Wacko – Blu-ray review
By Brian M. Sammons
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, George Kennedy
Horror spoofs existed long before the 2000’s and the train of Scary Movies. You can point the wayback dial towards the 1940s and all the Abbott and Costello Meet… but for me, when it comes to horror spoofs I will always thing of the 1980s. There is the classic Student Bodies, to the flawed but still fun National Lampoon’s Class Reunion, from the hidden gem of Pandemonium to the family friendly Saturday the 14th. But perhaps the most hidden of all is Wacko from 1982, despite it having Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, George Kennedy and a very early in his career Andrew Dice Clay in it. So is this a grievous oversight or a flick best left forgotten? Well the excellent collectors of cult cinema, Vinegar Syndrome, has just put out the long lost movie as a Blu-ray and DVD dual pack, is it worth a get? Let’s find out.
One night a guy in a jack o lantern mask (made from a real pumpkin) takes a large lawnmower and runs over a teen couple at the Halloween Pumpkin Prom, right in front of the girl’s little sister, thus cementing the name of the murderer as The Lawnmower Killer. 13 years later and the little sister is now in high school, it’s time for her Pumpkin Prom, and wouldn’t you know it, the Lawnmower killer is back. So the setup is basic slasher 101 with a mystery of who is behind the pumpkin mask. Is it the girl’s boyfriend who sounds like a lawnmower whenever he gets excited? Could it be the down on his luck police detective who has never stopped chasing after the Lawnmower Killer? What about the nameless madman who recently escaped for the local asylum? Then there’s the girl’s father who likes to peek in on his daughters when they are undressed. Uh, yeah.
The comedy in Wacko runs from slapstick to puny, from broad and stupid some surprisingly clever. Me, I liked the fact that the school the girl went to Hitchcock High and their rival De Palma High. There’s a bit about a dream sequence that doesn’t add anything to the story and the typical red herring weird janitor. There are nods to all the major slashers at the time as well as The Omen, Psycho, and other films I wouldn’t expect to be referenced in this. And then there are a bunch of fart and boner jokes to balance things out. So hey there’s a little bit of something for everyone in here.
On to the extras on this new BD/DVD two pack from Vinegar Syndrome. First there is an audio commentary with director Greydon Clark that I found very surprising. There is an interview with cinematographer Nicholas Von Sternber that runs for seven minutes. There is a collection of outtakes and deleted scenes but sadly they don’t come with any audio. Lastly there is the theatrical trailer. So considering the age of this movie and how obscure it is, that is an impressive list of goodies included on this release.
Wacko is a product of its time so younger audiences may find it somewhat lacking or not get all of the jokes. However if you grew up in the 80s, or are just a huge fan of movies from that golden age of horror, I think most of the humor will land and you’ll have a good time with this one. Since I am of that age, I liked it a lot and so can easily recommend it.