Movie Review

Premiers in the DFW Metroplex March 5th

by Richard N. Draheim, Jr.
Richard Draheim is a policy analyst and featured columnist for The Dallas Libertarian and is published through the New Abolitionist Press.
199X Richard N. Draheim, Jr. SS# 277-58-9181 (content)

Released AP: 2/19/99   1179 words

Richard N. Draheim, Jr.
339 Henry M. Chandler
Rockwall, Texas 75087

Classic movie villains Norman Bates, the Wicked Witch of the West, Godzilla, Mary Poppins, (who pushed tooth-rotting, diet-destroying sugar on kids), and Darth Vader are now joined by the magnificently evil Lothar of the new film, "The F Zone". But unlike the fictional bad guys in those other films, "Lothar Gunter" works for a very real organization, one that makes it their daily business to plunder, extort, threaten, blackmail, and otherwise terrorize the American public into submission: the Internal Revenue Service.

Federal Marshals pull a women from her car which has been seized by the IRS in lieu of back taxesThe opening sequences brilliantly show that taxation is theft. An elderly woman is thrown out of her home by unthinking brutes in US government clothing who padlock her door so they can steal her house. Armed thugs drag a pregnant woman out of her car at gun-point, threatening her with a violent death if she even attempts to interfere with this IRS car-jacking. It's long past time that these very real, very common, atrocities are dramatized on the big screen. I highly commend part-time film maker and full-time doctor and anesthesiologist William Harrity for doing so.

William Harrity stars as Dennis Smith, owner of a company that produces television commerecials who has been told by the IRS he ows more than $250MHarrity gives a nicely understated performance as fictional film maker "Dennis Smith." In this film, and in our unfortunate universe, the IRS arbitrarily and retroactively changes the accounting rules for many different kinds of businesses. Previously law-abiding small entrepreneurs can face unexpectedly high tax bills, including impossibly confiscatory penalties. The IRS had frozen Smith's assets, effectively putting him out of business. Smith makes the mistake of saying "no" to the IRS demand for two hundred and forty thousand dollars.

Lee West co-stars as Lothar Gunter, a sadistic IRS agent intent on collecting an unjust tax assessment from Dennis SmithLee West, who looks like a cross between Jesse Ventura, Donald Pleasance, and a bald Mephistopholes, (if you can imagine it), as Lothar then vindictively goes after Smith for everything he can find. Unfortunately, I thought the dialogue of Lothar was too self-consciously evil to be realistic. "With the IRS, you're guilty until proven guilty" describes how an objective observer would see the IRS, it is not how the IRS sees themselves. Dark satire would have been more effective then melodrama.

Cal Poly grad Kelly Hunt as Loren Adams turns in an intelligent performance as Smith's tax attorneyHarrity wrote the screenplay, produced, edited, and financed this independent, low-budget, film. Although this is the producers' first feature film, technically the lighting, sound, orchestration, cinematography, and editing were all thoroughly professional. However, the line-deliveries were often a bit clunky. Director Michael Hansel does his Hitchcock imitation by appearing as an uncredited extra in one scene. For the most part, Kelly Hunt was a pleasing combination of intellect and passion in her performance as attorney and love-interest "Loren Adams."

But it is with her character's legal theories that the film takes an unintended journey into an alternate universe. Harrity's script claims that the 16th Amendment, which authorizes an income tax, was not actually ratified because the last state of the three quarters necessary was fraudulently proclaimed to have ratified it. I am not convinced, although I do concede that it is possible that those who wanted the government to have that kind of power, especially the bankers that wanted a sure instrument to pay back a larger deficit, could have had some influence over the US Attorney General and the others that are alleged to have participated in the fraud. Anyway, in our real universe just telling this to the IRS would not have gotten you out of paying income taxes. You would have to convince the Supreme Court.

Harrity was inspired by a growing body of literature from patriot and anti-tax groups that there is some kind of secret law behind the real law, that if one knows those secrets, one can say a few magic words on a few forms and cast away the evil demons in government. I wish it were that easy. Although one might file a form with the IRS, as Smith does, claiming to be a "non-resident alien" and therefore exempt from US income taxes, they would observe this only out of bureaucratic inertia rather than knowledge and obedience to a secret law. The notion that you could merely stop using zip codes on your letters and therefor end your submission to our overlords in Washington is laughable. Harrity could have made a more realistic film, with a quicker and more dramatic pace, with a far greater likelihood of stirring up the public against the IRS, if he had just kept closer to the very real atrocities rather than fly off on this secret law tangent.

The film sees itself as a kind of film within a film. Smith and Adams end up making a film also called "The F Zone" showing the evils of the IRS. "The F Zone" gets its title from the federal zone, those parts of the world over which the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction: Washington DC, federal government property like military bases, and US overseas territories. Adams said that "in the F zone' you're really f---ed" by the government. Harrity should know that, as the Anti-Federalists feared when the Constitution was first proposed, because of the interstate commerce and general welfare clauses, the federal government has assumed preeminence over everything not forbidden to it by the constitution (and a great many things that are forbidden). The Bill of Rights is great, but the Constitution itself was an illegal coup d'etat that established a vastly too powerful government.

IRS agent Lothar Gunter (Lee West) threatens Dennis Smith (William Harrity)Most movies are enamored with the redemptive power of violence. All the film hero has to do is shoot a few people, beat up a few others, and threaten a few more, and he can force the world into a happy conclusion. "The F Zone" avoids that delusion. Here, only the bad guys, the government, resort to violence and threats of violence. The heroes, and the public in general, win in the end purely by the power of knowledge. By non-violently refusing to cooperate with our expropriators, eventually the IRS is eliminated. Harrity's "The F Zone" is refreshing in its appeal to reason over violence. There are no federal buildings bombed here.

Like the mostly brilliant Will Smith movie, "Enemy of the State," which ends up confusingly saying that the federal government is good and will save us from the evil federal government, "The F Zone" wimps out at the end. Harrity has the income tax replaced by a consumption tax. He should know that all taxation is theft.

With our current government (and many of its subjects) believing that it is the responsibility of government to give us stuff from the womb to the tomb, to "protect" us from our own choices, and to spread the blessings of aerial bombing across the globe, the sales tax would have to be so high that millions of merchants would not pay it, and tens of millions of customers would go to merchants that don't collect it. The government would still have to have armed thugs terrorize businesses and throw purchasers who avoid taxes into cages. There is no nice way to steal from people. If the government restricted itself to establishing those legal institutions that protect our lives, liberty, and property, and otherwise left us alone, it could fund itself entirely by begging.


* Photographs used in this review are the property of THF Pictures, 106 Palmetto St. Suite D Pasadena, California 91105

The Draheim Reporttm is a feature publication of The Dallas Libertarian.
Reproduction rights granted to news organizations and for accademic purposes for one time use as commentary; grant includes illustrations or graphics unless otherwise indicated. No fee required as long as credits are provided for author and source (The Dallas Libertarian). Copy available at
Top of Page