The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time: #24 – HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

I’m sure I’ll catch some shit for this one, but just hear me out.

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The only entry in the Halloween series sans slasher icon Michael Myers starts with a sweet 80’s synth score and a man running for dear life from an unknown assailant. The man, later identified as Harry Grimbridge (Al Berry), is caught and nearly killed by a proto-Agent Smith, but he manages to get away and stumbles across a neighborly gas station attendant. Harry is clutching a jack-o-lantern Halloween mask and before passing out he utters the wonderfully cryptic:

“They’re coming….they’re coming….”

This prompts the attendant to whisk the hysterical fellow to the hospital with a different proto-Agent Smith not too far behind, whose presence is punctuated by a ridiculous synth sting.

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Once they get Harry admitted to the hospital he comes under the care of Dr. Daniel Challis (the immortal Tom-fucking-Atkins). At this point we are just over 11 minutes into the movie and a television in the background plays the infectious Silver Shamrock jingle, which is the 3rd time it’s been played already! This prompts Harry to awaken and utter the even more ludicrously cryptic:

“They’re going to kill us. All of us….all of us”

Naturally, he is sedated and taken to his hospital room: lucky #13. Much like the previous installment of the franchise, this hospital has roughly two people working at night, Dr. Challis and the nurse he sexually harasses (weren’t the 80’s fun?). To top it off, Dr. Challis heads to the break room to take a little nappy-nap, making it quite simple for the killer to stalk the hallways.

At this point you might be wondering why the hell I chose this particular film for the list, seeing as the set-up is pretty hokey. And I have to acknowledge that selecting the upcoming death scene precludes me from choosing any of the numerous other kills in the Halloween franchise. It isn’t a decision I made lightly. Just know that I hear your complaints, and they have been duly noted.

Back in the hospital, proto-Agent Smith stalks the hallways looking for Harry, who is sedated in his room still clutching the mask. Agent Smith deviously puts on his killing gloves (everybody has a pair, right?) and enters Harry’s room.

Ok, the set-up is out of the way, now here’s why it’s on the list. Agent Smith first covers Harry’s mouth to ensure he won’t scream, and then he calmly and methodically raises his other hand over Harry’s face. First, he balls his hand into a fist as if he’s going to

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pound his face into a pulp. But then, he positions his thumb and index finger about two inches apart, pointing downward as if he’s going to gouge Harry’s eyes out, or perhaps honk his nose(?).

But neither of these things happens. He slowly lowers those two fingers and grabs onto the bridge of Harry’s nose, which makes a wonderful squishing sound like he just stepped on a ripe tomato. Harry struggles, kicking his legs and grabbing at the bed, which gives me a sense of real panic. By cutting between Harry’s soon-to-be mangled faced, his flailing legs, and his frantically desperate hands they really sell that helpless feeling and that’s actually terrifying to me.

The death is punctuated with a hearty CRACK! and a Harry’s limbs go limp, save for one last grasp of the bed the moment before he dies. The rubber prosthetic they use to show the actual snapping isn’t very convincing, but that sound effect is chilling and it’s just one of those places on your body you’d never want to hear a cracking sound from.

In the end we see what appears to be brain juice leaking out because his skull has been ripped apart. This is the rare case of a bloodless kill in a horror film, though I’d have to imagine there would be some pretty heavy bleeding if someone actually had this happen to them in real life.

This kill gets marks for ingenuity and for the shot selection during the scene. Michael Myers has plenty of kills with sharp weapons and he’s crushed a skull or two, but the specificity of this death is a pretty fresh idea and shot in a way that you can almost feel through the screen.

Here’s the video so you can judge for yourself. I hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for the next installment!

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