IT’S A BLOODY PISS TAKE! WOULD YOU EXPECT ANYTHING LESS FROM US GRUMPS?
To the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”/“Silver Shamrock Theme”:
It’s been a week since Halloween, Halloween, Halloween
It’s been a week since Halloween and this song still sucks
My original plan was to have this piece ready for everyone in October, but a series of life events pushed back my ability to complete it in time, which I admit was disappointing. On a positive note, though, it does at least feel pretty appropriate to highlight this supposed “gem” in a disappointed manner – as heading into this once-lambasted film reclaimed in recent years as a “classic” with any type of elevated expectations will certainly result in the same feeling.
To begin, we can concede a few positives… well, maybe more like a couple than a few, as there are two major points worth commending. The first is the obvious: in Halloween III: Season of the Witch there is no Michael Myers to be found. Seeing as he’s easily the most boring of the Classic Slasher Villains, it’s nice to get a film in this franchise without him. No plodding slowly and ominously towards people who somehow can’t seem to simply run away–I mean, he walks more slowly than a zombie, and there’s only one of him! No inquisitively tilting his head as if he’s my dog, pretending and failing to convey emotion under his dirty Shatner mask. No rewritten and retconned backstories of who Michael is or isn’t. Just no Michael, period. This is a major plus.
Secondly, the film does star Tom Atkins, who is undeniably cool. As a suave doctor with a Magnum PI vibe, Tom does up the cool factor of the film a good deal. Of course, his character is not without its own issues (which we’ll get to in a bit) – yet, it’s always fun to see him chewing up the scenery, solving mysteries, and getting his groove on.
Beyond replacing Mikey with Tom, there’s not much about this middle-of-the-road horror film that legitimizes the renaissance it has experienced the past few years. It’s surely better than the piece of trash many dismissed it as upon its release in 1982 — a fact to which I’ll concede. The dismissal was most certainly due to people expecting more Myers mayhem. Surely, the extremely nihilistic and mean tone didn’t help win the film fans in that era, but the main issue was the elimination of their beloved Michael Myers and his endless oafish trudging from scene to scene. While any horror fan with decent taste would appreciate the elimination of his humdrum presence, it seems the drones could not be appeased by the inclusion of Atkins over the Shat-masked Shape.
Yet, sometime in the past few years, a perfect blend of podcast reappraisals, Scream Factory restorations, and Hot Topic merchandising presented a new look at the nihilistic Silver Shamrock infomercial. Now, it seems that anyone “cool” in the horror world is crawling out of the pumpkin patch claiming they’ve always loved it. Many call it a classic, and many claim it’s essential viewing every Halloween season… some even talk about how the extremely irritating “Silver Shamrock Theme” turns them on (albeit, I can only assume this is said ironically or to be funny, because, if true, there’s definitely some major stuff going on with those people).
Loving any movie is anyone’s right, I get that. In fact, I applaud it. I even have friends who unironically love Science Crazed, a movie that is objectively bad, and not in any endearing way. However, fans of Halloween III: Season of the Witch don’t often seem self-aware enough to admit that their beloved film is more muddled than the modern films they trash, and that the entire plot is just a background for a medial Lothario trying to get laid any way he can.
Let’s look at the basic plot, which features masks that are designed to turn the wearers’ heads into snakes and bugs via witchcraft transmitted through a microchip implanted in the masks which are activated by a signal broadcast during a special paid television segment. The weird technology-meets-witchcraft thing isn’t ever adequately explained, but what’s weirder is the maniacal kingpin behind Silver Shamrock employs a variety of robotic henchmen that have weird ooze inside them for some reason or another. Of course, our aforementioned Lothario, Dr. Magnum Tom Atkins MD, has plans to thwart their evil ways… but many questions are begged of their plans and the execution of those plans.
First, how does the witchcraft turn the wearer’s head into both snakes AND bugs? Could they not decide which was the grosser option or worse punishment? Wouldn’t that require multiple spells? How are you able to fit those multiple spells into one silver dollar-sized microchip?
Then, there’s another question that seems to be even greater. If their witchcraft is this powerful, why did they limit their transmission to just those wearing the masks? Is the technology simply not there to affect everyone watching? Why not perfect the technology for another year or two until total world domination was certain? It’s like they went to the School of Bond Villains, especially when they inevitably monologue about their intentions while literally showing the protagonist what their death masks do and how they work.
But, wait… that’s just the background plot, as I noted before – as it seems, the real story here is Tommy A trying to get booty from any lady willing to give it up. Besides the new gal in town, whom he beds right after she arrives in town to identify her dead family, he also has something going with a woman in the coroner’s office, and still seems sweet on his ex-wife. More than once he insinuates he’ll owe one or more of the ladies sexual favors in return for their help, all the while clearly engaging in a relationship with the vulnerable visitor.
While the plot about the masks is what most folks take from the film, as confusing and nonsensical as it is, it’s Atkins and his quests to get some that really define the pacing and tone of the film. This isn’t the worst thing, as it at least seems realistic, especially when considering it’s the early ’80s and Tom Atkins is an extremely handsome man. Yet, it’s not something that demands a feature-length film. But I digress…
When it comes down to it, I admit I get some of the appeal of this one. It’s surely a better option than any other Halloween film made before Rob Zombie saved the franchise decades later. It’s a more than adequate film, despite its giant plotholes and inconsistent blend of witchcraft and technology. It really isn’t all that bad… even if the main appeal really is that we aren’t forced to watch another 90 minutes of that dopey masked man who walked more slowly than the trees in the (equally awful) Lord of the Rings movies.
Happy week after Halloween, y’all. Hope you’re celebrating by eating candy and watching something far better than Halloween III. ★
If you liked that Bloody Piss Take, take a look at what Justin thinks of The Shining!