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An Ironic Consumer review by J.R. Antrim

Mr. Jack will break your back
Cut off your head with a
Whack, whack, whack!


Not feeling the Halloween spirit this year? Maybe the problem lies in your choice of movies. Even if they take place on Halloween, chances are you'll get — at most — two minutes of some drunken fratboy costume party. Heck, Halloween 3 had a grand total three masks! If you've been watching lame scary movies like these, you need a healthy dose of Jack-O, simply the most Halloween movie ever.

One hundred years ago, an evil warlock terrorized the town of Oakmoor Crossing. The warlock is played by John Carridine. Which is weird, because John Carridine died six years before the movie was made. They claim it's stock footage, but I suspect something more sinister. He never speaks on camera. You just see his cadaverous old head swing from side to side. The effect is creepy and just plain wrong, and it looks as though someone is hiding behind Carridine's chair, propping him up with a broom and muttering his lines.


Weary of his incessant yodeling, the Kelly family murdered the warlock. Bad idea! That very night, a pumpkin-headed scarecrow began killing off Kellies one by one, until one of the menfolk sacrificed himself to save his family. Mr. Jack's reign of pumpkiny terror was over... or was it?

Jack-O Sean looks like a young Bruce McCulloch. Or should I say a... Kid... in the Hall?
Zoom to present day — okay, 1995. Ignorant of their wizard-killin' past, the farmer's descendants prepare for Halloween. Dad is putting together a Haunted Garage for charity, Mom is buying ingredients for fake blood, and little Sean is getting the crap kicked out of him by a schoolmate. He's saved by Vivian, a mysterious woman who says her grandfather was an old friend the Kelly family. (Jinkies! A clue!)

The pumpkin man will steal your soul.
He'll snap it up and swallow it whole.

Meanwhile, some teenagers grab a six-pack and head to the graveyard for a little D&D (Drinking and Desecrating). Jack is unleashed and introduces the kids to his trademark scythe, while Vivian arrives just in time to... hide the bodies?

Man, this movie has it all: Trick-or-treaters, haunted garages, scary movie marathons, it's like they crammed in everything I love about Halloween. (It should be noted that the marathon is hosted by Cameron Mitchell, who also died before this movie was made. Did they have an unlimited rental pass at the funeral home?) There's even a woman dressed as a sexy vampire. Unfortunately, it's Sean's mom. And her eyes are just way too tiny for my taste.


As darkness falls, Jack becomes the embodiment of Halloween. He menaces Sean's father at the Haunted Garage, but doesn't kill him, even though he's a Kelly. Instead he goes down the street to slaughter a couple of snobby old grinches too stingy to give out candy. Then he goes BACK to the Haunted Garage, where he scares off some kids by grabbing their hands... without actually hurting anyone. This guy rules.

Then just as quick, before you die...
The Pumpkin Man will steal your eyes.

Jack-O features one of my favorite inadvertent toast-related fatalities. After finding the body of her stingy husband, this lady freaks out and, well, you'll see.

Jack-O Jack-O
She slips on the rug... Falls into the toaster...
Jack-O Jack-O
Gets electrocuted... And turns into a skeleton.

This is just the sort of thing that gives big walking scarecrows a bad name. Jack had nothing to do with that, but I guess when anyone dies in a horror movie named after you, it's automatically your fault.

Everything in Jack-O seems to happen out of sequence. The Pumpkin Man drifts around, leering from the shadows one minute, warping halfway across town the next, then returning to kill someone he missed. The sloppy editing actually makes everything seem surreal and dreamlike, as if you're stumbling around, stoned out of your mind, bearing witness to harmless fun and murderous rampage alike. But don't get me wrong, this isn't an art film — it's a slasher flick starring a scarecrow.


Eventually people wise up to Jack's murderous ways, but not before he kidnaps Sean, the only one who can kill him. This isn't very good news for rest of the Kellies — this kid's so weakly, he grunts when he gets up. (I'm in my twenties, and I feel old when I do that.)

Mister Jack will snap your spine
Cut you in half with a scaly vine.

Sean's family tracks him down using the Jack-O poem recited throughout the movie. I found this funny, because Jack never once followed the poem. He never broke anyone's back, he never stole anyone's eyes, and what the hell is a "scaly vine"? The man uses a scythe.


During their final confrontation, Sean unleashes his secret weapon: He lays down. No, you don't understand. He doesn't trip. He doesn't fall. He just lays down.


Then Sean wiggles around and says, "Nooooo," as if Mom just announced it was Brussels sprouts for dinner again. When covered — nay, sprinkled with a light powder of dirt, he gives up and stop moving. Earning him the nickname Turtleboy for the rest of his natural life.

But how long will that be? Can the Pumpkin Man be stopped? Will Sean get in touch with his Inner Badass? Will Sean's mom ever get her eyes back in her head?

I can totally see myself busting this out every Halloween. It's the perfect party movie. And even though it's got gore and a little nudity (boobs), this is the kind of scary movie I'd probably let my (imaginary evil-super-genius) kids watch, along with Poltergeist and Army of Darkness. But not Evil Dead 1 or 2. I may make a questionable theoretical caregiver, but I'm not that theoretically uncargivingly questionable.

- J.R. "Thor" Antrim went as Dead Pirate Roberts. He looked kind of like Westley from The Princess Bride, only scruffier, less alive, and — dare I say? — more loveable.

Happy Happy Halloween
Bonus Funtime Content:

Jack-O Jack-O was written by the actual guy in the scarecrow suit. It was based on a story by Fred Ray Olson, filmmaker and owner of the ACW, a professional wrestling organization. There he wrestles under the name "Fabulous" Freddie Valentine and El Santo Negro, Jr (pictured right).

No wonder these guys made a Halloween movie. <grin>

Movie clips

These Windows Media Video files are tiny enough so even poor little 56k dialup users like me can enjoy 'em.

"She's insane."
"Why do you think I'm here?"

Vivian gets the best line in the movie, but I still hate her face.

"This is what they used to do to witches they threw rocks at 'em tied 'em up and burned 'em!"

Nice kid. He throws like a girl.

One day Grandpa started acting all weird and made everyone uncomfortable by putting on a black robe and staring at them. After that, Grandpa went away to the home.
The infamous Jack-O poem. Sing it if you know it!
"Please, noooo!" Kid's being buried alive and he sounds like the girl at Starbucks told him they were all out of low fat milk.
The funniest five seconds in the whole movie. And it'll take about five seconds to download. Still think you can't do video clips on a 56k?
After waking from a terrible nightmare, Sean sits up, stares off into space for a minute and — wait for it — blinks. As the film progressed, Sean seemed less like a child actor and more like a child held in the hypnotic thrall of a vampire.

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Created by J.R. "Thor" Antrim. Content copyright © 2003-2004. All rights reserved.
Created by J.R. "Thor" Antrim. Content Copyright © 2003-2005. All rights reserved.