I had heard going in that this installment in the Halloween series had nothing to do with the rest of it. Michael Meyers never makes an appearance and while the first movie is briefly shown as being an actual, in universe film that exists; there is nothing else that ties this into the franchise as a whole. I can’t think of any reason that they would slap the Halloween name on the movie at all unless they were uncertain anyone would want to watch it and that was the only way they knew to trick fans of the series into giving them money.
Hold on to your butts, kids, this is going to be a super long Halloween Day Horrortoberfest Extravaganza as I try to unpack all the shenanigans contained here-in. Spoilers are going to be a lot more prevalent because the wall-to-wall insanity of this really needs detailed recounting. Ok, that being said, here we go.
We start with the most annoying opening credits sequence of a digital background being slowly manipulated while some synth noises play and then it pans out to reveal the digital picture was a jack-o-lantern. So spooky. We then get the opening scene of a man running from some people. There is a familiar music sting like Michael Meyers was there but it’s a dude in a suit that starts strangling him. Our victim managed to pull the chain holding a car up and it ever so slowly rolls towards our killer as he sits there staring at his oncoming death or at least mild bruising. You can already tell this is going to be amazing.
When the man gets away from his attacker he finds refuge at a garage where we get the first of many showings of the commercial for Silver Shamrock Novelties, the biggest manufacturer of Halloween masks in the country. How big are they you ask? Why, the commercial boasts they have 3, count ‘em 3, entirely different masks to choose from. Good lord, no wonder they are so popular! As the man is taken to the hospital, we also see he is clutching one of these masks. When he arrives, they manage to get him into one of those hospital gowns but he is still clutching the mask. Not sure if they just took it away and gave it back or had to work around it but that seems like something they would have taken.
Now we can finally be introduced to our hero, Dr. Daniel Challis, a possibly alcoholic doctor that has a stereotypical shrewish ex-wife. He is brought in to check on our mystery victim and later that night, another suit wearing guy shows up to finish the job by playing a deadly game of “got your nose” and then blows himself up in his own car instead of, say, driving away. The next morning the victim’s daughter, Ellie, comes in and identifies the body as her father. She tracks the good doctor down at the local bar where they are playing cartoons on the TV, as you would assume would be the case in any dive bar. Ellie tells Daniel that she thinks she might have some clues as to why her father died.
She takes him to her father’s shop where he sold costumes and stuff for Halloween and points out that he kept meticulous records of his comings and goings and he only started missing appointments after he went to Santa Mira to pick up an order of masks from Silver Shamrock. It is vital that she share this information with a random doctor she met for 20 seconds instead of informing the police because HEY LOOK OVER THERE! So the two of them head off to Santa Mira in order to investigate the goings on at the novelty factory.
We find out the town is predominantly Irish and very insular. Watching the two of them go through town, I can’t help but feel like this movie is being sort of racist against the Irish? Like, the whole town feels very stereotypical of Irish stuff and the only two people we spend time with aside from the main villain are a guy with a super corny accent and a drunk. Anyway, the entire town eyes them with suspicion since apparently nobody ever comes to their neck of the woods. This, of course, means that two more sets of visitors are going to show up within minutes of each other and check into the same motel; a saleswoman that wants to pick up an order and a family in an RV that are so quirky they seem to have gotten turned around on their way to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Now we finally get a clue as to what is so sinister about these masks that the movie has been dancing around for the past 45 minutes. Saleslady starts fiddling with the big Silver Shamrock button thing that comes on each mask and gets shot in the face with a laser. This laser has the power to fuck up your face and also give you a bug in your mouth. It’s a bug laser. Has science gone too far? Some suits show up to take her away and we are introduced to the owner of Silver Shamrock, Conal Cochran, who assures our heroes that she is going to get the best of care and that there is nothing at all suspicious about the fact that she was covered head-to-toe in a sheet and is being taken away in a Silver Shamrock delivery van instead of an ambulance. Standard operating procedure. Nothing to see here.
So the next day they go to the factory to see if her dad had actually showed up there and they meet the Kupfers, the quirky family from earlier. Turns out they are there to take a tour of the factory and holy shit they actually are a Willy Wonka reference. What is even going on in this film? After snooping around for a while, some suits show up that evening to get Ellie and Daniel. Daniel manages to get away but Ellie is captured and taken to the factory. He follows them there and manages to struggle with one of the super strong suit guys and it turns out they are robots. After this one failed attempt at killing him, Cochran decides to take him prisoner because…I guess he turned into a Bond villain all of a sudden? When questioned he even tells him “a magician never explains his secrets” before immediately turning around and explaining all of his secrets.
Turns out he has a giant sacrificial stone (“You know like Stonehenge”) in his basement that he has his robot servants getting chunks of because “it has power” but apparently only when put it into a microchip and expose it to synth pulses. Cochran shows Daniel on a screen what will happen as the Kupfers are ushered into a room and the son puts his mask on and watches a flashing pumpkin on TV. Turns out the bug laser from before is way more powerful and can also make snakes come out of your head. Good job, laser. This is the plan that he has to kill a bunch of children. We all know that kids really want to be a pumpkin head guy or skull head instead of anything pop culture related so obviously these 3 masks will sell like hot cakes. Also, children will totally tune in to watch a flashing pumpkin while still wearing their big, uncomfortable latex masks at home. It’s almost too brilliant.
After being shown that Ellie is still alive but trapped in a room somewhere, Cochran decides to leave Daniel in a room, by himself, with a mask on and wait for the 9 P.M. showing of the flashing pumpkin to kill him. So, yeah, I guess he really did turn into a bond villain when I wasn’t looking. Before the death pumpkin, though, they are showing a “horrorthon” that apparently includes the original Halloween because nothing says to parents “keep your kids tuned to this station” like an R rated slasher flick. Also, it shows that kids all over the country are wearing the same three masks, often in groups with multiple kids wearing the same mask. Ok, that’s some bullshit but my question is: what about the time difference? Like, is killer pumpkin going to be on at midnight on the East Coast? The movie is taking place on the West Coast and it is shown as going to happen 9 PST. If not, wouldn’t the mass death of a ton of kids all along the Eastern U.S. maybe tip people off that something is fucked up? No? Maybe? Whatever.
Daniel manages to get out of his restraints and escapes through an air duct that is large enough to fit Tom Atkins and his mustache comfortably. He runs around the factory dodging robots and cameras so he can call his wife to tell her to take the masks away from the kids. Of course his shrew wife will not stop yelling at him because she is an ex-wife in a movie and so is unreasonable to the point of insanity. Daniel then decides, fuck it, time to get Ellie and get out of here. So he breaks her out, runs around the factory and then manages to turn on the death pumpkin in the control room while throwing a bunch of those computer chip tags down on everyone. This zaps all the robots but I guess robot goo can’t turn into bugs or snakes. Also the big stone thing starts to explode because of course it does. They then make their escape from the now exploding factory.
Driving away from the burning wreckage of Silver Shamrock, it turns out that Ellie is actually a robot and she attacks him! Oh no! It is unclear, however, when this would have taken place. Our options are as follows: 1) She was always a robot. This seems unlikely given that she wants to bring people up to the factory to snoop around. 2) She was replaced with a robot at some time after her capture. While much more likely, this means that within an hour or so of being caught, Cochran made a lifelike duplicate of Ellie while also dealing with Daniel and overseeing the Great Flashing Pumpkin of Doom. He went to all of this trouble to construct this robot but for what end? In case Daniel got out? But then why didn’t it try to stop him immediately or at least stop him from blowing up the factory? And if you are going to go to the trouble to make a robot to stop a doctor that might escape, why the fuck don’t you just kill him in the first place if you were so worried that he would get out?! 3) He made a sex robot ahead of time. Ew.
So Daniel crashes the car and we get a triple fake out of “Ellie’s” death including the classic gag of the severed arm trying to strangle him and the headless body trying to strangle him. He runs a ways and manages to get to the same garage from the beginning of the film. He then calls the TV station and actually gets in contact with someone in charge and tells them to not air the pumpkin thing because it’s going to kill people. So they take it off the air right before it goes on because a crazy, yelling guy has obviously been able to get through to someone that has the authority to make these decisions and convince them that TV will make lasers in a mask turn kids into bugs and snakes. Turns out that the show is also on another channel that a kid flips to and the guy tells the person he is on the phone with to take it off that channel too because he is now talking to the President of TV that controls every station. That one gets turned off. Haha, fuck you, it is also on a third channel and President TV has had enough of this shit and doesn’t turn it off of that station because he really likes to fuck with people.
The end. A bunch of kids probably got turned into bugs and snakes. No moral. Go home.
This movie is insane. I honestly feel like it would have been way more of a cult classic if it had just been Season of the Witch instead of Halloween 3. The story is ludicrous and the villain’s motivation for trying to kill millions of kids is “I don’t know. Halloween used to be about murder or something? I am a slave to the whims of the planet and it wants me to kill kids. Because I am a witch. Also the world’s best roboticist. Don’t question it.” That and a fairly decent smattering of really good practical effects means that the movie ends up being the kind that makes you immediately want to drag a friend over to watch it with you so you can verify that what you saw was actually as crazy as you thought.
Overall, I give the movie a 4 out of 5 if for nothing else than being riveting in how completely nonsensical it is.
Favorite part of the movie: Hard to narrow down. Probably the fact that this company is banking on selling millions of the same 3 generic masks.
Least favorite part: That fucking jingle.
To be honest, those are some pretty sweet masks.
Actually, I had heard that when “Halloween” was pitched as a franchise of movies, having them be an annual and unrelated serial scary stories was part of the plan. This is a movie I’d LOVE to see redone with social media as the trigger or something.
Yeah. The original idea of making Halloween tied around the holiday instead of Michael Meyers would have been interesting if they hadn’t 1) already made a sequel with him and 2) if that idea was actually communicated in some way. Like having a Crypt Keeper-esque figure book end the story so you know it’s an anthology. Something.
Actually, I remember reading somewhere that this movie was inspired by D&D and the satanic panic.
I blame the Irish.