“Hack-O-Lantern” aka “Halloween Night” (1988)


As i’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, Horror films often times reflect current themes in society. Films such as Cannibal Holocaust and Dawn Of The Dead provide vehicles for social commentary. Other times, they reflect popular culture–this is the case with the 1988 slasher film, Hack-O-Lantern. During the 1980s, hair was big, spandex was tight, heavy metal ruled the airwaves, and the tabloids had many convinced that Satanic cults were abducting children for sacrifice.

On the surface, it appears to be a by-the-numbers slasher flick. All the familiar cliches are there: the killer who stalks, and cuts down good looking coeds, alcohol fueled teenage shenanigans, and  of course, the essential nude scene guaranteed to satisfy any teenage boy in the audience. This particular film however, is in the vein of other Satanic metal horror movies, such as Rock And Roll Nightmare and Ragewar. It’s another one of those entries in the “so bad it’s good” category.

The film is based around a young man named Tommy. From a young age, he’s been indoctrinated into a family tradition by his Grandfather. This tradition however, happens to be Satanism. The events of the film in question take place of the night of his initiation, and the growing concern his family has over his decision to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. This plays up a popular misconception from those times. In an age of the PMRC hearings, many parents of middle America wondered if their teenage children were secretly worshipping Satan, due to their affinity for heavy metal records. We’re even treated to an impromptu music video.

While he prepares for his big night, a series of random killings take place from a masked killer. Some of which take place at the favorite locale for these type of films, the high school dance. Eventually everything comes full circle, and Tommy’s brother becomes the new cult leader.

Despite its flaws, and the fact that it’s about as cheesy as these films come, it’s still quite a thrill to watch. The slasher craze of the 80s was one of a kind. These films were the perfect escape from the constant threat of the cold war, and the yuppified era of “Reaganomics.” You’ll never see films like this again, so enjoy these time capsules from a bygone era.


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