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Hack-O-Lantern #MovieReview

A kindly old grandfather is actually the leader of a murderous satanic cult which sacrifices its victims on Halloween.

Release Date: 1988 | Runtime: 1hr 27 min | Genre: Horror | Source: Streaming

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Hack-O-Lantern Review

Hack-O-Lantern was recently the focus of an episode of The People’s Court (which is absolutely worth checking out) where Massacre Video, who released the blu-ray, went against someone uploading it on their YouTube channel. It was fun to see this kind of movie bust into mainstream entertainment and while it’s strange to watch a Halloween centric movie in February, when else is Hack-O-Lantern going to be in the spotlight? The time for watching was now!

Hack-O-Lantern…Jesus where to start with this? First of all, let’s all give credit to that amazing name. Ok so we have Grandpa who is played by Hy Pyke and Hy Pyke is fucking GOING FOR IT in this role. He must have only received one direction – “MORE!” Grandpa sounds like he has been pounding whiskey for hours before every scene and is always in danger of falling over. Anyway, Grandpa is super into Satan. Big fan of Satan. In the opening scene we have a nice moment where Grandpa gives his grandson Tommy a pumpkin and then a less nice moment where Grandpa tries to get Tommy to hop on the Satan train by giving him a pentagram pendant. When his son in law catches word of this, he goes to confront him but is killed in a Satanic ritual. Grandpa is not a family favourite it would seem.

We then flash forward to years later. Grandpa is still a dick and Tommy is now fully on board with the devil. It’s Halloween and they are planning to have a Satan ritual and also a guy in a mask is running around killing people with rakes and it’s just a bad situation overall.

Grandpa is definitely the highlight of the movie. The character is such a pile of shit, at one point even clearly hitting on his own daughter. The performance injects some needed energy into the picture as he is surrounded by actors who are perhaps not bringing their A game. Lines are delivered with minimal enthusiasm even when characters are in a life or death situation and most of the conversations feel very stiff and unnatural. There’s no flow. It all feels like people reciting, and sometimes forgetting, their lines. It’s good for some unintentional laughs for sure but it could use some of that Grandpa liveliness across the board.

That lack of energy is made up for in the individual insane moments. Anything with Grandpa is next level crazy but there’s a lot of madness surrounding him too. There’s the character with the pentagram butt tattoo that was clearly drawn on with a sharpie. There’s at least two unnecessary heavy metal musical sequences that seem to only be there to pad the running time. One of them does have magic eye lasers and ends with a decapitation so there’s that. There’s the Deputy who has sex with a girl on top of a freshly buried body, which is not very professional to due while on duty in my opinion. It also has peak questionable decision making where a girl invites a fully costumed person into her room for sex because obviously this mute weirdo is just her boyfriend playing tricks. No need to question that. There’s enough of this stuff to liven what is overall a pretty pedestrian slasher movie.

The body count is pretty low and the kills themselves aren’t very memorable even with some solid gore effects. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to hear the movie never comes close to being scary or suspenseful. The killer never jumps out. He just wanders in and sometimes stabs people with a rake. Though not nearly enough rake stabbings, a common complaint I have for most movies.

The Halloween atmosphere in this movie is strong and I am a sucker for any movie that is happening in a small town on Halloween night. There’s people running around in costumes, decorations everywhere and it all culminates in a Halloween Party that admittedly doesn’t look like the most happening party but at least a few people look like they’re having fun.

80’s slasher movies are not hard to come by but truly memorable ones are. This one falls short but a ridiculous central performance and a frequent barrage of strange moments and scenes make it at least worth a single viewing. I can see why Massacre Video feels protective of it enough to hit up The People’s Court. In conclusion, fuck you YouTube! Stop stealing shit!

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