Halloween III: Season of the Witch [1982]

The one Halloween sequel in which He doesn't come home, Halloween III: Season of the Witch was producer John Carpenter's attempt to get the series away from the original's psycho-on-the-loose story line and turn it into a vehicle for more far-fetched Halloween-themed horror tales. Incredibly, the fans voted for more of the same and Carpenter walked away for others to rehash the Michael Myers plot line in a succession of look-alike movies that are still turning up every few years. After the mysterious death of a toyshop owner, a doctor (Tom Atkins) and the man's daughter (Stacy Nelkin) investigate the Irish-dominated Northern California community of Santa Mira, a company town owned by the Silver Shamrock Novelty corporation. Atkins and Nelkin are typical low-rent horror movie protagonists, dim bulbs who discover an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style conspiracy involving sharp-suited corporate robots. But guest star Dan O'Herlihy steals the film as a Celtic joke tycoon who hates the way American kids are despoiling the religious spirit of Samhain and decides to teach them a nasty lesson. His scheme, which involves a stolen Stonehenge megalith and a techno-magic spell that turns the heads of TV watchers into writhing masses of snakes and insects, is value for money, and O'Herlihy mixes enough serious malice into the charm to come across as a great screen bad guy. --Kim Newman

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