It Has Been Found: THE HACKERS (1988) Review

Ah, the late-eighties. The magical time period when any schmuck with a camera, a few foolish friends, some ketchup, and lots of beer could make their own horror movie using a home movie camera, then have it distributed by some bottom-of-the-barrel distributor. What a great time period. Of course, now I always feel obligated to track down these chunks of garbage and watch them, and a lot of them are really hard to find! Case in point: The Hackers. No, not that nineties movie about the computer hackers! This is pure late-eighties dumpster material. Well, I finally managed to pull it out of the shadows and watch it so you don’t have to. Is it any good, you ask? Do you even need an answer?

THE HACKERS (1988) Review


The movie opens with a hitchhiker walking along a back road, when a jeep passes by, then…CHOP! Off goes his thumb! Turns out the jeep belongs to the Hackers, and one of them just sliced off that poor hitchhikers thumb with a hunting knife (what an asshole!). The Hackers are a family consisting of an old man, A.J. Hacker, and his two sons, Arnie and Eldon, who make a living by doing odd jobs around town (and doing them poorly, at that), and if you don’t pay up, they live up to their name. The three get hired to do some repair work around a rich person’s house, who has left for the weekend and left his friend to housesit. The Hackers begin tormenting her, until she’s forced to fight back in a brutal struggle to survive.


The Hackers, like most SOV movies, is one odd duck. It started off promising enough, with a funny opening and a killer theme song (yes, this movie has a theme song, further proving my theory that no matter what the budget, any movie can afford its own title song), but it slowly begins to go downhill from there. Fast-paced killing dissolves into father-sons bonding time, speeches on how the family will survive, trips to the playground (yes), and the taunting of a random woman on a rope bridge that goes nowhere. Thankfully, there are some fun kills peppered throughout (one fellow who insults the two gets his throat cut open with a beer mug).


The movie spends so much time following the family going around doing what amounts to nothing that what I assume is the driving plot (them terrorizing the girl in the house) seems like an afterthought. This is also one of the weakest parts of the movie, because it’s also very dull. It attempts to create suspense, yet doesn’t accomplish it in the slightest. It all ends with a terrible “Was it all a dream?” ending that is sure to induce a lengthy groan from even the stupidest film-viewer.


The acting wasn’t very good (nor did I expect it to be), but I’ve seen much, much worse in other SOV movies (believe me). There really aren’t any characters to root for either, because the Hackers are antagonists, and the girl is rushed into the story so fast it’s impossible to see her as a likable character. The gore effects were much better than I expected, though. There are a few pretty good severed heads and other forms of machete mayhem on display, but nothing too gutsy.


The world of SOV movies is like a sack full of poisonous snakes, with a few friendly ones casually thrown in. Every time you stick your hand in, you’re probably going to get bitten. But once in a while, you’ll get a good one. The Hackers is better than some SOV movies I’ve seen (Cannibal Campout, I’m looking at you), but it’s definitely one of the poisonous snakes. It starts off well, and gradually gets less and less fun as it continues until it hits the rock bottom of tedium. Yeah, there’s enough gore, bad music, and other nonsense to keep one entertained through most of the journey, but it’s just not enough. The Hackers was one of the hardest VHS tapes to find (only 3,000 tapes were produced), but I did, and I remembered that sometimes, movies languish in obscurity for a reason. However, if you’re hellbent on seeing this (God knows why), Camelot Studios, the company that released in the first place, have made it available on DVD to order from their site, as well as a movie poster (!). For more information, click here:

The Verdict: The Hackers does exactly what you’d expect from a 1988 SOV movie; nothing more, nothing less. If you’re into that, it’s worth a look, but don’t get angry if you’re not thrilled with the outcome.

Score: 4/10

Watch the unbelievably stupid playground scene:

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