Preceded by Halloween II (1981)
Followed by The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 American horror film and the third installment in the Halloween series. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin and Dan O'Herlihy, the film is based on an original screenplay by Nigel Kneale and focuses on an evil scheme by the owner of a mask company to kill the children of America on Halloween night through a series of popular Halloween masks: a witch, a jack-o'-lantern, and a skull.
The story of Halloween III: Season of the Witch is unrelated to the story of previous Halloween films, which featured the character Michael Myers. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was intended to revise the Halloween franchise as an anthology series, with a new Halloween storyline every year. This film depicts the trailer for Carpenter's original 1978 Halloween airing on a TV. The story abandons the Michael Myers plotline, and the film departs from the slasher film genre the original Halloween spawned. The focus on a psychopathic killer is replaced by a "mad scientist and witchcraft" theme.
On Saturday, October 23, shop owner Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry) is chased by mysterious figures wearing business suits. He collapses at a gas station clutching a Silver Shamrock jack-o'-lantern mask and says "They're coming. They're coming." and is driven to the hospital by the filling station attendant (Essex Smith) all the while ranting, "They're going to kill us. All of us,all of us." Grimbridge is placed under the care of Dr. Daniel "Dan" Challis. While Grimbridge is hospitalized, another man in a suit enters his room and pulls his skull apart, killing him instantly. The man then returns to his vehicle, douses himself with gasoline and lights himself on fire, causing the car to explode.
Challis, together with Grimbridge's daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin), begins an investigation that leads them to the small town of Santa Mira, California, home of the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory. They learn from a hotel manager, Mr. Rafferty (Michael Currie), that the source of the town's prosperity is Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy) and his factory and that the majority of the town's population is made up of descendants of Irish immigrants. Challis learns that Ellie's father had stayed at the same hotel. Other guests of the hotel included shop owners Marge Guttman (Garn Stephens) and the Kupfer family: Buddy (Ralph Strait), Betty (Jadeen Barbor) and their son "Little" Buddy (Bradley Schacter). All have business at the factory and eventually meet gruesome ends because of the Silver Shamrock masks.
A day after arriving in Santa Mira, Challis and Ellie tour the Silver Shamrock factory with the Kupfers and are alarmed to discover Grimbridge's car in a storage building guarded by more men dressed in suits. They return to their hotel but find that they cannot contact anyone outside Santa Mira. Ellie is kidnapped by the men in suits from the factory, and in an attempt to locate her, Challis breaks into the factory. There he discovers that the men in suits are actually androids created by Cochran. Although Challis succeeds in neutralizing one of the androids (Dick Warlock), he is captured by the others, and Cochran reveals his plan to kill children on Halloween night. He explains that the Silver Shamrock trademark on the masks contains a computer chip embedded with a small fragment of a five-ton sacrificial stone stolen from Stonehenge. When the Silver Shamrock television commercial airs on Halloween night, the chip will activate, discharging energy which will cause the wearers' heads to dissolve and spew insects and snakes. Cochran further explains that he is attempting to resurrect the more macabre aspects of the Celtic festival, Samhain, which he connects to witchcraft.
Challis escapes from the cell Cochran leaves him in, rescues an unusually passive Ellie, and manages to sabotage Cochran's computers so that the commercial is played into the factory's control room. He then releases a shower of computer chips, which explode in front of the TV monitors and destroy Cochran's androids. The computers and the standing stone form a magic circle; Cochran politely applauds his opponent before the circle's energy discharges through him and vaporizes him. Challis flees as the factory is consumed in the chain reaction, but discovers that the "Ellie" he has saved is another android. He destroys it and makes his way to the same filling station where Ellie's father had come eight days earlier. Challis contacts the television stations and convinces all but one of the station managers to remove the commercial. The film ends with Challis on the phone, begging the station to turn off the commercial while the "Magic Pumpkin" which triggers the computer chip in the mask begins to flash. He frantically yells for the station to stop the commercial before it is too late. The film ends with him yelling "STOP IT!" and the credits then roll.