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Robin Atkin Downes,
In a Virginia forest village, true love between Ricky McCoy and Jodie Hatfield is sabotaged by their families' long-standing bitter feud. Despite sheriff Dallas Pope's grim warning, actually from bitter experience, it will only eat up his sole, Ricky resorts to vengeance on all standing in his way by appealing to pumpkin-head, a magical forester monster, who unleashes ever greater horror. Written by
"Pumpkinhead IV: Blood Feud" is easily the best sequel in the series.
During a bitter family feud, Jodie Hatfield, (Amy Manson) and her boyfriend Ricky McCoy, (Bradley Taylor) decide to leave town to avoid being found out, but are soon caught in the act. Wanting vengeance, he seeks out the monster Pumpkinhead, and resurrects it seek revenge on the family. Despite being warned away by the ghost of Ed Harley, (Lance Henriksen) his vengeance plan starts out, and the Hatfield family is soon under siege by the powerful demon. Not accepting the legend of the creature and believing their arch-rivals are the real cause, the two families attempt to go to war, only to be stopped when Pumpkinhead attacks the Hatfield house. Putting aside their differences, they band together to stave off the creature before it's vengeance pact is completed.
The Good News: This was an extremely pleasant surprise. One of the best things about it is that there is almost no let up in the movie, since the monster is out and about really early in the movie and is discovered soon afterwords, which is quite refreshing. This also staves off the quite tiresome middle section commonly used where the guilty party slowly but surely recognizes the foe and take up arms too late to do anything. Here, even though they don't know who precisely is after them, it is known that there is someone/thing, and it allows the middle section to be full of death and mayhem. That brings up the second best thing in here, the gruesome and extremely bloody kills in it. Pumpkinhead here is extremely ticked off for some reason and takes out frustrations on the victims, resulting in a slew of gory kills. There is one thrown through the air landing on a bear trap that goes off and slices part of the face off, a head ripped completely off the shoulders with one tug, foot used to step on and crush the head, scratching up the face, chest and arms and the best one, having a leg stuck in a bear trap, forcing them to saw off the leg, and later, taking the knife and forcibly pushed into the mouth and coming out the back of the neck. There are also several killed by having their stomachs sliced open and having the inner organs fall out. In terms of sheer slaughter, nothing beats the massacre at the farmhouse, as limbs get ripped off, decapitations galore, bodies are scratched beyond recognition, and the whole place is torn up. It's a sight to see, and the bloodshed occurs to everyone, making it a really impressive scene and amping up a huge body count even more so. There's also several really great scenes inside, including a creepy night-time hunt before the real culprit is known and a thrilling rescue from inside a burning house. It starts off on the appropriate manner with one of the best brawls not inside an old-west saloon, as beer bottles get smashed, tables get broken, bodies fly through windows and punches are thrown and received with great frequency. It plays out for a while as well and gets the panic and pandemonium involved in such a spectacle right off the bat in a terrific opening sequence. Pumpkinhead here also looks quite nice, the monstrosity given a credible appearance but the fact that the head is now smaller lowers it against the original. It's still a very imposing creature, and the little attention to details, such as it's distinctive walk when stalking a trapped victim or the wriggling of the tail when it walks makes it come alive like most others. It is even done without CGI, a feat in and of itself considering where it's coming from. That there is one of the most important factors, and makes it rise above most others and makes the film that much more enjoyable.
The Bad News: There is only a few things about this that weren't that great. The big one is that the initial reason for invoking it is very unbelievable. Having a family member killed in the middle of a feud, which is later brought up as being unknown of what actually caused the death since it doesn't appear to be a definitive M.O. of anyone around and is indeed quite accidental in nature, makes the need for vengeance a little questionable. Had it been most of the family or the loved one, then the need would be more appropriate, but it's a little tough to swallow the one given here. Also a little unnerving is the round-table discussions in the end, when it's all spelled out what's going on and the constant arguing is a little annoying and repetitive. As noted above, the minor redesign on Pumpkinhead to shrink the head slightly might be a gripe from the long-time fans, but it's still a credible design, and it's one that doesn't really hurt the film if overlooked. Otherwise, this was one impressive film.
The Final Verdict: Full of fun and with a lot to really love about it, this is one of the better Sci-Fi original around and easily the best entry in the Pumpkinhead series. This is required viewing for the series' fans, while those who think the Sci-Fi Channel merely does CGI rehashes might want to give this one a shot.
Rated R: Graphic Language and Graphic Language
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