-sleuth himself. He ponders a conspiracy about the mechanic saying they’re they’re gonna “kill us all” before G-Man crushed his skull with supernatural force. The mechanic’s daughter teams up with Doc Stache to do some snooping between the events of a mysterious dinner and her dad’s brief run into trouble. Meanwhile, Doc Stache is a neglectful father and cheating bastard more concerned with spooooky conspiracy! The two of them find a weird old factory in bumfuck nowhere dedicated to novelty toys and halloween masks… and painting the Irish as EEEEEVIL. It’s not like that’s a horrible anachronism from the turn of the 20th century or anything. The local hotel is owned by a stereotypically cheerful but shady personality to complement a whole town of stock characters and unrealistic characters. After a sequence that’s more welcome in Escape from New York, a homeless wanderer warns Doctor Stache about how spooky and mysterious the factory owner Cochrane is. Of course, drunk dude gets killed off. One of the trope characters encounters the mechanic’s daughter and has one of the most awkward conversations in this movie! After that “big lipped alligator moment”, Doc Stache continues his hopeless search, mixed with some more of being a cheating asshole. Meanwhile, at the room of ‘awkward movie filler lady’, she discovers there’s something weird about the company token on her mask! Thanks to surreal magical bullshit, the token zaps her and turns her face into an awful prosthetic mold.

When Cochrane shows up to say the most idiotic lie I’ve heard, his cronies snatch the body and take off. So, our “heroes” go on a tour of the Silver Shamrock factory. And with such a niiiiice guy, how could he do any wrong? RIGHT? Let’s especially consider how goddamn whimsical this factory is. It’s more so a descent into novelty toy hell! Not to mention, they only make three masks… and always have. They haven’t considered making more designs for their lame products? Really? While Cochrane dstracts everyone else, Dr. Pornstache notices the creepy G-Man clones standing idly throughout the factory compound. When female companion tries to expose her dad’s car in a garage, the G-Men form a human shield… which is supposed to be creepy or something? Back at the place for some late night snooping, Doc Stache is caught by the G-Men and is chased through the factory grounds, as generic female companion is captured as a damsel-in-distress. This doesn’t stop our “hero” from diving deep into the factor’s rotten core, only to get jumped by more G-Men that are secretly filled with scotch pudding! Cochrane acts like a smug bad guy as more G-Men surround Pornstache and reviews part of his plans, James Bond villain monologue style! The next morning on Halloween, Cochrane and his minions bring Stache down to the basement after unveiling his pudding-bots are automatons. Cochrane unveils the source of his power to Stache Doctor, a cult of DARK MAGICK thanks to Stonehenge! And worse, witches with computers… SPOOKY! Suddenly the commercial changes and, “IT’S TIME!” as a strobe light seizure pumpkin flashes back and forth. We jump back to the annoying family from the tour. They’re apparently self aware that this film is fucking horrible as the kid’s eyes are glued to the strobe show! Instead of collapsing on the ground in an epileptic fit, the kid’s head explodes underneath his awful mask, because MAGIC! (“We don’t have to explain it!”) After the kid explodes into bugs and snakes, awful music plays as the family gets killed off for no reason at all. And then we get an anti ending where all the kids in the world wear these goddamn masks and probably die off, because why the fuck not? And the whole time, this piece of shit jingle won’t stop playing! IT NEVER STOPS!

Meanwhile, at Doc Stache’s actual office, a medical assistant is visited by one of the G-Men while dissonant music and annoying pinging play. The G-Man goes in for the kill, as the assistant discovers the assailant was actually A ROBOT! G-Man drills her brains out, because women in ’80s cinema were sadly rarely able to defend themselves. At the factory, Cochrane reveals his sinister plot! All along, it’s because he finds mindlessly murdering children to be FUCKING HILARIOUS! According to him, it’s also because in the “old Celtic lands” traditions were different. During the festival of Samhein, he says some children were sacrificed to preserve something or other… even though it’s total rubbish and not how things actually worked. On top of that, SCIENCE says the planets are alignment because SCIENCE! Suddenly, the music from the REAL Halloween plays, as we’re reminded that John Carpenter is capable of making movies that aren’t utter shit. Cochrane puts one of his horrible plastic masks on Dr. Pornstache as the clock counts down to the witching hour! Luckily, Doc somehow breaks free from his holding chamber and makes his way back to the secret chamber as the clock is ticking and the fun begins at 9 0’clock. As Doc Stache gets to the phone to call his wife, he’s granted by a bitchy house wife stereotype whining about how he’s an awful person (even though she’s right) and how he’s probably too drunk to speak like a normal person because THE MASKS ARE EVIL! To be honest, all of the women in this movie has been displayed to be too incompetent to do anything or be passive-aggressive whiners that exist for the plot… Come on, John! You’re better than this! (Even Halloween 4 is better than this!) They sneak past the main room in a really cartoonish way as everyone looks around the room like oblivious idiots. Pornstache tampers with the equipment while no one looks and makes a mad dash for it. Meanwhile the moronic TV announcement plays and Pornstache unleashes the EVIL chips upon the chamber below! ERR’ONE GO DEAD! Good one, hero! Aftewards, the tampered equipment begins to go haywire as the Stonehenge stone charges up and fires its laser! Cochrane goes ka-boom as the factory is apparently filled with gasoline. The two dart out of the town of spooky Irish people and don’t stop until they teleport to Doc’s car. Stache is still angry that the commercials are still airing and asks if the EMOTIONALLY TRAUMATIZED assistant lady is alright. Only for plot twist, she’s one of the automatons made of pudding! We come full circle as the introduction repeats itself with Dr Pornstache in place of the place of the mechanic who got axed off in the beginning. In an ironic twist, the hero’s efforts were for nothing. All the kids die and I don’t care! Everyone in this movie should die, because this movie never gave me a reason to care. Yay, nihilism! THE END!

Robert Ebert put it best when he remarked that this film is a hodgepodge of other movies that do what they did much better.  This train-wreck doesn’t really have focus so much as it’s a messy mix of horror elements. For one, the wandering workers of Silver Shamlock act like Slenderman mixed with bullshit writing. You have evil hexes causing all sorts of horrifying deaths, like the kid whose head explodes into bugs and snakes. Not to mention, you have John Carpenter’s classic eerie synth music raising discomfort levels really high! The scene where the bratty kid is killed in front of the TV was made even more disturbing in thanks to that. Hell, the confrontation in the chamber room was pretty thrilling in and of itself! The plot twist where the female protagonist was swapped out with an automaton was a pretty nice twist and on top of that, it just wouldn’t die. There’s so much in place that could have worked, but it sadly didn’t. This is all a real shame. Sure, the idea of witches using technology to steal kids’ souls seems pretty weird, but it could have been a really cool movie. But, whatever happened obviously went wrong, because we got this film as a result. And ya know what? We had tons of signs that this could movie could have been really good, which is a true let down.

So, for all the bashing I do on this movie, surely there’s good about it, right? Certainly! From the annoying Silver Shamrock jingle to urban legends involving adult fears about Halloween, there’s plenty of thematic elements to dive into. While many of them are more so period appropriate, there can be some level of relation. At the time of this series existing, there were reports of children being injured during trick or treating, being poisoned from sabotaged candy, or even ingesting sharp objects imbedded into candy itself! Combine aggravating commercialism that’s enough to render parents mad and you have the potential for a fascinating movie! And hot damn, does this movie shove the Silver Shamrock jingle in your face! It’s almost like an endlessly repeating commercial for a real product, and boy does it help hammer your dislike of the antagonists. Not to mention, the ‘witches’ themselves were pretty interesting. There was always this sense of mystery about them, their organization, and their methods. Not to mention, having their dark powers integrated with modern methods and technology is something that intrigues me greatly. Granted, I’ve always been fond of fusing magic and technology a la urban fantasy tropes. Plus, the effects (save for the awful prosthetic of the lady’s mutilated face) aren’t half bad for the most part. The death seen of the bratty kid is almost scary too. Besides that, the montage of kids buying Silver Shamrock masks brought a chilling sense of impending doom. Hell, the automatons were friggin creepy! Everything about them was uncanny valley… Well, once you get past the fact it looks like they bleed pudding. So, for all I’ve complained about, there was some genuinely cool aspects of this film. As the Nostalgia Critic even argued, the film better captured the spirit of Halloween compared to the slashers with Myers.

So, can I recommend this movie? Only if you realize that this movie sucks. But, it sucks in a way that’s still pretty enjoyable. With hammy acting, hollow characters, surreal special effects, and a dream like environment; it’s still a fun flick to watch during the Season of the Witch! This film is flawed, really flawed! But, realizing this as an absolute farce that could have doomed John Carpenter’s career helps with making it a tolerable cult classic that’s unintentionally funny in parts too!  And to be fair, this film could have been much worse.  It was an experiment that tried and failed.  It’s an admirable effort, but a failed one none the less.

This forgotten dreck gets 4 cheaply made masks out of 10!  Have a safe and Happy Halloween, from your friends at Silver Shamrock!

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