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Miami Herald, The (FL) - July 5, 1982
Author: VERNON SCOTT United Press International

Dan O’Herlihy, a native of the auld sod, has appeared in scores of American movies and TV shows but never as an Irishman until now, playing arch-villain in Halloween III.

If it seems a comedown for a distinguished graduate of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre to be playing a menace in a Hollywood horror film, O’Herlihy is quick to disabuse the notion.

"This is the most interesting character and the first Irishman I’ve ever played in Hollywood," said the proud Hibernian.

"As a matter of fact, I’ve played nothing but Americans in this country going back more years than I care to count. I’ve even portrayed Mark Twain and Franklin Roosevelt. But never an Irishman."

As Conall Cochran, O’Herlihy plays one of the most fiendish villains in film history. Although his motivation may be
obscure, Cochran’s scheme is to kill off all the children in the United States.

Cochran, the sole owner and proprietor of a Halloween mask manufacturing company, has a micro-chip built into each mask, which, when activated by a TV signal, will kill anyone wearing the mask.

Cochran, of course, sees to it that on Halloween all 84 million American kids are wearing his masks. Then, during a TV commercial, the proper button is pushed and pffft, there goes the younger generation.

As is usually the case with horror films, fate steps between the maddened heavy and his would-be victims and the audience leaves the theater safe in the knowledge that they have been scared half to death.

"It’s delicious," O’Herlihy said with relish. "Cochran is a man who simply doesn’t like children. I’m the father of five and the grandfather of four, so Cochran is a man with whom I can identify."

O’Herlihy, who has starred in such stark dramas as Fail Safe, Home Before Dark and Imitation of Life, is convinced audiences prefer such other of his films as The Highwayman, The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and The Black Shield of Falworth.

The success of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and horror films have convinced O’Herlihy that science fiction and fantasy are the order of the day for moviegoers.

"They are all played for reality, just as Halloween III is, but they are tales that can only be told in the motion-picture medium," he said. "They don’t work well in books, TV shows, on stage or in radio.

"It’s all fantasy and that’s as it should be. I’m all for it. People are staying away from hard-edged movie dramas.

"Horror and fantasy provide escape from the grinding reality of Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee, which drag audiences down to glory in neuroses.

"Escapism should be the central core of movies," he said. "I get bored with realistic films, even when they are well done. They are too predictible. Even good historical films are a form of escapism because they get away from today’s stresses and problems."

O’Herlihy’s most recent brush with fantasy was last year’s BBC classic gothic horror TV movie "Artemis" in which he played a Dutch organist chosen by the gods to disseminate death throughout the world by striking a certain chord in a 1,000- year-old cathedral.

"He was almost as fascinating as Cochran," O’Herlihy said. "Anyone he touched died immediately. It was a truly satanic story.

"It’s much more fun playing heavies than straight roles, especially when you can bring so much sincerity to a part. I played heavies in The Tamarind Seed, The Night Fighter and Home Before Dark, which my agent thought would ruin my career.

"Strange as it may seem, I’ve got my best reviews playing villains. But of the heavies I’ve played, Cochran in Halloween III may be the most villainous of the lot."

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