Often maligned for being the lone Halloween entry not to star Michael Myers, Season of the Witch proves to be an exemplary installment of the series regardless. Aided by Dean Cundey's slick lensing and a throbbing score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth (one of their best, in fact), this third entry sustains the mood of the first two films, while delivering a wholly unique take on a mask mythos. In the director's seat this time is Tommy Lee Wallace, a frequent Carpenter collaborator who amps up the gore (this was 1982, after all) while staying true to the drawn-out pacing that worked so well in previous films. While the famed mask killer makes only a brief appearance (in a coy post-modern twist), the mysterious boogeymen that appear throughout make a fitting replacement - especially since it usually ends with some kind of nasty onscreen death. Halloween III also marks a change in protagonists, from the 'final girl' archetype to yet another Carpenter vet, Tom Atkins, who anchors the film while going from an everyman to a raving Kevin McCarthy-like loon at the end. Time has indeed been kinder to the sequel, as genre enthusiasts become more vocal about their love of the movie. It's clear that film fans are more averse to it than fright fans, but taken on its own, Season of the Witch more than proves its merit. For proof, check out Dan O'Herlihy's stellar turn as Conal Cochran, never mind the kids in the melting masks, or simply the 'Silver Shamrocks' tune - all indelible moments in horror history.
by Jeremy Wheeler review