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WACKO

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: As I’ve written here before, the films that are selected for Blu-ray upgrades by various independent video labels are occasionally unfathomable. There are still a lot of fine flicks that have yet to receive a decent DVD release, much less Blu-ray, while some pretty awful titles show up on a regular basis. Such is the case with this one, now on Blu-ray on the Vinegar Syndrome label, a company that specializes in campy (read: ‘bad’) movies, primarily of the horror/exploitation variety. Go figure. Below is my review, published in the Deseret News on May 17, 1983.

Horror spoofs are not uncommon. They’ve been around nearly as long as horror movies themselves. From “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein” to “Love at First Bite,” they crop up every now and again to make fun of the latest trends in scare fare.

But lately, there seem to be a lot more of them all at once, with the recent “Student Bodies,” which tried to do for “slasher” films what “Airplane!” did to disaster films, and “Saturday the 14th,” a similar entry, though it concentrated more on old creature features. And cable subscription stations lately have been showing “Witches’ Brew,” “Full Moon High” and “Pandemonium,” all horror movie spoofs in one way or another.

And now there’s “Wacko.”

Though already a poorly conceived, written and directed film, “Wacko” most prominently suffers from the same problem that plagues all of these recent efforts — it simply tries to spoof too much.

     

   Stella Stevens, George Kennedy, 'Wacko'

If you are any kind of movie fan you’ll recognize jokes aimed at “Psycho,” “Carrie,” “Halloween,” “Prom Night,” “The Omen,” “The Exorcist,” “Alien” — even “The Elephant Man,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “The Jerk.”

To call this a mixed bag is to understate. But we probably wouldn’t mind if it were at all funny.

It’s not.

The stars are the two teenage leads, Julia Duffy and Scott McGinnis, as jerks who plan to make love for the first time after the Halloween Pumpkin Prom at their school, Alfred Hitchcock High.

The prom is scheduled after the football game against Brian De Palma High. But the Lawnmower Killer, who does his victims in with power mowers, is on the loose, and Duffy is emotionally scarred from having seen the killer do his work several years before.

Duffy’s parents are played by George Kennedy and Stella Stevens, and the detective pursuing the killer is Joe Don Baker, all of whom obviously took the money and ran.

     

                Joe Don Baker, 'Wacko'

Kennedy and Stevens make the idiot parents in most of these kinds of movies look like real sharpies in comparison, but this whole film is played so broadly that overkill sets in immediately. In fairness, I should say that Kennedy does help a couple of his bits become mildly humorous, but in the context of a film that is such a total mess as this one, it doesn’t matter.

To put it in perspective, “Student Bodies” started out hilariously, but ran out of steam in the first half-hour. “Wacko” begins out of steam.

I did spot Elizabeth Daily in a small role (as “Bambi”), wasting the tremendous talent she displayed in “Street Music,” and here and there a joke might have worked if the direction were better (I enjoyed the idea of Norman Bates and his mother, with McGinnis using a skeleton as if it was a ventriloquist’s dummy).

Despite “Wacko’s” R rating (though the press kit states it is rated PG), the film is relatively tame in terms of content, but the plethora of crude jokes, vulgarities, lame spoofery and just plain dumb plot devices make “Wacko” even worse than most.

ANOTHER EDITOR’S NOTE: On the Internet Movie Database the film is listed as being rated PG and on Amazon it’s shown to be rated R. The Classification and Rating Administration, which rates the movies, confirms that it carries an R rating.