Director: Rick Rosenthal
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasance, Charles Cyphers
Shout! Factory / Region A Blu-ray (Region 1, DVD) / Rated R / 2.35:1 widescreen / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 / 93 minutes (theatrical cut), 92 minutes (television cut)
Release Extras: Includes Theatrical Version and the Television Cut With Added Footage Not Seen In The Theatrical Release / Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal and Actor Leo Rossi / Audio Commentary With Actor/Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock / The Nightmare Isn’t Over: The Making of Halloween II – Featuring Interviews With Director Rick Rosenthal, Actor/Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock, Actors Lance Guest, Leo Rossi, Nancy Stephens, Executive Producer Irwin Yablans, Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Co-Composer Alan Howarth And More / Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween II – Host Sean Clark Revisits the Original Shooting Locations of the Film / Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal / Alternate Ending With Optional Audio Commentary With Director Rick Rosenthal / Theatrical Trailer / TV & Radio Spots / Still Gallery
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Cast: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy
Shout! Factory / Region A / Rated R / 2.35:1 widescreen / DTS-HD mono, Dolby Digital mono / 99 minutes
Blu-ray Extras: Audio Commentary With Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace / Audio Commentary With Actor Tom Atkins / Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch Featuring Interviews With Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace, Actors Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Brad Schacter, Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock, Executive Producer Irwin Yablans, Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, Co-Composer Alan Howarth and More / Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween III Host Sean Clark and Writer/Director Tommy Lee Wallace Revisit The Original Shooting Locations of the Film / Teaser Trailer / Theatrical Trailer / TV & Radio Spots / Still Gallery
With the popularity of John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher Halloween, the call to do a sequel was a no-brainer. Carpenter and writing partner Debra Hill made the decision to literally pick up where the first movie left off with “The Shape” getting away after being shot and falling from the second story. The two films could actually be edited to be one movie and not miss a beat. So the same basic story continues with Michael Myers trying to murder his sister (Curtis) and Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) hot on his trail and figuring out mysteries of their shared past. This time, the violence is amped up, the killings more brutal and the suspense lessened a bit, but only a bit. In my opinion, Halloween II is more the archetype slasher flick than its predecessor due to the focus more on the violence than the mystery. That being said, it is no less of a classic and just as good –if not better in some ways– than the original. Sacrilege, I know.
Just a year later (1982), Carpenter and Hill were at it again –this time as producers– but apparently they didn’t want to get stuck in a rut of success because they hired on Tommy Lee Wallace to write and direct a wildly different third installment. Wallace to that point had only written the screenplay for the Amityville Horror sequel and never directed anything. So he took an original story written by veteran TV writer Nigel Kneale that had been rewritten by Carpenter and rewrote it himself until it became the story that was eventually filmed. It’s one that absorbs the first two Halloween movies into its own universe and references it by playing it on the televisions in the background therefore disregarding any of the Michael Myers mythos. In this dimension a nefarious novelty company who specializes in Halloween masks is planning on sacrificing all of the children who buy their masks by combining technology (a microchip) with ancient witchcraft. Yeah, it’s that wacky but oh so fucking awesome.
Dr. Challis (Atkins) is called into work when a wounded and incoherent man is brought in babbling about how “They’re going to kill us all!” The man’s young daughter Ellie (super ’80s hottie Stacey Nelkin) comes in and meets Challis after he is killed in the hospital and the two are lead on a mystery by the jack-o-lantern mask that her dad was clutching when he was brought in. They are lead to Santa Mira, a small town overtaken by Silver Shamrock Novelties (the mask’s maker) and turned into a police state where the company runs everything and the people are brainwashed. Ellie and the good doctor pose as a married couple in town to buy a shipment of masks. Once they infiltrate the production plant by showing up when Cochran (the Shamrock owner) is about to give a tour to a buyer, they learn that not only was her father killed by the company but there is a much bigger, more deadly conspiracy afoot. Why else would the whole facility be guarded by dudes who look like “Agents” from the Matrix movies? I won’t spoil all of the fun by giving away the details, but it gets really fucking wild and wooly.
Part III, aptly subtitled (and probably should have been named and marketed as a stand alone movie as) Season of the Witch is one of the finest horror movies to come out of the ’80s. It’s quirky, spunky and lots of fun. Tom Atkins and his amazing mustache steals the show as the adulterous Dr. Dan Challis. The oddball leading man is not the chiseled, traditionally handsome actor you would expect in a heroic role like this. Instead he gives you strong acting and a cool as hell character played up by a guy who is obviously having fun with it and as a bonus, gets to bang a younger babe (onscreen at least). One of the greatest lines in the movie is directly before Challis is about to have sex with Ellie for like the third time and he finally thinks to ask “Wait, how old are you?” Stacey Nelkin gets naked for us but we are only able to get a little side-boobage and tit sucking (?) because she had a “no nipple” clause in her contract. It is still sexy when she gets out of a steamy shower and wraps the towel around, barely concealing her young, nubile goodies… (did that sound as creepy as it did when I read it back to myself?)
Writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace explains in the “Making of” extra on the new Season of the Witch Shout! Factory Blu-ray that the idea behind doing a complete reboot was to leave Michael Myers dead –as he is assumed at the end of part II– and with every part of the series after, create another story entirely therefore creating a type of Halloween anthology series. After the colossal box office flop and critically panned third installment, that plan was immediately dropped. It wasn’t until 1988, some six years later, when hopefully everyone had forgotten about the blunder, that Trancas International Films decided it was time to get back to what made them the big money; Michael Myers. They did, and not surprisingly, it was once again a hit. The estimated 5 million dollar budget nearly quadrupled in box office returns in the U.S. alone. Now we are at a point in time when, as nostalgic horror fans, we can look back at the mistakes and blunders of filmmakers like Wallace, Carpenter and Hill and take it for what it is; a past gaffe that ends up being a present day treasure.