For us here at The Key, October as a very special month. Not only because October brings with it crisp fall weather, West Philly’s annual Dumpster Derby, and trips to Eastern State Penitentiary for its “Terror Behind The Walls” haunted house tour—but because it means it is time for us to start mentally and emotionally preparing for our annual viewing of Tommy Lee Wallace’s cinematic masterpiece, Halloween III: Season Of The Witch. (Honestly, it’s one of our favorite movie-watching traditions, second only to our annual viewing of Die Hard during Christmas.)
Co-produced by Hollywood greats John Carpenter and Debra Hill—the latter of which, in addition to being one of the film industry’s first female producers (and an all-around badass), grew up right here in Philly—Halloween III is not your typical entry in the horror-flick franchise. In fact, outside of a quick shot of knife-wielding psycho-killer Michael Myers on a television screen in one of the opening scenes, it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the Halloween films. Instead, the film follows an alcoholic doctor’s investigation into the mysterious death of a patient, during which he uncovers a sinister plot by Halloween-mask manufacturing mogul Dan O’Herlihy to murder children. His motive? Why, to play the ultimate prank—the PRANK OF DEATH—on the youth of America. (Joke’s on you, kiddies!) His brilliant-but-nefarious scheme? Put chips of Stonehenge into his company’s masks—which will turn into bug-infested death helmets upon being activated by a secret signal embedded in a mesmerizing television commercial!
There are many wondrous scenes to behold in this feature film—including, but not limited to: Dr. Daniel “Dan” Challis (Tom Atkins) hanging up on his nagging wife inside of a pay-phone booth and then pulling a six-pack out of nowhere, the good doctor declaring that “It’s getting late” and he “could use a drink” when it is clearly mid-afternoon, and our friend, Doctor Dan, responding to the nearby death rattle of his motel-room neighbor with a breathy “Who cares?” while having sex with a doe-eyed beauty who turns out to be a robot. However, it is in the aforementioned television clip—the BIG GIVEAWAY AT NINE, DON’T FORGET TO WEAR YOUR MASKS!—that the real beauty of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch shines through. What child wouldn’t want to plop down in front of the TV, gaze upon this spellbinding clip, and remain transfixed by its hypnotic flashes of light—even as the mask on their head turned into a squirming mass of insects that chewed through their brain?
Not only is it the pinnacle of filmmaking, but one of the best jingles we’ve ever heard.