Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) / Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

halloween3-1.jpg picture by sikomike
Welcome back to Haddonfield.  What's that? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THIS MOVIE DOESN'T TAKE PLACE IN HADDONFIELD?  Where's that Michael Myers fellah? Ugh, looks like some serious black magic is at work here.  It seems all of the trick or shriekers' heads are melting with dozens of creepy crawlies coming out from under their masks.  This sounds like my kinda town! HEHEHEHAHAHAHA!
   In Northern California, a man named Harry Grimbridge is on the run from some wannabe Mr. Smith looking guys. A concerned gas station attendant gives Harry a lift to the local hospital. Harry begins rambling about "they're going to kill everyone" with a Halloween mask gripped tightly in his hands. That night, one of the Mr. Smith wannabe guys makes his way to the hospital and murders Harry before pouring gasoline on himself inside his car and blowing himself up.  The hospital's main doctor, Dr. Daniel Challis, witnessed what had happened. Challis notices that something strange is going on and teams up with Harry's daughter Ellie to investigate the mystery behind her father's murder.  They end up in a weird little town called Santa Mira that is home to the Silver Shamrock Novelty company.  Dan and Ellie soon discover that Silver Shamrock owner Conal Cochran plans to use his company's Halloween masks to kill all of the children in America on Halloween night. Will Cochran be stopped or is it too late? Halloween night, the night nobody came home!
   In 1978, John Carpenter  made the ultimate horror film classic titled HALLOWEEN.  Halloween was so successful and set the bar for the slasher genre.   In 1981, HALLOWEEN II was released that continued that terrifying night, but did it in a more slasher fashion of gory kills and revealing the siblingship between the film's arch villain Michael Myers and  heroine Laurie Strode.    Fans around the world were curious if there would be more Halloween films and where the story would continue since it looked like Michael Myers and Dr. Sam Loomis both burned to death at the end of Halloween II.   After the success of Halloween II,  it was decided to go ahead and make a third installment.  This time however, Moustapha Akkad and John Carpenter decided to do something completely different with the franchise.  They had ended the whole Michael Myers/Laurie Strode/Sam Loomis story perfectly at the end of Halloween II, so they decided to make the other films all different types of stories that took place on Halloween. Carpenter and Akkad wanted to treat the Halloween franchise like a TALES FROM THE CRYPT or TWILIGHT ZONE thing, which sounded great.  So, in 1982, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH was released to theaters.  And you want to know what? Audiences HATED it! It did awful business at the box office and made horror fans furious.  Why? Because Michael Myers was not in it. People wanted Michael Myers. Where's the Boogeyman who stalks and kills babysitters on Halloween night?
    To be perfectly honest, I don't hate Halloween III: Season of the Witch at all. Also, I find the hate for it to be amusing. I can definitely understand the love people have for The Shape, but I didn't think that this film was as bad as many people claim it to be. Is it good? Not really. Is it bad? No. Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one of those films that is middle ground for me. It's neither good or bad and has its fair share of both.   Tommy Lee Wallace wrote a pretty average screenplay that had some major plot holes that really dragged the film down for me.  Many people act like this is the worst of the franchise when it really isn't.  The Halloween franchise definitely has more bad installments than good though. Hell, all of the really bad installments actually HAD Michael Myers in them and even he couldn't stop those films from being terrible.  HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS, HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS ( theatrical cut), HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, and Rob Zombie's H2: HALLOWEEN II (2009) were far worse than this Michael Myers-less third installment.
 I'll begin with the good points of Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  I was truly digging the whole mask killing every child in America concept. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I enjoy watching innocent children's heads turn into snakes and all kinds of nasty critters. I just find this concept to be very dark and controversial and I tend to love controversial material because of its shock value.   The characters of Dr. Dan Challis and Ellie Grimbridge were interesting to me. Dan is a ladies man, which I'm assuming is why his wife divorced his ass.  The guy may be a flirt, but there was something that I liked about him. Maybe it's because he was played by Tom Atkins, who is a total badass!  Ellie was pretty cute. She had the interest of both my eyes and my penis.  I also kinda liked the film's villain Conal Cochran. He was like if Willy Wonka was a novelty shop owner who went mad and wanted to kill off all of America's children on Halloween.  Although, if I wanted an Irish man who wants to give people a deadly case of bad luck, then I will stick with LEPRECHAUN thank you very much!
    The music composed by both John Carpenter and Alan Howarth was pretty good. I liked it a lot.
  I really dug the special FX in this film too.  That scene where the robot guy just pulls off that homeless guy's head was fucking sweet.  Little Buddy Kupfer Jr.'s death was fucking awesome as well.  That kid was such a brat. He reminded me of that kid from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory who always sat in front of the television and was an ass.  I loved it when critters just crawled out from his mask after his face melted. Gee, I wonder where Wallace got his inspiration from when he wrote this film.  
  And then there is everything else. I believe the biggest problem of all I have with this movie is the lack of reason why Mr. Cochran wants every child in America  dead on Halloween. There's no motivation with this guy what so ever. Now normally I prefer not to know why someone likes to kill people. It would ruin a character like Michael Myers, Chucky, and Freddy to know why they want to kill people aside from the simple answer that they are all evil and enjoy taking lives.   Here is an example of where motivation is needed. I don't know, maybe Slugworth paid this guy to kill off all of the children so that Willy Wonka would run out of business. Now, that is a harsh revenge my fiends!  Also, what the fuck is up with all of the robots?  I guess Cochran is not only a mask maker, but a robotics expert too. He is probably using robots to do his handy work instead of people because robots can't be killed and are a hell of a lot stronger. I just find it funny that these robot men look like Mr. Smith a little bit from The Matrix.  And they bleed yellow goo.   I'm confused about the purpose of that stone Irish wall. The last time I saw something like that was in TROLL 2.   Also, how the fuck do those little chips make a kid's head melt and creepy crawlers slither out?  There's a part near the end that kinda confused me too, but I think I have finally figured out what happened to Ellie.   I heard that the actual ending was a homage to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Actually in fact, a lot of this film gives homage to that old school alien movie.   Speaking of homages, I did enjoy the small homages to the original Halloween on the television in two sequences.
For a movie with "SEASON OF THE WITCH" in the title, there were no witches in the film.  When I think of the word witch, I'm thinking  wicked witch of the west or the Hocus Pocus sisters or that lady who liked to turn children into Gingerbread and eat them from Hansel & Gretel. Not some old Irish dude who likes to melt children's faces with his Halloween masks!  
As for that Silver Shamrock theme song, I have to admit that it is pretty catchy. Annoying as hell after playing a zillion times in this film, but catchy nonetheless.  If Jigsaw really wanted to do some serious damage in the next Saw film, he should lock one of the victims in a room with this song playing over and over again with no way to shut it off. I wonder if they would be driven mad or find a way to kill themselves to stop the song. 
The direction by Tommy Lee Wallace was okay.  Could have been better, but could have been worse.  Wallace was the production designer on the original Halloween.  Not a bad directorial.
  I thought the cinematography again by Dean Cundey was very good.
The acting was okay. I actually liked Tom Atkins a lot as Dan Challis. Sure, it's not Atkins' best acting job, but it's a decent one though. I prefer him in John Carpenter's THE FOG, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, and MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D.  Stacey Nelkin was cute and decent as Ellie.  Dan O' Herlihy was pretty good as the villain Conal Cochran. What a bastard this guy was! Too bad I still don't get his beef with kids. Everybody else was alright. There was also a cameo by Nancy Keyes (Annie Brackett from Halloween '78) as Dan's wife.  
Overall, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an alright movie to watch every October. It's considered the black sheep of the Halloween franchise, but it ain't bad.  Definitely worth checking out if you can look past the fact that Michael Myers isn't in it.
16 more days till Halloween. Halloween.  Halloween . 16 more days till Halloween. Silver Shamrock! 
Halloween4Poster1.jpg picture by sikomike
The Boogeyman is BACK! After a ten year sleep, Michael returns to Haddonfield to find his niece, little Jamie Lloyd. Nothing says family reunion like a body count on Halloween!
    It has been ten years since Michael Myers killed about sixteen people in Haddonfield on Halloween.  Michael has been in a coma at another psychiatric hospital for the past decade.  Some paramedics load him in an ambulance ready to transfer him to another hospital, but Michael hears something about a niece and jumps up and brutally kills everybody in the ambulance. Meanwhile, young Jamie Lloyd is staying with her foster parents and new sister Rachel after her mother (Laurie Strode from Halloween & Halloween II) was killed in a car accident.  After hearing about Michael's escape, Dr. Loomis goes on yet another quest to find him and kill him once and for all.  Loomis teams up with Haddonfield's new sheriff Ben Meeker to find Myers.  Michael finds his way to Jamie and Rachel that leads to a shocking ending that most won't see coming.
   In 1978, John Carpenter's low budget independent horror film HALLOWEEN was a surprising smash hit. It not only helped change the genre, but it showed audiences the shape of what fear really is.   By the '80s, just about every major profitable horror film released was followed by a series of sequels to continue the story and try to out beat the previous box office grossing.  In 1981, HALLOWEEN II was unleashed to pick up from the shocking ending of the original classic and continue with Michael Myers following Laurie Strode to the hospital and killing everybody who got in his way of killing his only living relative.   HALLOWEEN II made decent business, which granted a third installment.  So, in 1982, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH was released that walked away from the story of the first two installments to be the beginning of a set of Halloween anthology films. Unfortunately for producers John Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Moustapha Akkad, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH did poorly at the box office.   Horror fans wanted Michael Myers back doing what he does best, killing teenagers on Halloween night.  After the failure of HALLOWEEN III, John Carpenter and Debra Hill wanted no part in the rest of the Halloween franchise and left ownership and rights to Moustapha Akkad.   After a five year wait, Akkad decided to give the horror fans what they wanted and returned Michael Myers and his arch nemesis Dr. Sam Loomis back to Haddonfield in the franchise's fourth entry titled HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS in 1988, the tenth anniversary of the original HALLOWEEN. 
 HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS is a really fun and entertaining sequel.  The screenplay written by Alan B. McElroy was pretty good.  I think the thing that works so well about this fourth entry of the franchise is definitely the characters of Rachel and Jamie Lloyd.   These two are likeable and are believable as sisters even though we know they aren't biologically.   This film also threw in some teenage drama in the mix with a love triangle between Rachel and her boyfriend Brady and another girl that seems to have a thing for Brady named Kelly.    It doesn't push the Rachel/Brady relationship. It's obvious that Rachel and Brady really are into each other, yet the sheriff's daughter Kelly comes between them.  Dr. Loomis is a little more crazed in his obsession with  killing Michael than he was in the first two films.  The only person that seems to understand Loomis is some alcoholic priest trucker guy, who also is on a "quest" to defeat evil.    The story is told that Laurie Strode from the first two films was killed in a car accident and her daughter Jamie was the only survivor.  Michael finds out that Jamie is his niece and goes after her to complete his quest to kill the last of his family.   The new sheriff named Ben Meeker is cool too. I liked Sheriff Brackett more, but this guy ain't bad.   I really felt bad for little Jamie. She's constantly teased at school because of her uncle and her mom dying and all she wants is for Rachel to be a real sister to her. She also keeps having nightmares of her evil uncle trying to kill her.
       There's also some redneck dudes with shotguns who are run by this bar owner named Earl who wants revenge for Michael killing his son back ten years ago.
      I also love the little homages to the first movie like naming the new victim Jamie after Jamie Lee Curtis who played Laurie Strode in the first two films and having Jamie Lloyd as Laurie's daughter.  The whole thing with Jamie dressing up as a clown for Halloween is obviously a mirror of young Michael.  There's even a sequence where she sees young Michael dressed as a clown and holding a bloody knife in the mirror at the costume store.  And then the sheriff's daughter gets killed by Michael just like what happened to the other sheriff in the original. 
 The music by Alan Howarth was decent. Still, nothing can beat the awesomeness of Carpenter's original Halloween score.
 I was definitely digging the kills in this one. It seems that Michael is now  even more stronger after being in a coma for ten years. He can now stick his thumb into some dude's forehead, rip a guy's throat out with his bare hand, and shove a shotgun through a girl's body that pins her up on the door. 
The ending to this film is just awesome! Total open ending that could and should have lead to some interesting places in the following entries of this franchise.  Too bad that Akkad and company chickened out and made that terrible HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS a year later that ruined the possibilities that this great ending could have led to.
My biggest complaint about this film mainly was the mask. It just looked really silly compared to the original mask.  I also wish that Laurie wasn't killed off. Although, we find out in the seventh installment HALLOWEEN H20 that she didn't die, but faked her death and changed her identity. 
 The direction by Dwight H. Little is pretty good. The film moves at a good pace and looks great.
The acting was pretty good too. Donald Pleasence is good as always as Dr. Sam Loomis.  Ellie Cornell was great as Rachel.  Danielle Harris was also fantastic as Jamie Lloyd.  I've always enjoyed Danielle as an actress.  I loved her here, as Annie Brackett in the HALLOWEEN remake, and also as the sexy Goth chick Tosha in URBAN LEGEND.  I can't wait to see Danielle Harris as Marybeth in Adam Green's long awaited sequel HATCHET II!  Beau Starr was good as Sheriff Meeker. Kathleen Kinmont was good and deliciously sexy as Kelly.  And Sasha Jensen was good as Brady. All in all, great cast.
Overall, HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS is a very good sequel.  Sadly, it is the last good film in the franchise until HALLOWEEN H20 in 1998.  Definitely worth checking out every October.
Woah buddy, was that Homecoming or what! Michael usually makes Halloween fun when he's not handled by hacker jacks!  Until the next screaming, have a nice fright! HEHEHEHEHEHAHAHAHA!!!

1 comment:

Fred [The Wolf] said...

Great reviews, bro. HALLOWEEN 3 grows on me every time I watch it. It's a stupid film that really doesn't have a point, but the kills are fun and it makes me laugh for unintentional reasons. I never had a problem that Myers wasn't in this one. My issue is that the story isn't all that great and the characters aren't all that likable or believable. It would have been a bigger hit if the HALLOWEEN label wasn't attached.

HALLOWEEN 4, however, is a very good sequel because it captures the atmosphere of the original while keeping the gore of the first sequel. Danielle Harris is awesome and I enjoy Ellie Cornell are well. The ending is probably my favorite ending in the franchise. I hate that it didn't lead the series into a different direction. We probably wouldn't have had a remake and a horrible sequel if the ending had panned out.

Your next double review for this series - yeesh. Man, I'll have a beer for you over reviewing those two pieces of crap sequels.