Carpenter on Consumerism: A HALLOWEEN III Editorial/4K UHD Review

A dig into the film that surprisingly feels like a preamble to THEY LIVE

Thanks to that contractual clause in the deal for Halloween II, and that film’s success, Hill and Carpenter reluctantly returned to the franchise to deal out their third and final installment. The duo’s only condition however, was they wanted to spin the series off into more of an anthology, where each film would use the theme of Halloween to tell their own stories. Joe Dante was originally tapped to direct the next installment, with Nigel Kneale scripting. The only stipulation per Hill for the story, was it had to bring witchcraft into the computer age. Kneale was the one who cracked the basic story as we know it, but due to creative differences, Kneale abruptly left the film and took his name off the script. Carpenter then came in for a second revision as Dante unceremoniously jumped ship next, after being offered a slot on the Twilight Zone Movie leaving the project to Tommy Lee Wallace. Both Carpenter and Kneale removed their names from the script, leaving a somewhat misleading writing and directing credit to the first-time filmmaker.

For those who have never had the joy of experiencing the insanity that is Halloween III: Season of the Witch — the film follows alcoholic and deadbeat dad Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) who witnesses a bizarre murder suicide days before Halloween while hungover at the day job. After running into Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) the femme fatale daughter of the murdered man at his local watering hole, Dan is sucked into a noir that feels like it was cribbed from the pulpy pages of the Weekly World News. Armed simply with his wits and a six pack of Miller, Dan and Ellie head to the small town of Santa Mira, CA where her father was last seen alive looking for answers. They soon discover a community ruled by Conal Cochran, owner of Silver Shamrock novelties and his army of androids. Conal plans to use this season’s “must have ‘’ Halloween toy the Silver Shamrock mask, that just happens to have a piece of Stonehenge embedded in the tag, to take out the youth of the US on Halloween night. This is once they are triggered by one of the catchiest jingles ever.

Of all the Halloween films Carpenter touched, III feels the most like a John Carpenter joint, it just oozes machismo and is an interesting preamble to They Live. It’s not every film that has its protagonist skipping town on his kids during the holidays, to hide out in a hotel room with an obviously troubled young woman half his age. But those more absurdist leanings still don’t manage to distract from the heavier themes the film tackles such as the commercialization of Halloween, which is one of the driving factors of Conal Cochran. The film also manages to deal out a scathing commentary on the youth focused consumerism in the decade of greed. Without social media or tiny screens in front of tiny faces, advertisers had to reach these little consumers any way they could. This usually took the form of cartoons that were essentially 30 minute toy commercials. If you’ve watched any of those docuseries on Netflix about 80s toys you have a pretty good idea that this rather blatant advertising to kids was very much a thing, it’s just no one else was exploring these tactics with a horror film.

The film uses its metaphor of the weaponized must have toy for an extremely nihilistic take on consumerism and how we’re indoctrinated into being good bastions of capitalism at a very young age. It’s a somewhat familiar theme that runs through a lot of Carpenter’s filmography, and culminates in They Live, where he adds to his take on consumerism, classism in a scathing film that still hits just as hard today. While III is heavily divisive in the Halloween fandom because of its lack of Michael Myers and its overall ludicrous nature, I’ve loved it since I first caught it on HBO growing up. It’s such a weird movie that gets surprisingly dark in its final moment that still makes me pause for a moment, even today. This was an entry I was looking forward to revisiting and to be honest it still holds up astonishingly well. I am just glad the more attention this film gets the more I discover I am not alone in my love for the Season of the Witch.

The Release

Halloween III comes from a new 4K scan sourced from the original camera negative, approved by Cinematographer Dean Cundey. This is another disc that just captures his work flawlessly thanks to this new presentation. It definitely looks better than we’ve even seen it on a home media with excellent contrast and color throughout. For this entry it feels like the new Atmos track really focuses in on the score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth. This score while having that Halloween sound, feels more influenced by Escape from New York, than Halloween which given my argument above makes sense. I have to be honest these films have never looked this good and I saw III three times theatrically via an Answer Print that was recently discovered and making the repertoire rounds a few years ago. There is a brightness and an overall clarity to the picture that I think we might take for granted watching this at home, that just wasn’t possible back in the day.

Special Features:


NEW 2021 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative, Approved By Cinematographer Dean Cundey

NEW 2021 Dolby Atmos Track

Audio Commentary With Director Tommy Lee Wallace

Audio Commentary With Actor Tom Atkins

DISC 2 (Blu-Ray):

NEW 2021 4K Scan Of The Original Camera Negative, Approved By Cinematographer Dean Cundey

NEW 2021 Dolby Atmos Track

Audio Commentary With Tommy Lee Wallace

Audio Commentary With Tom Atkins

“Stand Alone: The Making Of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch” Featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Actors Tom Atkins And Stacey Nelkin, Stunt Coordinator Dick Warlock, Director Of Photography Dean Cundey, And More

Horror’s Hallowed Grounds: Revisiting The Original Shooting Locations With Host Sean Clark And Tommy Lee Wallace

Interview With Make-Up Effects Artist Tom Burman

Still Gallery

Theatrical Trailers

TV Spots

Radio Spots

DISC 1–4K ULTRA HD: 2160p Dolby Vision (2.35:1)/Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono

DISC 2 — BLU RAY: 1080p High-Definition (2.35:1)/Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio Mono

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