Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Season of the witch


I suppose I promised a review of Halloween III: Season of the Witch, huh?

I had not until last not, seen the film in quite a long time. I recalled it, as noted below, as "interesting". I'll stick to that word, but this time imagine it delivered with a little more of that tone one might take when reviewing an unsuccessful piece by a friendly acquaintance and one struggles hopelessly for a complimentary term.

The original screenplay was by the legendary Nigel Kneale. The temptation is obviously in cases where a great writer's screenplay was seriously rewritten and the resulting movie has many interesting ideas, but ultimately doesn't work is to assume all the things of value come from the original script and the rewrite is all of the problem.

In Science Fiction Mourns Nigel Kneale, his tribute to Kneale, who just passed away, Tim Lucas quotes producer John Carpenter as saying the original screenplay was "old-fashioned".

This only leads me to further assume the problem lies in the rewrite, as the movie feels incredibly dated. Interestingly, I can't say that any of Kneale's other works feels dated to me. Sure, there are clothing and hairstyle issues, in the finished works, but most of the screenplays could be reshot exactly as written and not seem odd.

You could place some blame on Tom Atkins, while a fine character actor, not being a particularly compelling lead here, although that could well be the weak material or the deeply unlikeable character he's given to play. You could note the timeline feels wonky at best. You could say that it feels like a dark fantasy movie and a sci-fi movie are crashing against each other to little benefit to either.

I don't know for sure. I do know that it never particularly catches fire. It always feels just a little off.

Mind you, I still feel a series of otherwise unrelated films on the general theme of Hallowe'en sounds vastly more interesting than the endless series of repetitive tales of the misadventures of Michael Myers that followed. It's too bad that didn't happen.

Although now I'm tempted to blame mindless drones who couldn't grasp the concept just a little less and Carpenter and writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace a bit more for not having delivered a better movie to sell the concept with.

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