There are plenty of storytelling tricks but no treats in JACK-O, a misbegotten composite rip-off of PUMPKINHEAD and HALLOWEEN.
In 1915, the Kelly family was responsible for putting an end to warlock Walter Machen (John Carradine), but a huge, pumpkin-headed ghoul took revenge for him. Eighty years later, David and Linda Kelly (Gary Doles and Rebecca Wicks) are putting together a "haunted garage" for Halloween while their
son, Sean (Ryan Latshaw), is having nightmares about his family's dark past. Vivian (Catherine Walsh), a local woman considered a "witch" by the kids, befriends the Kelly family. This Halloween night, the Kelly's have called Carolyn Miller (Linnea Quigley) to babysit for Sean. Meanwhile, across
town, the jack o'lantern demon (Patrick Moran) has returned to life after a young punk removed a wooden cross from his grave, and he begins cutting a bloody swath through the town.
The vengeful monster ultimately tracks down Sean as he is out trick-or-treating with Carolyn, and they flee to the cemetery from whence the monster came. Back at the Kelly house, Vivian reveals that she's a descendant of Walter Machen seeking to destroy the demon, and that she was hoping Sean
could lure it out. She and the Kellys race to the cemetery, where Vivian is killed, but David and Sean manage to skewer the creature with the wooden cross, destroying it forever.
JACK-O is the third film (after DARK UNIVERSE and BIOHAZARD II) directed by Steve Latshaw, a Fred Olen Ray protege whose work up to this point is distinguished by a singular lack of narrative drive. As if aware of the material's meandering nature, Latshaw packs JACK-O with a seemingly endless
barrage of flashbacks and dream sequences that serve only to confuse the story. The demon itself (never referred to as "Jack-O" in the movie) and the mayhem he creates remain resolutely not scary, thanks as much to cheesy special effects as to Latshaw's slack direction.
The cast isn't much to speak of--they seem to have been encouraged to do and say everything as slowly as possible--though longtime scream queen Quigley does get in her traditional gratuitous shower scene. Also worth noting is the inclusion of old footage--to no real advantage beyond curiosity
value--of deceased thespians John Carradine and Cameron Mitchell. For this and many other reasons, PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE is an appropriate point of reference for JACK-O, though this one isn't even good for many unintentional laughs. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations,profanity.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: There are plenty of storytelling tricks but no treats in JACK-O, a misbegotten composite rip-off of PUMPKINHEAD and HALLOWEEN. In 1915, the Kelly family was responsible for putting an end to warlock Walter Machen (John Carradine), but a huge, pumpkin-head… (more)