Halloween III: Season of the Witch follows Dr. Challis (Tom Atkins) and Ellie Grimbridge (Stacey Nelkin), who is trying to find out why her father—who was brought into Challis’ hospital at the beginning of the film—was murdered by a man who promptly went out to his car and lit himself on fire (causing one of the most hilarious car explosion scenes in history). The pair make it to the fictitious town of Santa Mira, a nod to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to find the devious Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy) using his Halloween mask production company as a front to sacrifice all the children he can for the festival of Samhain. Challis, having kids of his own, is determined to stop the madness in time, but we’ll never know if he succeeded and I’m okay with that.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch, also known by filthy casuals as “Wait, is that the one without Michael Myers in it?”, was released on October 22nd, 1982. It was made with a budget of $2.5 million, going on to gross only $14.4 million at the box office. The film was Tommy Lee Wallace’s directorial debut, who went on to direct Fright Night Part 2, and episodes of some of my favorite television shows including The Twilight Zone and Max Headroom, among other projects in both film and TV. John Carpenter and Debra Hill did not write or direct this film but they did act as producers for it. Noted science fiction writer, Nigel Kneale, was brought onto the film to write the original screenplay and most of his original screenplay was kept, but Season of the Witch’s largest distributor wanted more graphic violence than the psychological shock that Kneale was originally going for. So, the script was altered to fit the view of the distributors, causing Kneale to remove his name from the movie credits. The entirety of the film has a lot of drama behind it: from the original screenwriter removing his name from the film to Universal not promoting it properly because they hated the somewhat sadistic ending. Obviously, the film was fraught with missteps and I still don’t care. Here’s why…
Let’s go over some of the plot holes, which have been pointed out thousands of times over the years.
Plot Hole #1
Stonehenge. What the hell? How on earth did you get that across the pond without anyone noticing? How does it actually tie into the film’s plot? How has this not made international news? I can see the headlines in my mind: “WHERE HAS STONEHENGE POPPED OFF TO? CITIZENS OUTRAGED”
See, the thing about it is, Cochran literally explains this in the movie. Even if you feel like it’s a weak explanation, he still does explain it. Stonehenge in the film is actually part of the ancient ritual of Samhain, and even a particle of it helps imbue his company’s trademark with dark magic that does his bidding without him physically having to be there to perform any sort of incantation, because clearly, the iconic commercial is the catalyst for the trademarks/Stonehenge particle to work their dastardly magic. He also mentions how hard it was to get pieces of Stonehenge over to his secret underground mad scientist laboratory. Cochran goes on to explain to Challis that he is honoring (in the film) the real tradition of Halloween—to offer up sacrifices of children for the festival of Samhain, and now that the planets are finally in alignment again 3000 years later for the last great festival, he has to do his due diligence by killing all the children. The Sanderson sisters would weep with pride.
Plot Hole #2
Where do all these snakes and creepy-crawly things come from?
Well, quite frankly, it’s supposed to be a science fiction movie that connects ancient witchcraft with the age of computers (or at least that was Debra Hill’s vision). I’m totally fine with the snakes and bugs appearing because of magic. In the film, the commercial comes on and kids are strangled by the same kind of onslaught of bugs and snakes, so clearly it’s a sort of spell that’s unleashed when the Stonehenge particles are near the commercial. The commercial even tells kids to sit down to the big giveaway and to make sure they are wearing their masks.
Plot Hole #3
When is Ellie turned into an android?
Was Ellie an android the entire time or was she turned when she was kidnapped? Me, I always think of her being turned when she was kidnapped, but I can actually understand the confusion. When she and Challis are in bed together and he asks her how old she is she says, “Don’t worry, I’m much older than I look”. That could be a clue that she was always an android. But, wouldn’t Cochran brag about her being such a believable android? He brags about literally everything else that he does, from smuggling in Stonehenge to owning an old German grandma who is damned to knit socks until the universe implodes. The director of the film itself goes on record to say he actually doesn’t know when Ellie was turned because he didn’t really think it through. That doesn’t bother me that much, though, as I like to be able to interpret a movie for myself without having answers shoved down my throat. Honestly, the biggest plot hole for me involves Challis asking Ellie how old she is after the first time they bone. Honestly, man, you missed the mark with that one. When you see Ellie and Challis get back together in the warehouse, Ellie is quite clearly a changed woman.
All of these plot holes aside, the real reason people hate this movie so much is because Deb and John upended the formula for the Halloween movies without really telling anyone and didn’t put Michael in the movie. They envisioned more Halloween films being made but becoming more of an anthology instead of dragging out the lore of Michael Myers for the next 40 years. I agree with their idea, as the first two Halloween films are wonderful and I won’t be convinced that we absolutely needed another x amount of films about Myers, even though I happily watch them all because I’m a brainwashed fangirl. I don’t buy people being irritated by gaping plot holes in this film being the reason they turned their noses up at it, because whether you want to admit it or not, we all know that the original Halloween had plenty of its own plot holes, including the funniest one that I mentioned in my last article—that Michael somehow knows how to drive without incident over 150 miles to Haddonfield after being institutionalized and looking at a wall for 15 years. It is still and always will be irritating to me that when this film came out, people were more interested in being pandered to rather than accepting a fresh new idea that in my opinion—if originally marketed and publicized correctly—would have been a much bigger hit.
Then there is the ending to the film, which people seem to hate because it doesn’t give the audience a definitive answer. Again, this is where I expect people to use their imagination and critical thinking skills. I love the ending. I’m a masochist, though, and don’t mind a little bit of torture.
Honestly, we may have been given a sequel to the film where Challis catches Cochran and avenges Ellie and countless children’s (including his own) death because Cochran won in the first film. Who knows what kind of amazing film we could have been given, if people weren’t so deeply offended by having their precious formula dabbled with. After all is said and done, I know this film is still a sore spot for a lot of Myers fans, but again I really don’t care. People say it should have been publicized as a standalone film that was possibly in the same universe as the original films, but then if they had done that, people wouldn’t have anything to complain about, would they?
What do you think about Halloween III: Season of the Witch? Am I being too harsh on the people who are critical of the film, or are you like me and just don’t care what they say?