Reviews

Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.

Tommy loses himself in the magic of a Walkman. He closes his eyes and whispers, “I can’t hear nuthin’ anymore.” A video-length rock ‘n’ roll fantasy begins. The band is D.C. La Croix. The song is “Devil’s Son.” D.C. La Croix pouts their lips. They wear bicycle shorts. One of the guitars is shaped like an ax. Laser beams turn cymbals into shrunken heads.

Did you get that?

LASER BEAMS TURN CYMBALS INTO SHRUNKEN HEADS.

That is reason enough to watch Hack-O-Lantern at least twice.

This movie loosely organizes itself around three siblings, a satanic grandpa’s “Halloween voodoo,” and a steady stream of gold-plated bullshit. No plot. No rules. No need for either. Also, the gun-toting bimbo on the back cover does not appear in the film. But I think her sister does.

After we get D.C. La Croix’d, a Halloween party begins. There is sex in a graveyard and weight lifting in a basement. Some full frontal stripping. A satanic killer in a rubber mask brands someone’s ass with a pentagram. Outside of the party, a stand-up comic works the crowd. He bends over, looks between his legs, and says, “I’m really a conservative girl!” Then he says, “Have you ever been in the wrong place at the right time? Lemme tell ya!” Then, he does an impression of a turkey. This man is not comedic. I do not like him. I want to pull his orange sweatshirt over his head and rub dog poop on his shoes. After this, there is a performance from a different metal band called The Mercenaries. This is followed by another performance from The Mercenaries.

Hack-O-Lantern was shot in dingy gutters somewhere in Los Angeles and released straight to video. It’s the Halloween-themed trash film that destroys me, in a good way, more than any other. Unlike Trick Or Treats or Hollow Gate, there’s little room for improvement. It rarely drags, and I never feel like I should be organizing my bookshelf instead of watching the movie. In addition to the bottomless pit of insane situations, this movie has the advantage of being created by filmmakers who couldn’t have cared less. Arbitrary dubbing that is never dubbed correctly. A murder-crazed grandpa who mimics Charles Nelson Reilly. Ridiculously lazy Halloween costumes. But perhaps this says it all: A credit for Unit Production Manager simply reads “Dude”.

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