Originally published in Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey.
While perusing the Yellow Pages for roof repairs, the name “A.J. Hacker & Sons” might stand out. Or, it might not. Prepare to be unfazed.
Filmed in Croswell and Lexington, Michigan in 1987, The Hackers joins Streets Of Death as a nearly impossible to find SOV horror movie. It was never distributed outside of the Midwest and limited to three thousand copies. No trace of the original VHS can be found anywhere. Its rarity might be the only notable aspect of this film. The Hackers lacks the extreme gore of Splatter: Architects In Fear, the too-good-to-be-true morons of Blood Lake, and the regional flair of Zombies Invade Pittsburg. Simply put, it’s a typical zero budget late 80s slasher that just happens to be shot-on-video. One of the killers does piss his pants, though.
A.J. Hacker & Sons have a good thing going. A.J. (old, bitchy) and his two sons (one in a tinfoil mask, one with no neck) live in a grayscale camouflage truck. They drive around and fix things for suburbanites while randomly killing people. A woman named Marcie house-sits for a friend. Marcie’s clothes have a lot of static cling and she likes to jog. When A.J. and company arrive, Marcie says, “You’re really startin’ to tee me off!” The boys eventually get around to stalking her, but not before scenes of fishing, bar crawling, and father-son bonding grind us down. And yes, the “Was it all a dream?” ending is put to terrible use.
The Hackers properly utilizes Midwest accents, a tone-deaf soundtrack (think Cyndi Lauper jamming with Iggy Pop in a K-Mart parking lot while your mom sings along), and a fat cop reading lines from his desk. Despite all of this good stuff (and some solid photography), the slightly snarky film is never outrageous enough to make an impact. The stretches of nothingness do little to help. Still, it’s clear that director John Duncan and his family were sincere in their attempts at producing a backwoods slasher. They did a serviceable job, but unfortunately, the personality went missing.