4 Shots From 4 Halloween Films


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we acknowledge the release of David Gordon Green’s Halloween with….

4 Shots From 4 Halloween Films

Halloween (1978, dir by John Carpenter)

Halloween III: Season of The Witch (1982, dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)

Halloween H20 (1998, dir by Steve Miner)

Halloween (2007, dir by Rob Zombie)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Tommy Lee Wallace Edition!


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

This October, I am going to be using our 4 Shots From 4 Films feature to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror directors, in alphabetical order!  That’s right, we’re going from Argento to Zombie in one month!

Today’s director: Tommy Lee Wallace!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)

Fright Night Part 2 (1988, dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)

It (1990, dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)

Vampires: Los Muertos (2002, dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)

Horror Film Review: It (dir by Tommy Lee Wallace)


Last month, before I saw the latest film version of Stephen King’s It, I watched the 1990 miniseries version.

This was my first time to watch the It miniseries, though I had certainly heard about it.  Most of the reviews that I had read seemed to be mixed.  Everyone seemed to agree that Tim Curry was the perfect choice for the role of Pennywise the Dancing Clown.  However, many other reviewers complained that the program’s television origins kept It from being as effective as it could be.  “Not as scary as the book,” everyone seemed to agree.  The actors who played the members of the Loser Clubs as children all seemed to receive general acclaim but not everyone seemed to be as enamored with the adult cast.  And everyone, even those who liked the miniseries as a whole, complained about the show’s finale, in which Pennywise took the form of a giant spider.

Well, I have to agree about the giant spider.  That spider looked painfully fake, even by the standards of 1990s television.  Not only does the spider look too fake to truly be scary but, once that spider showed up, that meant that Tim Curry disappeared from the film.  Curry deserved every bit of acclaim that he received for playing the role of Pennywise.

All that said, the miniseries was still a lot better than I had been led to believe.

Certainly, it’s not as frightening as the book or the movie.  Considering that the It miniseries was produced for network television, that’s not surprising.  As opposed to the movie, the miniseries attempts to cover King’s entire novel.  That’s a lot of material, even when you have a five hour running time.  Obviously, a good deal of the story had to be cut and there are a few scenes in the miniseries that feel a bit rushed.  Characters like Audrey Denbrough and Stanley Uris, who were compelling in the novel, are reduced to being mere bystanders.  Some of the novel’s most horrific scenes — like Henry Bowers cutting Ben — are either excised or heavily toned down.  If the novel was as much about the hypocrisy of the adults of Derry as the paranormal horror of Pennywise, that theme is largely left out of the miniseries.

That said, It still had its share of memorable moments.  The image of a clown standing on the side of the road, holding balloons, and waving is going to be creepy, regardless of whether it’s found in a R-rated film or on ABC.  The death of little George Denbrough is horrific, regardless of whether you actually the bone sticking out of his wound or not.  Even the library scene, in which a grown-up Richie Tozier deals with a balloon filled with blood, was effectively surreal.

As for the actors who played the members of the Losers Club, the results were occasionally uneven.  The actors who played them as children were all believable and had a credible group chemistry.  You could imagine all of them actually being friends.  As for the adults, some of them I liked more than others.  Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher, and Tim Reid gave the best performances out of the group.  John Ritter and Annette O’Toole were somewhere in the middle.  Richard Thomas was absolutely awful and I found myself snickering whenever he was filmed from behind and I saw his pony tail.  Richard Masur, unfortunately, wasn’t around long enough to make much of an impression one way or the other.

Ultimately, though, the miniseries (much like the book) suffers because the adults are never as interesting as Pennywise.  Tim Curry dominates the entire movie and, when he’s not onscreen, his absence is definitely felt.  Watching the miniseries made me appreciate why the film version kept Pennywise’s screen time to a minimum.  Pennywise is such a flamboyant and dominant character that, if not used sparingly, he can throw the entire production out of balance.

Despite its flaws, I liked the miniseries.  Yes, it’s uneven.  Yes, it’s toned down.  Yes, it works better in pieces than as a whole.  But, taken on its own terms, It was effective.  Director Tommy Lee Wallace creates a suitably ominous atmosphere and the child actors are all properly compelling.  And, finally, that damn clown is always going to freak me out.

Just for fun, here’s a trailer for It, recut as a family film:

Quick Horror Review: Halloween III – Season of the Witch (dir. by Tommy Lee Wallace)


halloween-3-season-of-the-witch-movie-poster-1982-1020194512-1And then, in 1982, the story of Halloween went off the rails in what I feel was the coolest way possible. And to think, some felt Rob Zombie’s Halloween II went off the mark.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch was mostly a flop when it was released. It managed to make the money to cover the film’s budget, but the film was hurt by the lack of connection to the original series. I think most people at the time were just expecting to see more of Michael Myers and wondered just what the hell this was about. Imagine if The Force Awakens had absolutely zero ties to the main characters in the Star Wars Universe. Actually, you might end up with The Ewok Adventure, but that’s a different review for a different time. Still, Season of the Witch was just that kind of shake up when it was released.

Tommy Lee Wallace sat in the director’s chair this time around. Having actually played Michael Myers in the first Halloween film, Wallace does well here, showing he learned something about setting the scene. It all moves well, and the pacing isn’t too slow. Viewers expecting gore and attacks might find themselves sighing and fast forwarding a bit, but then again, it’s not that type of film. Season of the Witch has a slew of jump scares, though it does go a little overboard in the second half of the movie. Were it cut down to an hour, Season of the Witch could serve as a good Tales from the Darkside / Crypt episode. As a horror story, the body count is low (which is typical for a Carpenter story anyway)

From a writing standpoint, Season of the Witch is solid, though somewhat predictable. Writing duties were handled by John Carpenter (who couldn’t fully walk away from the project), Nigel Kneale, and Wallace himself. My favorite horror tales are the ones that surround the one or few individuals that have discovered something wicked, only to find that they can’t seem to get anyone else to believe what they’ve witnessed. It’s one thing to be chased by a maniacal killer or space creature. It’s another thing entirely to find out you’re the only thing standing between the creature and the rest of humanity. Films like The Wicker Man, every version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Count Yorga: Vampire are examples of this, and Season of the Witch handles this very well, particularly after everything is revealed to our hero and to the audience. Okay, the truth’s out. Who’d even believe you, if you told them? That’s always bothered me. The focus in Halloween deals more with it’s Celtic origins and the celebration of Samhain, and this honestly adds to the creep factor if you do a bit of background reading on it.

Season of the Witch starts a few days before Halloween, with a man on the run from men in black suits. He’s able to defeat the men after him, but not without taking on a few injuries. It’s in the hospital that we’re introduced to our hero in Dr. Dan Challis, played by Carpenter film alum Tom Atkins (The Fog, Escape From New York & Night of the Creeps). Challis has a pretty normal life – a good job, a wife and two kids. When the new patient warns him about some strange danger looming on the horizon and passes along a Halloween mask, Challis decides to share his information with the man’s daughter, Ellie (Stacey Nelkin). Ellie believes that her father died due to foul play, and nothing is going to stop her from finding out why it happened. Challis makes a quick call to the Missus, lies about what he plans to do (he spends a great of his conversations with her like this, as he’s basicially cheating on her), and  continues on the mission. Dan and Ellie find their way to a small town called Santa Mira and to Conal Cochran (played by Dan O’Herlihy, also in The Last Starfighter & Robocop), owner of the Silver Shamrock company.

The trailer and videos actually give away more of the film than I ever could. If you have the chance to watch it, give a try. I don’t think it’s the worst film ever, but others expecting knife wielding killers may find themselves disappointed. Besides, if you take nothing else away from the film, there’s always the catchy Silver Shamrock Jingle to remind us of the fun in Halloween. The jingle was created by Wallace and Carpenter, with Tommy Lee Wallace providing the vocals and reminding us all to get our Silver Shamrock masks.

Quick Horror Review: John Carpenter’s The Fog


I have something of a tradition with John Carpenter’s The Fog. Every year, I try to watch the film on the date and time where the story starts – April 20th, at around 11:55pm. It’s not the scariest of stories, but it does have a spooky atmosphere that lends itself well to Halloween – or any late quiet night. I love this movie.

The Fog marked the first film that John Carpenter worked on after Halloween, collaborating with the late Debra Hill, who also produced the movie. She’d go on to also produce both Escape From New York and Escape from L.A for Carpenter. While it didn’t really have the impact of Halloween, it held up until Escape from New York came out the following year.

Here’s the story:

In the town of Antonio Bay, an old captain (John Houseman) explains to some children about the ill-fated Elizabeth Dane (what a beautiful name, I might add), a ship that belonged a rich of crew of lepers led by someone named Blake. The heads of the town conspired to steal the gold by setting up the ship to crash against the docks. It works out for the Conspirators, as they are “aided by a unearthy fog” that blinds the Leper ship’s navigators. and the gold they collect helps to form the great town the kids play in to this day.

What they don’t realize is that vengeance is coming in the form of that very same fog, as the ghost of the Lepers have come to claim the lives of the six conspirators…or their direct descendants.

As a kid, I had a problem with that. You mean because my great great grandparents messed up somewhere ages ago, I have to get killed for it? I remember thinking that it really wasn’t fair, but I’m kind of diverging from the topic here. The story gives you four points of view. You have Nick (Tom Atkins, sans his signature mustache) and a hitchhiker he picks up played by then scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis. You have Curtis mother, Janet Leigh, who’s character is working on the anniversary party for the town and her assistant, Sandy, played by Nancy Loomis (who appeared in the first three Halloween films). The third comes from Adrienne Barbeau’s character, Stevie Wayne, who works for the local radio station. Her character acts as the warning voice for the town and she starts to notice that something’s going on when her son gives her a piece of Driftwood that later echoes Blake’s warning. The final viewpoint comes from Father Malone (Hal Holbrook), who discovers Blake’s diary and learns the truth about what happened 100 years ago. His character helps to piece the mystery together, somewhat.

Carpenter and Hill gathered many of their friends, who went on to work on other films for this. Tommy Lee Wallace went on to direct Halloween III: Season of the Witch (and coincidentally did the voice of the Silver Shamrock ad-man in the commercial) and Vampires: Los Muertos. Wallace’s name was given to Carpenter fan favorite Buck Flower. Nick Castle’s name was given to Tom Atkins character. Makeup Wizard Rob Bottin (who also played Blake in the film) went on to do some of the effects in The Thing.

The makeup effects in this film were okay. The lighting and fog did more to obscure than to actually help one see what was doing the attacking, but it really worked for some of the shadowing in the film. If the movie has any drawbacks, it’s that there’s a really low body count to the film. In essence, there are only 6 people the ghosts are after, so these are only the ones they actually get. It would have been interesting if there were a few random deaths, or more individuals in danger, but I supposed it worked out well for the time period.

The Fog is a nice film to catch late at night. You won’t find it at the upper rankings of top horror films, but it’s one to try, at least. Don’t even bother with the Remake for this one. It’s not even work talking about.