Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Wacko Hurray for Halloween
Year: 1982
Director: Greydon Clark
Stars: Joe Don Baker, Stella Stevens, George Kennedy, Julia Duffy, Scott McGinnis, E.G. Daily, Michele Tobin, Andrew Dice Clay, Anthony James, Sonny Carl Davis, David Drucker, Jeff Altman, Wil Albert, Charles Napier
Genre: Horror, Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is Halloween, on Prom Night, on the thirteenth anniversary of the infamous Lawnmower murders. As a child Mary Graves (Julia Duffy) witnessed her older sister’s grisly death at the hands of the pumpkin-masked Lawnmower Killer. Now a senior at Alfred Hitchcock High School, Mary is eager to lose her virginity to doting boyfriend Norman Bates (Scott McGinnis). Following the escape of a mysterious bald, half-naked inmate from the local insane asylum, dogged police detective Dick Harbinger (Joe Don Baker) suspects the Lawnmower Killer will strike again. Thirteen years ago Harbinger swore he would not rest until he arrested the elusive madman and literally hasn’t slept a wink since. With the cranky, bleary-eyed, caffeinated cop on the case, Mary and her friends hit the prom, unaware the Lawnmower Killer lies in wait.

Wacko was among a handful of slasher movie spoofs released in the early Eighties alongside the hilarious Student Bodies (1981) directed by Woody Allen cohort Mickey Rose, Pandemonium (1982) an amusing parody from offbeat horror auteur Alfred Sole and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982). It was evidently obvious to many that the genre had already lapsed into self-parody anyway, although these shrewd satires did nothing to stem its continuing decline in quality throughout the decade with straggling items like Bloody Pom Poms (1988) and the ever-worsening Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. Versatile journeyman Greydon Clark got his start as an actor as part of the stock company of infamous schlock merchant Al Adamson before going on to become one of the more engaging exploitation filmmakers of the Seventies and Eighties. His most notable works include the good-naturedly trashy likes of Black Shampoo (1976), Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) and, a personal favourite, the alien-in-the-woods classic Without Warning (1980). Here Clark assembles an exceptional cast who inhabit their ridiculous roles with gusto performing comedy so broad it makes the Three Stooges look like Alan Bennett.

Co-written by an intriguing array of future big league scribes including Jim Kouf who went on to pen comedy cop capers Stakeout (1987) and Rush Hour (1998) as well as cult sci-fi favourite The Hidden (1988) under the pseudonym Bob Hunt, Dana Olsen writer of Joe Dante’s excellent The ’Burbs (1988) and the less-than-great Inspector Gadget (1999), and most notably David Greenwalt, writer-producer-director on seminal shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as well as the more recent fairytale-themed Grimm, Wacko is a predictably hit-and-miss affair. Its humour wavers from riotously funny into the downright surreal including a frankly unsavoury running gag wherein doting dad George Kennedy - in a dry run for his role in The Naked Gun (1988) - keeps spying on his scantily clad daughter, Mary. Indeed the film displays a troubling prediliction for scenes with middle-aged men leching on teenage girls as Detective Harbinger indulges in a steamy clinche with a nymphet played by prolific voice-over actress E.G. Daily in the midst of a high speed car chase!

Other memorably bizarre moments include the doo-wop chorus that inexplicably accompany school stud Tony Schlongini (stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay, in his film debut), the mad scientist named Dr. Moreau (Victor Brandt) who transforms the school football team into snarling beast men and the Vice Principal (another stand-up comic, Jeff Altman then fresh off the infamous J-pop variety show Pink Lady and Jeff!) who acts like a televangelist. For all the jokes that drop like lead balloons, there are enough to amuse jaded horror fans such as the moment one suspect remarks: “So this is the classic throw suspicion on the perverted gardener scene?” Sitcom stalwart Julia Duffy makes a delightfully daffy heroine but there are memorable moments from co-stars Scott McGinnis (whose Norman Bates performs a ventriloquist act with his mother’s mummified corpse!), the aforementioned Elizabeth Daily (in a ridiculous stalking scene),Charles Napier (as Harbinger’s flustered superior), Stella Stevens (as Mary’s mom), and Clu Gulager. Look out for former child star turned exploitation regular Darby Hinton in a small role as a sarcastic cop. The finale goes wildly off the rails (what is with the talking elephant?) but Mary’s absurdly prolonged cat-and-mouse with the Lawnmower Killer is pretty funny (“You asshole, why can’t you stay dead?”).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 3996 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: