Hack-O-Lantern (AKA Halloween Night) (1988)




A kindly old grandfather is actually the leader of a murderous satanic cult which sacrifices its victims on Halloween.
Directed by Jag Mundhra (an Indian born film-maker), this film is known by either the title of Hack-O-Lantern (which I saw it under), or it’s pseudonym of Halloween Night (which I believe it is more widely known).
After trying to do some heavy research relating to Hack-O-Lantern, I discovered that not much is known about this late 80’s cheesy little number (which actually looks and feels a lot more like a 70’s film).
Director Jag Mundhra passed away back in 2011, so I wasn’t able to contact him to do a small interview for the site either, sadly, so you’ll have to put up with my two-cents-worth.
The film was released direct-to-video, and I am uncertain if it had any kind of cinema/big-screen release, which is a shame really, as I recall renting it when it first came out and having to watch it on a tiny analog TV in my lounge room late one night.
Having said that, the film carries with it a very good atmosphere (both in it’s horror and non-horror scenes).
The acting in this is something probably best not spoken of – it’s 80’s, it’s horror – you’re not going to get Oscar-winning performances from these people, but they do their best (for the era), and I think carry the film forward.
In the opening, we’re introduced to the quintessential redneck American family (this film is full of cliche’s, so get ready for them all), who’s very chirpy exterior harbors some sinister inner secrets.
Turns out that old Grandpa is a part-time Satanist and this Halloween will be a special day for him and his cult, as his nephew Tommy (who is arguably his illegitimate son) will be initiated in to the psychopathic group.
Tommy’s kindly mother is aware of her father’s evil plans and pleads with Tommy to avoid the malevolent worshipers.
Meanwhile a devil masked maniac is butchering the townsfolk with a trident and leaving corpses scattered around the area.
Are the two events related?
The family will uncover the truth on this dark Halloween Night.
Halloween, rednecks, Satanism – oh my! What more could this self-confessed horror movie fiend ask for!?
Add into the mix the beautiful Katina Garner , and that’s me a very happy camper.
All in all, this is a very cheap, campy and slightly sleazy little number, the kills are average for their era, and there are enough of them to keep most horror fans cheering.
Oh and watch out for the girl who strips for the maniac thinking he was someone else and then lays on the sofa and says something like, ‘Surprise me Tommy!’.
She must have had the surprise of her soon to be terminated life when he rammed a pitchfork straight through her!
RATING:     6.2 out of 10 – A lost gem of a film, try to find it!