Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a 1982 American science-fiction horror film. The movie was written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and produced by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. It stars Tom Atkins as Dr. Dan Challis, Stacey Nelkin as Elle Grimbridge and Dan O'Herlihy as Conal Cochran. It was made on a budget of $2,500,000 and earned $14,400,000 at the US box office, making it the worst performing movie in the Halloween franchise to date. The film was rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America.
The movie is not a direct sequel to Halloween II. It is the only movie in the Halloween franchise that does not feature the character of Michael Myers, although he is referenced. Unlike the other movies in the franchise, it is not in the "slasher" genre, being more of a "mad scientist" story instead.
Halloween III was originally intended to be the first in an annual series of films that would each feature different characters in a different Halloween-related story. The plan was cancelled as a result of the poor box office performance of Halloween III and largely negative critical reaction. Michael Myers was brought back for the next film in the series, the 1988 movie Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.
On October 23, shop owner Harry Grimbridge is clutching a child's Silver Shamrock jack-o-lantern mask and being chased by men in gray business suits. He arrives at a gas station where the attendant is watching television. A TV news report about a standing stone being stolen from Stonehenge is followed by a commercial for Silver Shamrock jack-o-lantern, witch and skeleton masks. The commercial is accompanied by a jingle, to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down", which says that there are eight more days until Halloween. Grimbridge enters the gas station, says, "They're going to kill us all", and collapses. He is taken to hospital by the gas station attendant.
In another part of town, Dr. Dan Challis arrives at his ex-wife's house with some Halloween masks as gifts for his son and daughter. The children are unimpressed with the masks, showing him that their mother has already bought them some better ones. They put on the Silver Shamrock witch and skeleton masks that their mother has bought them and begin singing the jingle from the commercial. Dr. Challis then receives a call, telling him that he has to return to the hospital.
At the hospital, Harry Grimbridge continues to say, "They're going to kill us all". He is sedated by Dan Challis and left in hospital room 13. While he is unattended, a man in a gray business suit enters the room, kills Harry Grimbridge and then burns himself to death in his car.
The following day, Dan Challis is watching TV in a bar. A trailer for Halloween is followed by an announcement that the Silver Shamrock Novelties company will be holding a "big give away" at 9:00pm on Halloween night. Elle Grimbridge, Harry Girmbridge's daughter, enters the bar and asks Dan Challis for help in investigating her father's death.
Elle and Dan's investigation leads them to Santa Mira, California, a town mostly inhabited by people of Irish descent and home to the Silver Shamrock Novelties company factory, owned by Irishman Conal Cochran. Elle and Dan pose as a husband and wife who are interested in buying some Silver Shamrock masks for their store. On October 30, they tour the Silver Shamrock factory with Buddy Kupfer (described by Cochran as the man who sold more Silver Shamrock masks than any other salesperson in the country) his wife Betty and their son Little Buddy. Buddy Kupfer is a great admirer of Cochran, describing him as the "all-time genius of the practical joke."
That evening, Elle is kidnapped. Dan breaks into the Silver Shamrock factory and is captured by some of the men in gray business suits, who turn out to be androids. Dan discovers that the button on each Silver Shamrock mask contains a computer chip and that the computer chip includes a piece of the standing stone from Stonehenge, described by Cochran as being "From an ancient sacrificial circle... It has a power in it. A force." On the morning of Halloween, Dan is forced to watch what the chip can do. He sees the Kupfer family watching the Silver Shamrock "big giveaway" commercial that will be shown on television stations that night. The voice on the commercial tells Little Buddy to put on his mask and watch the "magic pumpkin". As the computer image of the pumpkin on the TV pulsates, the chip in Little Buddy's mask does too, killing him and turning his head into a mass of insects and poisonous snakes. The snakes attack his parents, killing them too.
Cochran explains his plan to Dan Challis. He states that Buddy Kupfer was right about him being a practical joker, saying, "I do love a good joke. And this is the best ever. A joke on the children" but adds that his real aim is to return Halloween to its ancient roots by holding a mass human sacrifice. He tells Dan Challis, "You really don't know much about Halloween. You thoght no further than the strange custom of having your children wear masks and go out begging for candy... Halloween. The festival of Samhain. The last great one took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red with the blood of animals and children."
A montage shows children around the country trick-or-treating wearing Silver Shamrock masks. Trucks with loudspeakers tell them to hurry home before nine o'clock to watch the Silver Shamrock "big giveaway" on television. At 7:30pm, Dan Challis is strapped to a chair. Cochran places a Silver Shamrock skeleton mask on his head and turns on a television in front of him, meaning that he will die when the commercial appears on TV at 9:00pm. Cochran wishes him a "happy Halloween" and leaves the room.
Dan kicks his feet through the television, frees himself from the straps and escapes through a small vent. He calls his ex-wife and tells her to get rid of the children's masks. Unfortunately, she just thinks that Dan is still upset because the children did not like the masks that he bought and refuses to listen. Dan finds Elle, they go to the computer room where the standing stone from Stonehenge is kept and set off a chain reaction that destroys the factory and kills Cochran.
As they leave in the car, Elle attacks Dan. He discovers that the Elle that is in the car is not the real Elle but one of Cochran's androids. After a struggle he destroys the android by knocking its head off. Just before 9:00pm, Dan arrives at the same gas station that Elle's father went to at the beginning of the movie. He telephones the TV stations to try to convince them to pull the Silver Shamrock commercial. Two television stations stop showing the commercial but a third does not. The movie ends with Dan Challis shouting, "Turn it off! Stop it! Stop it!"