By Geno McGahee

“Burn in hell, Bill!” – Grandpa (Hy Pyke)

I stumbled across HACK-O-LANTERN, a film from 1988 that mixes Satanism with the whodunit and it comes together in a film that amused me much more than any other I have seen in quite some time.

Grandpa (Hy Pyke) has taken a special interest in his grandson, Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins), giving him a Satanic necklace and a pumpkin as well. This does not sit well with his stepfather, Bill (Michael Potts), and he goes to confront Grandpa. Big mistake! Grandpa is the leader of a Satanic cult and Bill dies quickly when the cult attacks, and that is when Grandpa says his great line: “Burn in hell, Bill,” and proceeds to look at the camera and laugh maniacally. He seems to laugh a little bit too much over this death, but he was very happy and I found myself rewinding the moment over and over again because it was so ridiculous and enjoyable.

Tommy’s mother, Vera (Katina Garner) is not happy with her father and his influence on her son and confronts him, but he responds by coming on to her and revealing that Tommy is his son. A ridiculous flashback of a sexual encounter between Grandpa and Vera, with Grandpa sporting a horrible black wig and making sensual faces into the camera once again provide the viewer with a lot of amusement.
I’m not sure if this movie was meant to be scary or funny, but it is the most hilarious flick I’ve seen in some time. Adding to the humor is the performance of Cummins, who was also fantastic in CLICK: THE CALENDAR GIRL KILLER, and brings his A game here. He looks mean and will also stare directly at you (the camera) with an evil look to terrify you…or make you laugh, which is the most likely result.

The movie turns into a whodunit with a person in a cult robe and mask going around killing various people, all with ties to Tommy and the family. They filmmakers are pointing at Tommy, even giving him the same mask, but any horror fan will dismiss him right away, and the killer is rather predictable, but that doesn’t matter because this movie is just that damn good.

HACK-O-LANTERN is a big winner. I cannot recommend this movie enough for all horror fans, especially those that like the 1980’s slasher/whodunits. What a great film!


Scared Stiff Rating: 8/10.

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