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STUDIO Shout! Factory
RUNNING TIME 86 minutes
- Remembering the Monster Kid – a Tribute to Stan Winston – featuring new interviews with actors Lance Henriksen and Brian Bremer, special effects artists Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr. and Shannon Shea
- New interviews with producer Richard Weinman and actors John D’Aquino and Matthew Hurley
- Audio Commentary by Co-screenwriter Gary Gerani and Creature & FX Creators Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis
- Pumpkinhead Unearthed – a documentary on the making of PUMPKINHEAD featuring Evolution of a Demon, The Cursed and the Damned, The Torture Soul of Ed Harley, Constructing Vengeance, Razorback Holler
- Featurette: Demonic Toys
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
There’s more to be afraid of in Appalachia than rednecks with banjos…
Lance Henriksen, John DiAquino, Kerry Remsen, Jeff East, Joel Hoffman
A group of teens accidentally kill Ed Harley’s (Lance Henriksen) son, prompting him to seek out a creepy backwoods witch to try and bring the kid back to life. Instead she resurrects Pumpkinhead, a demonic creature who will wreak havoc on those who have wronged Ed.
Pumpkinhead is a movie for people who like monster movies, plain and simple. The plot is mediocre, the acting is hit-or-miss, and some of the design choices are weird. What makes this movie work is atmosphere and amazing creature effects. Well, that and Lance Henriksen. Anyone who doesn’t like Lance can step off this train right now.
The movie is brutally predictable; it doesn’t foreshadow, it pretty much just tells you what’s going to happen. Repeated shots of teenagers behaving recklessly on their dirtbikes and a kid running around can only lead to one thing – the nerdy little dude getting run over. That’s exactly what happens, and the next few scenes consist of Ed carrying the (obviously fake) corpse of his son around and hugging it and crying. It would have more emotional impact if the kid’s body didn’t look so plastic, but it gets the point across. Ed’s going to stop at nothing to resurrect or avenge his son.
After talking to lots of stereotypical spooky rednecks, Ed ends up at a witch shack, asks her to bring back his dead kid (which works so great in other horror movies). She tells him that she can’t do that, but she does perform a ritual to bring Pumpkinhead back from hell. Pumpkinhead then feeds off of Ed’s desire for vengeance and goes around killing the teens. Some of these scenes are kind of scary, but they’re definitely dated. The jump scares and reveals feel like they’ve been done a million times, although in 1988 they were probably a lot more fresh.
There’s a pretty interesting twist involving the ties between Pumpkinhead and Ed, but that’s the only thing in the script that doesn’t feel like it exists in a hundred other monster flicks.
The acting varies – some of the teenagers are awful, which is par for the course for this kind of thing. Mr. Henriksen is fantastic and creepy, managing to be relatable while seeking vengeance and being a bit unhinged. Some of the spooky rednecks are actually portrayed well enough that one might mistake the nasty gas station for a Waffle House.
Some of the design choices are strange. Pumpkinhead looks nothing like a creature with a pumpkin for a head, for example. He comes from a pumpkin patch but that’s not really good enough to cut it. He looks like a cross between a xenomorph from Alien and Kuatto from Total Recall. The witch in the woods also looks like most of the witches from every other horror movie ever – but that could have been intentional, to ground it in existing horror mythos.
So what does work for Pumpkinhead is everything else. The atmosphere is fantastic, with lots of fog and colored lighting. It’s creepy, it’s pretty to look at, and it works. Stan Winston, monster-creating mastermind, directed the hell out of this flick in terms of aesthetic. There are a number of scenes that could stand alone as still-frame art, perfectly composed and lit. The blu-ray’s high-definition upgrade brings a lot of these details out and if anything, the movie is a lot of fun for your eyes.
A lot of horror movies that show the monster don’t age particularly well. Even classics like The Exorcist look fake under hi-def scrutiny. This film manages to hold up well in the effects department. The combination of animatronics with a suit for the monster still looks awesome. The first reveal of Pumpkinhead is terrifying because it’s not bad CGI or cheap makeup, it’s the work of a master artist at the height of his career. Even if the design of the monster is a little weird, it looks very real and that’s what matters in a monster movie. If seasoned horror fans have a hard time figuring out the exact way the monster was created, then the movie has done it’s job.
Parts of this movie are very, very scary. Parts are predictable and trope-filled. Nostalgia may play a large role in whether this movie stands the test of time with its fans. Overall, it’s good, but not great.
This Collector’s Edition doesn’t play around. The blu-ray insert is reversible and both sets of cover artwork are great. There is also a pull-out poster and a slipcase featuring Lance Henriksen being a badass with a pitchfork, if that’s your kinda thing.
Then there are lots and lots of special features, some of them brand new and some of them upgraded from the original to 1080p HD. Pumpkinhead fans, rejoice, because there is a wealth of content here.
The tribute to Stan Winston is pretty cool since he was one of the ultimate greats in creating monster effects, and the featurette Evolution of a Demon illustrates how incredible those effects were.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars