Sunday, October 20, 2013

The 11 Days of Halloween...The Night No One Came Home Volume 1

Another thing about the Halloween season that makes it my favorite is the onslaught of horror movies that are released and re-released theatrically along with the small stand-up section at Wal-Mart offering bad transfers of bad horror movies for prices south of $10.

So for a little break from the norm and to continue to commemorate my, Drake's, favorite holiday, I've decided to include a miniseries of blog entries that will revolve around lesser-known (and sometimes bad) horror movies that make this season stupid, great fun.

A lot of other blogs, when they do something similar, give the old standbys for "horror movies of the season" and include the classics (for good reason) and nearly everything that CAN be said HAS been said about them. While I will list a few of the great ones that I watch to get me in the mood, I will start this series off with one of the most maligned horror sequels in history (no, it's not Troll 2...that movie got its own documentary).

I will start this one off with a movie that has the most annoying, yet catchiest, theme song. It will burrow it's way into your brain like the mythical abilities of the earwig and forever cement its place as a song you'll think about whenever you see the toothy, grinning face of a jack-o-lantern.

Stop it! For the dear love of God! STOP IIIIIIIIIIIIIT!

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch has the unfortunate title of being the most hated and despised sequel in the entire Halloween franchise. This franchise, for the first two movies, covered the exploits of a man in a white mask who stalked and killed babysitters on Halloween night (more on this film franchise itself later.) In 1982, Moustapha Akkad and John Carpenter decided to announce their plans for the Halloween franchise. The plan was to make it a NIGHT GALLERY style series of films where each film would be set around Halloween and have some scary shit happening in our backyard. While a good idea (in my opinion) the third film was released roughly a week before Halloween of 1982, only to underperform at the box office due to bad word-of-mouth and fan's disappointment in the film not further expanding the Michael Myer's mythos. It did so badly that the producers didn't return to the series for at least 7 more years with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.

This film, as stated previously, had no involvement with Michael Myers. Aside from the passing shot of a Myers' mask hanging on the wall, scenes from the 1978 classic playing on a television at various spots in the film, the throwing of a mask over a security camera showing the view of eyeholes in a mask, the movie was its own entity. Had it been called something else, it might have performed to a better degree of success, or not. Bearing the tagline of "The Night No One Came Home" and the Halloween moniker, the absence of knife-wielding, homicidal, fratricidal Michael Myers doomed this film's success.

I hemmed and hawed over including this title in my initial line-up of Halloween movies, but the decision, I feel, was a good one. While HALLOWE3N is, undoubtedly, a 80's schlockfest with plotholes so wide that you can drive an aircraft carrier through (and still have room to spare!) It has some fun and refreshing horror elements that I think carried it quite well as a standalone film (even though I'm glad that they returned to their titular character for the rest of the series.) Stonehenge, druidic rituals, brainwashing, androids, mass murder, sex...when you break it all down to those terms, the movie sounds kind of original and exciting. However, a stilted plot, laughable dialogue, and over-the-top cheese elements made this movie an awesomely bad horror entry.

I recently got a chance to witness this movie on the big-screen for the first time (since I hadn't yet been born when the movie was initially released) at a beer-tasting.

It had probably been 10 years since I had seen the movie (it has never taken a spot in my HalloweeN night movie marathons due to the absence of Myers) so it was almost a brand new viewing experience for me.

Being older and wiser, and seeing it with an audience, I noticed the parts of the film that were so unintentionally funny and bad that it endeared it much more to my heart. The producers had balls and took risks and, despite the fact that they fell on their faces, created an interesting horror/scifi hybrid that worked on a few levels while failing on so many others. Those are balls that I respect when it comes to art.

To sum it up, the movie opens on a man running through a barren wasteland at night, clutching a pumpkin mask in his hand, being pursued by suited men in a car. They catch up to him and try to kill him only to let them slip through their grasp again, alerting a gas station owner and, after being transported to a hospital, a doctor. When he is killed in the hospital, his murderer being a suited man who lights himself on fire afterwards, the doctor senses something amiss and teams up with the victim's daughter when she shows up to identify his body.

They travel to the small town of Santa Mira, California, where a factory known as Silver Shamrock, is making a killing selling three different masks to the children of the nation. Everyone who has a mask is encouraged to watch "the big reveal" at 9 o' clock on Halloween night. Ellie, the daughter, and Tom, the doctor, begin to investigate the town and factory and uncover a nefarious plot that dates back thousands of years to the age of druids and try to dismantle the scheme before the children of the nation are victimized.

A blistering indictment of commercialism and a reminder of some of Halloween's ancient roots, Halloween III: Season of the Witch succeeds in what it set out to do (and to inadvertently play a <pun intended> trick on HalloweeN fans). It's a movie that will have you scratching your head (as a woman emerges from a hot shower to cover herself in a fitted sheet to fend herself from the cold <not a mistype>), chuckling at parts that aren't supposed to be funny, and leaning over to let the person next to you know that this movie is "awful."

Available on various platforms (DVD, independent theatres, Blu-Ray, and iTunes) this is a treat to watch. It's humble, frustrating, thought-provoking, and oddly creepy. And it has earned the #11 spot on Drake Marcos' Horror Movie List of 2013.

Enjoy...or don't. I don't care.

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