Jacker (1994)

Directed by Benjamin Stansky
Falcon Video VHS

A man walks in a park with his baby. He puts the baby on a swing. He talks to the baby. The man picks up the baby and walks toward an overpass. The man says, “Uh-oh, I wonder what’s down there? We better check it out.”

I got excited. After almost thirty minutes of watching people drive cars, walk down streets, and visit grocery stores, I hoped that this would be the breakthrough moment in Jacker. Surely, the killer would jump out of the darkness, grab the baby, and punt it across the street. Then I would say, “Oh boy! They did it! They killed a baby! Jacker rules!!”

That didn’t happen. Instead, the man opened a garbage bag that had a dead body inside. We didn’t get to see it.

Sweet! Thanks, Jacker!

Mike is an unhappy cab driver who lives in a high rise apartment building with his girlfriend Kate and a twenty-four inch bust of Jason Voorhees. Mike and Kate fight a lot. Mike says, “You’re getting on my nerves — shut the fuck up!” Kate responds with, “I’m gonna find a real man after I take this shower!” Mike drugs Kate and slits her wrists, so it looks like she committed suicide. He says, “With her gone, nothing will hold me back.”

It’s true! Because from here on out, Mike kills a bunch of random people while they sit in cars. Then he kills the daughter of Lieutenant James, which sets James off on a manhunt for Mike. Along the way, we see houses straight out of an episode of Hoarders, a body slam on some filthy shag carpet, grotesque close-ups of people’s faces, and a Jiffy Lube office standing in for a police department. All of this probably sounds great to you. But between the twenty minutes of good stuff in Jacker — like an actor playing a dual role and interacting with himself à la David “The Rock” Nelson — there are seventy minutes of not-so-good stuff. Most of it involves Mike sitting on a couch.

Carjacking was a big deal in the early 1990s. Just like Beanie Babies and caucasians with dreadlocks. So it makes sense that in 1993, someone would produce a shot-on-video (SOV) action-horror movie about the horrors of carjacking. In Jacker, Mike kills people inside of their cars, kind of like the Texarkana Phantom in The Town That Dreaded Sundown. Mike doesn’t steal the cars. Despite this, characters refer to Mike as “the car jacker killer.” Doesn’t carjacking include jacking cars? I think it does. This means that Jacker is the SOV carjacking slasher without actual carjacking. This oversight is almost as disappointing as finding out that Rob Zombie’s dreadlocks aren’t real and are, in fact, attached to his cowboy hat.

What I’m trying to say is that this movie is kind of a tragedy.

Like Burglar From Hell, which shares some of the same cast and crew, Jacker is scumbag soap opera from the crusties at ultra-mega-no-budget Falcon Video. Falcon deserves a lot of credit for self-producing and distributing full-length SOV movies through mail order, conventions, and the trunks of their cars. But Jacker suffers in the same way that most Falcon productions suffer. It’s too long. And it’s really boring. When the electricity goes out at my house, there’s not much to do. I can look out the window, take a shower, or go to sleep. That’s basically what happens with this movie — the electricity is gone. It’s absorbed by the mundane. Unlike Nick Millard’s camcorder adventures (Gunblast, Death Nurse), the mundane is never offered to us as representative from Dimension Z. Jacker is some friends replicating what they’ve seen in Reservoir Dogs and Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. That’s fine for them. For an audience, it’s draining. Because of this, technical SOV defects that are usually charming (audio hiss, VHS rainbow dubbing lines, super-hot microphones) become grating. We can’t even be saved by the appearance of a dummy that’s thrown off a cliff.

The greatest thing about this movie is when Mike eats Shredded Wheat with blood instead of milk. Unfortunately, that scene only lasts for twenty seconds. Hopefully this happens more in Jacker II: Descent To Hell.