13 Weeks of Halloween: Jack O Lantern (2004)

My favorite subject to write about is Halloween (further reading may be found here ) and as candy and decorations begin to creep into the stores it’s gloriously apparent that the season is once again upon us. If you’re like me you’re overjoyed and I thought I’d celebrate by delving into some of my favorite cinematic tales of Halloween, as well as some that I’ve never seen before, including a few big films that will be released over the fall. Check back every Monday through Halloween for a new entry in my 13 weeks of Halloween!

Jack O Lantern is one of those movies I missed along the way. I remember seeing it in our local video stores and thought about giving it a shot but given the raw, independent nature of this one, I can see why I passed (in lieu of the hundreds of other sub-par horror films I readily consumed in my younger days.) With a matured palate for independent (ie. B-Movie and in this case C-Movie) horror this one made me nostalgic for the days before Redbox. The days when indie films like Jack O Lantern could end up in the hands of Lionsgate studios and in turn, in your local video store.
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Jack O Lantern is the brainchild of writer/director Ron McLellen, a true horror fanatic. He wrote directed and edited the film himself in what can only be described as the Citizen Cain of passion projects. For everything it lacked in production quality it made up for with storytelling, some solid performances and most importantly heart, obviously working out of a deep love for the genre. While avoiding bared breasts useless screaming heroines and over- the-top gore(the only thing over-the-top being the acting, more on that in a second), McLellen still struck upon many of the tropes of 90’s monster movies and the glossy teen horror alike. Think Pumpkinhead meets I Know What You Did Last Summer and throw in a little Toxic Avenger for good measure.

That being said, this was by no means a subtle movie. It is played out in a very grandiose way, largely due to the inexperience of the cast and crew but partly because of McLellens over-the-top, twisty-turny script. It’s a tribute painted with wide strokes under which it’s many influences are apparent if not entirely ripped off. Despite these flaws Jack O Lantern had fun moments and a big ass HR Puffenstuff-level monster so I would recommend it to my fellow hardcore horror fans only and even you guys might want to have a few beers first.

Check back next week as I revisit 1999’s Idle Hands for the first time in about 15 years, if you have a favorite/obscure Halloween flick leave it in the comments below, it just might make my list!

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