STUDIO: Shout! Factory
MSRP: $29.93
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

• “Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III
• Commentary by Tommy Lee Wallace
• Commentary by Tom Atkins
• Halloween’s Hallowed Grounds locations tour
• Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Stills Gallery

The Pitch

The bastard child of the Halloween franchise gets a well-deserved, exhaustive Blu-ray release!

The Humans

Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, written by Nigel Kneale and Wallace, starring Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy.

The Nutshell

The head of the nation’s most popular mask-making company has a wicked plan for boys and girls come Halloween night.

The Lowdown

After Universal dropped the ball last year on their planned Halloween III Blu-ray, Shout! Factory jumped in to save the day with this spectacular package – the special edition the bastard child of the franchise has always deserved. By now haters of HIII have shut up (I hope) and learned to live with the fact that there’s a Halloween movie without Michael Myers in it. That’s what gave the film an instant death at the box office back in 1982. People paid money to see Michael slice his way through the suburbs again, not to see Tom Atkins’ bare ass.

It’s taken decades for the film to get the credit it deserves and for fans to accept it as a stand-alone entry in the series. The filmmakers plan was to have a new Halloween film every October, with or without Michael Myers. HIII bombed terribly so this plan never came to fruition, but c’mon, it would’ve kicked ass to get a crazy new Halloween movie every year. At least we have this one, written by director Tommy Lee Wallace and Nigel Kneale (creator of the legendary Quatermass character). It’s a pod-people story filled with vibrant characters and a well-crafted creepy atmosphere – captured by franchise-veteran Dean Cundey’s chilly cinematography.

Essentially the film is about charismatic mask-magnate Conal Cochran’s (Dan O’Herlihy) plan to destroy the world. But really the film is about Tom Atkins being awesome. He’s an alcoholic doctor (albeit a functioning one) who buddies up with the young and beautiful Ellie (Stacey Nelkin) to stop Cochran. Atkins sleeps with her and I’m pretty sure we’re meant to believe he’s banged every nurse in his hospital. He’s irresistible! He’s also a terrible father who abandons his kids to go on a road trip with Stacey, but at least it’s for the noble reason of saving the planet.

The film is relentlessly fun but not without its hiccups. It lags a bit in places (like the robo-Ellie scene that goes on forever) and Cochran’s evil plot is laughably stupid. Some of the sets, particularly Cochran’s Druid lair, look cheap – resembling the worst of B-movie design. It’s amazing what Dean Cundey (aka “The Dean of Darkness”) does with them though. He’s a smart DP who knows how to make cheap look really, really good.

All of these blemishes don’t detract from the film’s greatness. It’s drenched in Halloween atmosphere – I love the montage of all the kids trick or treating with their masks on as day turns to night – and features some truly memorable kills. Dan O’Herlihy makes one eerie villain and his formal business demeanor makes him a great opponent for Atkin’s blue-collar High Life-swiggin’ Dr. Challis. Despite the absence of Michael Myers, I’ll take HIII over any of the latter sequels any day.

Just like they did with their fantastic Halloween II set, Shout! Factory’s HIII Blu-ray includes a wealth of special features and an impressive transfer. Let’s have a look…

The Package

HIII is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen, mixed in 1.0 Mono. The print is gorgeous. The pinks and greens of Santa Mira (the same fictional CA town from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers) really pop, contrasting nicely with the film’s darker colors. The mono track isn’t anything to write home about. Hearing the Silver Shamrock song in 5.1 would probably melt our brains anyway so we’re probably better off.

AUDIO COMMENTARY: Two commentary tracks are presented. The first includes director Tommy Lee Wallace, Rob G of FearNet, and Sean Clark of “Horror’s Hallowed Grounds.” Nothing spectacular here, they talk a lot about filming locations and how Wallace got involved with the project (material covered in more entertaining special features). The second track features Tom Atkins and horror movie special feature maestro Michael Felsher. Atkins tells a lot of great stories on the track, most of them having nothing to do with HIII. It’s a blast to listen to him.

MAKING OF: “Stand Alone: The Making of Halloween III” is a great, 35 minute retrospective featuring everyone involved with the film, with the exception of Carpenter and Debra Hill. They cover everything form conception to backlash.

HORROR’S HALLOWED GROUNDS: 20 minute location tour featuring host Sean Clark and Wallace.

Also included are your mandatory trailers, stills, and TV spots. Shout! Factory’s new horror branch Scream! Factory has hit another homerun with this release. It might not sway the film’s naysayers, but it’s a must-have for fans.

Happy Halloween!


Out of a Possible 5 Stars