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The Best Movie You Never Saw: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

10.21.2016

Welcome to The Best Movie You NEVER Saw, a column dedicated to examining films that have flown under the radar or gained traction throughout the years, earning them a place as a cult classic or underrated gem that was either before it’s time and/or has aged like a fine wine.

This week we’ll be looking at HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

halloween iii season of the witch banner

THE STORY: A troubled doctor (Tom Atkins) stumbles upon an evil plan hatched by the diabolical CEO of the Silver Shamrock Novelties company, where, on Halloween night, the masks they’ve created for children come to life and kill their wearers.

THE PLAYERS: Directed and Written by Tommy Lee Wallace. Starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin & Dan O’Herlihy. Score by John Carpenter & Alan Howarth.

halloween iii season of the witch

THE HISTORY: Following HALLOWEEN 2, John Carpenter, who was already reluctant to participate in a sequel, decided Michael Myers had run his course. Instead, his idea was to turn the HALLOWEEN franchise into a series of anthology movies that could be loosely connected by the holiday, but independent of each other. To that end, Carpenter took a step back, hiring Tommy Lee Wallace to write and direct the new film, which departed from the slasher formula and took the film into the world of witchcraft and science-fiction.

“There are still people that come up to me and say they hate Halloween III because it didn’t have Michael Myers in it. I tell them that was 25-30 years ago. Get over it. We had a wonderful time making it and I think Its a good standalone movie. John [Carpenter] originally wanted to make a story every Halloween that would be different, but the producers said no because Michael Myers is making so much money. They told him that we could shoot Halloween III, but then they’re done with those different stories." Tom AtkinsDaily Dead Interview 

With Carpenter favorite Tom Atkins as his leading man, and a very modest $2.5 million budget, Wallace made a pretty interesting little movie that’s wholly original compared to the original. Despite a few good reviews, the movie tanked at the box office, grossing $14 million, not bad for such a cheap film but far less than Universal was anticipating. Apparently, fans were disappointed Michael Myers wasn’t in it, and ever since, he’s been a constant presence in the franchise.

halloween iii season of the witch

WHY IT'S GREAT: Unlike many of the other movies featured in this column, I’m not going to argue that HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is some kind of ignored masterpiece. But, if you’re a fan of vintage era John Carpenter and eighties horror, this is manna from heaven. While Carpenter didn’t direct, Wallace was his protégé and his handprints are all over it. For one thing, it feels like a Carpenter movie thanks to his synth-score, co-written with his frequent eighties collaborator Alan Howarth. The importance of this can’t be overstated as anyone familiar with his music knows it gives the movies a pulse that’s as strong as anything else. They also have the original’s Dean Cundey as the DP, so even if Michael Myers isn’t around, this still feels like a HALLOWEEN movie.

“It should have just been called Season of the Witch and not put Halloween with it at all because it didn’t have Michael Myers and people thought: “What the hell is this?” Over time, it has become very popular on its own, as it has always intended to be.” – Tom Atkins - Daily Dead Interview

It’s worth noting that Dan O’Herlihy’s CEO of Silver Shamrock (“happy, happy Halloween – silver shamrock!”) is way more evil than Myers. Sure, Mike chalked up a big body count, but O’Herlihy wants to use his Pagan magic to kill thousands of kids with his evil masks. What a prick! O’Herlihy, who became known to my generation a few years later as “The Old Man” in ROBOCOP, is perfect as the baddie, as is Tom Atkins as our everyman hero. To me, there’s something very authentic about Atkins in all his eighties films, and while he’s maybe a little too surly and drunk to be playing a doctor (even a burnt-out one) he’s an awesome hero – and no one can say he doesn’t play the part to the hilt.

halloween iii season of the witch tom atkins

Being the eighties, there’s also lots of gratuitous nudity and some really creative gore. It’s a shame Carpenter’s anthology plan didn’t work out. A few more fun one-offs like this would have been way better than the mediocre HALLOWEEN sequels we got over the next twenty years.

“Fans used to come up and defend it and say ‘I love it, I don’t care what anybody says’, and I really appreciated that, but these days I just tell them, ‘Hey, you don’t have to do that anymore, because it found its audience’. It’s extremely gratifying.” – Tommy Lee WallaceHalloween Daily News Interview

BEST SCENE: There’s a great scene where Atkins winds-up captured by O’Herlihy’s goons, where he explains his whole diabolical plan and even gives Atkins a ghoulish demonstration on an annoying wholesaler of Silver Shamrock products. And that jingle – listen to it once and it’s stuck in your head forever.

SEE IT: HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH is easily available on most streaming sites, and on DVD/Blu-Ray.

halloween iii season of the witch

PARTING SHOT: Again, HALLOWEEN III isn’t a classic like the original, but on its own merits you really can’t go wrong watching it – especially around this time of the year. For me, it’s one of the great hidden gems in John Carpenter’s filmography, and I recommend checking it out for a good time.

Source: JoBlo.com

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3:30AM on 10/25/2016
This movie sucks!
This movie sucks!
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6:33AM on 10/24/2016
If you can get pass the fact that it's not about Michael Meyers, Halloween 3 is actually a good Halloween-themed horror movie. And that Shamrock Jingle will echo in your head for days.
If you can get pass the fact that it's not about Michael Meyers, Halloween 3 is actually a good Halloween-themed horror movie. And that Shamrock Jingle will echo in your head for days.
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6:08PM on 10/22/2016

Loved the anthology idea

Kinda wish Stranger Things would do the same thing. Not like American Horror Story, but like Carpenter's idea.
Kinda wish Stranger Things would do the same thing. Not like American Horror Story, but like Carpenter's idea.
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+1
9:51PM on 10/21/2016

It was scary

It was scary the same way Blair Witch Project was scary--to me at least--but I've gotten over it somewhat since Halloween III is not as popular as BWP and I only saw it once or twice on TV. But yeah, it can mess with your head, literally ;)
It was scary the same way Blair Witch Project was scary--to me at least--but I've gotten over it somewhat since Halloween III is not as popular as BWP and I only saw it once or twice on TV. But yeah, it can mess with your head, literally ;)
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7:53PM on 10/21/2016

love this movie!

I saw this flick when I was 11, in the theater. It scared the hell out of me. Of course, at 11, any horror movie would probably scare the hell out of me. Regardless, I have a soft spot for it.
It has some giant plot holes (how exactly do you move a chunk of Stonehenge from the UK to California without anyone noticing? By the time Dr. Chalice was trying to get someone to "STOP IT!!", the flashing pumpkin would have already aired in 3 other time zones), but I still love it.
It is kinda
I saw this flick when I was 11, in the theater. It scared the hell out of me. Of course, at 11, any horror movie would probably scare the hell out of me. Regardless, I have a soft spot for it.
It has some giant plot holes (how exactly do you move a chunk of Stonehenge from the UK to California without anyone noticing? By the time Dr. Chalice was trying to get someone to "STOP IT!!", the flashing pumpkin would have already aired in 3 other time zones), but I still love it.
It is kinda creepy, goes into a taboo topic of killing kids, has the most annoying, yet unforgettable commercial jingle ever in film, and has a terrific non-Hollywood ending.
I will also say to anyone complaining that this movie shouldn't be in the "you never saw" category...just because you have seen it, doesn't mean everyone else has. I know plenty of people that groan when I mention this movie. And then they admit they never saw it, they just know "it's the one without Michael Myers". It's had that rap on it for 34 years. Which is a shame. I don't blame someone who decides to pass on it, if they want some more Mike Myers. Nor do I think everyone should love this movie like I do. But, it has picked up some serious steam over the past few years, and has somewhat of a cult status now. Works for me!
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+3
7:06PM on 10/21/2016

Seriously you guys commenting

Stop taking the title of this column so literally. Every movie featured cannot be the BEST MOVIE YOU NEVER SAW. Obviously if it was meant to be taken literally it would be a one time article and not a regular column. Yes there are people who haven't seen this movie and there are people who like this movie.

Take note of the description of this column:

"Welcome to The Best Movie You NEVER Saw, a column dedicated to examining films that have flown under the radar or gained traction
Stop taking the title of this column so literally. Every movie featured cannot be the BEST MOVIE YOU NEVER SAW. Obviously if it was meant to be taken literally it would be a one time article and not a regular column. Yes there are people who haven't seen this movie and there are people who like this movie.

Take note of the description of this column:

"Welcome to The Best Movie You NEVER Saw, a column dedicated to examining films that have flown under the radar or gained traction throughout the years, earning them a place as a cult classic or underrated gem that was either before itís time and/or has aged like a fine wine."

I was 18 when this movie came out and I can assure you, this is one that has gained traction throughout the years and has more fans than it did at the time it was released. To many people it IS an underrated gem, and yes there are people who haven't seen it.

There actually are others other than you guys who read this column. How about being flexible? How about actually reading this well written, interesting article even if you have seen the movie and/or hate it?

Or how about skipping the fucking column if you're not interested, and realize that maybe, just maybe, you don't speak for us all?
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5:34PM on 10/21/2016
I thought this was going to be a "its so bad its good" article, but you seem like you genuinely liked the movie, which is fine, to each their own. Ive never heard anyone say they liked this movie. It usually pops up on the worst movies of all time lists. Its one of the worst movies ive ever seen. Personally, i loved the Mike Myers "Cat in the Hat" movie, but i would never call it a "best movie youve never seen", i may enjoy it but i know how universally hated it is.
I thought this was going to be a "its so bad its good" article, but you seem like you genuinely liked the movie, which is fine, to each their own. Ive never heard anyone say they liked this movie. It usually pops up on the worst movies of all time lists. Its one of the worst movies ive ever seen. Personally, i loved the Mike Myers "Cat in the Hat" movie, but i would never call it a "best movie youve never seen", i may enjoy it but i know how universally hated it is.
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+2
5:32PM on 10/21/2016
Over the years, this has become my favorite of the Halloween franchise. There has always been a creepy undertone to this movie, that the others couldn't produce. From the first time I saw it playing on Halloween night, back when I was little, the visuals of the Silver Shamrock commercial was seared into my mind. I find the supernatural much more interesting than slashers when it comes to horror movies, which is why I think this beats all the others that focus on Michael Myers. I am happy to see
Over the years, this has become my favorite of the Halloween franchise. There has always been a creepy undertone to this movie, that the others couldn't produce. From the first time I saw it playing on Halloween night, back when I was little, the visuals of the Silver Shamrock commercial was seared into my mind. I find the supernatural much more interesting than slashers when it comes to horror movies, which is why I think this beats all the others that focus on Michael Myers. I am happy to see it gathering so much respect in recent years. In response to comments below...I can see this article belonging better to the F@#&in Black Sheep column, seeing as though it is pretty well known/seen, but who cares!! Maybe the author was basing it on the poor reception at the theater when it came out. Either way, it is fun to read about!
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5:08PM on 10/21/2016
I just echo the comments below me , don't think this site really tries anymore.
I just echo the comments below me , don't think this site really tries anymore.
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2:58PM on 10/21/2016
Like best movie in an ironic way? This movie legit killed the idea of doing Halloween movies as an anthology series. And yeah, even if we disagree on this being a "gem," it's certainly not "hidden."
Like best movie in an ironic way? This movie legit killed the idea of doing Halloween movies as an anthology series. And yeah, even if we disagree on this being a "gem," it's certainly not "hidden."
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1:54PM on 10/21/2016

Stop. Just stop with these ridiculous articles.

If you are going to have a segment called Best You Haven't Seen, then post movies that people actually haven't seen!!! You keep posting stuff that everyone knows about. Why not post actual hidden gems and not stuff that is on every other sites top 10 list. What are you going to put next, Gremlins?
If you are going to have a segment called Best You Haven't Seen, then post movies that people actually haven't seen!!! You keep posting stuff that everyone knows about. Why not post actual hidden gems and not stuff that is on every other sites top 10 list. What are you going to put next, Gremlins?
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