Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Halloween III - Season of the Witch (1982)

Most horror fans have heard the explanation as to why there is no Michael Myers in Halloween III - Season of the Witch. The producers felt they could turn the Halloween franchise into an anthology, after all, there are endless stories that could be told around Halloween holiday. Unfortunately, the box office did not treat Halloween III very kindly and we got Michael Myers back to part 4. The Halloween film anthology never came to be, although interestingly, we did end up with a Friday the 13th television anthology series with no Jason and a Nightmare on Elm Street anthology series, Freddy's Nightmares - which featured Freddy as the weekly host. John Carpenter had some great intentions here, they just didn't pan out.

The plot is a send up on consumer culture - encouraging children to get parents to buy them masks for Halloween which will ultimately kill them. Fun times!! The film portrays an alcoholic doctor, Dan Challis (Tom Atkins), who stumbles upon an evil plot by an Irish toy maker named Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy). Cochran, who is part of an ancient order of witches, plans a mass pagan sacrifice of children by using cursed masks that will kill anyone who wears them at 9 PM on Halloween night. And how does he make sure that every unsuspecting child wears the masks? By running a series of TV ads touting a big prize giveaway from his toy company right before a screening of a horror classic you might recognize: the original Halloween. This is really the only thread connecting it to the first two films.

Halloween III is very corny and some would say cheesy. However, we must view it through the eyes of audiences in 1982. We had just barely tipped our toes into the slasher horror series of films to come out during that decade. H3 offered an original storyline, which featured the themes of Halloween, spooky masks and some supernatural occult stuff thrown in the mix. At the root, the film has a lot going for it; a strong message, suspense and a couple gross out sequences.

For years I had actually longed to see this movie, but you couldn't find it anywhere.  I remember my first exposure to the movie on a visit to Universal Studios in 1982 with my parents. The trams use to have lobby cards displayed inside the upper area of the trams of upcoming films. I distinctly remember seeing the ad for Halloween III. I also remember seeing the television ads play too. For a 6 year old, I will say, this film looked scary! And with the name, Season of the Witch, my little mind imagined a terrible scary green witch with a black cauldron, ready to boil some children alive. My imagination was similarly tickled with this imagery while screening the Blair Witch Project. Too my disappointment, no classic green witches appear in either film.

Monday, October 17, 2016

31 (2016)

Rob Zombie's latest horror film brings you what you have come to expect out of Zombieland, a campy homage to 70s horror with today's new standard graphic depictions of terror.

Ready for a spoiler filled synopsis? On Halloween 1976, eight fun loving carnies are traveling in their RV through the desert on their way to their next gig. After some shenanigans in the van, they stop for gas. During the rest stop, there are some ominous creepy encounters that take place, but are mostly ignored. They get back in the RV and continue driving. During the night, they come upon a road blocked by scarecrow looking things, while investigating they're attacked and some are murdered while the rest are kidnapped. The kidnapped awake chained up in an ornate room where three aristocratically dressed people tell them they have been chosen to participate in their annual game of 31.

The game of 31 requires the winner to survive 12 hours in an underground labyrinth like factory compound known as Murderworld. The remaining kidnapped carnies are each armed with a weapon and are being hunted by clown like killers known as the Heads. Sick-Head, Psycho-Head, Schizo-Head, Sex-Head, Death-Head and Doom-Head. The three aristocrats running the game, place ongoing wagers and odds on who will survive the longest, because no one has ever survived and escaped. The prize for surviving is their freedom.

This is not my favorite Rob Zombie film, that would still have to be House of 1000 Corpses. What I did enjoy was the strong female role played by Sheri Moon Zombie. She kicks some serious butt. The only clown killer worth mentioning was Doom-Head, that dude was seriously creepy. Like, get under your skin sadistic. The overall film is brutal and at times, over the top which is actually when I felt I could breathe. It takes elements from the following films: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 and 2, I Spit on Your Grave, Halloween as well as Hostel and Saw, You may also find other connections and homages. You will probably find yourself feeling like you have seen all of this before. Well, in one way or another, you have. If you want a horror ride, buy the ticket.

I watched the film on VOD the weekend it was released. If you really want to see on the big screen, there is one more chance this Thursday night, October 20th at select theaters.