In 1982, just one year after the release of Halloween II, and four years after John Carpenter’s Halloween made its debut, Halloween III: Season of the Witch arrived in cinemas. The film – written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace – starred Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, and Dan O’Herlihy, and followed the story of a doctor and a young woman, who investigate a sinister plot involving a novelty mask maker.
Unlike the previous entries in the Halloween movie series, which focused on serial killer Michael Myers, Halloween III broke away from established continuity to tell a new story. It unshackled itself from its predecessors, relegated Myers to a quick cameo ‘in-joke’, and travelled down a path that was far less slasher and way more science fiction.
Did it work? Well, not at the time of its release, no.
Critics and audiences who went to see Halloween III were confused about its connection to the previous movies, they couldn’t understand why Michael Myers was absent, and they didn’t really get on board with the picture. As a result of the general confusion, along with dwindling box office returns, Halloween III was declared a flop, and the for the next entry, the series reverted to the tried-and-tested formula of using Myers as the main villain.
That next film was called Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. It was then followed by a succession of sequels, reboots, and re-imaginings, all placing Myers front and centre of each instalment.
But once Halloween III moved away from the big screen and onto home video, opinions slowly began to change. New audiences came to view it, they began to appreciate its new direction, and they started to champion its cause.
And as the years rolled by, thanks to VHS, laserdisc, TV re-runs, DVD, Blu-ray, digital downloads, and streaming, more and more people got to view the film, and the fanbase began to grow. And these days, many horror fans consider Halloween III to be one of the best entries in the Halloween series and it certainly ranks higher than a number of the Michael Myers instalments.
But through all the critical lows and then highs of Halloween III’s existence, one thing has bothered some fans. The question on their lips is: Who does the creepy face belong to on the Halloween III poster?
You know the one. It’s the face that appears right at the top of the poster, just under the title of the film. It’s not Michael Myers (obviously), and it’s not one of the lead actors in the film – so who is it? Well, the answer is a lot more straight forward than you think.
The main face seen on the poster of Halloween III is not a person, but is instead one of the witch masks that is featured in the movie. Halloween III: Season of the Witch incorporates three Halloween-themed masks into its storyline – the witch, the skull, and the Jack O’Lantern – and it is the witch mask that can be seen on the poster.
The reason the image is not so easily identifiable is because it has been stretched and distorted for the poster, to make it appear more disturbing. This version of the mask is also devoid of any colour, unlike the vibrant green witch mask depicted in the movie.
Edd Riveria was the artist behind the poster for Halloween III. He used the witch mask as the central image in order to tie it into the film’s title, ‘Season of the Witch’.
Riveria then placed the image against an ominous red backdrop, to reflect the sunset, before placing three children (in Halloween costumes) below. The idea was to have the witch-y image looming over the children as they go out ‘trick-or-treating’, to connect with a key theme from the movie and create a sense of foreboding.
Incidentally, effects specialist, Don Post (of Post Studios) designed the masks for Halloween III. The witch mask, as well as the skull mask were adaptations of existing masks from his studio; only the Jack O’Lantern was entirely new.
Post was a successful mask maker, known for making masks of actors, including one of William Shatner. His Shatner mask was famously altered to become the Michael Myers mask used in the original Halloween.
I hope all this information has answered an all-important question about Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and it will help you sleep at night. You may suffer from nightmares, and you may lie awake thinking about the monster in the closet, or that strange thing that lurks under your bed, but hopefully none of your worries will relate to Halloween III.
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