Oct 30, 2012


Shitty Flicks is an ongoing column that celebrates the most hilariously incompetent, amusingly pedestrian, and mind-bogglingly stupid movies ever made by people with a bit of money, some prior porn-directing experience, and no clue whatsoever. It is here you will find unrestrained joy in movies meant to terrify and thrill, but instead poke at your funny bone with their weird, mutant camp-girl penis.

WARNING: I tend to give away major plot points and twist endings in my reviews because, whatever. Shut up.

Jack-O is as dumb a movie as they come. It’s about a pumpkin monster that comes back from the dead and stalks a bunch of random suburbanites. And we’re not even talking about a movie like, say, Pumpkinhead, which had the same plot, but was reasonably entertaining, and starred the cool-as-hell Lance Henriksen. We’re talking about a movie called Jack-O.

The movie begins, and believe me, if you’re already laughing at how incredibly cheap and cheesy the opening titles are - quivery orange font punctuated by a roaring cartoon pumpkin that flies at the screen - then grab your candy corn and settle on in, because you’re going to love this movie. I'd compare it to an elementary class video prepared for Halloween by Mr. Fletcher, the weird English teacher, but I'd hate to offend him.

The fattest man in the world sits opposite a roaring campfire and entertains a measly boy with tales of spooks and things of Halloween past. Who this man is, or what his relationship is to this boy, remains unknown, but the amount of overacting the man commits against the audience is matched only by the amount of underacting coming from the small boy. The fat man carves a jack-o-lantern and hands it to the small boy, who actually looks genuinely terrified of it.

Note to small boy: You've been on-screen for less than one minute and already I want to break your glasses.

The fat man continues to assault us with creeps and boos. And then he hits us with this limerick of terror:
Mr. Jack will break your back,
and cut off your head with a whack whack WHACK!
The pumpkin man will steal your soul,
snap it up and swallow it whole.
Then just as quick before you die,
the pumpkin man will steal your eyes.
As the fat man continues his scaretastic tale, a hooded figure, a woman, appears in the woods, listening as the fat man oozes fatness and spook.

We take a quick break from all the fear to let the credits roll, and despite how the incredibly low budget gives the movie the look of a cheap family film you might stumble upon one night at your local library, the presence of Linnea Quigley’s name should assure that you, if nothing else, you’re gonna get some titties.

The credits end and we're right back to having to deal with this fat bastard who looks to be a pencil-thin mustache away from being Jon Polito's long-lost brother.

According to legend, long ago, an old wizard/killer (John Carradine, who had died several years before this movie was even shot, but whose footage was still shamelessly utilized) was hunted by some local townsmen for his unwarranted use of magic, or something.

The wizard cursed the town and summoned a demon monster called Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man (which is what I am going to call him every single time he shows up during the movie, because that’s just too wonderful not to say every five minutes). Well, Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man came ‘round and started earning that rockin’ nursery rhyme. One of the cursed men had been an ancestor of this pathetic little boy, and this is important to note, because it will make the plot about Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man coming back from the dead that much more cogent.

We’re then forced to watch a flashback where we learn that this descendant of the little wormy kid had successfully thwarted Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man’s murderous ways, thus cursing his family forever.

The next day, Sean Kelly, descendant of the dead Kelly clan and all around nerdlinger, walks home with a little prick boy, who teases Sean about Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man’s imminent arrival in their sleepy town. I guess everyone knows who he is. He must have a twitter.

goin back to cursed town 2nite, gonna eat some bones, 
holla @TheGreatPumpkin

Suddenly, the hooded figure we saw earlier in the movie drives past the kids. The bully shouts that she is a witch, and they duck and hide behind a tree. The bully begins throwing rocks at the witch’s car, which according to him, was something done to witches (but not their sedans) in the old days. Sean stops the bully from throwing rocks at the witch’s car, and they have a brief hugging fight.

The witch breaks up the little fight and drives Sean home, stopping to admire Sean’s father’s sign advertising his haunted garage.

“I’d love to see your spook house,” says the woman.

Wouldn’t we all?

The witch woman, real name Vivian, says she is researching a book on the town, and that’s all this family needs to hear in order to welcome this stranger into their home for hours on end.

Sean has a nightmare about John Carradine, old-timey people dying, and the titular Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man. It’s so scary that I have to stop the movie and lean on one knee to steady my breathing and count slowly back from ten. Finally my beating heart subsides and I hit play, promising to pace myself throughout the rest of this mercilessly terrifying film.

We are then introduced to three teenage kids, who are snapping open beers, trespassing, and wearing plaid.

-"This is what you picked out for mom, dude?"
-"Oh, like she'll even care, dude. She's DEAD."

“This used to be the Kelly farm!” says one of the boys. “I saw it on a map in the library!”

They find the grave of Daniel Kelly, who died in 1915, along with several other tombstones. They then snap open another beer, and their scene ends (for now).

Back at home with the Kellys, Sean watches a creepy film hosted by Dr. Cadaver. The filmmakers go out of their way to make the fake movie-within-the-movie schlocky and absurd, but honestly, it doesn’t hold a candle to the movie that is book-ending the fake movie-within-the-movie. The movie Jack-O.

Before you can say, “Tits? Where?”, we get tits: Linnea Quigley’s Caroline slowly massaging her tits in the obligatory shower scene. It’s a nice break from all the non-horror and non-intrigue that has been prevalent in the movie so far. And once the tit-soaping is done, we get inner thigh-soaping, and we stay on this for a long time, for this film was made by a true artisan of our time.

Sean Kelly’s mother calls Caroline, trying to recruit her babysitting services on Halloween night.

As soon as Caroline begins talking, it becomes terribly obvious why Linnea Quigley strips naked and massages her tits in every movie she’s in: she’s good at it (but not acting).

Caroline says she will recommend a friend of hers to help with the babysitting duties. Let’s hope it’s not Mrs. Jack, The Pumpkin Broad! (LOL)

Across the street from Caroline, a bunch of upright Christians watch TV and complain about their busty neighbor. They seem plain, annoying, and without personalities, which is supposed to be the writer’s idea of the uptight Christian archetype, but if that’s the case, then every single person in this movie so far has been an uptight Christian.

Back with the annoying teenagers, they fuck with some graves and cause thunder and lightning, which to me means they have woken up Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man. A large pumpkin-headed man with glowing orange eyes, blue shirt, and a gaunt, nonthreatening stature climbs out of the ground. He looks as if he should be standing outside an A.C. Moore during the autumn season, inviting folks to buy some pumpkin beads at 30% off.

As the teens snap open beer after beer, and trade too-loud kiss after too-loud kiss, Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man crawls out of his grave, retrieves his handy scythe from wherever it was, and does some teenage face-slashing.

The girl manages to escape, which is good, because now she can run for a little bit, scream, fall, and then die, having prolonged her death roughly seven seconds.

Up until her shocking death, I can assure you, the tension was palpable. So palpable I got up to take a leak and follow that weird chirping noise that I think was coming from behind my radiator.

Vivian, who had been walking through the woods, stumbles across the dead bodies, and then retrieves a shovel to, I assume, cover up the dead bodies.


The alluring mysteries of Jack-O are too complex for this world.

The next morning, Caroline shows up to the Kelly residence with her baby-sitter replacement, Julie. Caroline spies Mr. Kelly positioning a skeleton in the yard, so she walks over to say hello, all the while looking haggard.

“You’re like a little boy with all this stuff,” she says.

“I guess it makes me feel young,” he sheepishly responds.

“I like little boys,” she says, as I laugh out loud.

As Mr. Kelly disturbingly makes eyes at Caroline, Sean wanders over to check out Caroline’s friend’s motorcycle. Jim, the cyclist, tells Sean to hop on, and the trip they take around the block is slow, safe, and responsible. The Kellys flip out, anyway, and make Sean go inside.

Thank God for that scene.

Later that night - HALLOWEEN NIGHT - the witch Vivian brings over a book of old things and shows the Kellys a picture of some “creepy looking old guy,” aka John Carradine. Sean says that he’d seen him before in his dreams. The witch glares at him in response, as Mr. Kelly waves away the boy’s fear. He’s also dressed as Dracula, which makes the scene even that much more fantastic.

As Halloween continues, some trick-or-treaters show up to the uptight Christians’ house with their goodie bags open, awaiting delicious treats.

“Does this look like a candy store?” asks the uptight husband to the kids.

“That guy’s creepier than Dr. Cadaver!” states the boy emphatically (although this would be an appropriate remark if "creepy" meant "an asshole". And if Dr. Cadaver had previously been "an asshole"). No matter, however, as a good old-fashioned toilet-papering of the uptight Christians' house will settle all matters.

Meanwhile, at the Kelly haunted garage of horror, Mr. Kelly prepares his various Halloween props for the night's festivities. “We aim to spook!” he says to his fog machine in his best Dracula voice. It’s so convincing that I bundle my Slanket around me in fear.

Just kidding.

I spend my money on Jack-O. Not Slankets.

The doorbell rings and Mr. Kelly goofily lunges into the scene. “Sounds like our first batch of trick-or-treaters. Everyone try to look spooky!” But it’s only Caroline and Julie, who show up to take Sean trick-or-treating.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man finally decides to be in his own movie, and scythes the uptight Christian husband through his cream-colored sweater. Uptight Christian wife sees her husband’s dead body and grabs a knife off the counter, which she then jams into the toaster after slipping and is attacked by terrible blue-green lightning bolts, which turn her into a quivering muppet.

"Sean, your babysitter is here. You be nice to him
and don't stare at his rind."

Caroline and Sean trick-or-treat at the house of the fat man whom we met in the beginning of the story, and we see that he has dressed up as The Fat Asshole Phantom of the Opera. He makes joke after joke and he loudly guffaws in Sean’s face, as Sean and Caroline look completely disinterested in the current goings-on of the scene.

And before you can say “obnoxious close-up of tits” we get just that, although for just a few seconds. Julie and Jim canoodle in the woods, but Julie quickly covers up, having heard a woodsy-noise in the woodsy environment they are in, and Jim drives off, bitter, and blue-balled.

As kids run shrieking from Mr. Kelly’s spook house claiming to have seen a monster, and despite the fact that that’s the FUCKING POINT, Mr. Kelly goes in anyway to see if there is something else in there more terrifying than just wet spaghetti and mummy hands. Seeing nothing, he successfully spills every paint can he owns and is forced to shut down his spook show.

Meanwhile, Julie’s boyfriend comes back to get her and runs afoul of Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man, who promptly decapitates the kid with his scythe. Julie runs, coming across a cable guy, and she pleads for his help. Well, help her he does: by dying.

Thanks cable guy, aka Steve Latshaw, the film’s director.

Also, fuck you.

Mr. Kelly, out looking for Sean, thankfully runs into the fat man, who is out walking his dog.

“HA HA HA,” says the fat man after everything line of dialogue he delivers. “HA HA HA.”

Soak it up, kids—this is the last time fat man will appear.

Mr. Kelly then heads back to the house, unsuccessful, and is yelled at.

“Where have you been?” cries Mrs. Kelly.

“I went out looking for Sean,” responds Mr. Kelly. “Didn’t Vivian tell you?”

They both look over at Vivian, who sits stiffly on the couch, looking at them out of the corner of her eye.

Seriously, Kellys, why did you even invite her over?

Vivian finally succumbs to peer pressure and spills about her quest to defeat the pumpkin demon, and of Sean’s ties to the demon as well. She reveals that not only are the Kellys descendants of the family responsible for putting Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man to rest the first time around, but that Vivian herself is a descendant of the evil wizard that was killed. She hopes, with the aid of the Kelly family, to put Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man to rest for good.

And you know what? The Kellys don’t believe her. Not at all.

Then, they find a head.

Then, they do.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man bonks Caroline on her bean with his tool and knocks her out, and then proceeds to chase Sean through town.

Sean makes it to his front door, but Mr. Jack-O is hot on his feels, and for two seconds, the film cruelly suggests that Sean has been eviscerated, as blood-like goo sloshes against the front windows.

“It’s just juice,” Vivian claims.

Thank God.

Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man takes Sean out to the old Kelly farm in the woods to sacrifice him. He lies down in one of the open graves as Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man shovels dirt on top of him.

“Nooo,” Sean barely manages, unable to depict what “scared” must be like. Sean stops moving, and while I wish for death, Vivian shows up with a magical pendant and commands Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man back to hell.

And it works!

Wait, no it doesn’t. Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man vivisects Vivian and tosses her painfully-obvious dummy body off-screen.

As the Kellys fight for their son, Sean crawls out of the grave, grabs a wooden cross made out of branches, and holds the pointy end up.

“Come get me, pumpkin man!” Sean mutters, and Mr. Kelly lunges at Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man from behind, impaling him on the very-pointy cross. Mr. Jack, The Pumpkin Man explodes into a sea of really bad mid-'90s neon special effects and vanishes.

As the Kellys walk home, Julie (remember her?) crawls out from her hiding space and helps up an awakening Caroline. Then they reunite with the Kellys and they all walk down the street together.

“Do I have to go trick-or-treating next year?” Sean asks.

Yeah Sean, you do.

Get over it.

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