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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

Hack This Lantern!

Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins) has grown up most of his life without his father, who died when he was a kid. He has two younger siblings and his mother, as well as his Grandpa (Hy Pyke), who also happens to be the head of the local-yokel Satanic cult! Grandpa has been grooming Tommy since he was a child to be the new Big Guy when it comes to the cult. Tommy is chosen to be Satan’s Right Hand Man and Tommy has gone along with it quite willingly, although he has kept this aspect of his life secret from his mother (she knows) and his brother and sister. But the time is fast approaching for him to give his life over to the Dark Lord. It is to happen on Halloween night, and someone wearing a devil mask is busy eliminating anything that will get in Tommy’s way of attaining his new status. This includes murdering Tommy’s girlfriend as well as other interlopers who have been sticking their nose into family business. When the moment comes, Tommy must decide whether to sacrifice his own sister or turn his back on his destiny. What fate will he choose?

Made in the late 80s, Hack-O-Lantern is one wild and strange ride. It’s pretty inept in a lot of its storytelling, but that’s what makes it so fun. Part of it comes from the Indian filmmakers, who seem to have no clue what Halloween is like in America, except that it must involve Satan and Heavy Metal and a devil handshake that is really just the sign-language gesture of “I Love You.” You gotta tuck that thumb in to get the Devil Horns, buddy. Fueled by these misperceptions and a very genuine naivete towards American culture, combined with some over the top acting, boobs and butts and plenty of heaping of gore, and you have yourself a winner here. This one never fails to entertain and never slows down and gets boring. If you’re not chuckling through some bad dialogue, you’re thrilling to some extraneous nudity, and if those two things aren’t happening, well, you have murder and mayhem and general masked Satanic goodness. Enough can’t be said about how great Hy Pyke is in this. Over the top doesn’t even begin to describe his performance, and he delivers it with such childish glee that it’s hard not to root for the old, incestuous bastard to win. There’s a “mystery” about who the masked killer is, offing those in Tommy’s way, but it’s not really hard to figure out. Besides that, the movie just goes from set-piece to set-piece, leading up to the crucial and final moments on Halloween night. Oh, and there’s a stripper with a snake, a stand-up comedian, and a metal music video thrown in there, all for further good times.

Yeah, I can’t say enough about this one. If you haven’t seen it, you should get on that. It’s stupid, dumb, funny, and gory. And it’s got loads and loads of gratuitous nudity. There’s no denying the (unholy) spirit with which this was made, and this is the kind of thing only the wild and wooly 80s could have brought us. Get on board and get down. You’ll find yourself pleasantly entertained. Also streaming on Shudder.


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