"Halloween 3 - "Where the Hell is Michael Myers?": The Definitive History of Horror's Most Misunderstood Film" Book Review
Written by Robert Gold
Published by BearManor Media
Written by Tommy Lee Wallace
2022, 263 pages, Reference
Released December 12th, 2022
For years, Halloween III Season of the Witch has been met with harsh criticism and outright hatred for its lack of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. The audacity of the filmmakers to try something new with a franchise that was already going stale after Halloween II. The short version is the studio wanted another sequel and would do anything to have John Carpenter and Debra Hill back as producers, including giving them total freedom to do anything they wanted with the material as long as it was called Halloween III. The duo came up with the idea of creating an anthology series of original stories to be released annually under the Halloween banner. Despite the fact that the new movie was brilliantly conceived and well-made, the deadly III in the title led audiences to believe they were getting a continuation of the story they had loved and supported. So, what the hell happened? Writer/director Tommy Lee Wallace reveals all in his new book Halloween 3 - “Where the Hell is Michael Myers?”: The Definitive History of Horror’s Most Misunderstood Film.
This is an insightful and highly entertaining book that opens in the best possible way, with a foreword by the silver fox himself, actor Tom Atkins. Wallace is every bit as engaging and is a master storyteller who makes no apologies for his film and insists it does not need defending. His goal is to simply lay out the thought process behind the concept and execution of a misunderstood movie that was never meant to be a sequel to a hit franchise. Had the title simply dropped that infernal III, audiences would likely have been much more receptive.
Wallace begins at the beginning, growing up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, before following friend John Carpenter to USC to study filmmaking. He goes into detail about his work as production designer and editor on early Carpenter films, including Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween and The Fog. Initially offered the opportunity to direct Halloween II, Wallace passed due to creative differences with the violent script, but when producer Debra Hill called with the all-new concept for the next sequel, he was intrigued.
Halloween 3 - “Where the Hell is Michael Myers?” takes a deep dive into the entirety of the production, starting with its original screenplay by acclaimed writer Nigel Kneale (Quatermass and the Pit). We get excerpts from his script later in the book, but we also learn of the serious rewrites by Carpenter and Wallace that led to Kneale taking his name off the end product. Carpenter wished to remain uncredited outside of serving as producer and composer, resulting in Wallace uncomfortably taking sole writing credit on a deeply collaborative effort, which he is all too happy to clarify.
Moving ahead we get a detailed accounting of the work that goes into pre-production on a feature, including assembling a crew and location scouting. We also learn about casting and additional prep before rolling into production. The director includes a quick aside when discussing the importance of creating the perfect masks for this film to reveal how he designed the famous Michael Myers mask. Production stories include both good days and challenging moments from the shoot and praise for Debra Hill’s steady hand as a level-headed producer. The first half of the book concludes with accounting of the post-production process, writing the infectious jingle for the Silver Shamrock commercial, and the film’s release and critical response.
The second half of the book is a collection of photographs and documents separated into individual chapters, starting with a series of rare production stills. From there we get an assortment of fan art and merchandise, followed by a set of original storyboards. The author reflects on the popular trend of cranking out endless sequels and his preference of the Arabic number 3 over the Roman III. In the Appendix we find a selection of excerpts from Nigel Kneale’s original script, a credits list and pages from the shooting schedule. Wallace concludes with consideration of what goes into character names and also includes a pair of internal memos from the studio requesting changes to the finished film.
Halloween 3 - “Where the Hell is Michael Myers?” is a highly entertaining book you won’t be able to put down. The production stories and insights are compelling, making for a very fast read. If there is one thing I would like to have seen included, it is transcripts of interviews the author has given both at the time of release and in subsequent years, or even a new interview with his thoughts forty years later. Outside of that negligible nitpick, this is a fantastic book that fans will definitely want to check out to get the true story of one of horror’s most misunderstood films.
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