Witchcraft enters the computer age in a new motion picture.
Historically, movie sequels club a theme to death. Some, like Rocky III and Superman II expand the characters and situations in new directions. Others, like Jaws 2 and Friday the 13th, Part 2 merely recycle the plot and formula established in the first film.
Last year's Halloween 2 belonged to the latter group. In it, a knife-wielding lunatic known as the Shape—a super-human killer garbed in a featureless mask—returned to menace actress Jamie Lee Curtis (daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis). Ms. Curtis had escaped his clutches in the first Halloween, one of the most profitable horror pictures of all time.
Rather than bring back the shot, bludgeoned, and burned Shape, Universal Pictures took the gimmick of the mask worn by the creature and expanded it in a new and technological direction.
In the new scenario, an old toymaker named Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy) becomes disgusted with the commercialization of Halloween. An ancient festival of the dead, he feels it should celebrate witchcraft and evil spirits rather than the merry costumes and candy.
From his Silver Shamrock factory in sleepy Santa Mira, California, Cochran designes three horribly beautiful masks: a pumpkin head, a skull, and a witch's face. He advertises them extensively on television and radio: because they are better-made and less expensive than anything on the market. Cochran sells millions of the masks all across the nation.
What none of the consumers knows, of course, is that Cochran has masterminded a rather sinister plan. He has stolen a huge slab frpm Stonehenge, the mystical landmark in England. Breaking the monolith into microscopic pieces, he has inserted them into microprocessors, giving the computer chips magical powers. Each of his Halloween masks contains one of these microprocessors, which compel the wearers to watch the final Silver Shamrock commercial. The jingle they hear will cause the computer chip to unlease evil on a scale the likes of which the world has never seen before.
Concurrently, a storekeeper who sells Silver Shamrock masks gets wind of the toymaker's plot. He is slain, though not before he has warned Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) that something evil is afoot. Together with the storekeeper's daughter Ellie Grimbridge (Stacey Nelkin), Challis investigates the mystery of the Halloween masks.
This magazine was chastised by readers for giving away the conclusion of Tron in our first issue. Never again: go and see the film. It's no classic, but through able filmmaking and some clever plotting opens a new genre of “computer occult” which, hopefully, will flourish.