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|Index||155 reviews in total|
Most critics (who actually get PAID to critique films, unlike me, HA!)
really hated this movie, dismissing it as yet another "brainless teen"
slaughterfest and slamming it with either one star or a big fat turkey.
never really understood this. Okay, it's not ever going to win an Academy
Award, some of the acting is atrocious and much of the incidental music
cheesy and had me rolling my eyes, but the basic story is quite good. Six
city teens on a vacation in either the Appalachians or the Ozarks, make
mistake of running over a little hillbilly boy with a motorcycle. 5 of
want to do the right thing and call the police, but the 6th, a hulking
with a police record, takes his friends hostage. By the time he comes to
senses, it's too late. The dead boys father has been to see the local
who in turn has summoned the Demon of Vengeance: Pumpkinhead.
There's really not a lot of gore here, and no sex whatsoever. The "typical teens" here actually appear to be in their early twenties, and are hardly the faceless victims you usually find in these kinds of films. The real menace lies with the hill folk, many of whom look like the genuine article; inbred and dangerous. Lance Henriksen turns in a great performance as the dead boys father, blinded (most understandably) by grief and anger, yet still compassionate enough at last to try and reverse what he has done. The monster, Pumpkinhead, is really cool looking, created as it was by special effects man Stan Winston, who also directed. The atmosphere and mood of this movie are constantly menacing, even in the bright light of day, and Pumpkinhead seems to bring an aura of electrical storms with him wherever he goes, the sound of cicadas and the flashing of heat lightening most unsettling. The Witches cabin in particular is a magnificent set piece. Worth seeing at least once. The "professional" critics are NOT always right.
PS - Don't bother watching "Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings." I've never seen a more horrible sequel with a more annoying cast of arrogant teenagers who deserved to be killed. Banal, moronic waste of film.
This film stands as one of the most underrated I have seen. It has a compelling story of a father's love and the powerful grip of vengeful desires. It is well acted, has amazing creature affects, and takes the road less traveled by most horror films. It takes no easy ways out. The plot prefers to turn slowly into a gnarled tale of battling with an inner demon. The lighting in the fog and the mere visual presence of the witch, Haggis, with her wispy hairs in the fire light, are genuinely creepy. I think Lance Henriksen gives one of his best performances in this film. Definitely give it a look if you haven't yet.
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
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.
Pumpkinhead is a criminally overlooked 80's horror movie that stands up there as one of my favorites of the entire decade. It is exceptionally well made by first time director Stan Winston who shows more skill behind the camera than one might expect from someone primarily known for special effects. Most of the lead actors do a very good job, with a few exceptions, however Lance Henriksen brings an enormous amount of credibility to the whole thing. I have great respect for character actors such as Lance and this is some of his best work. The creature itself is well conceived however it is hidden in shadows throughout most the picture which allows the actors and the story to take center stage, much to the film's benefit. Overall this is one of the best Halloween movies ever made as that is the perfect time of year to watch this movie. It's dark, it's Gothic, and it's damn cool.
In the countryside, the quiet hick Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) raises
his beloved son Billy alone, working in his grocery on the side of the
road. When three couples from the big city stop off at his store to buy
some supplies, their leader Joel (John D'Aquino) accidentally kills
Billy with his motorcycle and he does not allow his friends to call for
assistance. In his hatred, Ed visits the evil witch Haggis (Florence
Schauffler) that conjures the demon avenger Pumpkinhead to destroy the
teenagers. Later Ed regrets and tries to call off the deal but he finds
the price to be paid.
"Pumpkinhead" is a great slash movie of a demon called Pumpkinhead that is summoned by someone to revenge the death of another person. It is interesting to note that the boy is accidentally killed and five teenagers try to do the right thing, but the question is not to be fair or not: the boy's father is blind by his feeling of revenge, and only after calming down, he unsuccessfully tries to call off the deal, but it is too late. Therefore there is a good message about the danger of a revenge in the end. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Sangue Demoníaco" ("Demoniac Blood")
"Keep away from Pumpkinhead, Unless you're tired of living, His enemies
are mostly dead, He's mean and unforgiving, Bolted doors and windows
barred, Guard dogs prowling in the yard, Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."
So goes the poem by Ed Justin. I've never heard of it previously. I'm assuming it's more of an American pop culture thing.
Stan Winston may be the man behind many of todays horror icons and creatures but how exactly does he hold up as a director? Not that great I'm afraid to say. But let's be reasonable. This film is almost 20 years old (it was completed in 1987) and Winston has no doubt improved in many ways since. But what he lacks in style he makes up for in enthusiasm.
The ever-brilliant Lance Henrikson (the man with THE coolest voice in the world) is Ed Harley, a backwoods shopkeep who's Milky-Bar Kid-lookalike son is killed by reckless dirt-bikers. After this surprising sad and touching scene, Ed visits the house of a mysterious old hag who has ties with the forces of darkness. Wishing vengeance upon the bikers he is sent on a mission to dig up the remains of a demon buried in a pumpkin patch. With his blood thrown into the mix of an evil spell, the demon is soon resurrected and goes about his usual mission of killing people who deserve it.
And so begins a series of scenes you've seen many times in numerous Friday the 13th films and the subsequent rip-offs. Only instead of a masked killer you get a very tall, weird looking creature that looks a lot like the Xenomorph from the Alien series. Despite Winston's usually awkward framing and cutting, he does pull off a couple of good scares and generates a decent amount of atmosphere. But the constant unnatural lighting, floodlit woods and fog effects get a bit annoying.
Pumpkinhead is, essentially, a tribute to urban legends and ancient scary stories told for generations before TV and mass-communication came along. In that sense, Pumpkinhead ranks alongside other mythical characters such as Spring-heeled Jack, the Skunk-Ape, Shadow People and El Chupacabra. Many of these characters are in the public subconscious, but like I said, perhaps the Pumkinhead myth is too uncommon outside of America to make that kind of impact.
Plus, there is good amount of story going untold. The whole idea of Harley and Pumpkinhead being connected through blood and bloodlust isn't developed too well and the film should have had a stronger showdown between them. The mysterious old hag could have had a bigger part too.
But if you're in the mood for undemanding horror, with slight irony, mild mythology, an interesting killer and one of the coolest actors ever (Mr Henrikson, take a bow) then go for it. Don't expect anything groundbreaking or memorable.
Pumpkinhead is directed by Stan Winston and stars Lance Henriksen, Jeff
East, John D'Aquino, Kimberly Ross & Joel Hoffman. Music is by Richard
Stone and cinematography comes from Bojan Bazelli. Plot sees Henriksen
play Ed Harley, a loving and devoted father raising his young son on
his own after the death of his wife. His world is shattered when a
group of adventure seeking teenagers accidentally kill his boy in a
motorbike incident. Struck with grief and fury, Ed seeks out a mountain
dwelling witch that can invoke the demon Pumpkinhead to do his vengeful
bidding for him. However, calling up Pumpkinhead comes at a cost to Ed
as much as it does to the teenagers it now seeks.
Tho in essence it is just a creature on the loose killing the teens movie, so a stalk and slash piece if you like, Pumpkinhead is more appealing than most of its ilk. It's an old fashioned movie, rich on atmosphere, presenting a moralistic tale that's steeped in rural folklore and horror legend. It's also propelled forward by a damn great performance from Henriksen. Special effects guru Winston directs assuredly, with a strong visual sense and a knowing that as his movie shifts to the inevitable kill after kill sequence; he had to develop his protagonist first. It's during the first half where Pumpkinhead earns its stripes as Winston takes time to fully form the relationship between father and son, it's tender and very believable, so when the tragedy happens, Ed's reaction is totally understandable. We too feel vindictive such is the way Henriksen has let us feel the love.
On to the second half where the magnificent creature makes its appearance and the blood starts to flow. Here the film is only let down by its relatively low budget and the fact that Winston has nowhere to go other than formula. The youths are the usual array of cocky, bickering shriekers, tho in fairness a couple of the girls here are at least scripted as being intelligent and capable of reasoning. But thankfully in amongst the carnage is Henriksen peeling off another emotional layer, as he starts to get conflicted about what he has done. A fine performance from an actor who is far better than his king of schlock reputation. Tho still rated averagely on some internet movie sites, Pumpkinhead (dreadful name in truth) has garnered, and earned, a big cult fan base. Popular enough to warrant a solid 20th Anniversary DVD release, there's a chance that it will find more fans along the way. It deserves it, if only for Henriksen, the creature, and the attention to art design and detail. And of course if you like the stalk and slash formula anyway? Well it delivers there too. 7/10
I will be the first person to stand up and admit that Pumpkinhead is, in
some ways, as silly as it's name, but there's something there. It's just
enough to elevate this above much of the other "Dead Teenager" dreck that
was thrown at us in the glorious eighties.
First off, the monster is a doozy. Stan Winston was up to his usual standard of excelence and creativity, and he created a creature that, while not actually convincing, is alot scarier and easier to enjoy than most. Pumpkinhead is no Freddy or Michael Meyers, but he delivers.
Second of all, the plot is more intelligent than I have come to expect from slasher flicks. The "Kids" are more thought out than most disposable teens, and their motives are more understandable. They accidently take the life of a child, but most want to do the right thing and go to the authorities. Even the Jerk who doesn't is eventually persuaded. And Harley, the father who is the real hero AND villian of the film is much more human than his actions would suggest.
There is also a good twist at the end which I will not reveal here, only say that surprised me with it's subtlety, which is something you rarely see in a horror film that is more than 2/3 done.
Bottom line, I was pleasently surprised with Pumpkinhead. People who don't like horror films are unlikely to be impressed with it, except on a technical level because the effects and atmosphere are superb, but horror fans looking for a harmless new thrill may find it better than expected. It's smarter, wittier and deeper than the norm.
Pumpkinhead gets 6 out of 10 for technical expertise, great atmosphere and an above average story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Southern Gothic, a most deliciously specific sub genre, has hardly been
explored in the American cinema, and one may not approach 'Pumpkinhead'
with any expectation of artistry, but the movie surprises. It surprises
as an accomplished and authentic-feeling example of Southern Gothic,
better than 'Deliverance,' but nowhere near as good as 'Night of the
Hunter,' and also as a morality play with a streak of dark irony.
Lean at 86 minutes, the film's build-up is exquisite. Lance Henriksen, excellent here as a highly physical, laconic grocery store owner in rural Rural, U.S.A, lives alone with his son, who is his sole companion after the death of his wife. The movie carefully and quite skillfully establishes the importance of this boy to his father, and this gives almost unbearable gravity to the boy's accidental death at the hands of six urban motorcycling youths. The movie's handling of this situation is brilliant and completely devoid of cheapness or exploitativeness, and the underrated Henriksen reveals himself as an actor of depth and significance.
There is moral and material conflict among the youths, who retreat to their cabin. One of them, a violent and dominating thug, is on probation for DUI, and taking responsibility for the boy's death would likely yield a prison sentence. Meanwhile, Henriksen consults an old witch to unleash the titular demon, one who's only been rumored about in campfire tales and bedtime stories, to avenge his child's death, and subsequently undergoes moral turnaround himself.
The last third of the film lacks weight or interest, as the demon dispatches each youth against the sudden protests of Henriksen. It's almost as though the director, Stan Winston, wanted to avoid hunt-and-slay elements altogether, and went through the motions as quickly as possible. While this is admirable, this portion of the film almost completely lacks flair.
It's forgivable, though. Not many horror films are as good as this, which is concise, atmospheric, and manages to provoke both thought and genuine emotion, with wonderful supporting players like Joseph Piro and Buck Flower that augment the film's rural ambiance with an enchanting authenticity.
This film is pretty classy for a horror film. Everything about this
movie has such simplicity, the plot deals with themes of "KARMA" and
"VENGANCE", as the movie opens with A family locking themselves in
their cabin while a man is stalked and killed outside, the little boy
of the family peeks outside and sees the man being killed by a monster
in the shadows. It's now the present and the little boy is a grown man
ED HARLEY (THE GREAT LANCE) who is a widower and has a small boy. All
is fine and dandy until a group of city kids, a motor bike accident, a
creepy witch, and a demon that is resurrected and called "PUMPKINHEAD"
changes all that, ED and the teens find out the hard way that "WHAT
COMES AROUND GOES AROUND".
Great Monster...I remember the design for Pumpkinhead gave me the creeps..especially the far shots of it hiding in trees, the first opening chase scene is creepy because you don't understand what is going on. The witch scenes are also done with so much dread...I love it.
Stan Winston is a very talented director giving the simple monster after teens story more depth and soul. I really felt for Ed and his Grief. How many horror movies do you know that do that?...The blue and orange filters really give the film a nice look. A forest never seemed creepy.
The soundtrack hits all the right notes and elevates the movie to more creepy level.
Some minor complaints would have to be the teens don't get enough screen time..I liked the majority of them but they get killed way too soon (you'll see)...more range and development would have been nice...but on a whole..this movie is all good...nice direction..and themes. Creepy Ending
*** out of ****
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