The Merits of Sin: Jack-O aka Jack O’Lantern (1995) (USA)

Inclusion is important. That’s why participation awards exist. Sure ya sucked but at least ya fucking tried. I feel if I was ever running a horror film awards ceremony I’d be giving out a shit ton of participation awards. I wouldn’t be showering praise on every poor excuse for a movie but a lot of losers would be walking home with a trophy. I guess what I’m saying is I’m probably a factor in why there’s so much garbage out there and Jack-O is definitely the participation award of horror films.

You’re welcome…loser

Aggressive campfire storytelling not only leaves young Sean Kelly horrified, it also fills us in on the important small town folklore. A cranky old wizard (the crankiest and oldest of wizards, John Carradine) was put to death by an ancestor of Sean’s decades ago. As he died at the noose the wizard, as all evil is prone to do, cursed the hell out of the town and summoned a pumpkin headed demon to throw out vengeance. Eventually the same ancestor put the demon to rest and the town went on its merry way. But this Halloween the shit is about to hit the fan…in a low budget lethargic fashion.

It’s either fear or constipation

Three elderly teenagers are out drinking Hamm’s Light and searching for an ancient cemetery for kicks. Drunk off of the golden nectar born in the land of sky blue waters, one moron manages to stumble upon the shoddy burial ground. Seeing as there’s an old familiar cross sticking out the ground, the obvious move for the drunk moron is remove it. Yeah. That doesn’t end well.

You spilled the Hamm’s!!!!!

There’s plenty going on beyond the trio of now dead drunk “teens”. Sean’s mom and dad are running a haunted garage thing with all proceeds going to the local homeless shelter. Since they’ll be busy scaring the local youths, they’ve hired a babysitter for Sean. Caroline (Linnea Quigley naturally introduced showering) will be sharing babysitting duty with her younger sister because she has a Halloween party to attend. Caroline’s sister has a motorcycle riding boyfriend but I’ll be damned if I remember their names. There’s a super conservative couple who do nothing but watch some hate mongering slob on tv and eat toast because white people are weird. The most important canon fodder is a creepy woman named Vivian who is researching the town history for a book and has an incredibly uncomfortable relationship with Sean.

It’s all part of your 90s little league mom fantasy

Vivian has ties to the town and ends up being part of the bloodline belonging to the evil wizard but she’s here to help and keep Sean close. Unhealthy relationships aside, Jack-O begins wandering the town and taking a scythe to random folks. He’s targeting Sean because it seems that Sean may be the only one that can destroy him. It’s still no excuse for Vivian’s creepy child fixation.

Secret touching is still no no touching

Cameron Mitchell shows up as a late night horror host who I believe is transmitting from the same alternate dimension he delivered narration for the trash classic Demon Cop from. Brinke Stevens wanders around a graveyard in said film Dr. Mitchell is hosting. There’s a decapitated head and a lot of fake looking blood splashing around. The monster is so damn rubbery ya just can’t help but love it.

You alright?

A few things I would like to mention before I wrap this baby up. Most of the acting is of the non memorable variety but two stand out. Sean is awful, even by child actor standards. His “screams” of no during the climax are beautifully non emotive. But he is completely overshadowed by the actress that plays his mother. Not only does her line delivery suck, her facial acting is a sight to behold. There is no emotion that exists on this planet that this wonderful woman harnesses. She’s a god damn national treasure.

She keeps all her talent in her hair

Outside of the “acting” this film manages to charm the hell out of me. It’s like they were going for some lame ass family friendly horror flick but forgot halfway through and threw in boobs and blood. If you’re a fan of low rent nineties horror then this lame brained Fred Olen Rey production may bring some cheer into your life. It’s not what one would call “classically good” but it definitely participated and it assuredly went home with a trophy. 6/10

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