If John Carpenter, David Zucker, and the cast of Saturday Night Live had a baby, you might expect the little bundle of joy to be simultaneously full of suspense, reference, humor, and relevance. It might also provide a thinly veiled (if not balls-out in your face) social or political message. You might expect to enter a world in which the people you encounter feel familiar to you, even though you’ve never met them before. You’d feel for them. You’d laugh with them. You’d laugh at them. Then you’d leave the theater and go on with your life thinking that what you’ve just seen hadn’t affected you at all, only to later find yourself continually quoting and referencing the film as events from your everyday existence prompted you.
In real life, it is unlikely that horror master Carpenter would ever conspire with spoof director Zucker and the weekly comedy writers at SNL. But if they did, the result would most likely resemble the Halloween (1978)/Donald Trump spoof President Evil (Giant Meteor Films, 2018). Written by Richard Lowry and Gregory P. Wolk and directed by Lowry, President Evil takes the basic premise, plot, and style of Carpenter’s original Halloween and gives it the Zucker Airplane! treatment combined with a hell of a lot of SNL-style political parody and commentary.
Many of the film’s characters have names distorted from the headlines of the past two years (the sheriff’s name is Mueller and the psychotic killer’s mother is a porn star named Scorchy, for example). As Russian Dr. Lutin (Kyle Sing) attempts to track his patient David (Ryan Quinn Adams)—who is wearing a Donald Trump suit and mask and stalking a teen trio consisting of a Muslim, a Haitian, and a Mexican—we see babysitting teen Lana (Sitara Attaie) and her friends Blanca (Alyssa Ariel Perez) and Medjine (Amber Boone) struggle with the realities of being a non-white individual in an era of emboldened racism and intolerance.
Because of its subject matter, President Evil is destined to appeal to a narrow segment of society: fans of horror and sci-fi movies who dislike Republicans and loathe Donald Trump. The film successfully references a wealth of classic horror, horror comedy, and science fiction movies (Halloween, Psycho, Young Frankenstein, Carrie, The Omen, Aliens, Seven, and The Terminator, to name just a few), and thus restricts much of its humor to a specifically horror audience. The political commentary, on the other hand, is intentionally heavy-handed. This will be a turn-off for anyone who is looking for a Scary Movie-style horror spoof, or anyone who watches only Fox News as a current events information source.
As a message movie and Halloween spoof, President Evil definitely hits its mark. As a comedy, it has its moments. I laughed out loud more than once. The spoof of the Halloween cemetery scene (which was mixed with a Carrie reference) struck me as particularly hilarious. However, don’t expect multiple out-loud guffaws per scene in the style of a Zucker movie. If you happen to agree with the filmmaker’s obvious politics, you might find that the humor hits the “funny because it’s true” button a few too many times. It only hurts when you laugh.