Trail Mix takes a look at classic movie trailers from years past to explore their relationship (however sometimes tenuous) to the films themselves and to the movie promotion of today.
As we’ve covered before, the bait and switch tactic is something that Movie trailers were nowhere near shy about employing in the carefree, pre-internet days. But what about switching the premise of an entire franchise?
In one of the most batshit insane ideas ever perpetrated by a major Hollywood studio, the third installment of the Halloween series completely omitted its slasher icon (Michael Myers, of course) in favor of attempting an ongoing “anthology” type series, like a yearly theatrical version of American Horror Story. Needless to say, the film was ripped to shreds, like so much flesh at the business end of Myers’ blade, by both critics and audiences alike.
The trailer actually, surprisingly, plays fair, almost giving away TOO much as it lays out the basic plot for the numbered Halloween series’ eventual redheaded stepchild. But how many uninformed moviegoers were ready to go all “the night HE came home” on various theater workers and managers once they realized that the Halloween film they just paid good money to see had nothing to do with everyone’s favorite knife toting, Shatner masked “Shape”?
Did the film truly deserve such vitriol? I’m not here to bury Halloween III, I’m here to raise it high above the pile of robot man parts, latex mask pieces and insects where it’s been relegated to in the B-movie dung heap. There’s robot men, there’s killer Halloween masks, there’s Stonehenge and ancient male witches and also Stonehenge. Did we mention Stonehenge?
Yes, the villainous ancient Irish warlock at the center of the plot plans to use microscopic pieces of Stonehenge (yes, THAT Stonehenge), added to a microchip on the back of a silver button and affixed to a Halloween mask, (stay with us) to somehow teleport snakes and insects into the heads of the children wearing said masks, using a TV signal broadcast at 9PM on Halloween night, (almost there) to murder the children and their families, which will somehow, in his eyes, give the concept of Halloween back to the witches to whom it rightfully belongs.
Yes this is the plot of a film released by Universal Pictures in 1982. A plot that would seemingly make Troma blush. But there’s more! Halloween legend Don Post designed the Halloween masks themselves and they’re instantly iconic and sinister from the first frame. Horror icon Tom Atkins gives the type of ridiculously awesome performance in the lead that we just don’t get anymore, an everyman surgeon who somehow morphs into Batman, a hard livin’, hard lovin’, fighting detective, when weird shit starts going down. Nowadays you’d get The Rock or Channing Tatum in a role like this with some throwaway exposition about how he used to be a marine or some shit. Screw that noise, give me Atkins!
Tom Atkins, the hero we need AND deserve.
Series creator John Carpenter also returns to gift the film with one of his iconic electronic scores, and it only heightens the weird technophobia that permeates the entire enterprise. Add in one of the all-time great nihilistic downer endings in film history (seriously, right up there with Night of the Living Dead) and you have a film that’s definitely earned the cult reappraisal it’s been granted in recent years.
So the next time you’re looking for some late October viewing, forego the usual Myers’, Voorhees’ and Kruegers’ and sit down with Season of the Witch. We can at least guarantee it’s nefarious commercial jingle will get stuck in your head, unless maybe YOU are some kind of brainwashed ro-man bent on ill-conceived and poorly planned world domination!