Jack-o-lanterns are an iconic symbol for Halloween, just as decorated pine trees are symbols for Christmas. However, in more horror-centric works, there is a way of turning this common decoration into something horrific: having the lantern be made from somebody's head.
So, how does one usually do this? Well, it's simple! First, kill somebody and cut their head off. Then, make a hole or remove part of the skull in order to scoop out the brains. Next, feel free to carve up the head, maybe cut out the eyes, nose, or other bits of the face in order to make it look more Halloween-y. Finally, put a candle or some sort of light to make it a true lantern.
As you can see, only really messed up psychos with iron stomachs will do this. Or, on rare occasions, the carver could be blind and not know what they're carving.
A Sub-Trope of Human Resources and a version of Decapitation Presentation. Not to be confused with Throat Light and definitely should not be confused with Pumpkin Person or Stingy Jack, as the two former tropes are about people with pumpkins/jack-o-lanterns for heads, while this trope describes unfortunate people getting their heads turned into jack-o-lanterns via crude mutilation. This is a Death Trope, so expect unmarked spoilers.
- Halloween: Nightdance reveals that Michael Myers had done this to the wife of the deuteragonist, Ryan, who found her body pinned to the wall of Michael's hideout, with her head hollowed out in order to have space for a candle, her eyes gone, and a Glasgow Grin inflicted on her face.
- EC Comics' Shock SuspenStories issue #2 has the story "Halloween!" A woman comes to work at a miserable, underfunded orphanage. She tries to make things as nice for the kids as she can, and when they want a jack-o-lantern for Halloween, she goes to the office of the head of the orphange... and finds out he's been embezzling funds for years. When she threatens to expose him, he threatens her life— and the kids rally to save her. And get their jack-o-lantern.
- Dredd: Judge Dredd does a much more improvised version of this trope when dealing with a hostage taker, firing a flare straight into the bad guy's mouth and cooking his skull from the inside-out. And we get to see it all.
- Bad Apples: When Ella comes to at the end of the movie, she discovers that the girls have killed her husband, carved a jack-o-lantern face into his torso, and hollowed it out to stick a candle in it.
- Carved (2018): At the end, some trick-or-treaters come up to the house, and see the family's daughter's severed head on the porch, with a jack-o-lantern face carved into her own.
- In Halloween (2018), Michael Myers murders two police officers, decapitates one of them, then hollows out and mutilates the man's head to look like a jack-o-lantern, complete with light emitting from a flashlight shoved into the head. Then he places the jack-o-lantern in the other officer's lap, and drives the patrol car containing the remains of the cops to the front of Laurie's house, which lures Ray into Michael's clutches.
- Tales of Halloween: In "Friday of 31st", the Serial Killer has mounted the head of one of his victims inside a jack-o'-lantern.
- Terrifier. Art the Clown does this to a pizza shop owner after the latter kicks him out of his shop for covering the bathroom in his own shit.
- Trick 'r Treat has Principal Wilkins and his son Billy carve a jack-o-lantern from the severed head of Charlie, who was killed by the former with poisoned chocolate.
- Happy!: Nick kills Smoothie this way in the Season 2 finale after being brought Back from the Dead and tracking him down in a suburban neighbourhood, putting his smiling head alongside a pile of actual jack-o-lanterns. The psychotic smile he already had on made it unnecessary for Nick to do anymore carving to his head.
- In the Halloween episode of Psychoville, Joy Aston does this to her husband George after he slips on a toy car and cracks his head on the floor, killing himself. She puts the rest of his body in the recycling bins because he got mad when she made a mess of the house.
- Even when he's not scary as The Undertaker, Bray Wyatt makes a great work as "The New Face of Fear". After being various years absent, he came back in 2019 as the FireFly Fun House presenter with a dark side, the monster called The Fiend. When Wyatt appears in events as The Fiend, he uses a Jack-O-Lantern with the head of his past persona◊.
- This fate happens to Mime in a Halloween short from Happy Tree Friends. While trick-o-treating with friends, his group gets frightened by rats and runs away; said group includes Lumpy, who's dressed as the Grim Reaper and accidentally decapitates Mime with his very real scythe while running away. The Mole then picks up his head, mistaking it for a pumpkin, and carves it into a lantern.
- Mokey's Show: Momi's head is turned into a lantern by A Normal Person at the end of the episode "An Abnormal Halloween". As part as a Jump Scare, Momi's head screams at the very last seconds of the video.
- The Simpsons: In the "Treehouse of Horror IX" episode segment, "The Terror of Tiny Toon", The Itchy & Scratchy Show episode that Bart and Lisa accidentally warp themselves into with a plutonium-powered remote depicts Scratchy trick-or-treating at Itchy's house in a skeleton costume. Itchy beheads Scratchy, then takes out his brain and puts a candle in its place, making Scratchy's head look like a jack-o-lantern. Bart and Lisa find this funny, but Scratchy doesn't. After Scratchy puts his head back on his body and his brain back in his head, he and Itchy team up to kill Bart and Lisa.
- The Atmos FX digital decoration for Trick 'r Treat had Sam decapitating a young boy not only for not wearing a costume, but also for smashing jack-o-lanterns and stealing more than one piece of candy from a candy bowl.