Pumpkinhead Review

Movie: Pumpkinhead
By: Vincent van Gore
Date: April 11, 2011

What you're asking got a powerful price.

How powerful is the price of revenge, exactly? Would you cough up sawdust? Foraging what's owed? Blink? Water the spathiphyllum? Unfortunately for Ed Harley, ten dollars was all it took for loss of a driven soul, and sucker punching the proverbial clock for a one way ticket to his own hell and euphoria. Thankfully, special effects artist Stan Winston already knew the bill, and happened to be a gracious tipper. An iris shot, and noise reduction, popped his cherry with a bleeding directorial debut worthy of honoring. Like a neo glazed fog, grooming Guillermo del Toro's morning-wood, it may have been considered passe for the time, but this fairy tale is far too sweet to be this dark.


starring Lance Henriksen, Florence Schauffler, Brian Bremer, George Flower, Kerry Remsen, and Tom Woodruff Jr. as Pumpkinhead(that's right, Gillman from The Monster Squad); is a grim tale that didn't come to fruition until the late eighties. The Demon of Revenge, Vengeance, and than finally deciding on Pumpkinhead, was born in the 1970's, inspired by a poem written by Ed Justin. Finally being released nearly a year after the initial poster slipped out by a previous distribution company; to say the least, Pumpkinhead has had one hell of a ride to the light. 'Keep away from Pumpkinhead, Unless you're tired of living, His enemies are mostly dead, He's mean and unforgiving, Laugh at him and you're undone, But in some dreadful fashion, Vengeance, he considers fun, And plans it with a passion, Time will not erase or blot, A plot that he has brewing, It's when you think that he's forgot, He'll conjure your undoing, Bolted doors and windows barred, Guard dogs prowling in the yard, Won't protect you in your bed, Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.'


An occult home

Razorback Holler, it is a bucolic graveyard, scattered with rotten pumpkins, that sleeps blanketed by the bodies of kin its mountain folk were ashamed of. You'll know where. It is home. An occult home to a demon of retribution. This is his birthplace. By feeding off its sacrifice through an interlinking, telepathic stranglehold, it aims to please the desires of the offering, expunging the guilty and all associated to them. And no, his head is not a pumpkin, 'nor does it resemble one. Have the 23 angry readers left, yet? Okay. The most noteworthy aspect of waste disposal: Never has the thought of a monster actually grasping a rifle, and impaling a person through the abdomen, ever crossed my mind. I guess I am just old fashioned. Now it's a frequent occurrence. The way he hunts, and fiddles with his victims is merely a game to him. You can literally see the pleasure dripping from his facial expressions, as he corners them like rats. By paying close attention to the creatures grimaces, winces, and smirks, he like Pinhead enjoys his work while having the chance to play. What I found in the time capsule to be the most genuine oblation, was quite easily the agrestic simplicity of this story. You don't usually come by one of this nature, that ends the way it does. Things can get fairly confucked when dealing with wild justice, especially when a 9-12 foot tall demon seed is caught in the web, bloodthirsty and running amok. If taken like it should, it is a lesson. A lesson any human being should be aware of, and practice. Forgiveness. Here, it isn't violence leading to more violence, instead we are presented a much more unique, and personal message. A man not being able to accept and forgive the mistakes of another, whether they meant to cause pain, or not. Horror doesn't usually convey an uplifting message such as this, but it does exist. No frills. If we can forgive, we need not ever wind up at Morningside, next to a Good Guy, or at Razorback Holler.


Leaving hope

Pumpkinhead to this day remains one of the most [insert teenage colloquialism] looking horror icons I can name. The amount of detail given to the costume is awing. If I am not mistaken, the effects group who worked on Predator and Alien created him. It's beyond me why he didn't become a mainstream hit. Although, I must say that Florence Schauffler almost stole the show. Her arm gestures, makeup, and murky dialogue added a thick coating of authenticity. Lance Henriksen was such a dear. Yes, only 5% body fat as always. Conveying such torture must have been a difficult task, and I fell. Hard. He was Ed Harley. Lance even had a set of fake pearls to help his character fit the rustic feel. As if the "Leaving Hope" sign in front his grocery stand wasn't enough. Keeping those bananas peeled, you might recognize Mushroom the dog, who also starred in Gremlins. We should all be aware by now just how watered down American horror can be, which is why Pumpkinhead chose quicksand, and is a product of clear, crisp and refreshing camera work like a Sierra Mist promotional ad. Even Rob Zombie borrowed from their tricks and presentation in his horrid remake, of that horrid John Carpenter piece, that we need not mention. They understood that we should be WATCHING the movie, and taking advantage of the viewpoints that widescreen gives us. The cuts, and exposure of the demon are so precise, equilibrium is found immediately. Yesterday morning, at 2:00am, I popped it in and was still surprised at the aesthetics, and daring shots Stan decided to take. Shadow where it should be, carved deep into its actors. Bright oranges that color Tobe Hooper fans green, accentuating the midday of a rural, no where. Not to forget blue hues that could give Pan's Labyrinth a run for its money. Hilariously memorable blunders such as a bleeding knife over an open cut, and able to spy Pumpkinhead's pair of sneakers near the end, are present, but as we all know, better left in. I still feel the only real dated look is the Bruce Springsteen headband worn by Joel Hoffman. The acting from most of the youth seemed pushy, and overdone, minus one Brian Bremer. The group of "friends" weren't very cohesive, either. Usually showing a monster too much will spoil chills, and heighten hilarity. This is true with Pumpkinhead, but it isn't so terrible. Pumpkinhead can still be a frightening creature, if one has the imagination for it. He is fully shown from beginning to end, and much more frequent than you would think permissible for scares. Often laughter will emerge, but in my case, it's because I was rooting for the deed at hand. Widely seen as a pillow for half the initiated, and average to an everyday goer, I will keep eight of my ten folded, and show you the two that matter.


The ole in-out, in-out

This movie is truly rare. Yes, the execution didn't meet all the standards I hold to be considered perfect, far from it, but it will always remain a favorite of mine. A story with no holes in the demons creation, existence, and or speculated demise. It wraps into a gift, with a bow tight enough to make one as fastidious as Heroine Bob shit diamonds. The feature running time, like most films, is just shy of an hour and a half, but after you discase the fake lashes, and remove the white codpiece; you realize how sweet the ole in-out, in-out, truly was. Sadly, Pumpkinhead will remain whispered amongst everyday breaths, lost in between prayers of our pixelated god until Halloween horror movie marathons, at three in the morning(which always seem to run Leprechaun first)on basic cable. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it isn't so disheartening. He has reached cult status, after all. Being one of my preferent creatures in horror though, to overlook would be unforgivable; and the absence of forgiveness as we know, will end where it began. "You can go now, Ed Harley. Now it begins."







Stan Winston






Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Kerry Remsen, Joel Hoffman, Florence Schauffler