DVD Review: Pumpkinhead

PrintE-mail Written by Earl Strider

Review: Pumpkinhead (18) / Director: Stan Winston / Screenplay: Mark Patrick Carducci, Gary Gerani / Starring: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Kimberly Ross / Release date: Out now

Incredible as it may seem, there are still a good few films yet to see a R2 DVD release. In the Mouth of Madness, Fright Night 2 and Terrorvision are all notable by their absence. If they are ever released, it’s usually extras and fanfare free. Such was the case in 2009 with Twilight Zone - The Movie and most recently, Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead.

Released in 1988, Pumpkinhead tells the story of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), a small town shop owner and father whose son is accidentally killed by the obnoxious leader of a group of dirt biking teenagers from the city. Looking for vengeance, Ed makes a terrible bargain with an old hag, named Haggis (honestly), to raise the demon, Pumpkinhead, to exact his revenge.

What follows is a hybrid slasher/monster movie as the teenagers are stalked and killed by the titular demon, culminating in a neat twist that lays the groundwork for the sequel (1994’s straight to video Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings).

Nicely paced with a satisfying conclusion, Pumpkinhead is an entertaining example of the monster genre, but the real selling point is the monster itself.

Created by Stan Winston’s effects team, Pumpkinhead is a memorable creation. Essentially a ‘Man in a rubber suit’, it manages to be realistic, expressive and, like Alien, goes through several physical changes in service to the story. 

Inside the suit was actor and fellow special effects master Tom Woodruff Jr, who continues to work behind and in front of the camera to this day, most notably creature design and acting in the Alien Vs Predator franchise.

With the amazing talent involved and solid final product, it’s difficult to see why Pumpkinhead disappeared into obscurity while some of its less deserving peers found mainstream success, it certainly ticks all the boxes. If we had to nit pick, we’d say some of the deaths are a little uninspired, but that’s just a quibble.

Pumpkinhead is a solid entry in the genre and well worth your time.

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