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Movies We Love: ‘Hack O’ Lantern’

Man, I hope you’ve seen 1988’s Hack O’ Lantern before reading this, because it’s a wild trip of a film. In short, director Jag Mundhra’s Halloween-themed entry is a Satanic Cult heavy metal movie packaged as a slasher flick, with a weird standup comedy sequence. We discussed this film on our Halloween 2019 podcast episode, alongside Trick or Treat and Rocktober Blood, as a Halloween Heavy Metal triple feature, so you can check that out, but I felt this movie was worthy of some typing too.

Hack O'Lantern - Grandpa

On A Halloween Night Long Ago…

Back in the mid 2000’s, I first learned about Hack O’ Lantern (AKA Halloween Night) while trying to dig up every Halloween centered movie I could find for a month-long movie fest. I came across this movie and it sounded great, but it wasn’t on disc, only VHS, and I had no working VCR at the time, so I filed it in the back of mind and basically forgot about it until Amazon recommended me the Blu Ray that came out in 2018. I snapped it up quick.

So last year, we finally got to see this movie. And it did not disappoint. The basic story of the movie is: the patriarch of the main family (played by Hy Pyke) is part of a Satanic cult. The cult killed his son-in-law on Halloween decades ago, forcing his daughter to despise the holiday (though in present day, she still decorates for it quite a bit). His grandson, Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins), is special and connected to the cult. This cult sacrifices people on Halloween. Someone dressed in a cult robe and a mask is going around killing people. Tommy also has a brother (town cop) and sister (amazing interior decorator—check out the posters in her bedroom).

It’s understandable why in 1988, they went with the slasher style killings. But in hindsight, I would’ve preferred they play up the cult stuff more. I mean, they did play up the cult stuff quite a bit, but I would’ve preferred more ritual sacrifice to the whole attacking people with a knife thing. That’s a minor complaint though. These people really threw everything into this blender, and the result is a real weird romp.

The Devil’s Son

In the best scene, Tommy, who is in his 30s for sure and living in some weird utility room connected to his mother’s house, is laying on his bed. He then angrily grabs a cassette and pops it in his Walkman. He lays back, closes his eyes and suddenly he’s the guitar player in a heavy metal video. A badass, full-length music video by 80s female-fronted DC Lacroix. DC Lacroix’s “The Devil’s Son” is a fucking Halloween anthem in my mind. In a perfect world, the band would’ve recorded an entire soundtrack to this movie and it would be spoken about in the same breath as Fastway’s Trick or Treat soundtrack. If you’re not familiar, watch the video, get the song and add it to your Halloween playlist ASAP.

There’s another band that plays in the film, as well—The Mercenaries (who I cannot find anything about, which bugs me…usually I can find something, even if it’s a YouTube comment from one of the band member’s nephews letting everyone know that Uncle Mike is still playing guitar on weekends at the local bookstore—so if you know anything, send that shit my way). That brings us to another fantastic element of this film. The insane townhall Halloween party/dance thing. The Mercenaries provide the tunes; Wild Bill Tucker provides a terrible standup comedy routine outside the venue; and there’s a stripper, a snake charmer—all at a government-sanctioned townhall Halloween party!

So if you haven’t seen it, there is no better season, nor year to watch it for the first time than 2020.  To quote Jon Mikl Thor in Rock N’ Roll Nightmare, “Let’s tune our weapons!”

Hack O'Lantern - Grandpa

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Categorised in: Halloween, Movies, movies we love, Uncategorized

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