But the streak had to end at some point.
It’s mostly my fault. Instead of choosing something universally revered or something that I personally treasured, I went with a current trend, a movie that has in recent years grown in popularity since its relatively disastrous debut more than three decades ago. I’m talking about Halloween III: Season of the Witch. And the rest of the fault is its.
I thought it would be the perfect movie for this concept. First, we’d never actually done a Halloween-themed movie for this Halloween blog series. Second, this season is going to be our own personal Season of the Witch since we are spending all of October in Witch City itself—Salem, Massachusetts. Third, I hadn’t seen the movie since I first watched it on VHS in the late 1990s. I remembered the individual pieces of the movie—the basic plot, the masks, the jingle. But not really the movie overall. I shouldn’t have trusted the trend.
However, in the past few years, Halloween III seems to have experienced a resurgence. The story behind that resurgence seems sound. People didn’t judge the movie on its own merits when it first came out. They judged it for not being a Michael Myers movie. And it took a few decades and few bad Michael Myers sequels for us to finally do that. Even Tom Atkins’s IMDb.com biography calls the movie “unjustly maligned.” Right. He defended the movie in his biography.
So my wife quickly concocted some kind of clove and lemon cocktail for us to drink, and we streamed it off Amazon Prime. At the first frame, a murky shot of an overpass, Lindsey made a prophetic joke, “That doesn’t seem like a very Halloween scene.” I’m not sure if she meant it in the movie way or the holiday way since you can’t, you know, speak italics.
An hour and a half later, with Atkins’s screams of “Stop it!” still echoing in our living room, my wife looked at me and said, “We should do a different movie for your post.”
“That bad, huh?” I wasn’t surprised. I could tell by her reaction during the movie. Not to mention that I had found the movie pretty drab. Somehow.
“You liked it?” she asked.
“No. It was bad.”
“I didn’t like it at all. No feel to it. No ambiance.”
“Yeah, I mean the hospital in Halloween II had more Halloween just in that one building than this entire movie had.” We had just watched H2 the night previously, as part of me setting her up to think that Michael Myers would be in this one. “So I’m going to ask the obvious question, why didn’t you ask the obvious question?”
“Where was Michael Myers?”
“Oh. I think you’d mentioned at some point that this was a different kind of movie. I mean, I was expecting him, but from the first scene it just didn’t look like the other two Halloween movies and then as the movie went on, it was obvious he wasn’t part of it.”
“Hm. Too bad. I messed that up. I should have clearly told you he was in it, or done a better job of making you think he was. So that didn’t factor into you not liking the movie?”
“Makes sense. You’re not vested in slasher villains like most horror fans.”
“Maybe we should do a different movie. This isn’t an interesting conversation.”
“There was nothing you liked about it at all?”
She thought about it. “I liked the guy with the mustache. He didn’t seem like a leading man.”
“What about the masks?”
“Yeah, they were great.”
“I think they were the only things that gave the movie any sense of Halloween. What about being disgusted or scared? Did that happen to you at all?” In the past, I had seen some wonderful reactions from her thanks to the mastery of such bloodmavens as David Cronenberg and Clive Barker and Stuart Gorden.
“No, there wasn’t any point where I was covering my eyes or wishing a scene would be over. Not for that reason, anyway.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard some describe Halloween III as more science fiction than horror.”
She was right. The conversation wasn’t going anywhere. So I left it at that, but then returned to surprise-question her a few days later. I wasn’t hopeful. After all, I had agreed with everything she’d said so far.
“Have you thought about Halloween III since we watched it?”
“No, not at all. Was I supposed to?”
“Just wondering if anything had changed or if anything stuck with you about the movie.”
“What about the scene where all the creepy crawlies come out of the kid.”
“Didn’t really stick with me.”
“No. Maybe we should watch another movie.”
But still, many horror fans are embracing it these days. I’ve seen tons of T-shirts, retrospectives, and references just this season alone. The only way I can explain it is that the masks looks great, especially on a T-shirt, and that the individual set pieces, when referenced, seem cool. And while this might be Halloween heresy, I really think the movie is being embraced in the ideal. Which is fine. There are plenty of movies I do that with.
So, yeah, maybe originally it was “unjustly maligned” for not having Michael Myers in it. But today, I think there is a just reason to malign it. And I’m bummed about that.