Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In short: Halloween Night (1988)

aka Hack-O-Lantern

A Halloween pumpkin delivering Satanist barn sect high priest only known as Grandpa (Hy Pyke) - well, the members of his cult may call him by a different name, but the film ain't tellin' - decides that the time has finally come to fully induct his grandson and son (Gramps did some Satanist hypnosis to his daughter on her wedding day, you see; also, yuck) Tommy (Gregory Scott Cummins) into the fold of EVIL. Tommy is already most of the way there, seeing as he's already of age but still seems to live in a garage with a floor full of unwashed clothing, listens to hair metal, dreams hair metal music videos (no, really), and is a bit violent.

Clearly, either Tommy or Gramps or some random Satanist or Tommy's understandably neurotic mother is the perfect suspect when October 31st and especially the Halloween party of Tommy's sister are disrupted by a handful of murders committed by someone wearing the barn Satanists' favourite garb and a devil mask. Not that anyone notices or cares for much of the film's running time.

If you know Halloween Night's director Jag Mundhra at all, then it's probably as a drab director of drab softcore movies. Looking at his filmography, though, it becomes clear that Mundhra was perfectly willing to direct whatever kind of exploitation people were willing to pay him for (full disclosure: I don't know about the quality or nature of his Bollywood films).

Not that Halloween Night is lacking in softcore parts. In fact, the film does statistically feature one boob ever 6.7 minutes, ending up with a breast count near infinity. On the down side, this amount of gratuitous nudity is so gratuitous that it does at times seem to leave little room for other things one might look for in a horror film, like tension, horror, or (dare I even suggest this?) suspense.

This problem is further heightened by all the other weird crap Mundhra fills the time between breasts and sometimes kills: there's the already mentioned music video Tommy dreams up, an appearance by another, even worse band, (alas the least explicit) sex scene on a grave, an appearance by the worst comedian imaginable doing some shtick about nudie magazines (if Mundhra can't show breasts for a second, he can at least let somebody talk about them), etc. and so on. It's like in one of these late career Santo movies just that there are no nightclubs (those cost too much, I assume) and much more nudity.

Obviously, giving these problems, Halloween Night fails as a narrative just about as hard as it could. On the other hand, if you have your mind set on watching an often random assortment of very 80s slasher movie clichés spiced up with a bit of cardboard Satanism, you've come to the right place. From Hy Pyke's hysterically histrionic performance as Grandpa Satanist to the painful dialogue, the film features everything you could wish for when in search for a bit of 80s cheese. Not to reiterate the point too often, but this is a film where a guy dreams a music video, Satanists meet in a barn to not have sex, and the killer prepares one of his murders by first making his victim's corset a bit tighter than she probably wanted - it's barely even a film, but by Satan, it's stupid enough for half a dozen others. And I mean that as a compliment.


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