I can’t think of a horror movie that’s proven more polarizing over the years than Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, the oddball sequel that tossed aside the story of Michael Myers and (attempted) to take the franchise down a completely new path. Only in recent years has the tale of murderous Halloween masks been embraced by fans, and rightfully accepted for what it is rather than condemned for what it’s not.
The original plan, as conceived by John Carpenter himself, was that Season of the Witch would spawn a slew of sequels set on Halloween night, but having nothing to do with Michael Myers. And though fans may be more accepting of that concept all these years later, the ballsy third installment wasn’t so well received at the box office – leading to Myers being brought back from the dead, six years later.
But what if Halloween 3: Season of the Witch had been a much bigger hit back in 1982? And what if the story of Michael Myers had ended, as planned, one year prior in Halloween 2? Would that have been the worst thing to ever happen to the horror genre? Or were John Carpenter, Debra Hill and Tommy Lee Wallace onto something when they decided to move on and restart the franchise anew?
Though my opinion on this topic may not be the popular one, I don’t think anyone can deny that the one-two punch of Halloween and Halloween 2 was pitch perfect. Carpenter and Hill returned to co-write the 1981 sequel, which picked up directly after the events of the original film and followed Michael Myers as he continued to ruthlessly pursue young Laurie Strode – with Dr. Loomis hot on his tail.
It was of course in Halloween 2 that Carpenter and Hill introduced the idea that Strode was Michael’s sister, and the sequel ended with both Myers and Dr. Loomis being blown up in a fiery hospital explosion – perfectly wrapping up not just the brother/sister story, but also the Moby Dick-esque tale of good guy/bad guy. Laurie is driven off to safety in an ambulance, while hero and villain perish in the fire.
And that was supposed to be that. With Myers and Loomis dead, and Laurie Strode free to go on with her life, the Halloween franchise as we knew it up to that point was over, and Carpenter felt that there was no need to beat a dead horse and milk the Myers cash cow for all it was worth. For once, a horror franchise was going to end on its own accord, rather than being stretched out until it inorganically ran its course.
Alas, the financial and critical failure of Halloween 3: Season of the Witch ensured that Carpenter would not get his way, and Myers/Loomis were brought back not because there was more of a story to tell with the characters, but rather, plain and simple, out of financial necessity. Five more sequels were squeezed out of Myers beginning in 1988, and indeed the franchise ended up wearing out its welcome.
Horror fans are always complaining that enough is enough with the big franchises, and begging for something new. The Halloween franchise admirably tried to reinvent itself, to no avail. And that’s kind of a shame.
Even if you love the post-Halloween 3 sequels, and they certainly have their merits, there’s something about all of them that feels relatively desperate – a quality inherent to most financially-driven horror sequels. In Halloween 4, Michael again escapes from an institution and begins pursuing his niece Jamie, a lame storyline that was continued through Halloween 5 – wherein Jamie and Michael share a telepathic bond.
And then there’s Halloween 6, which brought Tommy Doyle (a character from the original film) back into the fold and introduced all sorts of idiotic cult mythology to the franchise. Jamie Lee Curtis made her return to the series in both Halloween H20 and Halloween: Resurrection, late 90s/early 2000s sequels that continued a story Carpenter had already brought to a perfect conclusion decades prior.
I’m of course glossing over all the good qualities of those sequels, but would we really have missed out on anything special had Halloween 4–8 taken inspiration from Halloween 3 and been about characters and storylines that had nothing to do with Michael Myers? My answer is admittedly colored by the fact that I don’t much care for Return through Resurrection, but my answer is nevertheless a big fat NO.
Not only were the post-Halloween 3 sequels far inferior to the first two films in the franchise, but they also made Michael Myers into somewhat of a joke. While he was scary in Halloween and Halloween 2, he almost always looked like a total goof in the subsequent sequels, thanks mostly to terrible masks that were downright laughable. And don’t even get me started on his kung-fu fight with Busta Rhymes.
It’s entirely possible that the originally planned post-Halloween 3 sequels could’ve ended up being way worse than the ones we ended up getting, but I would’ve loved to have seen what the franchise would’ve been like had it been completely freed from the Myers connection. And if Halloween 3 is any indication, we very well could’ve been in store for some truly special holiday horror films back then.
Ultimately, we’ll never know what could’ve been, or how it would’ve compared to what was, but I can’t shake the feeling that Michael Myers would’ve been better off if his story was contained to the original two films. The subsequent sequels didn’t do him, or the franchise as a whole, many favors, and I can’t think of any downside to him having been killed off in 1982 and replaced with new Halloween villains like Conal Cochran.
Aside, perhaps, from Danielle Harris not getting her start in the horror genre. Admittedly, that would’ve been a damn shame, and quite frankly a crime against humanity. So I suppose there’s at least that.
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