Some cinematic shit is just too beyond perfect for words, and I would humbly submit that one-and-done (as far as I know) director Jag Mundhra’s straight-to-video, shot-on-grainy-16mm 1988 schlockfest Halloween Night, also released under the more creatively lame title of Hack O’ Lantern, fits that description to the proverbial “T.” I mean, honestl, I don’t even know where to begin here, and those who know me know that I’m seldom — or, as they may see it, far too seldom — at a loss for words. So I’m just gonna do the best I can here to relay the full onslaught of uber-cheesy awesomeness that this film represents and let you, dear reader, take it from there.
Sound like a plan? Good.
First off, the plot — there isn’t one. A talent of Mundhra’s stature doesn’t need to chain himself down to anything so prosaic or limiting, so he just goes with the flow, baby. A perpetually-Walkman’ed teen named Tommy Drindel is going to get himself the Satanic equivalent of a Bar Mitzvah on Halloween night (hence, ya know, the name) courtesy of his grandpa, the local coven leader. I guess. But that doesn’t really matter because our “setup” consists of a performance by a hair metal act called D.C. La Croix, who exhibit the kind of half-assed occult powers that the outfit known as Sorcery in Stunt Rock could only dream of. For instance, they have an axe-shaped guitar that can fire lasers that turn cymbals into shrunken heads.
Then we get lots of completely gratuitous nudity, mostly from the various female members of Tommy’s on-screen family, although every chick in the flick (barring a very few exceptions) is called upon to bare her hooters at least once. Then it’s party time!
Graveyard sex ensues. Weightlifting (?) ensues. Somebody’s ass gets branded with a pentagram. The absolute worst stand-up “comic” you’ve ever seen “entertains” the “crowd” (yes, all those quote-marks are there for a reason). Another hair metal act, this one billing itself as The Mercenaries, is showcased preforming two purportedly “satanic” musical numbers in their entirety. There’s a bunch more nudity. People wear the lamest, most half-assed Halloween costumes ever. More nudity, often of the full-frontal variety. Some death and dismemberment for reasons no one even bothers to try to explain.
Clearly, there’s a lot going on here, but one thing that’s not happening is any sort of plot progression whatsoever. Random, haphazard shit just takes place in front of the camera. Actual stories are nothing but a crutch, anyway, and Halloween Night can’t slow down long enough to make allowances for such cinematic conservatism. It’s got a job to do, after all.
Just don’t ask me what that job is. I’ve got a feeling it doesn’t much matter, anyway. Mundhra just found himself a couple of L.A.-area locations he figured would do the trick, some non-descript “actors” (the only one you might even vaguely recognize being Hy Pyke, who had a bit part in Blade Runner and is on hand here as grandpa, head-honcho of the devil worshipers) who’d do anything (or, as is often the case here, nothing) for a buck (assuming they got paid at all, which is a debatable proposition at best) , yelled “roll camera!” and just — shit, I dunno, filmed some blood and boobs and heavy metal and stuff.
You only think you need more from a film than that. But you don’t.
I’m not sure if there’s a cautionary tale to be found embedded under all the low-grade (but decidedly high-octane) murder, mayhem, and mammaries here about the “evils” of getting sucked into the netherworld of Satanic heavy metal music or not — I’m leaning towards not, because that would presuppose that Mundhra had some kind of point he was trying to get across, and near as I can fathom that was an idea that never even occurred to him — but if so, that would almost make the proceedings even more entertaining than they already are, if such a thing is even possible. There’s some sort — I think, at any rate — of an attempt to introduce a bit of mystery into the madness by trying (and failing) to keep us guessing as to the identity of the rubber-devil-masked party-goer who’s killing folks, but you’ll have gleaned the answer to that wants-to-be-a-puzzle-but-ain’t within, oh, two minutes, so don’t even worry about it.
In fact, don’t worry about anything. Just sit, back in the glow of the absolute and total pointlessness and incompetence on display, and do the only thing any right-thinking individual can do when confronted with such a genuinely other-worldly spectacle — enjoy every singe fucking minute of it. Being that this has never been released on DVD, here’s a link to the full film on YouTube, courtesy of a true humanitarian who preserved it there for posterity. Get busy!