Pumpkinhead (1988)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 66%
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Ranked #2,698
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Connections: Pumpkinhead

A group of city kids go into the country to relax. While there, one of them is involved in a biking accident that takes the life of the son of the local storekeeper. In a fit of rage, the storekeeper has a witch unleash an unstoppable demon called "Pumpkinhead" to kill the group. When he realizes he's gone too far, the storekeeper attempts to save the kids, but is continually afflicted by visions of peoples' deaths through the eyes of the monster. --IMDb
Lance Henriksen
Lance Henriksen
Jeff East
Jeff East
John D'Aquino
John D'Aquino
Kimberly Ross
Kimberly Ross
Joel Hoffman
Joel Hoffman
Review by Chad
Added: September 18, 2004
We start the movie back in 1957, on a small farm out in the middle of hickville. Young Ed Harley is put to bed by his mother, while his father goes outside and locks all the animals up in the barn. Ed isn't sure what's going on, but he does realize that his mother and father are scared shitless. A bit later, a man comes banging on their door, asking Ed's father to please let him in as something is after him, but father refuses to open the door and threatens to shoot him if he doesn't get away now. The man outside tells father that "he didn't kill that girl", and father tells him that he doesn't want to get his family involved in it. From his bedroom, Ed watches the events going on outside through his window, and sees Pumpkinhead kill the man a few moments later.

We then go to modern-day 1988, and join the adult Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) with his son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Ed is a single father since his wife died (how she died isn't mentioned), and runs a small store on the highway. After breakfast, Ed, Billy, and their dog Gypsy head off to the store to start the days business. As soon as he gets there, two sets of people show up; a group of post-teen dirt-bikers on their way to a cabin for the weekend, and local hick Mr. Wallace (George 'Buck' Flower) with kids in tow. One of the teen ladies comes inside the store to pick up a few things, while the rest stay outside and play around on their dirt-bikes on the surrounding hills. While she's in there, Mr. Wallace asks Ed about the feed that he was supposed to pick up today, and Ed says that he forgot about it and left it back at his house. He leaves Billy at the store and heads home to pick up the feed for Wallace, but while he's gone, their dog runs outside and Billy chases it down. He runs right into the path of the dirt-bikers, one of which runs him down and kills him. One of the guys stays with the kid while the others haul ass out to the cabin to get an ambulance out there, but when they get to the cabin, the guy responsible for the death refuses to get anyone involved with the situation; seems as though he was drunk, and is on probation for a similar incident. If the cops find out, he'll be going to jail for life, and he sure as hell doesn't want that happening. Meanwhile, Ed returns to the store and finds his son dead, and takes him to the local witch by the name of Haggis (Florence Schauffler) in order to have him resurrected. She says that she can't do such, but she can do something else for him... namely, getting revenge on those who killed him. Ed agrees, and Pumpkinhead (Tom Woodruff, Jr.) is brought back to life to kill all those involved.

When I rented this, I was expecting your typical eighties monster-film, with a paper-thin plot, laughable characters, lots of gore, and even more T&A. Not that there's anything wrong with those types of films, as they can definitely be enjoyable in the right mood. However, that definitely wasn't what I got when this showed up in my mailbox, no sir. Don't be fooled by the corny title, as this was a very good horror film with plenty of genuinely scary moments, and one of the better main-monsters that I've seen in my time. The storyline moved along quite nicely, with a fair number of twists thrown in for good measure, and it wrapped things up with a great ending to boot. However...

One of the main plot-twists here really bugged the shit out of me in terms of not making sense. Ed has Pumpkinhead resurrected in order to kill off the teenies who murdered his son, but then finds out that Pumpkinhead has started murdering them off one by one. He gets quite upset over this, and sets out to kill Pumpkinhead before he can kill anyone else. When he went to the witch to have Pumpkinhead resurrected in order to gain revenge, what was he expecting the demon to do... give them a stern talking-to? Make them say they're sorry? That twist to the storyline really didn't sit too well with me.

...but other than that, the storyline was solid and entertaining, with no holes or slow-downs to be found. Another thing that was great about the storyline and the way it was handled, was the complete lack of comedic-relief (unless you're like me and laugh at the Southern accent and phrases). I'm not sure if it was meant to be funny or if it was just me, but there was only one scene here which drew a chuckle from me, and that was when Pumpkinhead carved a cross into the deeply-religious girls forehead. Yeah, it was probably just me that found that to be funny, so we'll just say that there's no laughs to be found here. Personally, I find a horror movie to be much more effective when there's not loads of funny one-liners, or a cast of smart-ass kids in the lead roles. Sadly, most horror film-makers seem to disagree with me on that idea, so it's great to see one that doesn't.

The only thing that was flawed with this movie was the character development on the teens, though that was almost to be expected from this type of film. The teens all have one single trademark to them; one is deeply religious, one doesn't want to go to jail, one wants to do the right thing, one doesn't know what to do, and the other is just there. None of them really get a lot of identity going on besides sticking to their trademark, and due to this, it was hard enough just to remember their names, nonetheless actually care about their plight. However, this was a very minor issue, as Lance Henriksen (Ed Harley) more than made up for it when he wasn't crying and boo-hoo'ing about the thing I mentioned up above in the spoiler. Great performance by him, and an even better performance (though sadly, a very small part) from Florence Schauffler as Haggis, the witch. She definitely played the creepy witch role to perfection, and off the top of my head, I'd be willing to say that I haven't seen a more effective witch in any other movie. Yes, she was that damned good.

Overall, a highly enjoyable horror film, and fans of the genre should definitely get some entertainment from this. Again, don't be put off by the corny title, this isn't another one of "those" movies. 9/10.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 03/20/2006, 11:18 AM
Although not my favorite horror film of all time, it definately ranks in the top 50. It's certainly much better than the next 3 installments which were dying animals in my opinion. This one is nothing but a pure vengance demon plot. Certainly enough gore to keep me entertained and the monster design kicks ass. Fuck CGI, man. Costume puppetry is as good as it gets! (i.e. Alien, Evil Dead 2, etc.)
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 10/26/2007, 08:27 PM
That is the longest first paragraph I've ever seen. Stan Winston rules, Lance Henriksen rules, this movie rules. And I can't agree more about CGI being horrendous. Makeup effects and puppetry are 100x better, and anybody who thinks otherwise can eat my ass. Also a great little song by the Misfits.
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 10/27/2007, 06:12 PM
Now this is a stoooory
of a good man named Ed.
Left his son for a moooooment.
Returned; found him dead.

Michale Graves rules
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 11/27/2007, 07:38 PM
You know it sister.
Crispy #5: Crispy - added 03/04/2010, 09:47 PM
Just watched this again. Definitely worth hunting down. I absolutely loved how he mocks these kids throughout the night.
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