Friday, May 21, 2010

Jack-O aka Jack O' Lantern (1995)

Jack-O (1995) is the third in a trio of movies directed by Steve Latshaw in the early-to-mid 1990s (along with Dark Universe and Biohazard: The Alien Force). The film was straight-to-TV and video, and was later rereleased in 2005 as a special-edition DVD.


The film details the Kelly family living in the fictional town of Oakmoor Crossing, just before and during Halloween. The family, consisting of father David, mother Linda, and son Sean, live a normal suburban life, but are eventually visited by a stranger who indentifies herself as Vivian Machen. Both the Machens and the Kellys have a long ancestral history in Oakmoor Crossing, and Vivian reveals that one of the Kelly's ancestors hanged a supposed warlock named Walter Machen, who raised up a pumpkin-headed demon, Jack-O, from hell to take revenge on the Kellys. The Kelly ancestor ended up burying the demon in a shallow grave, but through the antics of several teenagers Jack-O is raised again and seeks revenge on the Kellys.

Cast and Crew

The film features few recognizable actors; however, several popular low-budget film staples are present. Linnea Quigley and Rebecca Wicks play dominant roles, and John Carradine makes a poorly-spliced cameo because he died years before the film's production began.

Steve Latshaw had several cast and crew members that joined him on all three of his major projects during the early 1990s. Fred Olen Ray was the producer for all three of Steve Latshaw's films, and Patrick Moran, who played Jack-O, had writing credits on all three as well. As well, Rebecca Wicks and Catherine Walsh both appeared in Jack-O and Biohazard: The Alien Force. And Ryan Latshaw, the director's son, appeared in all three of Steve Latshaw's early-90s films.

Critical Response

Jack-O has received much negative publicity, many critics citing it as a poorly-acted and scripted horror film. Nevertheless, the film received a 10th Anniversary edition DVD release, with commentary by Steve Latshaw and Fred Olen Ray, and numerous other special features, including the original "theatrical" trailer, and film from a failed project by Steve Latshaw known as "Gator Babes."

The commentary includes Steve Latshaw screaming furiously at Fred Olen Ray over Ray's laughing criticisms at the film. There is a definite feeling of tension between the two as the commentary progresses, and it climaxes as Latshaw storms out of the room, audibly slamming the door behind him. He later returned and apologized before the film ended, but the two were arguing again by the credits.

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