Not exactly the most popular Halloween sequel upon its release, Halloween III: Season Of The Witch pissed people off for several reasons: 1/ No Michael Myers, 2/ It was the start of an anthology series of films not involving anything from the first two Halloween movies, and 3/ No witch.
In retrospect, this whole anthology idea was really not a bad one. Also, as a Twilight Zone-esque piece of random horror weirdness, Season Of The Witch worked very well and managed to not only be effective with its overall slow-building mystery but with its gory/creepy moments. Plus it was completely out of its mind, which is always good with that kind of movie. It's a shame the film didn't steer the series towards that direction seeing as all the other Halloween sequels were either underwhelming or just plain dire but it's easy to see why, at the time, it didn't take off. For one thing, we go from a relatively straight-forward slasher story to something pretty surreal and out-there. It's a complete genre switch and, had it happened right after John Carpenter's Halloween, perhaps it could have worked but following Halloween II, the direct follow-up to the first film, it just didn't make sense to change the franchise this much at that particular point. The plot sees people getting murdered in weird ways in the run-up to Halloween, just as some new Halloween masks are being sold all over America and, for some reason, are the subject of every single ad on television. Those annoying little ads, by the way, is what you'll really take away from this movie. Try getting that Halloween song out of your head after they play it about 20 times throughout the darn thing: good luck. Some doctor (Tom Atkins) and the daughter (Stacey Nelkin) of a guy who gets killed early on by some dodgy fellas in dark suits, decide to lead their own investigation. A bizarre sexual relationship is developed between them and, as crazy as the rest of the film is, that's still one of the least convincing parts of this movie.
As it turns out, get this, a piece of Stonehenge has been kept locked-up in a Halloween mask factory owned by some nutty megalomaniac and pieces of it, which possess magical powers, have been used to plan the mass murder of children through those masks which would melt their faces and give birth to deadly snakes and insects for whatever reason. Oh, and the crazy owner (played by a brilliant Dan O'Herlihy) also makes robots which look exactly like human beings and do all his dirty bidding for him. It's pure trashy nonsense and it really should just be laughable from start to finish but the story develops slowly and, at least until you realise how silly this whole masterplan truly is, it remains compelling all the way. You've got some cool practical effects during the movie and an unnerving type of conclusion you don't usually see in horror movies. Halloween III is well made and is suspenseful enough to keep you interested and entertained, whether you accept its mad ramblings or not. As an anthology film, it knows exactly what it needs to be and it does that perfectly. As a Halloween film, it definitely makes the most of that holiday's setting and is honestly much better and more memorable than most of the Halloween films that came after it. It's not perfect, of course, and will alienate those not ready for it, but it's still an underrated little film that deserves its growing cult status.
Halloween III may not have been what people wanted back in the day but, looking back, it was a worthy attempt at building a different style of franchise and a fun film in itself. Sure it's far more absurd than its predecessors but at least it delivers what it promises, which is more than I can say for the likes of Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers and Halloween Resurrection.
Besides, what the film lacks in witches, it makes up for in snakes and robots.