DirectorTommy Lee Wallace
Release Date(s)1982 (October 16, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A-
As many folks know by now, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was an attempt to create a new film utilizing the Halloween name, but leaving behind the Michael Myers storyline. Its immediate failure and subsequent rebirth is one of those occasions when a film can find a new life through the changing of societal mores and the simple act of reevaluation. Indeed, online horror culture has given it a renewed status and it’s now seen as a celebrated cult film. For a sequel in a popular franchise that was primarily disregarded for so many years, that is no small feat.
In the film, a skirt-chasing, beer-drinking doctor (Tom Atkins) and a determined, young woman (Stacy Nelkin) set out to investigate the mysterious Silver Shamrock Novelties, a Halloween mask-making corporation led by the seemingly-friendly Mr. Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy). As they happen upon a sinister plot to sacrifice the children of the world through the use of masks that are fitted with deadly microchips, they find themselves in a race against time to stop the malevolent Cochran before he is able to succeed with his diabolical plan.
I’ve personally always been a fan of Halloween III, but I didn’t really discover it until the 1990s during my frequent rental store, binge-watching phase. I’ve never fully been able to grasp why it was inexplicably stranded on an island of misfit horror films for most of its home video life. The initial dismissal is obvious: no Michael Myers, no box office – that was certainly clear back in 1982. It didn’t help much that the marketing behind it didn’t properly inform folks that it wasn’t a Michael Myers-related film. John Carpenter & Co. had originally envisioned a series of films centered around Halloween every year, but the idea quickly dissipated when audiences stayed away in droves. Needless to say, it took a long time before enough viewers began to see the value in the film.
I’ve always thought of Halloween III as the poor man’s David Cronenberg, owing much to Invasion of the Body Snatchers from years before. It definitely has that feel to it, with an unorthodox storyline, a moody but playful tone, a dark score, and a bit of body horror thrown in for good measure. It makes for a fun, tongue-in-cheek movie with enough atmosphere for ten more movies like it. And while it may not have been the best idea to label it as a Halloween sequel (Season of the Witch would have sufficed), it’s not terrible by any means whatsoever.
Six years after their debut of Halloween III: Season of the Witch via a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, Scream Factory revisits the film with a Steelbook release. It comes with a new transfer that’s been taken from a 4K scan of the film’s original camera negative. While I was mostly pleased with the film’s previous transfer, it’s nice to have a fresh scan six years later. It’s a definite step up in clarity, with solid grain levels, deep blacks, and excellent depth. The color palette is a little cooler as well, but the various hues, including deep, cherry reds, benefit from it, as do flesh tones which appear pink and natural. Contrast looks good and the image is entirely stable with only miniscule imperfections leftover. The audio is presented in 2.0 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. This appears to be the same audio included on the previous release, but the subtitles are a new addition. Dialogue is clean and clear with some spatial activity and ambience, as well as good placement of sound effects and score.
This release also carries over all of the extras from the previous Scream Factory Blu-ray release, which includes an audio commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace, moderated by Rob Galluzzo and Sean Clark; another audio commentary with actor Tom Atkins, moderated by Michael Felsher; the Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III: Season of the Witch 33-minute documentary; Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: The Locations of Halloween III, hosted by Sean Clark and Tommy Lee Wallace; Make-Up from Scratch, a 6-minute interview with make-up effects artist Tom Burman; a still gallery with 74 images; a posters and lobby cards gallery with 34 images; 3 radio spots; 2 TV spots; a network TV ad; and the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a much better film than many of the Michael Myers-related films in the series, and the fact that it doesn’t involve him or his storyline, is its greatest strength. Is Scream Factory’s double-dip (or perhaps triple-dip if you also bought their now out-of-print boxed set of the entire series) worth your hard-earned cash? Well, having a new transfer with added subtitles and all of the previous extras in a nice Steelbook package with striking artwork makes it a solid upgrade for me, but your mileage may vary.
- Tim Salmons