We Watch It For The Music | Halloween III: Season of the Witch

We Watch It For The Music | Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Mason Vore

There’s only so many ways to say a piece of music is scary, but in this article I will attempt to use as many as possible.

With Halloween right around the corner, I decided to watch the oft-forgotten 1982 installment of the Halloween franchise, Halloween III: Season of the Witch. While there isn’t a witch on screen at any point and the movie isn’t as entertaining as the first Halloween, this movie has one of the scariest soundtracks/scores I’ve ever heard. Halloween director John Carpenter and his long-time collaborator, composer Alan Howarth, create some of the spookiest sounds that have ever been in a movie and keep you absolutely terrified throughout. 

A lot of people are unfamiliar with this movie because it’s the only film in the franchise without its famous antagonist, Michael Meyers.  John Carpenter wanted to turn the Halloween franchise into an annual anthology, with different directors trying to tell new unrelated stories every year. While it was considered a failure upon release and the idea panned, Halloween III has grown a lot in recognition as of late, helped in no small part by this unnerving soundtrack.  

The movie tells the story of Dr. Dan Challis and Ellie Grimbridge and their search for the mystery behind the death of Ellie’s father, Harry, at the hands of the menacing toy company Silver Shamrock Novelties. More of a thriller than straight up slasher, Season of the Witch follows their journey to the town of Santa Mira, California and their efforts to stop the evil toy company and its owner Conal Cochran from performing an ancient Celtic ritual of human sacrifice on trick-or-treaters across the country. Silver Shamrock embroiders their masks with traces from a rock stolen from Stonehenge (it’s wack, I know) that, when activated by one of their commercials at 9pm on Halloween, kills the wearer of the mask. 

The dynamic soundtrack is driven by disorienting and nauseating synths with high-intensity bursts of discordant horns that immediately instills a mood of dread throughout the characters and the setting. 

Straight off the bat, an eerie feeling of foreboding is ushered in by the H3 theme song. It’s played as a really creepy computer-generated rendering of a pumpkin is displayed. The screen glitches out into the opening scene of the movie, where robots from Silver Shamrock chase Harry Grimbridge along a road in Northern California. It’s perfect pace lowers you into the atmosphere of Halloween III and into a cramped cavern of fright. 

The highlight of the soundtrack and my personal favorite, “Chariots of Pumpkins,” scores Harry Grimbridge’s escape from Silver Shamrock robot henchmen. The flurry of persistent pulsing sounds and beams raise your heart rate and get you leaning into the screen as Harry, if only temporarily, escapes.  The first time I heard this song was in high school, and it was cool and scary then, but it was downright bone-chilling when I was listening to this song on a run a couple weeks ago at night with all the leaves falling off the trees and the wind howling threateningly.

Carpenter and Howarth have collaborated on many memorable movie scores, like The Thing, Halloween, They Live, and Escape from New York. So, as Halloween III rolls on, anyone can tell the two are comfortable settling into a pocket of sorts. This chemistry is evident on a track like “First Chase,” where more robot henchmen kidnap Ellie Grimbridge after discovering Dr. Dan and Ellie’s snooping around. 

They chase the couple around their motel in Northern California to what sounds like a bunch of fire alarms and some waves of synths, periodically interrupted by jarring sounds that I can only compare to a spaceship losing oxygen. 

This track picks up around the 1:10 mark, and it sounds like Carpenter and Howarth are really confident in their ability to mix exciting and terrifying sounds. I imagine the duo in the studio peering over the soundboards like this video of Kanye West at his Sunday Service a couple months ago. The impressionistic and throbbing sounds on this track remind me of more recent movie soundtracks like Disasterpiece for It Follows or Oneohtrix Point Never for Good Time. 

At different parts of Season of the Witch, the Silver Shamrock and its leader seem really kitschy and not that threatening. I envision its leader Conal Cochran as a combination of Gru from Despicable Me and Dr. Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. He even has a moment similar to when Gru is telling the minions about their plan to steal the moon.

However, Conal Cochran’s goals are obviously much more sinister, as he aims to kill the children wearing his masks.  Cochran uses his front as head of a beloved toy company to further his murderous intent, and that’s perfectly encapsulated by the theme song in their commercial that supposedly acts as a trigger for the masks on Halloween night. 

Seen on every single TV in the movie, the Silver Shamrock commercial that beckons children to watch their TVs is an odd, clown-like bit that’s put to the tune of the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down.”  

After Dr. Challis figures out this plan and escapes the grasp of Silver Shamrock’s factory, he runs into a gas station to frantically call TV networks to get them to stop airing the commercial before 9pm. A child turns on the TV in the gas station and the chilling commercial music grows louder and louder as he’s yelling into the phone. The movie ends on an ambiguous note because we never find out if Challis got it off the air.


Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a creepy movie for this Halloween season, made terrifying by its insane soundtrack. I’d recommend anyone that has the chance to enter the realm of the “Chariots of Pumpkins” do so, but just maybe with the lights on.


Here’s the full soundtrack to check out: