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Sunday 27 October 2019

Burl reviews Hack-O-Lantern! (1988)

Ha ha and double boo, it’s Burl! Now, call me crazy, but I like my Halloween pictures to have some Halloween atmosphere, and when this movie, Halloween Night, or is that Hack-O-Lantern, started off with a shot of a pick-up truck full of pumpkins, I was heartened! I’m afraid the picture didn’t have the follow-through that I hoped for, but there were a few compensations for that!
The movie is better known as Hack-O-Lantern, and indeed the Halloween Night title card on my copy is clearly a replacement! The story involves the grandpa driving the pumpkin truck, played by Hy Pike from Hollywood High, Slithis, Blade Runner, and Vamp, who turns out to be a crazy Satanist with plans for, and a powerful hold over, his grandson Tommy! Tommy has a younger brother and sister, and a mother who looks perpetually anxious and careworn!
Thirteen years on, Grandpa has a new pumpkin truck and Tommy has grown into a sullen, fish-lipped guy who wears a vest with no shirt (when he wears anything at all) and who tosses cassette tapes around carelessly, wears sunglasses all the time, and dreams of rock videos in which he plays guitar, is zapped by laser eyebeams, and then is decapitated! Ha ha! He’s played by Gregory Scott Cummings from Action U.S.A., Phantom of the Mall, and Cliffhanger!
Roger, the little brother, has become a rookie cop, and Vera, the sister, is still just Vera, ha ha! It’s the night of the big Halloween party, and somebody in a robe is occasionally poking people with sharp implements! Victims include Tommy’s girlfriend, who is famous for her bum tattoo, and Vera’s boyfriend, who ogles the aforementioned bum tattoo (it’s actually a brand), but doesn’t deserve the shovel through the noggin that he catches!
It’s all about the crazy, leering, handsy grandpa and his desultory coven and their barn-bound activities, which include dancing, chanting, cackling, sacrifice, and the branding of people’s bums! Happenings are random and plot twists arbitrary, and everything in the second half, including a comedy routine so bad I had to pause the movie and cover my eyes, seems to revolve around a Halloween party that’s not nearly a patch on the bash in Primal Rage, ha ha! By the end the grandpa has passed on the family bumbranding tradition, but thankfully not his penchant for wild overacting, to the least likely of his grandchildren!
Well, it’s a terrible movie all right, but just occasionally weird and random enough to warrant some interest from the undiscerning Halloweentime viewer! The script is one of the worst ever written, and the direction is haphazard, and they try so slightly to create a Halloween atmosphere that they might better not have tried at all! Ha ha, without skeletal tree branches, heavy skies and a few dead leaves blowing around, it just doesn’t... quite... make it! I’m going to give Hack-O-Lantern, aka Halloween Night, one Dead End Drive-In poster, which I had on my wall too! Ha ha!

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