Jack-O (1995)

Jack-O (1995)

He’s Baaack!

A long time ago, a wizard swore vengeance on the townspeople that had put an end to his reign of terror, in particular the Kelly family. When some care-free teenagers accidentally unleash him in the present, it’s up to young Sean Kelly to stop the pumpkin-headed killer and his murderous rampage.

 

I really can’t believe that this was released in 1995. Everything about it smacks of the mid-80s. Jack-O is bargain basement slash with promises of lots of ketchup, pointless T&A and a gimmicky killer. It’s the sort of film that home video was made for because there’s no way any major studio with remote sense would touch this with a barge pole. I bet there are college student films with more excitement, more entertainment and more skill than Jack-O. Nevertheless, I’d been trying to track this down for years because it sounded right down my alley. I mean come on, a pumpkin-headed killer who uses a scythe as a weapon? And look at the cover too! That’s golden material for a low budget slasher but its material that Jack-O wastes right from the word ‘go.’

As soon as the tacky computer-generated opening scenes hits and you’re taken right through the centre of a pumpkin, you know that you’re going to have a hard time in putting up with the sheer lack of talent that almost everyone involved displays. Jack-O‘s main issue is that’s a rather incompetent piece of film overall. Apart from the usual suspects (terrible script, lousy special effects and bad actors) there’s also a distinct lack of talent behind the camera and in the post-production process. The editing is chopping and the flow of the film seems to be all over the place. Jack-O is in one scene then he’s not there the next. He’s across town one moment, in someone’s front garden the next. The pacing doesn’t help matters either. This film drags. And drags. And drags. The film is also full of flashbacks and dream sequences but the problem is that they look exactly the same as the real sequences so it’s all immensely confusing as to whether what you’re seeing on screen is real or just the imagination of one of the characters.

Coupled with the editing and pacing issues, the film looks to have been made by stoners or drunks and you’d probably best be in the same mindset if you ever settle down to watch it. Another glaring problem is the title character or rather the lack of him. Jack-O is hardly around, only popping up briefly from time-to-time to remind us all that we’re watching a horror flick and not someone’s home movie. He looks appalling too – his huge pumpkin head is way too big for his little body to hold it up and he’s about as scary as a dead poodle. At least he has light-up eyes though, like some cheap animatronic Halloween decoration. His killing spree doesn’t start until around the forty-five minute mark so unless you like seeing bad actors just sitting around and watching TV a lot (which the characters do), you’re best skipping to the resurrection scene as quickly as possible.

Jack-O isn’t best watched as a film, it’s more likely to be used as a drinking game where you down shots when certain things happen or just sit and rip the whole thing apart with a bunch of mates. You’ll probably have more fun doing that. At least you’ll be having more fun than the actors as well. They are some of the most shambolic I’ve seen in a low budget horror film. Ryan Latshaw, the child actor who plays Sean Kelly, is terrible. I mean you can’t expect too much from a young actor in any case but this is the sort of performance that instantly makes me hate the idea of kids being major players in horror films. He looks disinterested, doesn’t seem to know where the camera is and has no clue about emotional delivery. He’s the director’s son so needless to say it’s not what he knew, but who he knew that got him this role.

Gary Doles and Maddisen K. Krown are the most irritating parents in the world too so this is one family you’ll hope to get scythed to pieces by the end. They’re all out-acted by the wooden stake wedged in Jack-O’s grave. Scream queen Linnea Quigley is on hand to provide the requisite T&A in an obligatory (and overlong) shower scene (she’s got a hot bod for an over 35) and legend John Carradine also turns up. But Carradine died in 1988 so I’m not sure how he manages to appear in this! I bet he’s turning in his grave but since he doesn’t speak and just turns his head from side to side, I’m wondering whether he’s still in it or whether he was dragged out for this.

 

Jack-O is one of those cool-looking films you always skip past at the video store because you know how bad it’s likely to be. Well believe me, it’s that bad and a hell of a lot more. I wouldn’t even recommend it for people looking for a bad film to laugh at. There are plenty more guilty pleasures out there without having to resort to spending eighty eight minutes with Jack.

 

 ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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