Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings
They couldn't leave dead enough alone.
Year of Release: 1994
Running Time: 88 minutes (1:28)
Director: Jeff Burr
Andrew Robinson ... Sean Braddock
Ami Dolenz ... Jenny Braddock
Soleil Moon Frye ... Marcie
J. Trevor Edmond ... Danny Dixon
Hill Harper ... Peter
Alexander Polinsky ... Paul
Steve Kanaly ... Judge Dixon
Gloria Hendry ... Delilah Pettibone
Lilyan Chauvin ... Miss Osie
J.P. Manoux ... Tommy
Roger Clinton ... Mayor Bubba
Joe Unger ... Ernst
R.A. Mihailoff ... Red Byers
Linnea Quigley ... Nadine
Kane Hodder ... Keith Knox
Mark McCracken ... Pumpkinhead
When five teenagers unwittingly resurrect a demon, nobody is safe from the hideous creature's gruesome rampage. But this monster is different - inside it dwells the soul of a boy murdered years ago. Can the evil beast be destroyed... without killing the innocent boy trapped within?
Pumpkinhead part deux has some real tidbits of wisdom to behold. Karma, for instance, not only catches up with us all, but it accrues massive interest and late fees over time. Ostracizing people based upon their appearance only works if you're employed by TMZ, but even then, see karma. More important than all those things, getting your head twisted off and tossed like a shot-put is no way to go through life. But what I'd like to discuss in greater depth is compassion. Compassion and what happens to people who display it. Minor spoiler endings here for the end, so if the idea of having the ending of Pumpkinhead II become somewhat more predictable than it already was is upsetting, scroll down a ways. Now at the climax of the movie our guy, Big P, is about to pop the cap off of the last can of Pringles when her father shows up an guilt trips him into letting her go. He shows compassion, because while she was present at the event that he has been brought back to avenge, it wasn't exactly her fault. So Big P decides he's gonna be the bigger man-monster an lets her go. Then what happens? The god damn NRA shows up an puts so many holes in him that when it's all said an done you could shove a hose in his mouth an use 'em for a lawn sprinkler. That's where compassion gets you. If he'd just chewed off her head an gone on his way, they'd have never found him. Now if that sounds harsh, lets play demon's advocate here for a moment. Big P's just doing his job. He only returns to life because some mouth breather's been perpetuating the stereotype an needs a good artery busting. His whole life is just doling out justice, that's it. No vacation in the Bahamas once the job is done, it's just back in the hole until the next sequel. Now that's damn unfair, but it's the hand he was dealt, an he's got to play it out. And for this thankless life of nothing but servitude, the one time he lets some emotion creep in, it's off to the big pumpkin patch in the sky. Well, kinda. So the next time you summon a demon in the pursuit of vengeance, when the job is done, be sure to show some gratitude. An don't forget to leave a tip.
So the movie starts out with what I thought was John McCain before the surgery to remove his melanoma chowing down on some kibble that Haggis has left for him. (They call her Miss Osie in this movie but I'll be damned if she isn't the same character from the first movie, so I'm calling her Haggis) Tommy kinda looks like Jason from Friday the 13th Part 2 so as you might expect, he's not prom king material an basically runs wild in the woods scaring the bejezus out of people. But while he's going to town on his kibble some greasy haired jocks from the local high school show up an try to stab Tommy's secret beauty regimen out of him, but he won't talk an they end up hanging him above an old well an an dropping him in to see how long it takes for ugly to hit the bottom. While all this is happening Haggis is clutching her chest like Fred Sanford an suffering from all the wounds inflicted upon Tommy. Not unlike Tommy Chong in The Corsican Brothers. End black and white flashback, if you can call it a flashback when it's the first thing we see. Back in the present day, Andy Robinson has just taken up the mantle of sheriff in town an he's worried about his daughter's first day of school because hot girls attract bad boys. Then Joe Unger comes into Andy's office to buy a hunting license because his wife ran off with the cast of Wrong Turn again an he's tired of loosing mutant babies on the population. Just kidding, Joe's a handsome guy an I'm sure his wife is just as handsome. Then Roger Clinton shows up to meet Andy cause he's new in town an that's the kinda thing the small town mayor does when he doesn't have a banjo gig at the local watering trough. He warns Andy that his daughter may be falling in with the wrong crowd, we can only assume he means his brother, an he heads off to cut the ribbon at a Piggly Wiggly. Since Andy inexplicably knows exactly where to look for his daughter (Ami Dolenz, the genie from Miracle Beach) he heads out an drags her home by the ear an forbids her to hang out with the bad apples. So within record time she's snuck out with the delinquents an they start playing head light chicken. Then they pull over an Danny (the head delinquent) turns into Danny Aykroyd, who turns into a chalk faced witch an eats her face. Not really. But while the head lights are out they drive over Miss Daisy... err, Osie.
But the delinquents are so stupid that Ami (the blonde) has to be the voice of reason an she finally convinces them to go looking for Haggis to see if she's okay. They wander up to her humble abode (An I do mean humble, Arnold Ziffle had it better than this), passing the Pet Sematary on the way. They dunce around in the hovel for awhile, find some cursed blood an pocket it about the time Haggis comes home. The good news is she's tougher than a rawhide chew toy an no lawyer is willing to represent her pro bono, the bad news is she knows they have the blood an Danny has to sock her right in her Polident port to get passed her. On the way back to the car, they decide to dig up whatever's in the center of the Pet Sematary an pour the blood on it. About this time Haggis is trying desperately to reach her Life Alert bracelet but only succeeds in knocking over a candle an setting a fire that's likely to cause dozens of dollars in damages. Digging up corpses isn't Ami's idea of a good time so she takes off, but spots Haggis' blaze along the way an tries to get the other delinquents to help the old lady, but they're scared the fire might damage their designer jeans so they high-tail it out of there. About that time Big P's alarm clock goes off an his coffin lights up like a Buddist monk an he busts out. Ding! Round 2. The next day Joe wants his money back for the hunting license, because as he puts it "I aint a hunter, I'm the hunted." Naturally when you think your life is in danger the first thing you're gonna wanna do is get your $10 back for your hunting license but for a horror sequel it's as good a segue as is needed to advance the plot. In that segue Joe tells Andy that he saw some kids out near Haggis' place while he was out setting human traps in the woods. So Andy goes to see the head delinquent an asks him about the geriatric shaped dent in the front end of his car, but Danny's dad, Paul van der Sloot, vouches for the kid an Andy goes on his way. Paul tells his son he'd better pull his head out of his ass right now because he's not gonna be able to cover for him anymore. Meanwhile, Big P's spending some quality time with Joe, only it gets out of hand an Joe gets impaled on the wall an Big P does the kind of disarming that happens even when the guy doesn't have a weapon an Joe's down for the count.
While this is happening Haggis (who was pulled from the fire, but we don't know by whom) is jerking around in her hospital bed like someone put Icy Hot in her underpants until Joe goes to the big outhouse in the sky. So while Andy an the gang are trying to figure out what killed Joe, Linnea Quigley is doing squat thrusts on top of R.A. Mihailoff until Big P shows up hits R.A. with Little Mac's uppercut of doom an then snaps into his spinal column like Randy Savage snapped into a Slim Jim an leaves Linnea so paralyzed with fear that she can't even shake her giblets anymore. So Andy heads out to R.A.'s place cause he's got a bet with the mayor that the gurney can't possibly hold R.A. without snapping with at least as much force as R.A.'s spine did the night before, when Linnea bursts from her hidey hole an starts speaking in tongues until Andy's lab assistant has to give her some elephant tranquilizer so there'll be enough to numb more than just her melons. Andy recognizes this behavior as that of someone forced to watch From Justin to Kelly an comes to the realization that the killer is one sick son of a bitch that must be stopped at all costs. The next night at the local cockfighting arena Kane Hodder an his inbred brother are checking out their winnings when guess who shows up an uses Kane's brother as a javelin an puts his face through the chicken wire cage an the revenge of the cocks is on. While the fighting cocks are using their beaks an spurs to draw a map of the Nile river's tributaries on the brother's face, Big P turns Kane into a heap of extra hot Pace Picante an does the Backwater Stomp on his spinal cord. Meanwhile at the hospital, Andy is reenacting While You Were Sleeping when Haggis inconveniently goes to the big coven in the sky. Andy is seriously bummed. He's pushing 60, his daughter's gonna grow up to be a stripper an he's no closer to figuring out what's going on in this squalid hellhole... but then Haggis flies up out of her bed, shrieks, an the Tales from the Crypt slime drips down the screen. Then she tells Andy that Big P is killing off the greasy haired jocks from the opening sequence because they started it when they killed his baby boy. The vengeance has just been on back order all this time. Unfortunately, when that's done, he's also gonna kill the kids that left Haggis lookin' like a burnt marshmallow. Cue the party sequence at Danny's place that's fun for the viewers, but not the cast, we'll cut the plot synopsis here to protect the big finale.
Pumpkinhead II is getting some seriously unjustified red headed step child treatment on the IMDB. Realistically, the IMDB shouldn't be taken all that seriously, at least in terms of it's rating system. It's voted on by people who haven't seen truly bad movies. Or the ones they have seen, they've only seen because of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Now I'm not saying Pumpkinhead II is great, it's not. It's not as good as the original by a long shot. But for fucks sake, it's practically the same movie. It's definitely missing some things that made the original great, Lance Henriksen, atmosphere, a good musical score, better acting, better special effects... okay so I see where the nay-sayers are coming from. I still think they're taking it too far. While the acting isn't quite as good, it's got more characters, so statistically it's got a higher chance of having some stinkers. Gloria Hendry is... not good. Roger Clinton, same deal. Additionally, there's quite a bit of poorly worded or outright foolish dialogue that makes even the good actors look bad at times. But lets look at the positive. Even on the acting front, just look at all the genre actors. Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser, Child's Play 3), Lilyan Chauvin (Silent Night, Deadly Night), Joe Unger (Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) R.A. Mihailoff (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, Hatchet 2), Linnea Quigley (Don't Go Near the Park, Silent Night Deadly Night, Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons), and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th 7 - 10, Alligator 2, Project Metalbeast, Wishmaster, Children of the Corn 5, Watchers 4, Hatchet). Surely this counts for something? Granted, a few of them were just guys that'd been around New Line and/or director Jeff Burr at the time, still, I salute you, casting director. The plot has some tweaks that do conflict with the first movie a bit. Haggis doesn't seem as neutral as she should be. It almost implies that maybe Haggis was Tommy's mother. Which is speculation but it makes as much sense as any other theory. The soundtrack isn't memorable, it's adequate, but doesn't do much to create or propagate what little atmosphere there is. The special effects are well done, until the last scene of the movie. Big time no no here. If you're using a dummy, even a good one (and this one isn't), never, EVER, use slow motion. What should be the biggest, most important moment in the movie, looks terrible. Now, if only they had a stuntman on the set. Someone... large. Someone with experience not only as a stuntman, but at playing a monster. I know... Kane Hodder. I bet he'll know someone. Hey Kane, you know anybody that could do this for us? Weird... he rolled his eyes an just walked away. Huh. Well, that's actors for you.
Overall, Pumpkinhead II is a perfectly acceptable sequel. Even with the -12% off for the end sequence alone. God damn that thing's bad. Even if they were knowingly sacrificing their dummy forever because the well was in fact real and was in fact deep, they could have built a platform inside for the guy in the suit to land on as he fell into it. Or built a better looking dummy. Or not used slow motion on their bad dummy. Killing the monster in another fashion is out because there's supposed to be irony or symbolism here and while it's not particularly deep, it is part of the director's original vision. Bonus points for turning out as well as it did with only 24 days of shooting time allowed, however. It's foolishly short shooting times like this that had more to do with the ruin of Full Moon pictures than any other factor. And yet, only one unforgivably bad scene in 88 minutes worth of movie. The shooting locations weren't all that memorable either. Sufficient, but those locations contribute to the movie's atmosphere more than any other single element, so if they're just okay, the atmosphere is just okay. Additionally, with two big fantastic exceptions (the twist off cap scene and the back breaker from Hell) the kills aren't particularly memorable, nor are they all that interactive, by which I mean, a big arm comes into view, the guy goes flying, then you'll see random movements of both creature and victim, but it's choppy and difficult to see what's really happening with all the jump cuts. To be fair, if the high sheriffs were looking over Jeff Burr's shoulder an generally being bitches the way they were when he was directing Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3, you can kinda see why it came out the way it did on that front. Granted, they're different high sheriffs but you get them everywhere. Butchering your movie because it's too violent. Whooptie god damn-di-do, it's not like it's getting a theatrical release. Anyway, it's a sequel. Bear that in mind before viewing. Sequels are seldom better than the original. Anyone that knows anything about horror movies understands and accepts this. They also know and accept that horror movies made in the 90s are inferior to those made in the 80s, it's also got that against it. But it's still worthwhile to see. And given how cheap it is, buying it outright is going to be the only way you ever will, unless you've got Netflix or are into piracy. Neither special, nor memorable, but decent.