Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The "Halloween" Films

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween Films
Halloween (1978)
| Halloween II (1981) | Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
| Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) | Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
Halloween: Resurrection (2002) | Halloween (2007) | Halloween II (2009)

The "Halloween" Films - Part 3

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
d. Tommy Lee Wallace, 99 minutes

Film Plot Summary

This second sequel, after the credits, opened in NORTHERN CALIFORNIA, in October, Saturday the 23rd, about one week before Halloween. At nighttime, a novelty shop owner, later identified as middle-aged toy salesman Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry), ran on foot from a pursuing car's headlights into a deserted car parts and wrecking lot, where he was pinned on the ground by a mysterious man wearing a gray business suit and shiny black shoes (later identified as a Silver Shamrock android henchman). Grimbridge released a parked car that rolled toward them, crushing the man between two cars (# 1 death) (android).

ONE HOUR LATER, during a fierce thunderstorm, the scene shifted to a gas station, where the attendant Walter Jones (Essex Smith) was watching TV. A British commentator reported on a previous theft, nine months earlier, of the 5-ton Bluestone from Stonehenge - "believed to represent the 19-year cycle of the moon." An advertisement also played for Silver Shamrock Novelties -- (to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down"):

"Eight more days to Halloween/ Halloween/ Halloween/ Eight more days to Halloween/ Silver Shamrock. (repeated)"

The announcer added:

"Yes, kids, you, too can own one of the big Halloween three. That's right, three horrific masks to chose from. They're fun, they're frightening, and they glow in the dark."

[Note: The film's title, Halloween III - was seemingly justified by the fact of the three types of Halloween masks!]

Harry Grumbridge stumbled into the station, clutching an orange jack-o-lantern Silver Shamrock mask, and fell to the floor, warning: "They're coming." Jones drove Grimbridge to the hospital in a tow truck.

At almost 8 pm in another part of town, alcoholic father of two Dr. Daniel "Dan" Challis (Tom Atkins) arrived home late to his ex-wife Linda (Nancy Kyes), with presents of plain Halloween masks for his two children. They were disappointed, and told him how their mother had already bought them scarier latex Silver Shamrock masks - the skeletal skull and the green-faced witch varieties. He was immediately summoned back to the hospital, where he treated Grimbridge, who was cryptically ranting on a stretcher: "They're going to kill us. All of us."

The crazed patient was treated with a dosage of Thorazine, and placed in hospital room 13. Soon after, another business-suited man with black gloves gouged out his eyes with two fingers and gruesomely pulled his skull apart (# 2 death). The henchman methodically wiped the blood off on a curtain and returned to his vehicle outside the hospital. There, he strangely committed suicide by dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself on fire (# 3 death) (android), causing his car to explode.

SUNDAY the 24th, Ellie Grimbridge (Stacey Nelkin) identified her father's body in his hospital room, and was told the case was under investigation.

WEDNESDAY, the 27th, Teddy (Wendy Wessberg) a friend of Dr. Challis' in the Coroner's Office, told him that the well-dressed businessman had super arm strength to have been able to pull apart Grimbridge's skull.

FRIDAY, the 29th, Dr. Challis was at a bar, where a TV broadcast was advertising the airing of the "immortal classic" Halloween (1978) on Halloween night, followed by a "big giveaway" at 9:00 pm, sponsored by Silver Shamrock Novelties (the jingle played again, now "Two more days to Halloween...").

Ellie Grimbridge located Dr. Challis there, and they decided to work together to discover why her father had died. They visited his closed-down toy store in Sierra Madre, that had been struggling financially against a new mall. Ellie had researched her father's appointment book, and surmised that he had run into trouble after October 20th, when he was to pick up more Halloween masks in the small town of Santa Mira, California (an inspired connection to Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)), the location of a large Irish community, and the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory.

After WWII, in the rural town of Santa Mira, wealthy Irishman Conal Cochran had invigorated the town by establishing the toy factory - the largest manufacturer and purveyor of Halloween masks in the world. They were watched suspiciously by various bystanders and shopowners (and a TV surveillance camera) as they drove into the community - Dr. Challis commented: "Company town."

They decided their plan would be to pretend to be husband/wife mask-buyers, and they would share a room in the town's Rose of Shannon Motel as they went about their investigation. At Rafferty's gas station next to the motel, (full service gas was $1.32/gallon!), managed by Mr. Rafferty (Michael Currie), they rented a room. Challis saw the guest entry register book at the front desk, showing that Ellie's father had checked into the same hotel on October 20th. As Conal Cochran slowly drove by in a chauffeured vehicle, Mr. Rafferty called him a "true genius."

As they checked in, other guests of the motel arrived in a Winnebago - the Kupfer family from San Diego:

  • husband Buddy (Ralph Strait)
  • wife Betty (Jadeen Barbor)
  • and red-haired rambunctious son "Little" Buddy (Bradley Schacter)

At the same time, a disgruntled toy shop owner (on Union Square in San Francisco) named Marge Guttman (Garn Stephens) also drove in, unhappy about having to stay overnight due to "screwed up" toy orders from the "damn factory" that she was forced to handle personally.

That evening, a loudspeaker system in the town announced a 6:00 pm curfew, and all Santa Mira residents were instructed to clear the streets and remain indoors. As Challis returned to his motel room, he was confronted by a drunken, disgruntled homeless townsperson named Starker (Jon Terry), who warned him about Cochran's spying and rumors swirling about the factory, and bad-mouthed the factory owner. He divulged how he was planning to use Molotov cocktails to burn the factory down: "Be the last Halloween for them."

Later in his shack, two android business-suited men ripped Starker's head off his neck (# 4 death). Teddy reported by phone to Dr. Challis that they had accidentally been looking at "plastic and metal shavings" (part of the car), rather than the correct body parts, because of mixed-up envelopes. (The next day, she also reported to Dr. Challis that she believed someone had tampered with the evidence, since there were no bone fragments or teeth: "I've got nothing here to indicate there was ever a body at all. Just ashes and car parts.")

While Dr. Challis and Ellie were making love in their room, Marge Guttman was taking a closer look at one of the poorly-made mask pieces - a trademarked Silver Shamrock button with an embedded computer chip that had fallen off one of the masks. As she poked at the back of it with a bobby-pin, it emitted a lethal laser beam that blasted her in the face, leaving her disfigured and dead as a creepy insect emerged from her mouth (# 5 death). In the middle of the night, a white van (and other white vehicles) with white-garbed attendants removed Marge's body from her motel room. Mr. Conal Cochran's chauffeured vehicle drove up and he assured everyone of Marge's "small accident" and promised the "very best possible treatment" at the "marvelous" emergency facilities at the factory. However, he was whispered the word "Misfire" as he departed.

SATURDAY, the 30th. At the Silver Shamrock factory office, Ellie and Dr. Challis were told that Mr. Grimbridge picked up and signed for his order on the 21st, and then drove away in his green station wagon. As they were about to leave, the Kupfer family arrived and Buddy Kupfer was personally greeted by Mr. Cochran as the salesman who had sold more Shamrock masks than anyone else in the country. Ellie and Dr. Challis were assured that Mrs. Guttman had been flown for treatment to San Francisco, and that Ellie's replacement order would be at no charge.

The two groups were given a factory tour, and shown how latex was heated and poured into the mask molds, then trimmed, painted, and packaged for shipment. They also were led into a museum of Cochran's other toys - Kupfer called Cochran "the all-time genius of the practical joke. He invented sticky toilet paper...the dead dwarf gag, the soft chain saw." Cochran bragged about his final inspection of quality (involving 'very dangerous" volatile chemicals), his seal of approval, and his trade secrets. Dr. Challis was suspicious of business-suited guards standing around the facility: "They look an awful lot like the man who killed your father." Inside an open garage on the grounds, Ellie spotted her father's car, but was prevented by guards from getting any closer.

Back at the motel that evening with only one more day to Halloween, as Ellie and Dr. Challis prepared to leave, he couldn't reach anyone by phone outside of the town. When he returned to their room, he found that she was missing - kidnapped by business-suited men in a white Silver Shamrock vehicle. Five android business-men stood outside his door, forcing him to flee through the bathroom window and break into the nearby factory to locate her.

To his surprise, he decapitated a knitting grandmother robot - later identified by Cochran as a "rare piece. German. Made in Munich, 1785." In the shipping room, he fought hand-to-hand against another business-suited android (Dick Warlock). When he punched at the man's mid-section, his hand entered the android's gooey wired innards, and the robotic assassin spewed yellowish blood from his mouth as he was 'deactivated' (# 6 death) (android). Dr. Challis was then captured by other androids - all created by the crazed Cochran (the "witch" of the film's title), who was using the company as a front for his evil cult. He was looking forward to the next day, Halloween, calling it a "very busy day."

SUNDAY, the 31st - HALLOWEEN. Cochran led Dr.Challis to the FINAL PROCESSING area, as he described how he had made the androids - "simple to produce," "another form of mask-making," and "loyal and obedient unlike most human beings." He described his factory as combining "advanced and ancient technology."

In a large room where a circle of computers and white-coated technicians sat, a large fragment of the the 5-ton Bluestone stolen from Stonehenge was being chipped and hammered away:

"From an ancient, sacrificial circle. Stonehenge. (chuckling) We had a time getting it here. You wouldn't believe how we did it. (laughs) It has a power in it. A force."

Dr. Challis was compelled to watch a video demonstration of Cochran's sinister plan for Halloween night involving the Kupfer family in a simulated living room (Test Room A). After they were seated in the windowless, locked metal room, they viewed the Silver Shamrock television commercial that was to air that night (Halloween) throughout the country:

(Announcer) "It's time. It's time. Time for the big giveaway. Halloween has come. All you lucky kids with Silver Shamrock masks, gather 'round your TV set. Put on your masks and watch. All witches, all skeletons, all Jack-O-Lanterns. Gather 'round and watch. Watch the magic pumpkin. Watch..."

As both the pumpkin head on TV and the trademark button on "Little" Buddy's jack-o-lantern mask blinked on and off, the young boy suddenly clutched his head. When the trademark chip activated (constructed with a piece of the ancient Stonehenge monolith), it activated a lethal laser beam, caused severe brain and head damage to "Little" Buddy, and transformed his head into crawling insects and swarming snakes under the mask as he died (# 7 death). Both Buddy's mother and father were the next to die, attacked and swarmed by venomous snakes (# 8 and # 9 death).

Cochran's plan was to air his commercial, advertised as the "big giveaway," at 9:00 pm Halloween night throughout the country, during a "Horror-a-thon" showing. "Lucky kids" throughout the country were purchasing Silver Shamrock masks (with the embedded computer chip) and wearing them for trick-or-treating, before returning home to watch the TV spot.

In the coroner's office at the morgue, after discovering something other than a car part in the charred remains of the automobile, Teddy was phoning the sheriff when she was murdered by one of the black-gloved Silver Shamrock androids - she was stabbed in the head (through her ear) with a power drill (# 10 death).

7:30 pm. Back at the Silver Shamrock factory, Dr. Challis was bound in a cell with a television, and forced to watch the Horror-a-thon. The demented practical joker Cochran further explained how his plan was to brutally sacrifice children to the pagan gods:

"I do love a good joke. And this is the best ever. A joke on the children...It was the start of the year in our old Celtic lands and we'd be waiting in our houses of wattles and clay. The barriers would be down, you see, between the real and the unreal. And the dead might be looking in to sit by our fires of turf. Halloween. The festival of Samhain. The last great one took place 3,000 years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of animals and children...It was part of our world, our craft."

He then described his macabre practice of sacrificial witchcraft:

"To us, it was a way of controlling our environment. It's not so different now. It's time again. In the end, we don't decide these things, you know. The planets do. They're in alignment, and it's time again. The world's going to change tonight, Doctor. I'm glad you'll be able to watch it. And... happy Halloween."

Cochran left the room, after placing a skeletal latex mask on Dr. Challis' head. Dr. Challis kicked his feet through the television set, escaped from his straps, and found a way out of the cell through a small vented passageway, at about 8:11 pm. He emerged on the roof, phoned ex-wife Linda to warn her to get rid of the masks (although she ignored his rambling incomprehensible pleas), and located Ellie in another cell.

Together, they returned to the factory's main computer control room containing the Stonehenge rock. Punching buttons on the control panel, he prematurely played the 9 pm commercial - and destroyed nine of Cochran's androids (in a shower of falling and activated, exploding computer chips that he dumped on the technicians) (# 11-19 deaths) (androids). Cochran politely applauded Dr. Challis as he watched the Stonehenge monolith glow and the circle of computers magically discharge bluish-white light energy. Cochran's body was disintegrated and vaporized by the discharged laser beam (# 20 death).

In a chain reaction, the rock exploded, the chips in the packing boxes detonated, and the masks caught fire. After they fled from the burning factory and drove away at 8:48 pm, Dr. Challis was attacked by cloned android "Ellie" and caused their car to run off the road. He killed her by separating her head from her body with a tire iron grabbed from his trunk (# 21 death) (android). Although beheaded, her amputated arm still kept trying to strangle him.

The film ended with a downbeat conclusion at the filling station that opened the film, as Dr. Challis attempted to contact TV stations to remove the commercial at the "magic hour." He was able to persuade all but a third channel from airing it - as he screamed vainly: "Please stop it. Stop it now. Turn it off! Stop it! Stop it!"

[Did the writers forget that if the show aired at 9 pm in California, it had already aired in the other three eastward time zones?]

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

This third film in the series was the only one in the franchise not directly related to the other films, but instead focused on witchcraft, the power of corporate advertising, and a crazed factory owner rather than a psychopathic killer. Producer John Carpenter conceived of this film as the first in an anthology of stand-alone Halloween season-related horror films, although the plan failed.

One of only two Halloween films to be produced and distributed by Universal Pictures (the other film was the previous unrealted film Halloween II: (1981)).

With the tagline: "...and now the earth will run with blood again!"

The character of Michael Myers was absent from this film - to date, it was the only film not to feature the fictional serial killer.

With a production budget of approximately $2.5 million, and weak box-office gross revenues of $14.4 million (domestic).

Body Count: 21.

Dr. Daniel "Dan" Challis
(Tom Atkins)

Linda Challis
(Nancy Kyes)

Harry Grimbridge
(Al Berry)

Ellie Grimbridge
(Stacey Nelkin)

(Wendy Wessberg)

Mr. Rafferty
(Michael Currie)

(Jon Terry)

Conal Cochran
(Dan O'Herlihy)

Marge Guttman
(Garn Stephens)

Buddy Kupfer
(Ralph Strait)

Betty Kupfer
(Jadeen Barbor)

"Little" Buddy, Jr.
(Bradley Schacter)

Android Assassin
(Dick Warlock)

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