It’s the Halloween franchise entry without Michael Myers, once dismissed as a confusing divergence, but now embraced and celebrated by the horror movie crowd. Here we’ll take a look at 10 killer facts about Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
The night the no one comes home
It’s easy to mock the tagline for Season of the Witch, a misunderstood box office bomb in which the star slasher of the previous two films was nowhere to be seen. But returning producers John Carpenter and Debra Hill hoped to rebrand the Halloween franchise as an anthology series, with the holiday itself as the anchor.
Joe Dante almost directed it
John Carpenter met with the future Gremlins director to talk about Halloween III. Dante dropped out of the conversation when Steven Spielberg and John Landis offered him a chance to participate in Twilight Zone: The Movie. “I know it got a lot of bricks thrown at it because it wasn’t like the first two Halloween pictures but that was what I liked about it,” Dante said in a 2014 TV Store Online interview. “I don’t think Halloween III deserved the criticism it took. I thought it was a great concept.”
An old friend
Season of the Witch was directed by Carpenter’s friend and collaborator Tommy Lee Wallace (who actually put on the Michael Myers costume for the original film’s classic closet scene). He was offered the chance to direct Halloween II but wasn’t feeling the script and made his directorial debut with Season of the Witch instead. His later horror credits include the screenplay for Amityville II: The Possession; co-writing and directing Fright Night Part 2; and the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT.
Debra Hill had the idea to combine witchcraft with the computer age. Back when he planned to direct, Joe Dante suggested award winning British screenwriter Nigel Kneale, who created the Quatermass character and was a veteran of Hammer Films. Kneale wrote the first script but ultimately asked to have his name removed. “Nigel had some lousy experiences in Hollywood,” Wallace later recounted. “From his perception, as a general rule, Hollywood had mangled his stuff… When he turned in his screenplay any criticism that we gave him was going to be met with resistance.” Nevertheless, Wallace praised Kneale’s script as “moody, dark, and fascinating,” later estimating that close to 60% of it survived Carpenter’s rewrite and his own.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch took some inspiration form the 1956 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in terms of tone, theme, and situations. As a nod, Season of the Witch is set in the same fictitious California town as Body Snatchers.
The Silver Shamrock jingle hypnotically playing throughout the movie is based on the melody from the traditional nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down.” Debra Hill suggested it because it’s catchy and perhaps more importantly, it’s in the public domain. Wallace sang it then sped it up Alvin and the Chipmunks style. Wallace is also the voice of the announcer in the Silver Shamrock commercials.
While it’s a standalone story unconnected to the saga of Michael Myers, there are still several crossovers, including much of the crew, who came over from Halloween II. Jamie Lee Curtis makes a voice cameo. Dick Warlock, who played Michael in the previous film, is one of the androids. Halloween can be seen playing in the background. Nancy Kyes, who was married to Tommy Lee Wallace at the time, appeared as Annie in Halloween and Halloween II and as Linda in Halloween III.
Wallace doesn’t know, either
Wait so is Harrison Ford an android or not? Sorry, wrong ’80s movie. So what about Ellie in Halloween III? Was she a real person who was later replaced by an android? Is she an android the entire time? We don’t know the answer and that’s because Tommy Lee Wallace doesn’t know, either, as he’s self-deprecatingly acknowledged.
The coroner’s assistant
Speaking of women bewitched by Dan’s charms, Teddy was a late addition to the film. After watching the working cut, Wallace realized there were an awful lot of scenes with Tom Atkins talking to someone about the coroner’s report with nobody on the other end. So the coroner’s assistant character was added during reshoots.
The studio hated the ending
Wallace blamed the studio’s discomfort with the movie’s dark ending for the weak marketing campaign that helped to doom Halloween III. “And to John’s eternal credit, he said, ‘your ending is your ending. It’s up to me, but I’ll leave it in your hands. You decide,'” Wallace recounted in an interview with Yahoo!. “And I didn’t think about it for a long time before I said, ‘Let’s leave it as is.’ And as soon as that decision was made, Universal gave up and decided not to support the movie.”