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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. Written by
Ed Harley lives with his young son in the country, where they live a simple life and run a small store. Some city teens stop by at the store and get on their bikes for some fun. While this is happening Ed leaves his son to look after the shop as he delivers a item to a customer. When Ed arrives back he finds out his boy has been accidentally killed by one the careless riders. In fist of anger he seeks out an old lady who can summon up a demon which shall exact revenge on those involved in the death of his son. However, Ed starts to realise it was a bad idea and he eventually finds out that conjuring up this demon comes at a price.
Oh hail, B-legend Lance Henriksen! It's Henriksen's burning conviction and special effects whiz Stan Winston's masterful monster design that lifts this B-grade monster feature out of the very ordinary mould. I can see why those factors get highly praised. Pretty much it's typical 80s horror fodder, but on that point I found this minor piece be an enthralling backwoods shocker that's effectively creepy and ominous in its set-up. The atmospheric air just has that feel of the old style monster flicks. I found it to be a vivid treasure in that department with the empty woodlands being so chillingly, foreboding in presence. The dread of it all just swallows you up! Especially the glum conclusion. The night scenes are sensationally staged with very classy touches with the moon's rays shinning through, swirling mists and the shades of blues flood the screen with great impact. Director Stan Winston (making his debut) utilizes the scenery with skillful execution by giving the film such an organic feel and producing some blinding images within some eerie and thrilling set-pieces (the transformation scene being one). Chiming in also is that of the score which creaks an unsteady terror with it's alienating chords. I thought the dark feel and slick look of the film is perfect and that's rightfully so.
Though, it's not without its flaws. The main one being the scratchy writing with it being riddled with clichés, loose characters and repetition. The premise and feeble script could have done with a polish up, because the urban legend of this rural demon does make for an interesting viewing. Thrown up in the story are some thoughtful questions and a emotional edge, but still it was kinda lacking. The stock characters are reasonably an unlikeable bunch, but thank goodness Lance Henriksen gives out a powerful and hypnotic performance that you totally feel his hurt. While, the rest of the cast were modest even if their characters are vague as can be and had very little to work with. Now the other star of the film was the magnificent, but horrific looking demon that's simply grand in stature and hands out punishment with such ease by toying around with it's victims in such a cruel manner. Death scenes might be brutal, but if you want some gore out of those moments there is some bad news. There ain't any. Some blood, but no gore. But if you're looking for some suspense leading up to the kills it seems to mishandle those moments by being very foreseeable. Pacing wise the film is solid even though after the intense beginning it seems to stall for a while, well that's until Pumpkinhead reappears and things really do get going with it's quest for relentless horror.
A solid and creative effort overall that relishes from it's visually brooding direction, superior lead performance and convincing monster design.
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