For each of man's evils a special demon exists...
Year of Release: 1988
Running Time: 86 minutes (1:26)
Director: Stan Winston
Lance Henriksen ... Ed Harley
Jeff East ... Chris
John D'Aquino ... Joel
Kimberly Ross ... Kim
Joel Hoffman ... Steve
Cynthia Bain ... Tracy
Kerry Remsen ... Maggie
Florence Schauffler ... Haggis
Brian Bremer ... Bunt
George 'Buck' Flower ... Mr. Wallace
Matthew Hurley ... Billy Harley
Lee de Broux ... Tom Harley
Peggy Walton-Walker ... Ellie Harley
Chance Michael Corbitt ... Eddie Harley
Dick Warlock ... Clayton Heller
Devon Odessa ... Hessie
Joseph Piro ... Jimmy Joe
Mayim Bialik ... Wallace kid
Tom Woodruff Jr. ... Pumpkinhead
When a group of rambunctious teenagers inadvertently kill his only son, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks the magic of a backwoods witch to bring the child back. But instead, she invokes "the pumpkinhead" -- a monstrously clawed and fanged demon which, once reborn, answers only to Ed's bloodlust. But as the invincible creature wreaks its slow, unspeakable tortures on the teens, Ed confronts a horrifying secret about his connection to the beast -- and realizes that he must find a way to stop its deadly mission before he becomes one with it forever!
Pumpkinhead, the movie that reminds us that monsters really aren't really all that bad. They're almost always created, summoned, or brought back to life by man to begin with, and most of the time, they're cleaning up a lot of society's ills. Think about it. Monsters, for the most part, keep their killing pretty well relegated to obnoxious idiots. That's right, they're always idiots. They complain all the time, they fornicate to no end, ensuring a slew of snot nosed kids running up an down the isles of the grocery store yelling their heads off, like anyone cares what they have to say. They have insipid conversations with each other, they play their music too loud, drink an drive, ask too many questions, scream all the time, poke around places they're not wanted, steal something of significant importance and endanger the rest of the cast. Is it really a big problem that the monster wants to kill them? They usually started it anyway. The monster is simply an unanticipated player in the grand scheme of evolution. They only kill people that are useful to society if they get in the way, or try to stop the monster from finishing its work on the intended target. So I say, we have nothing to fear from monsters. They may even be capable of playing a greater role in the improvement of society, than simply knocking off mouth breathers. The fewer mouth breathers, the fewer defective genes that get passed on, and the fewer defective humans there are to make life unpleasent for the rest of us. But going further than that, they make a greater scared straight campaign than all the reality TV shows combined (no easy feat). Get your act together, or you're monster chow, you inbred malcontents.
So Pumpkinhead begins with Lance Henriksen sweating his ass off out on the outskirts of nowhere, busting ass and generally looking like the kind of guy you don't wanna screw with. But Lance is really a pretty laid back and contented guy when it comes right down to it. He's managing the family business, he's got a son that looks strangely like maybe Mom wasn't exactly 100% faithful, but that doesn't bother Lance much he likes em just the same. So Lance is pretty much living the American dream, until some rowdy city folk squeal into town, make a lot of noise, kick up enough dust to make the air unbreathable for the next 47 years, and generally do as much as possible to make sure nobody cares when they get killed. Meanwhile, Buck Flower shows up to do the grocery shopping for the year an while he's inside takin' care of business Blossom and a pack of filthy stone age throwbacks hop out of the back of the pickup truck and scare the bejesus out of the youngest kid until he's so shaken that he requires extensive mental therapy. Which is of course, how we find out about "Punkinhead", standard necessary plot revelation. So now that the youngest dirtball's emptied his bowels into a pair of pants that he's only been wearing for 6 months, the oldest dirtball, lets call him Pigpen, loads Blossom and shitty drawers back into the truck and Buck an company head back for the Ozarks whence they came. But Buck wasn't able to get one item he came to the store for, an that just won't do, so Lance has to take off an get it so he can drive all the way out to Buck's house in his truck that gets 15 yards to the gallon an deliver it. Now that's old fashioned service right there. While Lance's gone, the stupid city folk have a few beers so they can ride their dirt bikes properly, only one of em puts a skid mark on Lance's kid's face. The dicklick that turned the kid into roadkill runs like an 8 year old from a Catholic priest and the only shit disturber with any sense stays with the kid and sends the other dupes to the cabin they were headed to to call for an ambulance.
So then Lance comes home an finds that his kid's gone gimpy an snatches em up an heads for home to patch the kid up. Only it's too late and the kid goes to the big McDonald's ball room in the sky. Lance is pissed. Lance is more than pissed. Lance is a seething cauldron of rage. Lance is ready to kill him some city folk. But since Lance lives in a red state there's a good chance he's gonna get 150 years to life if the law catches up with him. So Lance goes to see the Cryptkeeper. The Cryptkeeper tells Lance go to to the Pet Sematary and dig up the Great Pumpkin an bring it back to her, then she can help him out. So Lance does it an Haggis (the Cryptkeeper) pulls out a rusty blade an cuts Lance an Lance Jr. an drips their blood onto the Great Pumpkin until it sizzles like hickory smoked bacon. Then the pumpkin gets a big time growth spurt an turns into a gigantic hell beast an starts looking for some city folk to squeeze. That's the deal, Pumpkinhead is the demon of vengeance. With this demon comes complimentary telepathy, so Lance can make sure he's getting his money's worth anytime Pumpkinhead starts to turn someone into Prego spaghetti sauce. But then Lance realizes he's in dire need of a Tetanus shot so he clears out of there an goes to look for some popcorn for his ring side seating. Meanwhile, Pumpkinhead is out in the woods confusing all the city folk for pickle jars an twisting their lids off when Lance starts to get buyer's remorse an decides that two wrongs don't make a right, so he loads up the ole Elmer Fudd standard edition an goes back to talk to Haggis about getting a refund. Nothing doing though, Haggis explains that dog will hunt, an that Lance better clear outta there cause he's stomping around squishing all her tarantulas an there's nothing she can do. Elsewhere, the two surviving asshats show up at Buck's house an make like Jahova's witnesses until Pigpen sneaks out an tries to keep the idiots alive. About that time Lance shows up an Buck has to exposes his armpits to get Lance to clear outta there, cause ultimately, Pumpkinhead's gonna twist off Lance's head an play hackey sack with it, once he's done with the urbanites, an Buck doesn't want any guilt by association. So Lance takes off an finds the remaining body count fodder an it's time for the final confrontation with big ugly, and we wouldn't want that ruined, so that's where I'll leave it.
Pumpkinhead, the monster, is one of the most original creations to come out of the genre in quite awhile. It's really an extremely interesting, well designed and most importantly, convincing looking monsters in the history of the genre. Pumpkinhead not only looks great, but it looks like what you might expect a demon to look like. The best (and the worst for that matter) monsters are almost always big enough that they can be played by a person in a suit, and Tom Woodruff Jr. brought not only life to the creature, but also, a sufficient amount of personality to the beast. Not too much, just a little. It is a demon after all. It shouldn't seem too much of an individual, if its ultimately under the control of Papa Satan. The acting is really quite good, which comes as no surprise with Lance Henriksen in the starring role, as well as Buck Flower being the anchor of the supporting cast, which is what he does, and does as well as anyone out there. Brian Bremer is also fantastic as Pigpen. The soundtrack isn't mindblowingly memorable, but it is very atmospheric and creepy, and the shooting locations were very well scouted and look great. I'm not sure how much truth there is to it, but the plot of the story is stated in the credits to be based upon a poem. This poem is actually recited in full in the movie, in the scene where Pigpen and Blossom are tormenting the little bumpkin. Rather odd to base a movie around a poem, although as short and non descript as the poem is, you can certainly say it's based rather loosely. We're talking Lindsay Lohan's morality loose, here. Anyway, its a simplistic plot, but an interesting one that makes for interesting characters and a great monster. With a good plot, interesting characters and a unique, well designed monster, it's almost impossible to make a bad movie.
Overall, Pumpkinhead is an enjoyable and underrated horror movie. Underrated by the general public anyway. I haven't encountered many fans of the horror genre that think Pumpkinhead is a bad movie. In fact, I haven't encountered any. But that's not surprising, I don't talk to anyone. But the general consensus seems to be that Pumpkinhead is well thought of by the majority of genre fans, as well it should be. Stan Winston over the course of his life made some of the best conventional special effects of all time, not just in the horror genre, but in all genres. His passing is a real bummer. Every time one of these guys goes away, the potential of the movie industry goes with them. A great story can succeed without special effects, but that's just not the way most movies are made. I'm going to continue to harp on this point until they're gone, or I am. CG effects. They have no heart, they're inferior looking and if it's a character that's being produced by the process, you cannot relate to it. And if you cannot relate to it, you don't CARE about it. You don't care if it lives or dies, depending upon the character of course. And isn't caring about what happens to the characters in the movie the entire point? I'm probably expecting too much, wouldn't want to insert crazy ideas into people's heads. Make em start thinking, or other bad stuff like that. Or distract them from all the big fake firey explosions happening up on the screen. On the plus side, from a collector's perspective, I'll eventually own every movie that I seek to own, because there really aren't any good movies made anymore. Ultimately, my collection grows and the pool to draw from shrinks. Not to be too pessimistic. I know there are still people out there that see the inferiority of the CG effects and make their movies with as little of them as possible. No disrespect intended to those 3 or 4 groups that are repulsed by CG effects and are actually able to get funding to make movies. It's not just movies, everything is produced so broad spectrum these days, to appeal to the most possible people, to make the most money. Which is unfortunate, but not likely to change, it'll only get worse. Anyway, Pumpkinhead's great, check it out if you haven't already.