'Halloween III: Season of the Witch'

When Politics Gets In The Way of Your Film

'Halloween III: Season of the Witch'

When Halloween III: Season of the Witch released it did not fare well. After two prior Halloween films, Halloween meant Michael Myers to its fans. This is not all that dissimilar to Friday The 13th: A New Beginning which introduced a new killer, replacing Jason. You toy with fan expectations and you get shunned. However, now the film is something of a cult classic and deemed at least original compared to the lackluster Halloween sequels. Personally, I have no problem with the lack of Michael Myers. The main problem comes from its dare I say, the ridiculous leftist, liberal narrative. Granted, I am no conservative at all. Still, this film relies on lame, old liberal tropes on American conservatism.

The Anti-Corporate Director

The director, Tommy Lee Wallace notes of his anti-corporation nature. Regarding the film's themes he says...

"I didn’t want it to be subtle. I think that corporate America, especially through mass media, such as commercial television, is corrosive and to be feared and to be guarded carefully. It can be very dangerous."

He adds further in that "one of the scariest things is a white guy in a grey suit. It’s a corporation figure. I love making them the bad guys. In many cases, they are the bad guys."

If you listen to the director commentary for Halloween 3: Season of the Witch you will hear him saying something similar as well. Again, if Tommy Lee Wallace wants to be anti-corporation, that's fine. We can have that debate and there are some problems with corporations no less. No doubt, even those on the right want some kind of control over the media from corporations. They will argue it as the liberal media with forced diversity and eroding of traditional family values. Whereas the left views the media as simply an outlet to sell you more crap.

What we need to understand is that the left usually wants you to think of big business as i.e. right-wing and they have much to contribute to the culture wars. When in fact, this is not true at all! Businesses care about one thing and that is simply making money. Is the media to blame right now for more diversity in films now? Are they trying to erode the white male? Are their boards comprised of the LGBT community, women, and people of color? Doubtful, but maybe a few board members are. Yet, they can read the numbers. People are willing to pay for more diversity in films, rather than a basic Hollywood John Wayne film or Leave it to Beaver type series. Will there be a switch to more black superheroes in the media thanks to Black Panther? Probably! Are studios doing this to appear progressive, combat racism and show black lives matter? Maybe, because it does make their name and brand look good. The real reason—they saw the $1 billion that Black Panther made and want a slice of that pie. Audiences are creating a demand and the media is simply supplying it.

Profit in Murder

At the time of the release of the film, even critics cannot make sense of the villain's scheme. Historian Nicholas Rogers notes of Cochran's "astrological obsessions or psychotic hatred of children overrode his business sense." Roger Ebert asks the question "What's [Cochran's] plan? Kill the kids and replace them with robots? Why?" He does indeed ask a fair question. We can argue many corporations are in the business of death—tobacco companies, gun manufactures, and even health insurance companies. Tobacco is not an instant killer, many law abiding citizens’ purchases weapons for self-defense and like tobacco, health insurance companies do not grant instant death. Again, all of these industries are profit driven whereas Cochran is not. Industries as these have no real message or theme to spread as Cochran does. What is the Irishman's plot after this trick of his? We do not know since he dies, but this is still premeditated murder which our courts can hold him accountable for, unlike a smoker who dies to their own addiction.

Meanwhile, film critic Jim Harper critiques the scheme saying, "there are four time zones across the United States, so the western seaboard has four hours to get the fatal curse-inducing advertisement off the air. Not a great plan." A great point as well. We see the protagonist begging on the phone to get the jingle off the air. Keep in mind, he is in California and his call only regards the local channels within his home state. Hence, he did not save the other three time zones. Simultaneously, could not the other three time zones notice the deaths and do something to spread word of this commercial. They could, but then Tom Atkins' performance at the end is for nothing.

When relying too much on your own personal politics you run into these problems and plot holes. Cochran is hardly a business man, but a 20th century trickster. Oddly, he comes off as this traditionalist wanting to force the old ways on the generations of today on the basis of Halloween. You have conservatives crying every season of the War on Christmas, whereas Cochran is that, but speaks of a War on Halloween. At times, you can have traditionalists running a company, such as Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby, for example. Names as these are rare and again, not out to kill anyone.

Now there are some liberal traits you can find within the film that make it stand out and could offer something today. For starters, our protagonist is a smoking, drinking, womanizing doctor who is divorced. Characters of divorced marriages are still a rarity in 1980s Hollywood. Meanwhile, his drinking, smoking, and flirtatious ways would lead to death in a traditional slasher film. A unique quality in Silver Shamrock is the fact its factory resides near a small town, yet no one from the town is employed with the company. The company's residence has not brought any wealth to the town. Cochran relies instead on automatons, instead of manual labor. Right now this is a real concern among American workers. Jobs are shipped overseas due to bad trade deals or outsourced to machines essentially. Here comes this foreigner who blocks workers in favor of automated production.

Michael Myers or not, the film is a silly diatribe of cliché' liberal talking points. It is these things that make the film silly. Are 1980s Americans scared of the pod people like Invasion of The Body Snatchers? No, for that was a film for its time, fears within the Cold War context of communism and conformity. In the 1980s, we still have Cold War fear, along with anxiety due to our crumbling economy, the AIDS epidemic, and more. Tommy Lee Wallace's own liberalism is by no means to be ridiculed. But it is the way his views shape and form his story, making almost a caricature of his liberalism, which then make his beliefs laughable.

movie review
Skyler Sneathen
Skyler Sneathen
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Skyler Sneathen

Full-time worker, history student and an avid comic book nerd.

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