'Halloween III' is a fascinating movie, to say the least. With the original idea for a 'Halloween' franchise to be an anthology, with the first two being a two-part starter, technically, this movie did nothing "wrong" by veering away from the Michael Myers storyline. I actually regret not throwing this in with my first complete go-over of the 'Halloween' series back in the early 2000s. Like many, I was told this could and even "should" be skipped because it was separate. But as a movie for the holiday? I disagree!
I think this feels more like a movie meant for the holiday than the original, which, when you look at it, really could have taken place on any old holiday. Don't get the wrong idea; the original is still far superior and is the classic traditional go-to for Halloween that pretty much single-handedly launched the slasher craze of the 80s. But the way 'Season of the Witch' uses things various holiday staples is pretty great. It's not just something that takes place on Halloween; Halloween is central to its plot. Even the masks used in the story became famous enough that, years later, when fans like me came out of the woodwork, they were used in 'Halloween Kills.'
In the week leading up to Halloween of 1982, a curious man named Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry) seems to be on the run from a handful of mysterious men wearing suits. He manages to avoid his pursuers enough to make it to a hospital, where he finds Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins), and warns him about a deadly conspiracy. Challis finds a room for Grimbridge to recover. However, one of these mystery men still eventually finds and kills him, followed by said mystery man immolating himself in a nearby vehicle, which Challis witnesses.
Grimbridge's daughter, Ellie, arrives to identify her father's body and discuss the mysterious circumstances of his death with Challis. Perhaps the most mysterious thing about it was that he clutched a Silver Shamrock Halloween mask the whole time. All the rage to the kids, these three masks (a witch, skeleton and jack-o-lantern) are tied in with a televised "big giveaway prize" taking place on Halloween night at 9:00 after the first 'Halloween,' here dubbed an "immortal classic" after just four years... (they knew what they had).
Eventually, these masks lead Ellie and Daniel to Santa Maria, CA, home of the factory that is responsible for creating them. There, they begin to unravel what seems to be a sinister plot involving the masks, the strange men in suits, and Silver Shamrock's company owner, Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy), all so that he can bring back ancient Celtic rituals of Samhain; some of which involve sacrifice. It's soon down to Daniel, who knows too much, to stop Cochran's evil plans.
While I would not consider this a superior chapter in the 'Halloween' series, I have to admit that I have come to appreciate its early 80s charm. It's really quite corny for the most part. Still, it's not without a few things that really come through, like the simple, creepy soundtrack (minus the excruciatingly annoying "Silver Shamrock" song, which is this movie's ultimate downfall), the interesting, albeit somewhat laughable story and some of the makeup effects that look pretty damn good for the time.
And while I still ponder what may have become of the Halloween series had they gone their original route, I have to stand with the fans and agree that bringing back Michael Myers was probably a good thing for the series in the long run. But still, if you've never checked this out, it does make for a creepy fun time on the whole. It's not without its downsides, that's for sure, but if you're looking for something very different for the holiday with a bit of a retro touch, 'Halloween III' isn't actually as bad as people make it out to be.