Pumpkinhead Movie Review
By: Justin Hopkins
Hello and welcome back to our second edition of Classic 13. Where I go back and review a classic. From a regular or Cult and as you can tell. This month we are going through the Cult Classic route this time around. This was a rather tough choice. Really wanting to find something special for October. Went through a handful of Slashers and various monsters. Halloween obviously, was a choice, but I have other plans for that certain movie. Then it came to me, and it just had to be Sam Winston’s directed, Pumpkinhead. A monster that comes right to the front of my mind when someone asks me about monsters. Instead of going on and on about my love of this monster in the intro, lets dive in and break down the story and all the fun things that occur here.
The story opens up on a rather quick note. Where we see a man running for his life, and a family in their house, and they are in no way going to be helping him. Even to the point where the Dad threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t leave. He does, but meets a brutal end to the monster. While the son, Ed Harley sees it from the window. We jump ahead to Ed being a Father himself now, to young Billy, and you get to see them together, and they are each other’s world. Billy even helps him at their little shop, deep in backwood town, where the homes are built from hand and don’t even have electricity. Meanwhile, we are introduced to the teens. Who are going off to a cabin in the woods for vacation. Most of which are very likeable, with the exception of Joel. Who is drinking and driving as it is and reckless driving. All to set up for what will happen later. While they are at the store Joel and Steve go off to bike ride about the area, while the others shop and talk to Billy and Gypsy and a farmer with his grandkids show up, to pick up supplies, and Ed remembers he forgot the seed and leaves Billy to go get it. This is where things go south in a bad way. When Gypsy escapes and Billy tries to get him. Is accidentally run over by Joel. Who flees the scene right away, due to being drunk and on probation. When the rest couldn’t find a phone, leave Steve there to call for help. Where they are held captive for a time by Joel, who does not want to go to jail. Meanwhile, Ed comes back and finds his son, broken and inches from death, and you can just feel the pain and hatred just by the look and the camera hovering on it was perfect. In desperation to bring his son back, seeks out Haggis. Knowing she has powers, but when she told him she can’t raise the dead, enlists the help of the creature who avenges man who has been wrong, and Pumpkinhead begins his pursuit, and I will leave the story at that for anyone who has not seen it, because you really need to watch this movie.
I don’t even know where to begin to praise this story. The story of Pumpkinhead being a demon of vengeance. That he’ll seek the vengeance you seek, but you pay a massive price in the form of living the carnage he is leveling on his victims. Sending a clear message of the dangers of seeking vengeance and accepting responsibility for one’s actions. Examples of which were with Joel and Ed. Joel could have accepted responsibility for what was an accident in the first place, then it could have been avoided, but waited to long. Much like Ed, who had all the time in the world to turn stop, but by the time he realized he went to far; it was also to late. It is an age old tale, that still holds up to today, and they do such a good job weaving that message into this story, and keeps you hooked throughout.
Casting wise is top notch, and starts from the top with the great Lance Henriksen. He was stellar in the role as Ed Harley. Can feel his emotions all the way throughout. They joy he felt just being around Billy at the beginning. Bit of pride watching him watering vegetables, and the pain he felt holding his son while he died, and the anger radiating as he sought out Haggis. Lance was perfect choice for this role. John D’Aquino was good as Joel. Was unlikable enough to hate, but pulled off sympathetic. Never meant to hurt Billy and in the end, did want to own it. Just never got the chance. Cynthia Bain made for a good final girl. You feel for her and made me want her to survive despite the unstoppable force in her way. Florence Schauffler was haunting as Haggis. Her appearance was disturbing and made for a believable swamp witch. Her chemistry was on point with Lance. Which was important for their back and forth toward the tail end when he is demanding her to call him off, and she is telling him that can’t happen. When she is on screen demands your attention. And congratulations to George “Buck” Flower. He actually survived this time, and was pretty good as Mr. Wallace.
Pumpkinhead himself… was simply glorious. His appearance was grotesque and terrifying. Way he would just appear, with the wind and flashing lights. He was smart and by luring them with escape, or just plucking them from rooftops or trees, and their demise was slow and painful. Often saving the final kill to happen in front of the surviving friends. Like with Maggie. He taps her face off the window, to get their attention, rubs her face against the glass, before shoving her through, and lays her on the counter like she is nothing more than a dirty dish. Just a demented creepy monster. Played by the extremely talented Tom Woodruff Jr, who can not get enough praise for his work in prosthetics, and he shines as Pumpkinhead.
Alright, negatives, and I really only have one. First, think they killed Joel off to early. Being that is was his early actions that caused this. They had him begin to try and repent, but felt his death could have meant more, if he sacrificed himself to buy the others time. It was a good death, but feel they could have gotten more out of it.
If you haven’t seen this, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is the perfect time to watch; Halloween time. In between all the slashers, throw in Pumpkinhead, and enjoy the ride, and if you have seen it. Watch it again. You can never have enough Pumpkinhead. Final Grade – S
Thank you for reading