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Jack-O (1995)

DVD Cover (Image Entertainment Reissue)
Director:
Steve Latshaw Steve Latshaw
Starring:
Linnea Quigley Linnea Quigley
Maddisen K. Krown Maddisen K. Krown
Gary Doles Gary Doles
Ryan Latshaw Ryan Latshaw
Catherine Walsh Catherine Walsh

3.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Horror, Slasher Film, Supernatural Horror, Halloween
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Review by Chad
Added: October 31, 2010
It's Halloween once again, and you know what that means: another cheesy holiday flick for our dear little site. This year's film is one that I actually meant to cover last year, but unfortunately, I couldn't get my hands on a copy in time. Thankfully for you dear readers, I wasted no time this year, and thus, I give you the ultra-campy Jack-O. I expected ninety minutes of garbage out of this movie, but surprisingly, it wasn't all that bad. Campy? Cheesy? You bet on both accounts, but yes, it is moderately entertaining regardless.

The storyline here begins back in the 1800's, when a local man is accused of sorcery and lynched. He replies by cursing the town (guess they were right after all), and his curse involves a demon with a pumpkin for a head coming back and killing everyone. Sadly for the demon, a decent, God-fearing man is there to put an end to the beast's carnage by burying him and planting a cross into its chest. All is good, roll the credits? Well, let's fast-forward to present day, also known as the mid-nineties...

...where we meet the Kelly family, who just so happen to be descendants of the man who killed that demon so many years ago. The family - Linda (Maddisen K. Krown), David (Gary Doles), and little Sean (Ryan Latshaw) - are gearing up for a Halloween haunted garage, when they "meet" a new lady in town by way of Vivian (Catherine Walsh). Vivian introduces herself and tells them that she is researching her family history, but she says no more and they let it slide because she is helping them out with the garage and Sean has taken a liking to her.

Of course, what nobody knows is that a couple of teenage punks have wandered out to the cemetery for some Halloween hijinks, and in doing so, they release Mr. Jack-O to once again wreak havoc on the town. His primary target? Sean, the last descendant of the man who put him away before he could get started on his original slaughter. Obviously, that doesn't mean that he won't stop to make a few kills before the final showdown. Considering that Sean has only his babysitter (Linnea Quigley) to protect him, things aren't looking good for the nerdy little boy, but what part does Vivian play in all of this?

Granted, the storyline is a bit silly, and true, it is basically nothing more than a mish-mash of various horror clichés. There's really nothing new to be found here, but still, I had a fair amount of fun with it. This is the kind of movie that you pop in when you're wanting nothing more than to turn your brain off and kick back with some campy material, not the sort that will change the way you look at the horror genre or keep you pondering the hidden meanings of the film. I had fun with it because I went in expecting that sort of thing, and that is exactly what I got.

For starters, Jack-O himself looks surprisingly good. I had very low expectations of the character going into the movie, but for what is basically nothing more than a scarecrow in a workman's uniform with a giant pumpkin on its head, he actually came across as pretty neat. He's never going to be quite as iconic as Jason or Freddy, but you'll enjoy watching him tear people apart with his scythe instead of wondering what in the hell the filmmakers were thinking during his creation.

Another perk of the movie is the handful of horror veterans that pop up from time to time. Linnea Quigley is there in a sizable role (though by no means is she the star), while John Carradine, Brinke Stevens, and Cameron Mitchell show up with minor cameo appearances. All of them are fun to watch, but unfortunately, the same can not be said about the legitimate stars of the movie. The acting from everyone else involved is pretty brutal to watch, especially the performance that we get out of young Ryan Latshaw. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if you had thrown me in front of a camera at the ripe old age of seven, yes, I would have stunk up the film. However, this does nothing to change my mind about untalented child actors, and watching this kid go through the motions was downright painful to watch.

The only truly negative thing that I can say about the film is that the storyline was stretched a bit too thin throughout the running time. There's really only about sixty minutes worth of material to be found here, but considering that the movie runs for ninety, well... you figure it out. Had the storyline been condensed a little or had there been more actual material and less padding, I probably would have enjoyed this one a fair bit more. I will give the filmmakers credit for the completely random shower scene with Linnea Quigley though: that's audience appreciation right there, folks.

Overall, Jack-O gets a moderate thumbs up from me. It's not going to find a spot on my yearly Halloween to-watch list and I wouldn't advise you to put it on yours either, but as a one-off thing for the horror fan looking for something new, you could do a whole lot worse. Happy Halloween - 6/10.
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