It’s not a secret that I absolutely love Halloween 3. Yes I’m aware that it has nothing to do with Michael Myers and that’s precisely why it’s such a cinematic oddity. Now Shout Factory has released Halloween 3 on a lovingly re-mastered Blu-ray with lots of extras so it seemed like a great opportunity to revisit this misunderstood film.
After the success of Halloween parts 1 and 2 John Carpenter and Debra Hill Decided they had told the story of Michael Myers and it was time to try something new. Their concept was that they would keep the Halloween name alive and release new films that took place around the holiday. They brought in Nigel Neale who wrote the Quatermass films of the 50’s and 60’s to create a more psychological story about a Irish mask maker who wants to punish the world for not taking Halloween seriously. Interesting side note, The Quatermass films heavily inspired the X-Files so much so that they’re are striking similarities between Fight The Future and one of the Quatermass films.
But the studio decided making a film call Halloween 3 without gore might be a bad idea so Tommy Lee Wallace was tasked with re-writing the script to give it more horror and Carpenter asked him to direct the film as well. Wallace is no stranger to Halloween, having worked on the first 2 films as well as The Fog. He was even in the running to direct Halloween 2 but hated the script and didn’t want to do a rehash of the first film. So with Halloween 3 being a new story he came on to direct.
Forget that this is called Halloween 3 and just focus on the “Season of the Witch” part of the title. This movie has nothing to do with the Halloween series beyond it taking place on Halloween. It has a lot of 80’s horror film trappings that not only date it but also give it that charm that so many 80’s horror films had. There are lots of unintentionally funny bits that are perfect for drinking games. But the film is also shot beautifully by the great Dean Cundey and directed well by Tommy Lee Wallace. It has the scope and feel of a Carpenter film from the 80’s and Wallace does a decent job at setting up interesting and suspenseful shots when he wants to.
The film stars minor 80’s horror icon Tom Atkins, an actor who appeared in a few big horror films in the 80’s including The Fog, Creepshow, and Night of the Creeps. He plays Dr. Challis a functional alcoholic doctor who literally spends the majority of the film’s run time either drinking or trying to get a drink. Its one of those interesting character choices I’d like to know more about that isn’t really talked about in the extras on this Blu-ray edition. The alcoholism is a big part of this character yet its not something that comes into play at all in the final act of the film for some pay off. He’s just a guy who’s trying to solve this mystery while drinking his meals. There’s some unintentionally hilarious stuff here regarding how often you see Challis drinking. One scene in particular sees him on the phone with his Ex-wife trying to make excuses why he can’t take the kids that weekend. He finishes the call and swoops up a 6 pack of beer that is perched on top the phone booth. Its then you realize he’s bought a 6 pack of “Road beers” for his trip to Santa Mira.
So lets get into this a little bit. Dr. Challis is on the graveyard shift at the hospital when a old man is brought In babbling about Halloween masks and saying that “they” are trying to kill him. Once he’s finally sedated and the staff go back to their rounds, a man dressed in a business suit comes in and rips the old mans skull apart. And when I say that he “rips” it apart I mean it. The business suit wearing stranger then walks calmly to his car, douses himself in gasoline and lights a match. It’s a pretty intense opening and one that was burned into my memory for little up.
The old mans daughter, Ellie (Stacy Nelkin) seeks out Dr. Challis hoping that he’ll have more information on what her father said before he was murdered. Soon Challis is on the case with a drink in one hand and Ellie in the other.
They Halloween masks the old man was babbling about lead them to the town of Santa Mira and the Shamrock Novelties Company that apparently make just 3 masks that we see in the film. The town is controlled by the company and its very Irish CEO, Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy). Soon his plot to kill millions of kids with his masks is revealed and Challis and Nellie try to foil it before time runs out.
Blu Ray and Extras:
Halloween 3 is a film that many hard core Halloween fans hate and many other fans love so its kind of a strange fanbase. I’ve always loved the film but it is a weird little film and I’m very happy that its finally been given such a beautiful transfer . Dean Cundey’s excellent lighting has never looked better!
The extras on this disc are plentiful and provide so much background on the film and production that its doubtful you’ll need or want to know more. There are interviews with the major players including Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins and Stacy Nelkin as well as even bit plays like the little kid who’s mask explodes in snakes and spiders in the demonstration sequence of the film.
There’s also a pretty fun “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds” episode that covers almost all the shooting locations with Tommy Lee Wallace in tow. We get to see the town of Santa Mira as it looks today, the hospital, gas station, factory and lots more.
There are 2 commentaries, one with Tommy Lee Wallace that seems to be more about the shooting locations than interesting stories about the production but it does have its moments. The second commentary is with Tom Atkins and is pretty entertaining. Tom relates stories about his entire career and it feels much more like a conversation than it does a commentary. Stills and TV and Theatrical trailers round out the extras
Its kind of amazing that this film is finally getting the attention it deserves and more importantly Shout Factory is clearly trying to take the crown of the away from Anchor Bay in releasing special editions of horror films. There are lots more on the way including They Live (FINALLY!) and FunHouse among others.