Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Musing over Halloween 3...again...

Halloween 3 is an attack on consumerism and a commentary on the decay of traditional family values.  Halloween 3 presents consumerism as a snake that eats its own tail; it’s a cycle of self annihilation.  Cochran’s toy and mask factory exemplifies this as its only purpose was to eventually be used as a staging ground for a Halloween black magic massacre.  All of Cochran’s years of success in the industry were not for mere profit. He wanted to make a poignant point about the lack of tradition in modern America using the biggest forum possible; syndicated television.   He is using capitalism to attack capitalist notions and ideals, which I can imagine appealed to Cochran’s overblown sense of irony.  Cochran saw capitalism as an evil infecting tradition, of cheapening time honored ritual, and wanted to send a powerful message to the rest of the world written in the blood of its children.  Rampant consumerism robbed Halloween of its true purpose; to remind people of the evil that lurks on the other side of oblivion.  Halloween is a night of true darkness, of incalculable terror.  It’s a cautionary tale told on one night with an impact that lasts the rest of the year.  Cochran wanted to return Halloween to its dark, blood soaked roots.  

I don't think Cochran was really advocating consumers to research what they buy before purchasing, rather I think he's more miffed by people participating in a tradition they hardly understand, and the effect consumerism has had on said tradition. He feels like Halloween means fear, recognition of pure evil in the real world, and by making it marketable you make it approachable, and the fear is diluted, the evil isn't recognized, its cartoon-ized. This is what really irked him I think. In the "old world" Halloween meant something.

Every family in this film shows some level of dysfunction.  Dr. Challis comes home late to his divorced wife; boozed up and soaked to the bone from the rain, and by his wife’s comment about “doctoring and boozing” we are given the impression this isn’t his first late night return home from some pub or race track.  He hands his children Halloween masks but they don’t want them, they aren’t the “cool” new masks from Silver Shamrock, like the ones on television.  I always get a sense that this was another example of Dr. Challis trying to be a good father but ultimately failing to live up to his children’s and wife’s expectations.  The kids don’t seem too upset that he is returning home late; but you can tell they have zero interest in the masks he brings them.  The irony here being the masks he brings them would have saved their lives.  His children, if we are to believe the deadly “spell” commercial kept running through the night, would have been slain on Halloween.  Their commitment to being “cool” and wearing the popular Halloween masks would cost them their lives.  Perhaps Cochran is also commenting on new trends, and how they are not necessarily better and could be potentially harmful.  Conformity can be a killer. 

Poor Mrs. Gutman was brand focused as well and met with a terrible end, another victim of black magic antics.  She complained that the brand label came off her son’s mask, going as far as to take it back to the factory herself to remedy the situation.  She tries to pin the label back on herself and it falls apart, revealing internal circuitry that shouldn’t be in a mere mask label.  She pries at it and a spell is cast; a misfire of the deadly Halloween spell Cochran plans on casting over the youth of America.  This misfire causes a spider to burst from her forehead, but the point is that it all came from her toiling with the product label, something that shouldn’t matter much in terms of the overall effect of the mask.  It is merely for fashion, and it costs her life. 

The Kupfer family seems dysfunctional as well. When they're first introduced a toy (a kid's bike) goes flying off the family RV that Buddy is driving almost injuring Dan Challis. With all the anti-consumerism messages floating around in the background of the film (especially concerning children) is it any accident that they chose a kid's bike to throw at the poor, and probably buzzed, doctor? The first introduction we get of the red headed kid of the Kupfer family is of him giving his mother the middle finger. Buddy, the father, seems oblivious to anything unrelated to his business and his wife only seems concerned with how much money her husband can rake in for them. If this was their portrayal of Middle America I think their demise is also poignant to consider. They die in front of a television, destroyed by a commercial and product that Buddy was previously mesmerized by.

Cochran’s robot army represents the endless slasher films brought on by the movie Halloween.  They are all seemingly indestructible killers with no fear, much like slasher killers, and all basically act the same.  The way they dispense with their victims is slasher worthy as well; each death scene is flashy and unique in its own way.  There is a focus on the way they kill as well as why they kill; and it is all done very mechanically, like the victims are caught getting grinded in the gears of the story.