Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare

I’m back! I’m not sure how I feel about my first post of 2018 being about a made-for-t.v. killer bee movie, but, I’m back! A couple of days ago, I read about 1995’s Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare and I knew I had to see it. I remember when people were genuinely scared about killer bees. I saw news reports about it when I was little, in the late 80s or very early 90s. I was six or seven at the time. In fact, I spent an afternoon in my family’s screened-in porch once after seeing a story about killer bees. Not like I had anything to worry about, I grew up in New Jersey.
This movie caught my attention because of its release date. Surprisingly, it’s hard to find information about its production but it was released in 1995 and that seems sort of late for a killer-bee fear movie. Also, it has a young Ryan Phillippe in it. Please excuse the picture quality, some kind people have uploaded this movie on YouTube but the picture quality isn’t great.
The movie opens with about ten different facts and warnings about bees. Inaccurate facts. Killer bees are actually a crossbreed of European and African honey bees. A scientist was trying to create a breed of bees that were better adapted to tropical conditions than the European strains being used. Twenty-six swarms were accidentally released in the late 1950s and they’ve been moving north ever since. Sorry, I should rename my blog BEE FACTS.
Anyway, I forgave this movie when I saw this warning.

The movie opens with a sheriff’s deputy trying to warn people in a dangerous abandoned house. Instead of going inside through the door like a normal person, he kind of wedges himself into an open window and is trapped. We then get a POV shot from the perspective of a swarm of bees attacking his mouth. I was hoping the movie would hold up this momentum but it doesn’t.
The movie follows the Ingram family. The parents are very busy, important business people who recently moved to southern California. Dad is a lawyer (Played by Robert Hays, aka Ted Striker from Airplane), mom’s an interior designer, and they recently bought an orchard that they want to make their primary business. They have three children and they’re busy living a very early 90s Laura Ashley-looking lifestyle. The parents are both on the phone when we meet them. The dad’s talking about depositions and the mom’s talking about fabric. They both have very distinct, different-looking phones in their hands, but there’s this weird gag where they accidentally switch phones and talk to the wrong person. But we never see them put the phones down. It’s so weird. This movie is a little strange.
Dad first becomes aware of killer bees when he sees a Department of Agriculture woman putting out traps for them. But then he talks to dreamy, Fabio-esque beekeeper Ken (Michael A. Nickles), who beekeeps while wearing a chambray shirt, and he feels better.

Ken is so chill around bees that he signs paperwork with his hand all covered in bees.

The family continues with their lives unworried about bees until two classmates of their children are killed by killer bees. Technically, the teens went to make out near the town billboard and didn’t notice there were killer beehives nearby and the bees started stinging them. They tried to drive away but get hit by a truck. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the bees entirely for that. The guy had been drinking and driving earlier in the movie. This is maybe 70% the bees’ fault but 30% his fault.
Ryan Phillippe plays Tom, a friend of the Ingram’s son and the teen who’s killed. He harbors a grudge against the bees and flings rocks at the hives as they’re BEE-ING destroyed (Oh god, I’m so sorry).

The parents also meet Pruitt Taylor Beauchamp (Dennis Christopher), an eccentric entomologist whose job it is to make the mom even more terrified of killer bees.

Beauchamp is like every member of the Lone Gunmen rolled into one person and we only get five minutes of screen time with him. He just kind of wanders up to where the killer beehives are, wanders away, and then speaks very loudly at a cafe. Him and the dreamy beekeeper are basically the best characters in the movie.
Deadly Invasion originally aired on Fox, the home of The X-Files, and it isn’t lost on me that there are even some X-Files-style government agents that are toeing the government’s line about killer bee policy. The audience os clearly supposed to be outraged that the government isn’t doing more to fight the killer bee threat.

This movie’s purpose is basically to make the public aware of killer bees. There will be normal dialogue but then the actors will get all stiff and weird and start spouting out BEE FACTS.
The movie culminates with Tom taking vengeance on the bees by shooting hives at the family’s orchard with a gun. In this movie, if you need someone to do something incredibly dumb then you just need to call Tom over. The family winds up trapped in their house because of Tom.

This movie is such an odd little time capsule. Possibly one of the last made for t.v. movies from the major networks. I don’t watch current t.v. movies because they’re schlocky on purpose and that’s not fun. This is from the end of the era of earnest t.v. movies.
This movie is cheesy fun. That being said, don’t expect a high body count. The deputy and the teen couple are the only people who die. The Ingram family’s youngest daughter gets stung at one point and the mom just recites, “Five or six stings on a child her size!” which is basically word for word something Beauchamp said earlier.
This movie is so clearly trying to make us aware of and scared of killer bees, I can’t help but love it. Aside from the low body count, my main criticism is that the ending with the family escaping their house is the most boring part of the movie. Escaping a house full of killer bees shouldn’t be boring!
But then the movie redeems itself with this;

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Children of the Corn (1984)

Remember that time I reviewed the Children of the Corn remake? That was terrible! I was browsing Netflix and saw that they actually have the original and decided to watch it for the first time in twenty years. Parts of it haven’t aged so well but I still thought this was a good watch.
There are some scenes from scary movies that permanently embed themselves in your mind. I always remembered this one scene from a movie of a man having his hand forcibly stuck in one of those deli meat slicers. Turns out it was from this movie. So I guess this movie was successful at burning that scene in my mind.
The movie is interesting because it’s narrated by a child, Job (Robby Kiger, who was also Patrick in The Monster Squad) and it starts three years before the events of the movie. The main antagonist is Isaac (John Franklin), a preteen preacher who has a revelation from He Who Walks Behind the Rows.
Isaac’s main allies are Malachai (Courtney Gains) and Rachel (Julie Maddalena), they both fervently enforce Isaac’s will.

There’s bloodshed within five minutes of this movie starting as the children poison and stab the adults of the town.
Job and his little sister, Sarah (AnneMarie McEvoy) don’t participate. Their parents dislike Isaac so they weren’t present when Isaac had his revelation. They’re mostly excluded from the Activities of the Corn but they’re not allowed to leave. Also, Sarah has visions of the future that she draws, so Isaac mostly allows them to be left alone.
Three years later, Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton!) are driving across country to Burt’s new job. True fact, Peter Horton and Linda Hamilton were together for a year in the early 80s. If there was any animosity between the pair, it doesn’t show. They have much better chemistry than the actors in the remake. They manage to bicker without it becoming uncomfortable, the way it was in the remake.

Look, a copy of Night Shift on the dashboard! If only they had read it they would know to avoid Gatlin.

They hit a child while driving through Gatlin, Town of the Corn. Turns out the kid had his throat slit because he tried to escape before they hit him. They arrive in the town and find nothing but desolate cornliness. Seriously, there are little corn totems and stalks of corn everywhere.

There’s even a corn church.

Vicky, very sensibly, wants to go to the next town, Hemingford, but Burt is stubborn and insists on looking at every corner of this ghost town for an adult. From here, they encounter the children and realize how sick the town is.
What keeps this movie entertaining is the constant creepy imagery and the desolation. There’s a very Wicker Man-feel to the attempted sacrifice of Vicky and the effigy of The Blue Man.

In the end, Malachai and Isaac learn what happens when you try to double cross He Who Walks Among the Rows. And we’re treated to this truly awful CGI.

The movie fails towards the end. In the novella, Burt and Vicky die. It’s okay if the movie doesn’t follow the story exactly but the movie ends with these cheesy sitcom jokes about taking off with Job and Sarah. Then Rachel tries to kill them and there’s even more laughter. It’s like the ending of a particularly dark episode of Diff’rent Strokes. Most of the movie holds up well but the ending just doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the movie. I wonder if the filmmakers tried to temper the darkness of the opening? Apparently, Stephen King wrote a draft of the script that was rejected. I’m curious to see what that draft was like.
I still think He Who Walks Among the Rows is Randall Flagg. I’m basing this mostly on Mother Abigail’s experiences in Hemingford Home after the superflu, when she senses the evil in the corn. That being said, my only knowledge of the Randall Flagg mythos is based on The Stand because I haven’t read The Dark Tower series.
This movie mostly holds up but I’m also a sucker for a killer kids movie. It’s 90 minutes, so, aside from the ending it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. And everyone can agree with the message of the danger of false prophets.

Posted in 1980's, cult classics, cults, killer kids, slasher, supernatural | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bad Ronald

Oh boy, I am so excited to have a chance to write about Bad Ronald today. I first heard about this cult made-for-t.v. movie from 1974 during an episode of Ugly Betty, of all places. Betty’s roommate, Amanda, blames everything bad that she does on Bad Ronald. I looked the reference up and discovered one of the strangest t.v. movies I’ve ever heard of. It has everything! Made for t.v. movie seventies styles and a killer kid.
Please excuse the quality of the screencaps. The only DVD of this available is a Warner Archive Collection bare-bones release from 2009 and everything’s a little muddy. I’m not sure if the movie looked like this when it first aired. This movie is begging for a Scream Factory release with a nice, clean transfer and loads of extra features.
The movie stars Scott Jacoby as misfit Ronald Wilby. He’ll look familiar if you’re a fan of The Golden Girls because he plays Dorothy’s son, Michael Zbornak.

Ronald is a nerdy outcast with a controlling mother played by Kim Hunter, who’s best known as Stella from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Ronald dreams of going to medical school so he can become a doctor and cure his mother’s unspecified illness. He also loves to paint and draw and is fascinated by an imaginary kingdom that he created, Atranta.
After being humiliated while asking out his crush, he accidentally bumps into her little sister, Carol Matthews (Angela Hoffman). They trade insults and this quickly escalates to violence and he pushes her, making her fatally hit her head on a cinder-block. The descriptions I’ve read about this movie emphasize the accidental nature of Carol’s death but I tend to disagree. It’s a fierce attack by a boy at least five years older than this girl. It’s creepy how quickly Ronald snaps.
Ronald buries Carol and confesses to his mother what he’s done. They take the door and door-frame off of their spare bedroom, and plaster and wallpaper over it, creating a secret room. They create a little door in the pantry to slide him food and his mom tells everyone that Ronald ran away.
Their plan works until the mom has to go into the hospital and get gall-bladder surgery. She dies and Ronald is trapped in the house. He becomes more and more isolated and drills peepholes all over when he realizes that realtors are showing the house (The realtor is played by John Fielder, who played Dorothy’s plain-looking but good in bed boyfriend, Eddie, on The Golden Girls). He spends most of his time drawing more pictures of Atranta and trying to hide from nosy neighbor Mrs. Schumacher (Linda Watkins).
Eventually, a family with three daughters moves in and Ronald becomes fixated on the youngest, Babs Wood (Cindy Fisher).

He’s also enraged when he realizes the oldest sister is dating Duane Matthews, Carol’s older brother. Babs has never liked the house and the rest of the family has started noticing weird noises and missing food.
At one point, Mrs. Schumacher sees Ronald and dies of shock. He hides her body, leaving her house empty.
The movie ends with the parents leaving the girls alone for the weekend. Ronald tries to kidnap Babs when she’s alone but she escapes and he locks her in Mrs. Schumacher’s basement. He tries to make it look like she ran away and that’s what the police think when Babs’ sisters report her missing. They don’t believe she was kidnapped until middle sister, Althea (Cindy Eilbacher) accidentally discovers the peephole.

The movie ends with Ronald being arrested.
This movie has great atmosphere and is really good at being creepy. The last moments when the girls realzie someone has been spying on them are very tense. Scott Jacoby is great at showing Ronald’s mental deterioration. Kim Hunter is also quite good in this and it would have been great to see more of her.
The movie clocks in at just over an hour long. The movie’s main flaw is that it doesn’t really establish Ronald’s relationship with his peers or his relationship with his mother. I wish it were just twenty minutes longer to show Ronald being bullied, so his reaction to Carol would make more sense. It would also be great seeing his mother being more overbearing and how unhealthy their relationship is. I know some people consider “remake” a dirty word but this movie could stand a good remake.
The movie’s main plot hole is that no one seems to notice the missing room. Babs’ mother comments that it’s strange that a four bedroom house only has one bathroom (The other bathroom is walled up with Ronald’s room). It’s strange that the realtors don’t notice this missing room. The outer dimensions of the house wouldn’t match the inner dimensions.
What saves the movie from being bad is its short run time. It’s long enough to tell a story and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It does have some unfortunately generic t.v. music. A great score could have really elevated the tension. This movie’s fun for cult movie fans but isn’t necessarily for everyone.
I’m going to end this review with a gallery with some of Ronald’s creepy artwork.

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The Whip and the Body

Hey, look, an entry! I’m back with Mario Bava’s 1963 The Whip and the Body. This French-Italian co-production is alternately known as La frusta e il corpo in Italian or Le corps et le fouet in French.

The production stars Christopher Lee as the main antagonist, Kurt Menliff.

By the time this movie was made, Lee had already starred as Dracula, the Mummy, and Sherlock Holmes. Sadly, the English version isn’t dubbed by any of the original actors! So even though he has an amazing screen presence, we don’t get to hear his voice. We should always hear Christopher Lee’s voice!
I have the Kino Classics remastered edition that comes with an Italian or French track with subtitles, or English dubbing. I chose Italian since I’m familiar with the language already. This edition also has about ten minutes that were cut by censors.
Menliff is a sadist who drove a servant girl to suicide when he refused to marry her. He left his family’s castle in a vague Eastern European country and returned, allegedly to congratulate his brother, Christian (Tony Kendall) on his marriage to Kurt’s former fiance, Nevenka (Daliah Lavi).

Upon returning, he immediately resumes his sadomasochistic relationship with Nevenka, reminding her that she always enjoyed violence.

That is, until he’s found dead with a knife in his throat. The same knife that the servant he seduced used to kill herself. Who killed Kurt? Everyone in the castle has a motive, from Kurt’s father to the mother of the dead servant girl. What’s more, the people who Kurt claimed hated him start turning up dead. Nevenka claims to have seen the ghost of Kurt, who still sports red blood from his slit throat. Kurt manages to whip Nevenka even as a specter.

The major theme of this movie is repression. Nevenka represses her true feelings for Kurt. She knows she should hate him for what he did to the servant girl, especially now that she’s married to Christian, but she can’t resist Kurt.

The castle appears cold and damp. It’s mostly furnished in cold blues and blue-grays, but there are spots of red, suggesting hidden emotions and passion.
Secrets abound in the castle, from the literal secret passage that Kurt knows of to his father’s room, to the secret love that Christian has for the servant girl, Katia (Isli Oberon).
Color is such a major part of Mario Bava’s work. This movie features a very muted version of Bava’s aesthetic. The lighting is very toned down compared to Bava’s other works, with muted cool blues and occasional flashes of red. The lighting in this movie said more than the words in the script. Scenes and actors tended to be lit with the cool blue light, sometimes tending towards green, but when something tense was happening, the lighting would change to more warm, natural-looking light.
Here’s Nevenka in her room as Kurt haunts her;

When Nevenka is involved with Kurt the light tends to start more warm and natural and turns more red and lurid, especially when it’s on Kurt, suggesting their passion, violence, and destructive relationship.
See an emotional Nevenka at Kurt’s burial;

And check out Kurt in one of his final scenes with Nevenka;

It’s interesting that Kurt’s burial scene features actors in warm colors and more red imagery, considering how much blue is used throughout the rest of the movie.

Along with the more muted color, by Bava standards, the gore is also toned down. There are multiple whipping scenes and several scenes with slit throats but don’t expect buckets of blood.
The movie was interesting enough but it’s not my favorite Bava picture. It felt almost like a parody of one of the API Corman-Poe movies or a Hammer parody. Honestly, the sexual nature of the movie is what keeps it more interesting than a lot of gothic horror from this time period. This movie doesn’t feel like a typical Bava film but is still an interesting, weird gothic movie. I’d say it’s worth it if you’re a Christopher Lee fan because, although he doesn’t have many scenes he brings a distinct menacing presence to the movie.

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Audition by Ryu Murakami

My Halloween marathon of the Halloween series kind of failed but I’m back with a book review. If you’ve been reading my blog long enough then you know how much I love the movie Audition.



I was so happy and surprised when one of my friends told me that it was based on a 1997 book by Ryu Murakami.
When she asked if I wanted to borrow it my reaction was something like, “Hell yes! Sign me up!”
The plot of the movie is remarkably similar to the movie. Aoyama is a widower with a teenage son. He’s looking to remarry at the urging of his son. His friend, Yoshikawa, suggests holding auditions to meet the perfect woman. This is how he meets Asami, a beautiful but troubled and dangerous younger woman. He falls head over heels in love with her despite the warnings of Yoshikawa who’s suspicious of her.
The book is short at only 190 pages and borders on being a novella. I can’t speak for how it reads in Japanese but the prose in the English translation is incredibly stark. Murakami spends little time on adjectives and spends more time on building the characters, especially Aoyama. In the movie, Aoyama is older, not ugly but dorky and out of step. In the book, he’s alienated from contemporary Japanese culture and spends his time reminiscing about the past. His work and hobbies are mostly focused on the past, whether it’s listening to classical music or convincing a renowned pipe-organist to come to Japan for a concert.
In the movie, after Aoyama and Asami spend a night together at a resort, Asami disappears and he never sees her again until she hunts him down and tortures him. What I liked better in the book is how explicit it is about how much Asami’s disappearance hurts Aoyama. He searches for her for months and you really see him deal with the depression of losing someone he’s in love with without an explanation that he can understand.
There are two scenes in the book that get treated very differently in the movie and I thought that was an interesting contrast. I’m talking about the sex scene between Asami and Aoyama and the scene where Asami tortures Aoyama.
First, the sex scene. It’s incredibly brief but uncomfortable in the movie. The movie doesn’t really show the sex but you watch the scene and you realize that Asami is really weird. In the book, it’s about ten pages of rough sex and it’s brutal. I don’t mean that it’s rapey, I mean more that it’s between two incredibly damaged, lonely people.
Now, the torture scene. In the book it’s about twenty pages but it’s nowhere near as explicit as the movie. Honestly, the last thirty minutes of Audition are where the movie really shines. Everything in the movie basically leads up to this one part where you find out exactly what happened to Asami and what she does in her free time. It’s beautifully filmed, hallucinatory, and terrifying. What happens in the book feels like an outline but what happens in the movie feels fully fleshed-out.
Here’s the Audition segment from Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

That’s honestly the main critique of the book. It’s so short that it can feel like you’re reading a screenplay. But I also consider that the mark of a successful novel, when you want to know everything about the characters and everything that happens.
I recommend this book for fans of the movie but I’m not sure if it stands alone for people who haven’t seen the movie.

Posted in 1990's, body horror, books, foreign, psychological | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers

Seventeen more days ’till Halloween, Silver Shamrock! I’m back for the Halloweenening 2016 with my review of Halloween IV: The Curse of Michael Myers.

By this point in the Nightmare on Elm Street series I was starting to get bored with the sequels and my fondness for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is based almost entirely on nostalgia. In contrast, I found this to be a completely solid horror sequel. It’s not innovative the way the original was but it isn’t boring and has some genuinely creepy moments.
This movie was supposed to be another anthology entry, like last week’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch but the movie performed so poorly that the producers wanted to bring Michael Myers back. As much as I enjoyed Halloween III, I can understand people wondering where Michael Myers went. This really iconic character was introduced in two movies and then just disappears. John Carpenter worked with Dennis Etchison, who’d written Halloween novelizations to write a script but it was deemed too cerebral. So Carpenter and his frequent collaborator, Debra Hill, sold the rights, and this is how we have a fairly standard slasher sequel. I kind of wonder if there’s a place in the multiverse where Carpenter and Hill’s version exists. Halloween IV was good but I will always wonder what their sequel would look like.
The movie returns to Haddonfield. The opening has some great, desolate shots that are pretty creepy. You find out that Laurie Strode is dead. Halloween IV came out in 1988 and by this time, Jamie Lee Curtis was ready to walk away from the series. So we follow her daughter, Jamie (Danielle Harris), who is coping with the death of her parents and nightmares of a strange man. She lives with a foster family in Haddonfield.
Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) remains in a coma after the events of Halloween II. He’s being transferred to Smith’s Grove and Dr. Loomis is NOT supervising this transfer. You know that if Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) were there that Michael Myers’ arms would be strapped down with chains, duct tape, and rope. Nope, his arms are unrestrained during the transfer, so, as the ambulance attendants talk about his still living niece, he springs to life and just murders everyone. His real target is Jamie but any living human being between him and her is a target.
Watching this movie, I realized that I accidentally lied about not having seen the later Halloween sequels. There’s a scene where a bunch of jerk children from the 80s are teasing Jamie for being an orphan and not celebrating Halloween when I realized that I’d absolutely seen this movie, so TBS or TNT must have shown it at least once.
This is the third time Michael Myers has escaped so this time the entire town of Haddonfield is on lock-down. That’s a cool idea that you don’t really see in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Although, so much of A Nightmare on Elm Street is spent convincing adults that something awful is happening that I can’t imagine a whole town going into lock-down for Freddy.
Jamie’s foster sister, Rachel (Ellie Cornell), does everything she can to protect Jamie but there’s some incredibly unsubtle foreshadowing about Jamie’s future.

Yeah, that’s the same costume a young Michael Myers wore. I’m not like Dr. Loomis, I’m not normally the kind of person to dismiss a child as pure evil, but those old-timey, Pagliacci and Harlequin-style clown costumes are eight hundred times scarier than a regular clown costume, and any child that willingly chooses such a costume is devilish. Jamie dreams of Michael Myers but she doesn’t know who he is. Her fate is tied to his in a way that I don’t think is explained until Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers. I remember nothing of Halloween V or Halloween VI, unless I watched them in a fugue state like this movie, so I can’t explain further how or why Jamie and Michael Myers are connected, aside from genetics. Regardless, the movie ends with Jamie reenacting Michael’s crimes and killing her foster mother.

I would have liked seeing Rachel fight Michael Myers more, honestly. She seems resourceful but the struggle between her and Michael isn’t nearly as painful as the fight between Michael and Laurie. Instead, we mostly see Michael dispatch a house full of people and fighting Rachel is an afterthought. She does survive a drop off a roof, though. And speaking of surviving long falls, I’m beginning to think that Dr. Loomis has some of Michael’s immortal evil in him. Not only did he survive being stabbed by Michael, then being immolated in Halloween II, Michael throws him out of an elementary school window in this movie and he seems mostly okay. This is a 75-year-old psychiatrist, not Macho Man Randy Savage.
The pacing in this movie is similar to the faster pacing of Halloween II but it doesn’t have as many P.O.V. shots. The movie makers were smart to stick with a synth-y score that retains the original theme.
All in all, this is a fun, entertaining movie, without being groundbreaking art. It’s good, but I wonder what could have been if Carpenter and Hill had been involved.
As I watch this series, I think that Michael Myers is becoming my favorite slasher icon. There’s an irrational chaotic evil to Michael Myers that I appreciate. As Dr. Loomis is hitch-hiking to fight Michael he’s picked up by a preacher who says, “You can’t kill damnation, Mister! It don’t die like a man does.” Freddy Kreuger is looking for vengeance and Jason Voorhees is trying to avenge his mom, but Michael Myers has little reason to exist (Until we learn about the Curse of Thorn. As of now, he has no reason to exist). Bad, traumatic things just randomly happen in life and so does Michael Myers.
Previously on the Halloweenening 2016
Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Posted in 1980's, famous movie monsters, halloween 2016, killer kids, serial killers, slasher | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Every year, I basically miss Halloween because my mortuary school finals for the fall semester tend to fall around Halloween. My semesters tend to start early and run very short. So, I wont be dressing up this year, but, dangit, I miss watching movies for Halloween. I can’t really do a marathon because I’m still in the midst of school, but I figured I could do one movie a week. And what’s more Halloween than the Halloween series? This has the benefit of being a series of movies that I’m not really familiar with. It’s strange, I know that the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth series got a lot of play on t.v. when I was young but I never really noticed the Halloween series on t.v. This is doubly true for Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is the Civil War of the Halloween series, it turns friends against friends and family against family. People either love it or hate it.
Some background might be helpful. John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote the first two Halloween movies. They were reluctant to make a third movie but they had ideas for other movies centered around weird events happening around Halloween. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was supposed to be the first of several movies focusing on Halloween weirdness without Michael Myers but its initial box office run was poor. So it was decided to resurrect Michael Myers and the world has lost what could have been multiple, weird Halloween stories. Make no mistake, this movie is damn weird in the best way. It’s like a sci-fi witch movie or if Lord Summerisle from The Wicker Man had robots and a computer. On the plus side, it’s great seeing this movie become a cult classic.
Tom Atkins stars as Dr. Challis. He starts investigating the circumstances of an odd murder-suicide that occurs at the hospital where he works. With the victim’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), Dr. Challis uncovers the sinister secret of the Silver Shamrock Novelties Company. It turns out that Conal Cochran (Dan O’Herlihy, I knew I recognized him, he was Andrew Packard on Twin Peaks) worships the old Celtic gods and needs a sacrifice to bring them back.
I know I’ve said this already but this movie is just damn weird. It has this very old fairy-tale kind of horror merged with what was considered emerging technology for 1982. I truly don’t think I’ve seen a story that’s merged technology with the old gods in quite this way.
I can see why people find this movie off-putting, aside from the utter lack of Michael Myers. It has a moderate anti-consumerist/anti-media message that I’m not sure if 1980s America wanted to hear, especially from a movie in the Halloween series.
Do kids still get yelled at for sitting too close to the t.v.? This feels like it was a very 1970s through 1980s concern parents had, but I know I definitely was scolded for that. There are loads of closeups on the t.v. and the title sequence is actually a super-closeup on the t.v.
You can almost feel the static electricity buzzing your nose just looking at that. The Silver Shamrock advertisements make Dr. Challis’ children pretty mindless and this is before the supernatural element is even added.
The family that we see Cochran test his sacrifice technology on, the Kupfers, are pretty much the embodiment of mindless consumption. They’re tacky, loud, and shallow, although I’m not necessarily sure this warrants being sacrificed to the elder gods.
This movie is almost like a proto-They Live, with the distrust of what everyone else accepts. It also has this meta element, with the movie Halloween playing at several points within the movie. So, it’s a movie about Halloween, produced by the maker of the movie Halloween, with the movie Halloween playing within it. It’s also set in Santa Mira, the town where Invasion of the Body Snatchers was set.
I ended up enjoying this movie immensely, it’s the techno-pagan movie that I didn’t know I was missing from my life. The pace is pretty good, it still has John carpenter’s creepy synths that are pretty much perfect for the story being told, and it’s moderately gory. It’s not Michael Myers stabbing teenagers gory, but Cochran’s henchmen like to gauge eyes.
Guys, have a happy Halloween!

Posted in 1980's, fantasy, halloween 2016, sci-fi, supernatural, witchcraft | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments