Hack O’ Lantern (1988)

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“But Mom, I like the taste of blood. Grandpa says it’s good for me.”

The bond between grandfather and grandson is a very special one, especially when the grandfather is the leader of a satanic cult and breeds his grandson to be the son of Satan. Director Jag Mundhra’s Hack O’ Lantern (aka Halloween Night) explores this specific type of grandfather/grandson relationship in one of the greatest “bad” horror films ever created. I knew that this was going to be a bad movie just from the title, but literally everything in the film was terrible. For starters, the main character, Tommy, is an 18 year old played by a balding 32 year old Gregory Cummins (Cliffhanger, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Now, even though Tommy is supposed to be the film’s main character, he’s present for probably less than half of the movie, and he barely has any lines at all. His grandfather is truly the most prominent person in the film, and his character isn’t even given a name. He’s simply referred to as Grandpa. Doesn’t this sound like a gem already?

Out of all the satanic themed horror movies I’ve seen (which is many), this one had the quickest satanic reveal ever. Within the first few minutes of Hack O’ Lantern, it’s known that Grandpa is a full-blown Satanist. After the opening credits, an innocent looking old man (Grandpa) driving a farm truck filled with pumpkins stops to visit his young grandson (Tommy). He gives Tommy a pentagram necklace along with a pumpkin of his choice and a little plastic skeleton. In one of the worst Southern accents I’ve ever heard, he tells Tommy that he’s “very special.” It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on, and honestly, I was a little disappointed. I personally would’ve liked Grandpa’s character to be more mysterious.

Ten years after receiving the necklace, Tommy turns into a rebellious teen, and he is more than ready to make his satanic confirmation. One of my biggest laugh-out-loud moments was when Tommy and Grandpa shared this super-secret satanic handshake. They both make (incorrect) devil horns with their hands and press them together while straight up mean mugging each other. Shortly after this occurs, a really bad heavy metal music video, starring Tommy, pops out of nowhere. The video is for D.C. La Croix’s “Devil’s Son” and I swear, the song is just as annoyingly catchy as “It’s A Lovely Life” from May’s Movie of the Month, Crimes Of Passion. This was definitely my favorite part of the movie.

About 30 or so minutes into the film, a slasher element is introduced. An unknown killer wearing a horned devil mask and cloak goes on a Halloween killing spree using a pitchfork, shovel, and knife as murder weapons. Of course, no slasher flick would be complete without a couple of nude girls, and I swear, everyone woman in this film had the opportunity to shed their clothes at some point. What I really appreciated was how the film’s slasher element blended in with its satanic roots so well. One did not overshadow the other, and many other films have not been able to balance different themes as well as Mundhra did with this one.

Hack O’ Lantern is a classic 80s slasher flick with a hint of satanic horror metal, basically the perfect formula for a “terrible” movie. It has not been released on DVD, but in November 2014, Massacre Video stated that they have acquired the rights to Hack O’ Lantern and plan on releasing it on Blu-ray later on this year.

-Britnee Lombas

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One thought on “Hack O’ Lantern (1988)

  1. Pingback: Introducing: The Swampflix Canon |

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