Plot: The Halloween Pumpkin Prom should have been a magical night for the students of Alfred Hitchcock High School, but instead a lunatic known as the Lawnmower Killer went on a murderous rampage and killed several students. Now thirteen years have passed, but the town is still haunted by the maniac’s horrific deeds, especially Mary (Julia Duffy), who lost her older sister in the killing spree. As if traumatic memories and lost loved ones weren’t enough, a mental patient has escaped from the asylum and people seem to think it might be the Lawnmower Killer on the loose again. This is where Dick Harbinger (Joe Don Baker) comes in, a sloppy and incoherent detective who is going to take down the infamous murderer, no matter what it takes. As the entire town spirals into chaos and red herrings, can Dick solve the case that plagues him and can anyone survive the killer’s next round of slaughter?
Entertainment Value: This is pure, absolute craziness that more than lives up to the title, as Wacko delivers a constant stream of ridiculous moments and oddball touches that almost defy description. The movie is packed with puns, bad jokes, and beyond over the top performances, so I can see why it alienates a good portion of viewers, but I had a total blast with this one. I appreciate bad jokes in the right setting and Wacko has so much enthusiasm pulsing through its veins, I couldn’t help but have fun, even in the most groan inducing moments. I loved Joe Don Baker as the outlandish detective, as he really goes for broke here and embraces even the silliest aspect of the material, a trait most of his costars follow suit in. Baker was the standout for me, but George Kennedy, Stella Stevens, Julia Duffy, Elizabeth Daily, and even Andrew Dice Clay all run with the goofiness, to hilarious ends. If the cast wasn’t so game, I don’t think Wacko would have worked nearly this well, but the performers really go for it and dial up the already wild material to another level. Of course, you have to appreciate this bizarre kind of humor, otherwise this might seem like total nonsense or a bad vaudeville routine, which to be fair, it often is. But I think Wacko is immense fun and has a strange, infectious energy that I can’t help but give it a high recommendation.
No nakedness. The movie has a lot of teen sex comedy vibes, but evades the nudity and sticks with innuendos. This includes some very odd scenarios, including some creepy, hilarious moments with George Kennedy, who insists he is just mowing the lawn, not spying on his teen daughter. So no skin, but a good amount of awkward sex humor and that is always fun. This is a horror movie at heart, but a slapstick, over the top comedy at heart as well, so while some violence unfolds, it is comedic in nature. Any bloodshed is low rent, super fake, and played for laughs, such as George Kennedy’s surgical routine, so gore isn’t a factor here. The dialogue is through the roof however, with a steady run of awkward lines, bad jokes, and just out of left field exchanges. As I said before, you need a certain sense of humor to appreciate this kind of schlock/vaudeville blend, but I think it is consistently hilarious, for one reason or another. I like the unpredictable vibe of the characters and conversations, as you never know what someone might say or how someone will react. This one has melodrama, dysfunction, and all kinds of social mishaps in just about every scene. As for craziness, Wacko dials up the wackiness into the stratosphere and beyond, with not just outlandish dialogue, ridiculous characters, and constant nonsense, but surreal and just mind melting moments as well, literally anything can and does happen in this one. So while you expect the wackiness, it is the volume and variety of pure insanity that runs up the score.
Overall Insanity: 10/10
The Disc: Vinegar Syndrome has graced Wacko with the red carpet treatment, complete with a new 4k scan from the original camera negative. This label consistently blows my mind with the visual magic they’re able to create and Wacko is no exception, this movie looks fantastic here. The print looks nearly pristine, cleaner than I ever expected, but the natural grain is still present throughout. This leads to superb fine detail and in truth, I can’t imagine how Wacko could look better and I imagine this will stand as the film’s definitive release. The extras include director’s Greydon Clark’s memories via an audio commentary track, a brief interview with cinematographer Nicolas von Sternberg, never before seen outtakes, and the film’s trailer.