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Film: Halloween III: Season of the Witch

"You don't really know much about Halloween. You thought no further than the strange custom of having your children wear masks and go out begging for candy."
Conal Cochran

Halloween III: Season of the Witch — the red-headed stepchild of the Halloween franchise — came about when producer John Carpenter decided to transform the series into a yearly anthology of films centered around various aspects of Halloween. Halloween III attempted to accomplish the task, but ended up met with a massive backlash from a fanbase hungry for more Michael.

A week before Halloween, Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins) gets called in to treat Harry Grimbridge, a horribly beaten toy salesman with a Halloween mask in a death grip who mumbles ominous warnings in Challis' presence. It gets stranger from there — one of the salesman's assailants breaks in, murders Harry, then sets himself on fire. Challis teams up with the man's daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), to unravel the mystery; the trail leads them to the town of Santa Mira, which serves as the home of the Silver Shamrock Novelty Company. Ellie's father had recently visited the company to pick up a shipment of their popular Halloween masks — masks like the one Harry had in his hands the night he died. While investigating the town, Dan and Ellie discover that Silver Shamrock has nefarious plans in the works... and that Harry's death served as a warning of things to come this Halloween season.

While the film has become something of a cult classic in the years since it's release, it performed poorly at the box office, and fans and critics were very harsh on the film for it not including Michael Myers. As a result, John Carpenter walked away from the franchise, which would be given a reboot with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers continuing the story from the original two films.

Not to be confused with Season of the Witch.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Air-Vent Passageway
  • All Hallows' Eve
  • Alliterative Name: Conal Cochran.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Dan rescues Ellie, only to find out in the end that she's a robot.
  • Apocalypse How: One of the more horrifying examples: it's one specifically directed at children.
  • Artifact Title: From the beginning, Carpenter had planned for all of the Halloween movies to be stand-alone stories taking place on Halloween. With that in mind, the title isn't really so baffling. Then Michael Myers wound up becoming so popular that the Halloween series basically became the Michael Myers series, and...
  • Body Horror: When one of Cochran's little pranks misfires in Marge's face, it's partially peeled away, and bugs start coming out of her mouth. What's left stays alive a while longer — unfortunately. Doubles as a sick Chekhov's Gun to what happens when the mask works as intended...
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: When Dan gets caught in the factory, Conal lets him live long enough to explain his entire evil plot and then places Dan in a Death Trap. This, of course, makes no sense since Dan is of no importance and serves no purpose to Conal. Logically he should have been killed instantly like every other victim in the movie.
  • Bookends: Film opens ends the same way, man with a warning arriving at a gas station (the same gas station, as matter of fact).
  • Brown Note: The last commercial.
  • Celtic Mythology: Conal Cochran really doesn't hate children, but the planets are aligned, and it's time for another mass sacrifice of the innocent on Samhain.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Conal Cochran. The man runs Santa Mira like a police state, invites his top salesman and his family to Santa Mira to kill them, and, oh yes, and his business is a front for murdering America's children.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Several. Cochran's robots have several very nasty and creative ways of killing their targets, including power drills, crushing their nasal passages to suffocate, and simply ripping people's heads off. Never mind what happens to Marge when one of Cochran's magic mask seals misfires in her face. The ultimate has to be Buddy and his family, though, when a test mask executes its program and slowly destroys his kid before his eyes.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: Possibly even Ridiculously Human Robots, in the case of Ellie.
    • Cochran's mooks were basically Magitek clockwork robots and obedient factory workers, but unlike past examples, there wasn't anything the LEAST bit funny about them - they were designed as low-tech Terminators.
  • Doppelgänger
  • Downer Ending/Diabolus ex Machina/Cruel Twist Ending: Challis succeeds in getting the commercial pulled from two channels, but it plays on a third. Thus, Cochran's plan ultimately succeeds, resulting in the probable deaths of millions of children. Worse, he was in the Pacific Time Zone (see Fridge Logic) so the commercial likely already had played in three other time zones while he was still battling Cochran in his factory.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Conal Cochran.
  • For the Evulz: "Mr. Kupfer was right, you know. I do love a good joke, and this is the best ever, a joke on the children."
  • Go Out with a Smile: Cochran.
  • Graceful Loser: Conal — he appears genuinely impressed with Challis' panache at trashing the place, giving him a little golf clap. Of course, that could be because he still has one more ace....
  • Helping Hands: After Challis destroys one of Cochran's automatons, its severed arm attacks him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Cochran.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday
  • Human Sacrifice: Make that sacrifices. Millions of them...almost all children.
  • Indecisive Parody: Mostly serious horror film with occasional moments of silliness.
  • Infant Immortality: This film subverts it, averts it, rips it up, throws the pieces on the ground, and stomps on them.
  • In Name Only
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The Silver Shamrock jingle is based on London Bridge.
  • Jingle
  • Karma Houdini: Conal Cochran. Challis triggers the block of Stonehenge; Cochran is caught in the middle of the detonation and disappears; the factory burns down around him. His ultimate fate is uncertain, but even if the Stonehenge blast vaporizes him, his plan still goes off and his fate was far kinder then those of his victims.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Conal tells Challis that they had a devil of a time getting the Stonehenge monolith to California — which fails to explain how (though a magician never reveals his secrets, he points out). Also anticipated by the news broadcast about the theft of the monolith.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: When Cochran disappears, the Stonehenge piece magically shorts out, starting a massive fire that burns down the factory.
  • Magitek: Cochran puts tiny pieces of Stonehenge into corporate seals in his masks. When triggered by a flashing picture, they execute an extremely destructive spell, messily decaying the head in the mask and releasing deadly insects and serpents to cause collateral damage. The robots are also a likely example of it.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Cochran's henchmen are all eventually revealed to be robots.
  • Mr. Smith: Alias of Ben and Ellie when they arrive to Santa Mira.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Challis — he's a womanizer and an alcoholic, but he's far from being a bad person and does everything he can to stop the Silver Shamrock plot.
  • Murderous Mask: The lethal masks that Cochran plans to use to murder millions of children.
  • Noodle Incident: How the bad guys got the piece of Stonehenge.
    Conal Cochran: Ha ha! We had a time getting it here. You wouldn't believe how we did it!"
  • Novelization: Contains lots of Purple Prose.
  • Oddball in the Series
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Averted and inverted. Cochran - played by an Irish actor - doesn't have a strong Irish accent for most of the movie, but his pronunciation of Samhain in Irish Gaelic is exactly correct.
  • Public Domain Artifact: Conal's Unobtanium comes from chips of Stonehenge.
  • Pursued Protagonist
  • Robotic Reveal
  • Shout-Out:
    • Halloween is playing on the TV in the bar, and again during the Horror-thon (an odd choice considering Conal's target audience, but whatever).
    • Santa Mira is the name of the town in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Fitting, no?
  • The Sociopath: Cochran, to the point where he's arguably as horrifying as Michael Myers himself.
  • Theme Music Abandonment: The classic theme is not heard, because this was an attempt to take the series in a different direction
    • Kind of. Bits of the original score surface when Challis was tied to the chair and the original Halloween is playing in the background, providing creepy music for the scene.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Subverted — when it happens, it's a good thing for a change. It isn't enough to stop Cochran's evil plan from going off and killing millions, unfortunately.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Was Ellie always a robot, or captured and replaced by one in Cochran's factory? If the latter, what happened to the real Ellie — did Cochran kill her, was she killed when the factory burned down, or did she escape?
    • The real robots weren't very talkative, but Ellie early on was quite animated, and was hellbound to go to the factory. Probably Ellie was real until she saw her father's car, and was seen being forced into the factory by other robots shortly thereafter. Notice how Ellie never spoke from the moment that she was "rescued"? The ad hoc robot Ellie was Cochran's last little joke - and assurance that Challis would die no matter what happened in the factory. Ellie was most likely... disposed of.
  • When The Planets Align


Halloween II (1981)Franchise/HalloweenHalloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Deep RisingRoger Ebert Most Hated Film ListHellbound: Hellraiser II
Halloween II (1981)Films of the 1980sHalloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween II (1981)Horror FilmsHalloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Four RoomsGenre AnthologyThe Red Violin
Halloween II (1981)Creator/Shout! FactoryThe Horror Show

alternative title(s): Halloween III; Halloween III Season Of The Witch
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