The Halloween Grab Bag!
A Look At The Rare Original Halloween III: Season Of The Witch Pre-Release Trade Ad!
by: -RoG-

1982 was a damn good year for horror. Poltergeist, The Thing, and Creepshow were just some of the classics to come out that year that I would end up seeing countless times throughout my life. While those films were generally appreciated amongst horror fans, there was another film that I've always held close to my heart that completely bombed back in 1982. That film? Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

I first wrote about Halloween III back in October of 2005, during my annual "Two Months of Halloween" celebration, because I truly wanted horror fans to give the movie a second chance. After all, the movie was almost universally loathed by moviegoers, simply because it was the Halloween movie without Michael Myers. Well, there are quite a few Halloween flicks with Michael Myers, and they're not all good.

But I always saw Halloween III as something special - not just because they planned it to be the first in an anthology series of new Halloween tales every year, but because it had a completely original story unlike anything else I had ever seen before. Sure, it had some silliness to it, but there was much more to Halloween III than some corny acting. Strip away the Halloween title and corny lines, and you have a genuinely amazing horror tale.

Think about it. An evil toymaker gets kids frothing at the mouth for his three Halloween masks, then come October 31st, he airs a commercial that activates the masks so they'll kill all the kids in the country who are wearing them? That's insane. How can you not love that?

Well, like I said, back in 2005, most horror fans still hadn't come around on Halloween III. Now, more than ten years later, it's considered a cult classic. Funny how things change. Conal Cochran himself always did love a good joke. Me? I'm just happy it's become an unlikely fan favorite after existing for 30+ years in ignominy.

Now, I've collected all kinds of fun Halloween III tributes over the years, from the complete Halloween III Retroband action figures set to Tom Whalen's amazing Silver Shamrock Santa Mira tourism print. What can I say, I'm obsessed with this little film, and thanks to my obsession, I recently uncovered another Halloween III relic that has somehow never been covered online before. So, today you're going to see the very first printed promotion for Halloween III that came out before the theatrical poster was ever created.

First, allow me to explain a bit about its source. Earlier this year, I acquired a copy of this book:

Universal Pictures For 1982 - Original Trade Marketing Supplement To Variety

This is the Universal Pictures For 1982 book. It's a fairly rare trade book that was distributed in small quantities as an advertising supplement Variety magazine back in 1982, and features 23 films that were coming out that year. Given the oversized 11"x15" pages, it feels less like a cheap booklet, and more like a collection of nice movie poster prints. Upon opening the book, the reader was greeted with this opening statement before being treated to the 23 film promotions:

"1982 will be a banner year for moviegoing. And movie showing. At Universal, that promise is backed by the deepest, most diversified release schedule in our history. It's a line-up of pictures which states as no words can, the business we're in... THE MOVIE BUSINESS... creating filmed excitement that fills theatres with satisfied people! The 23 motion pictures on these pages encompass every entertainment genre - comedies, thrillers, musicals, adventures, dramas, movies from hit Broadway shows, and movies from best-selling books. In short, we have committed ourselves to a program of quality entertainment as proof of the resounding confidence we have in our customers and the industry alike. Welcome to Universal for 1982."

Okay, so they were confident. And why shouldn't they be? There were some real solid titles on their release schedule:

Universal Pictures For 1982 - Green Ice, The Thing, and Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Okay, so I've never seen Green Ice, but with a poster like that, how could you not go see it? Plus, you had films like John Carpenter's The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Conan the Barbarian, The Dark Crystal, E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial, and others all in the book. No wonder they were projecting so much confidence... they had good reason.

Well, they couldn't all be winners at the time, and towards the end of the book, shortly after Videodrome, you come face to face with the very first ad for Halloween III the world has ever seen. BEHOLD!

Universal Pictures For 1982 - The Halloween III: Season of the Witch original pre-release trade ad!

Gorgeous, isn't it? I'm absolutely in love with this promotion, and there's a LOT to break down about it, so let's comb over it one thing at a time.

First off, this is a pre-release trade ad from 1982. This Universal Pictures For 1982 book is the only time this artwork was ever used to promote Halloween III. That's right, this amazing ad was never used again in any advertising or promotional materials after this publication whatsoever. So if you're a Halloween III fan, don't beat yourself up; I'm obsessed with the movie, and I only discovered the ad earlier this year, and I've been dying to share the news about it ever since.

Another important thing to note: this ad does not feature the "Season of the Witch" subtitle. It's simply called "Halloween III" both on the computer screen and in the top right sidebar. Yep, the "Season of the Witch" subtitle was added in later on!

That said, the image does mention witchcraft. In fact, they had a completely different tagline on this promotion: "Witchcraft enters the computer age. A different terror begins." It certainly describes the film far better than the original "The night no one comes home." tagline did. I don't think there would have been any confusion about it being a Halloween film sans Michael Myers with that tagline.

The imagery also suggests it's something quite different from the first two Halloween films. The silhouette of children going trick-or-treating in their Halloween costumes from the Halloween III poster we're all familiar with is nowhere to be found, and in its place, we see a vintage computer screen with the words "HALLOWEEN III" written in blocky title font that looks like it came right off of an Atari 2600 game. On top of it, rests a large witch hat against a backdrop of glowing fog.

It's a seriously striking image, and given our ever-growing fascination with technology, using this imagery to promote the film may have been the better choice for Universal back in 1982. Again, if you saw that as a poster and thought the movie was going to be about Michael Myers, you were probably hit in the head with a hammer at a very young age.

Lastly, if you look in on the right credits sidebar, you'll notice Nigel Kneale is credited as the writer instead of Tommy Lee Wallace. This promotion actually pre-dates Nigel Kneale's dis-enchantment with the Halloween III production. Nigel later requested to have his name removed from the credits.

Like I said, there was a lot to dissect, and to a fan like me, it's all absolutely fascinating.

Universal Pictures For 1982 - The Halloween III: Season of the Witch original pre-release trade ad alongside Six Weeks!

For the life of me, I'll also never understand why they put an ad for Halloween III right next to the Dudley Moore & Mary Tyler More film, Six Weeks, when they had other horror films like The Thing and Videodrome in the same book. Must be another one of Conal Cochran's jokes.

Before we wrap things up, I wanted to give you a nice look at what the image would look like just on its own as a poster:

Universal Pictures For 1982 - The Halloween III: Season of the Witch original pre-release trade ad poster!



Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a film that has given so much to me. Having seen it well over a hundred times, it's one of my all-time favorite horror movies, and the fact that I'm still discovering new things about it to this day, only validates the obsession further for me. Getting to share an exclusive in the form of this virtually never-seen-before original promotional ad for Halloween III with all of you, already makes the 2017 Halloween season a memorable one for me. I hope you've enjoyed this rare glimpse at the early beginnings of Halloween III. Now, all you lucky kids with Silver Shamrock masks, gather 'round your TV set, put on your masks and watch. All witches, all skeletons, all Jack-O-Lanterns, gather 'round and watch. Watch the magic pumpkin. Waaaaaatch...

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