SLASHER MONTH: Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

I’ve had Hack-O-Lantern on my list for years, always meaning to get to it. The cover spoke to me for some reason, but I never got to it. Luckily, Joe Bob Briggs selected it for his Halloween Hideaway and I realized that this movie is exactly what I love most in films. It’s made by foreigh filmmakers chasing a trend that have no idea what they’re doing or the new culture they’re part of  — see The Last American Virgin — while bringing in their native ideas of what does work, which in this case would be Jag Mundhra bringing Bollywood to Hollywood, filling this film with musical numbers and comedy, while learning that to sell it to even more foreign markets, particularly Japan with their fascination with bare pubic regions*, which means hiring adult video stars.

I’m nearly delirious with film geek happiness.

Hy Pyke doesn’t just chew the scenery in this as Grandpa Drindle. He practically treats this film like a buffet. Perhaps you remember him as the bus driver in Lemora or from Slithis? Well he was positively restrained in those movies, as here he’s the old man leader of a backwoods Satanic cult that has knocked up his daughter Amanda (Katina Garner, who was Mother Speed, the leader of the rollerskating nuns in Roller Blade, a movie that strangely enough is even more bonkers than this one) with one boy named Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins, who is also in Phantom of the Mall and Click the Calendar Girl Killer, as well as appearing in all kinds of TV to this day, like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), a juiced up thirty year old who is supposed to be eighteen. That’s who the devil wants to lead the cult, but then there are also two other siblings, a cop named Jeff and nice girl Vera (Carla Baron, NecromancerSorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and a former Joe Bob mail girl).

Grandpa’s goal is to do everything he can to ensure that Tommy ends up making the ritual on Halloween night, which is celebrated with music from The Mercenaries and comedy. All Tommy wants to do is dream of metal bands like D.C. La Croix and have rough sex with his pentagram tattooed girlfriend Nora (Angel Rush, who the more astute — and perverted among you — may recognize as adult video legend Jeanna Fine, at this point in-between her transformation from blonde bombshell to short haired brunette butch ballbreaker goddess). Grandpa takes care of that by stabbing her in the head with a pitchform (but not before a lengthy scene of full frontal nudity).

And so it goes — with Tommy in his basement lifting weights, keeping his multicolored and candle festooned Satanic altar lit and hanging posters of Dead-End Drive-In and Killian’s Irish Red (a beer that has semeed to disappear). There’s also sex on a grave, dead boyfriends, dancing Satanic rituals and bad guys who have confused the symbol for “I love you” (which I learned from Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka) for the devil’s horns.

This is exactly the kind of movie that 16-year-olds in the video era were looking for, a film where Jeanna Fine makes a bloody mary at 3 in the afternoon before lounging back nude and telling a killer not to bruise her up like last time, punctuated with never signed hair metal bands, laser beans and a shower scene for every female character.

Mundhra would sadly die in 2011, but not before he left behind thirty one movies, including Open HouseThe Jigsaw Murders Shades of Gray and Night Eyes, which was the movie that pretty much invented Cinemax After Dark.

This is a movie that’s going to obsess me for a while, what with a basement that has a poster for Romero’s Season of the Witch with just the word witch on it, a mom who thinks she’s in either the 1950’s or the 1800’s but in no way the late 1980’s, a town that allows a Satanic gang to kill people at will, grandpa’s truck filled with pumpkins that never fall out despite him driving like an absolute maniac, Satanic garb that combines overall, flannel, capes and Ben Cooper-level masks and friends who put spiders in your bathtub and come on in when you’re fully nude like it’s no big deal.

Hack-O-Lantern is complete junk. Perfect complete junk, that is.

You can watch this on Shudder and grab the blu ray from Massacre Video.

*Thanks Joe Bob!

One thought on “SLASHER MONTH: Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

  1. Ah yes, Hack-O-Lantern… Such a barely known, perfectly festered pile of roadside garbage!

    My favourite moment is probably when a never seen before (or after, IIRC) character suddenly breaks out in a stand-up routine during the town’s Halloween festival (or whatever that party was). Not on a stage, mind you, just on the street, in front of the building, as one does. And yeah, this might be the most extreme example of a high-schooler played by someone who could be the character’s father.

    BTW, thanks for mentioning Lemora, just a few days ago I found it on my endless wishlist, and had no idea why did it end up there, but now I know! Hy Pyke!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.