Packaging Designer, HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH LP
I had never seen HALLOWEEN III: THE SEASON OF THE WITCH when I accepted the commission to redesign packaging for Death Waltz Recording Co.'s, re-release of the HALLOWEEN III soundtrack by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.
I did a quick search on the internet…ok, SEASON OF THE WITCH…the three-quel…the one with no Michael-fucking-Myers in it? I was less than inspired. Then I watched the film.
The New York Times review from 1982 stated that 'HALLOWEEN III manages the not easy task of being anti-children, anti-capitalism, anti-television and anti-Irish all at the same time.' Even being from Ireland, I think that's all a bit of a stretch. It's darker and more twisted than the other films in the franchise, but I quickly realized that the standalone tale of an undercover plot to mass-murder children via novelty Halloween masks and ancient witchcraft, allowed me a lot more freedom in a design solution than otherwise would have been afforded had the movie featured Halloween's iconic antagonist, Michael Myers.
Silver Shamrock is the manufacturer of the latex masks every kid wants for Halloween. Being a novelty company, it stands to reason they would have made other stuff aside from the masks featured in the movie. I decided to design the record package essentially as a blown-up version of one of these imagined novelties - a mind-reading card trick.
Shock your friends! Scare your enemies! A sinister mind-control illusion that correctly predicts which card is chosen every time! It's the kind of thing I feel Silver Shamrock would have produced, too. It's also an apt symbol for the more occult themes of witchcraft and mythology present in the movie and a nod to the eventual brain damage inflicted upon wearers of the masks.
Up the road from where I live is a little hole-in-the-wall shipping store - the kind of place that charges a few bucks more than the post office to ship the same package. Shipping isn't the only thing this place marks up; they also have a battered copy machine for passport applications. A single photocopy costs 10¢ but it has been abused enough to achieve just the right look for badly printed, cheap packaging circa 1982. It took me a couple hundred copies (much to the delight of the proprietor) to get the right amount of degradation and copyrot to the original imagery in order to make the elements look authentic.
I half-jokingly suggested a few other ideas for the packaging, such as adding an insect-attracting pheromone to the printing ink or embedding bug larvae into the paper which would hatch at a later date (to the ultimate horror of the owner). However, these ideas were an all too realistic manifestation of the film and the sort of stuff that probably would have had legal connotations somewhere along the line...so they were reluctantly discarded.
The score also has an ominous vibe; I'd call it sinister synthesizer. It's darker than the music in the other HALLOWEEN movies and is generally regarded as one of the better soundtracks of the franchise. It conjures perfectly the eerie atmosphere and feeling necessary to the story and adds a foreboding presence to a film that may not have stood up as well without it. The stuff of nightmares.
The HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH Original Soundtrack available now! The clock is ticking, kids.