Retrospective: 40 Years Since ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’ By Jesse Striewski

Unlike the majority of fans, my introduction to the Halloween franchise actually came long before I even knew the first thing about Michael Myers. I was rounding near ten years old, and my family had just finally upgraded to cable television for the first time ever when I was searching through the channels late one October evening to discover Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

It was probably playing on USA Network or one of those other channels like it at the time, and it was well into three quarters of the movie already. My very first impression of a Halloween movie actually had nothing to do with Michael Myers, but was of Tom Atkins stalking around a dark, desolate town, with a creepy synth-driven score from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth accentuating the overall eerie scene. I was hooked, and having no prior frame of reference, it did not matter to me who was or was not in the film, or the previous entries that came before it.

When Halloween III: Season of the Witch, directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, first dropped in theaters on October 22, 1982, it was meant to be the first of numerous anthology films centered around Halloween itself, rather than just a monster with a knife. But audiences were not quite prepared for such a drastic change at the time, despite the endless possibilities this concept could have brought (the film was a modest box office success, earning just over $14 million on a $2.5 million budget).

Atkins stars as Dr. Dan Challis, a middle -aged, divorced, drunken physician who gets drawn into a web of evil and destruction after a man dies on his watch at the hospital, clutching a mysterious Halloween mask manufactured by a company called Silver Shamrock. When the deceased man’s sexy young daughter (Stacey Nelkin) starts looking for answers, Challis is more than willing to assist her with the task (and then some).

A display of the fictional town portrayed in the film, Santa Mira, from Fantasm Orlando on 10/3/21 (photo by Brooke Striewski).

The two soon uncover that Silver Shamrock is the work of Conal Cochran (Daniel O’Herlihy), a Pagan warlock hell-bent on unleashing unspeakable evil across the world via the masks on Halloween night. It quickly becomes a race against time to prevent the madman from seeing his destructive plot through and causing harm to an untold number of innocent lives.

While it’s taken some time, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has finally reached a level of cult status it rightfully deserved. Last year at the Fantasm horror convention Orlando, FL, there was not only countless amounts of merchandise from the film for the eye to see, but I was lucky enough to meet Atkins himself (see photo below).

When asked why he thought the film has seen such a resurgence in popularity in recent times, Atkins simply said; “I don’t know why people love it so much, but it just seems to be becoming more popular every year!” His reply might have been modest, but I can easily point to the number of reasons why it’s not only my favorite Halloween film, but also one of my favorite horror movies of all time. Not only does it hold a special place for me for being my introduction to the series, it beautifully emobodied everything about the creepiest day of the year on a level that very few films in the genre have managed to capture before or since.

Actor Tom Atkins with (from left to right) Rewind It’s Jacob, Jesse, and Brooke Striewski at Fantasm Orlando on 10/3/21.

Film Review: Nova Rex: Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy (My Productions USA)

By: Jesse Striewski

I was first introduced to Nova Rex back in 2016 via band founder and bassist Kenny Wilkerson, when I was scheduled to interview him for a now-defunct magazine I was writing for at the time (whose name I will never utter here). Since then, I’ve come to know and deeply respect Kenny and all the endeavors I’ve watch he and the band create for themselves since.

So it was my pleasure to attend the premiere of the band’s new documentary Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy – their follow up to 2011’s Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy – last week along with numerous friends, family, and colleagues – as well as most of the band themselves – in tow (a night to remember indeed). And it was all the more special to personally receive a small credit in the film for contributing some brief interview questions during one of its segments.

At first, the film seemed all-too familiar as it once again recounted the band’s early days as they experienced various lineup changes and tried their hands at different markets. Eventually this segued into their current incarnation and many of the things they’ve done since, such as played the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach with fellow ’80s rockers Pretty Boy Floyd, or played the Amway Center in Orlando, not once but twice now (all events Rewind It was lucky enough to be there for).

Of course things finally cumulated with the addition of current frontman John Bisha of The Babys in place of most recent vocalist Adrian Adonis, which includes some bittersweet moments while also ending things on a high note. All in all, Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy is a fun ride from start to finish, and should be required viewing for just about any true ’80s-era rock fan.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

From left to right; Jesse Striewski (author), Kenny Wilkerson (Nova Rex), Jacob Striewski (photographer), and Terry Harger (photographer) at the premiere of Ain’t Easy Staying Cheesy at Aloma Cinema Grill on 7/13/22 (photo by Brooke Striewski).

Paul McCartney at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL on 5/28/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I’ve witnessed greatness on stage many times in the nearly three decades since I first started going to concerts. I’ve seen many early rock and heavy metal bands from “back in the day,” including pioneering acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, and even The Rolling Stones. But never before have I managed to catch one of The Beatles, the ones who started it all, and undeniably my earliest memory of rock music going back to when my parents had first introduced me to them so many years ago.

But that finally happened this past Saturday, May 28, when legendary former Beatle himself Paul McCartney took the stage at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL. I was there to witness this much anticipated event with my wife, son, mother-in-law, and extended family and friends of the Rewind It Magazine family. I don’t think a single one of us could issue a word of complaint if we tried.

Opening with the classic Beatles track “Can’t Buy Me Love,” I was instantly transported back to childhood memories of seeing old black and white footage of the fab four bobbing around on stage together. For the next two and a half hours, I found myself so transfixed on that stage, possibly the most lost in music I’ve ever been in my lifetime prior.

The next few songs, “Junior’s Farm,” “Letting Go,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “Come On To Me” all served as decent enough warm ups that were paving the way to better things, the blues-ly Wings staple “Let Me Roll It” and the Sgt. Peppers-era “Getting Better” being a couple of said things. “Let ‘Em In” followed before McCartney dedicated “My Valentine” to his wife (who was in attendance for the show) and oddly enough featured actors Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman “signing” the lyrics on the video screens.

“Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five” was up next with some retro lazer light work, while more classics like “Maybe I’m Amazed” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” followed. Paul then dug deep with a track from his pre-Beatles Quarrymen days, “In Spite of All the Danger,” as well as “Love Me Do,” each featuring a little history of their original recordings from McCartney.

The semi-newer track “Dance Tonight” was next before McCartney took the stage solo with an acoustic guitar to perform “Blackbird,” another chill-inducing moment. “Here Today” was next up, before McCartney joked about the lack of interest usually reserved for newer music, before appropriately going into a newer track in the form of “New,” featuring the refrain “We can do what we want.”

Another Beatles number, “Lady Madonna,” proceeded before the interesting “Fuh You,” and although the Sgt. Pepper track “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” attempted to bring the psychedelic vibe with it, it was definitely one of the weaker moments of the night. A little backstory on late Beatle George Harrison preceded a ukulele-driven version of “Something” before picking things up again with the goofy but harmless “Obla Di, Obla Da.”

From then on it was nothing but the best, including some Abbey Road (my favorite Beatles album) era classics like “You Never Give Me Your Money” (which McCartney explained he and his current band had never performed live before) and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” before launching into “Get Back.”

Another Wings track, “Band on the Run,” followed before McCartney took the piano again to serenade the crowd with “Let it Be,” blow everyone away (literally with various pyros and explosions) with the James Bond theme “Live and Let Die,” and invoke the entire stadium to sing along with “Hey Jude,” the unforgettable, massive Beatles anthem from 1968, and close out the first set.

It didn’t take long for McCartney and company to take the stage again for an encore, beginning with “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which he explained Get Back director Peter Jackson had isolated John Lennon’s vocals for specifically for the tour, and fans were therefore given a rare treat. “Birthday” and “Helter Skelter” got the crowd on their feet again, while the epic climax of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” (hands down one of my favorite Beatles medlies) was finally enough to choke up an old dog like myself, as I became overwhelmed with emotion, knowing just what greatness I had just experienced.

As if this wasn’t all enough in itself, a chance encounter on the way out of the stadium found us actually crossing paths with Alter Bridge and Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti (see photo below), who was more than happy to briefly chat with us about the concert we had all just witnessed (among other things). I couldn’t possible write a better ending to an already epic story if I tried.

The Rewind It Magazine crew (from l to r; Jacob Striewski, Shawn McKee, Jesse Striewski, and Brooke Striewski) with Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Temonti after Paul McCartney’s show last Saturday, May 28 (Photo by Jhennifer McKee).

Tony Orlando at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on 5/21/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke and Jacob Striewski

This was originally going to be a much different concert review than it is, but sometimes life has a funny way of working out. When I headed to Epcot with the family for yet another Garden Rocks concert I was expecting to see ’80s new wavers A Flock of Seagulls. But it became quickly apparent that was not happening when, after arriving, the older gentleman next to us quipped, “You guys don’t look old enough to know who Tony Orlando is!”

And so began our adventure at a Tony Orlando show, which was surprisingly more entertaining than any of us expected the ’70s performer to be. It’s doubtful that few in attendance were expecting Orlando to open with a blistering cover of Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” either, but that’s exactly how it went down.

From then on, Orlando ran through his most popular hits including “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree,” “Candida,” and “Knock Three Times,” before going into a medely of “La Bamba/Twist and Shout.” In between all of this, there was a brief solo that found drummer Timothy Pope emerging from behind his set to continue playing his sticks on everything from a bar stool, to the very front of the stage itself.

Tony Orlando and fan during his show at Epcot on 5/21/22.

There was also some interaction between Orlando and a female fan holding a sign with a photo of them from 1979 on it. Orlando promptly invited the fan onto stage, where he finally planted a smooch on her after all these years. This of course drew plenty of applause from the audience.

Next up, 18-year-old bassist Captain Sibley took over vocals for a cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” showcasing the young newcommer’s talent, before finally finishing the set with hyped-up version of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” I can’t say I was ever a big Tony Orlando fan, but I also cannot deny how much fun he was to watch perform live, proving that nothing beats live music no matter what.

Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas at Epcot’s Garden Rocks on 4/23/22 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke and Jacob Striewski

There was never a shortage of pop hits from various different groups that I was exposed to as a kid growing up in the ’80s. And while I largely ignored much of that music once I hit adolescence and punk rock and heavy metal took over, I’ve since opened my mind more again in my older age (if you couldn’t already tell!), my musical pallet effectively coming full circle.

Last month, I caught ’70s prog rockers The Orchestra Starring Former Members of ELO at Epcot’s annual Garden Rocks festival; this past weekend, I made it back out there with the family, this time to catch Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas, who surprised us with a an out-of-this-world performance this past Saturday, April 23.

Those keen on their music trivia know that the roots of Starship go all the way back to ’60s rock outfit Jefferson Airplane, who evolved into Jefferson Starship in the ’70s, before finally settling upon just Starship in the ’80s (the “Featuring Mickey Thomas” part was added in the early ’90s, to avoid any confusion with the current incarnation of Jefferson Starship that’s also still active). And although original singer Grace Slick will always remain a favorite among fans, she’s been long-since retired for a good three decades now.

But Thomas – who originally joined during the ’70s Jefferson Starship era – has kept the name going nicely, with newcomer Cian Coey stepping into Slick’s shoes with ease, and adding a youthful sex appeal to the band. Also notable in the lineup these days is guitarist John Roth, who has also been with ’80s rockers Winger on and off since the early ’90s.

This past Saturday evening’s performances featured tracks from every era in the band’s history, as they opened their first set with “Jane” before going into one of their first number-one hits, “Sara.” They followed this up with the massive hit “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us,” famously known for its use in the 1987 film Mannequin. After that, the band dug even deeper with “White Rabbit,” “Miracles,” “Count on Me,” and “Somebody to Love,” before ending things on an epic high note with the criminally underrated anthem, “We Built This City.”

During the band’s second set, my son Jacob and I sneaked off in the park to try the new Test Track ride, but were back in time to catch the third set of the evening after sunset, which was somewhat changed up from their first. This time around, the guys (and girl) surprisingly started out with “We Built This City,” but again followed with the one-two power ballad punch of “Sara” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us.”

They wasted no time again to run through the Jefferson Airplane staples “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” before closing with “Rock Music,” which found Thomas belting out a line from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” during its climax. It was a great ending to an already great evening filled with timeless classics. I pity the closed-minded who look down on bands like Starship, they truly don’t know the good time they’re missing out on.

Starpship during their first performance of the day on 4/23/22 (photo by Jacob Striewski).