The female lead in Halloween III: Season of the Witch is Stacey Nelkin, who plays Ellie Grimbridge. Unfortunately, her character is not the most strongly-written female character to appear in the Halloween franchise (see Rachel Carruthers in Halloween 4 for that). However, Nelkin herself is pretty talented, and she succeeds in making Ellie a likeable character, even if she is rather two-dimensional. It’s always much easier to feel concern for likeable characters than it is for unlikeable ones, and the last 10 minutes of Halloween III are proof enough of this for me. If you still haven’t seen this movie and you’re worried about spoilers, here is a major SPOILER ALERT.
First of all, Ellie seems to prefer older men. She takes a shining to Dr. Challis almost immediately, and as soon as they get a hotel in the mysterious little town of Santa Mira, California (where Silver Shamrock headquarters is located), they have sex. There’s nothing particularly gripping about this scene, not even by softcore porno standards; hell, the most you actually get to see is Tom Atkins’ ass. But nevertheless, I really enjoyed this scene when I first saw it as a sixth-grader. (I guess it just didn’t take as much for me to get all hot and bothered back then as it does now!) However, Ellie is later quackersnatched by Conal Cochran’s robot goons and imprisoned somewhere at Silver Shamrock headquarters. Challis busts in to rescue her, getting himself captured in the process. After he learns the truth about Cochran’s plot, he escapes and finds Ellie, then torches the place (turning Cochran’s own dark wizardry against him in the process). Then Challis and Ellie drive off into the night, trying to figure out a way of stopping Silver Shamrock’s commercials from playing on TV. (Despite his apparent “death” – which I’ll discuss in more detail later this month – the wheels of Cochran’s televised death machine are still turning.) And that’s when Ellie suddenly tries to kill Challis, revealing herself to be a robot in the process.
Halloween III fans are divided as to whether Ellie (1) is actually human for most of the film (and is later replaced with a robot duplicate) or (2) has been a robot the whole damn time. I’m personally convinced it’s the first scenario, for it doesn’t make sense to me that Cochran would send a robot to seduce Challis into investigating Silver Shamrock. But we’re never given a definitive answer to this question, and I believe the ambiguity is intentional. All I know for sure is that the “Goodbye, Ellie” scene really disturbed me when I first saw it. I have this thing about seeing women get killed in movies; it goes back to when I first saw Karin Dor get eaten by piranhas in You Only Live Twice (1968). (I was head-over-heels in love with that woman as a four-year-old, and to see her die like that really horrified me!) But Ellie’s death shocked me even more; somehow, not seeing her die but knowing she must be dead made it worse. I couldn’t stop thinking of what Cochran’s bots must have done to her back at the Silver Shamrock factory. Something about the idea of thinking you’ve saved someone you love, then discovering that person has been replaced with an imitation that just wants to destroy you really scared the hell out of me.
Like many people, I actually hated Halloween III with a passion when I first saw it. But unlike most other viewers, this had nothing to do with the fact that Michael Myers isn’t in it. I appreciated everything about the film until that last scene with the evil robot Ellie. That part scared me so badly that it actually made me hate the film for a while. I think it has something to do with the idea of being betrayed by someone you’ve been sexually intimate with, as well as the idea of women being turned into disposable (if murderous) objects. I can handle ghosties and ghoulies and even human predators to a certain extent, but something about this particular mix of sex with death and artificiality really pushed my buttons. It wasn’t until much later that I was finally able to get past this aspect of the film and started praising it for doing an excellent job of scaring me shitless.
This is not an endorsement of smoking…
Incidentally, Stacey Nelkin was cast to play the sixth Nexus-6 replicant in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which was released the same year as Halloween III. However, Nelkin’s part was cut from the film during principal photography due to budget cuts. (Blade Runner nerds will no doubt recall that in at least one version of the film, Captain Bryant recruits Deckard to track down six fugitive replicants; yet there are only five that are accounted for in the entire film.) It’s a little eerie to think that the same woman was cast to play two androids in two different films during the same year. Nowadays, Nelkin has pretty much retired from acting and now works as a “relationship expert” (despite the fact that she’s been married and divorced three times), but I don’t care how cute she is; I can never accept relationship advice from someone who’s tried to kill Tom Atkins!
“Twenty-one more days ‘till Halloween,
Twenty-one more days ‘till Halloween,