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The F*cking Black Sheep: Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS (1993)

DIRECTED BY JEFF BURR

As THE PREDATOR finally arrives in theaters this Friday (who’s got their tickets already?), let’s all take a moment to remember the late great Stan Winston, the makeup and SFX maestro who designed the look of the titular terror. F*ck it, I’m pouring one out for the man right now! Of course, Winston only directed two feature films over his illustrious career, with the only one worth mentioning being the damn near equally impressive monster-mash PUMPKINHEAD, released one year after PREDATOR. Now, we promise to save that one for another day via a Test of Time article, as it deserves one, and instead focus our attention today on the F*cking Black Sheep that is, believe it or not, PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS!

Christ, I’ve rarely been as entertained by a straight-to-video horror flick featuring such atrocious acting as PUMPKINHEAD II. Just, wow. THE TOXIC AVENGER comes to mind, perhaps an Ed Wood flick or two. Then again, those flicks were release theatrically. And yet, with journeyman schlock-jock Jeff Burr at the helm (FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, STEPFATHER II, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III, PUPPET MASTER 4 & 5), with an array of dazzling strobe-lit FX work by KNB amid a healthy double-fistful of savage fatalities, I have to admit that said bad acting hardly hinders the overall enjoyment level of the film. In a way, the terrible performances may augment the amusement level. Look, nobody in their right mind is claiming BLOOD WINGS is a good horror movie; it is however a pretty competent sequel made during a time when neither horror films, nor horror sequels were all that astounding. Besides, this mother*cker has a young Kane Hodder up in the mix!

Happy 25th birthday PUMPKINHEAD II, we’re about show why those BLOOD WINGS belong to a F*cking Black Sheep!

The movie opens with an absolutely brutal flashback to Ferren Woods in 1958. A gang of asshole lettermen bullies taunt, torment and torture a deformed little boy named Tommy to death, who happens to be the offspring of Pumpkinhead, by bashing him up and dropping him down a bottomless iron mine. If you saw this scene as a kid, you know how disturbing it is to watch. No joke! Cut to the present, when Sheriff Sean Braddock (Andrew Robinson, HELLRAISER, CHILD’S PLAY 3) newly arrives in town with his hot teenage daughter Jenny (Ami Dolenz doing her spot on Nicole Eggert imitation).

Not just any sheriff, but the very sheriff that tried to save Tommy before being murdered by a sextet of teenagers who play on the Red Wings high-school team. Red Wings becomes a clue for Tommy’s revenge, with the subtitle Blood Wings serving as not only substitute, but a hallmarking harbinger as well. That is, when an old witch named Ms. Osie procures a vial of blood she plans on using in a spell to resurrect Tommy from the grave; Jenny’s dumbass boyfriend Danny (J. Trevor Edmond) steals the vial and does the deed himself. In Ms. Osie old abode, notice The Book of the Dead from EVIL DEAD as a prop in the background (KNB FX worked on both flicks!)

Cue the killer carnage! It turns out one of the teens that killed Tommy was Danny’s father, Judge Dixon (Steve Kanaly). The judge becomes one of six targets of Tommy’s vengeful ire when he indeed returns as a deformed Pumpkinhead offshoot, with four innocent bystanders catching Tommy’s merciless wrath along the way. And yes, this is where the bulk of fun is to be had in BLOOD WINGS: the delicious death scenes. Burr not only imbues his trashy screenplay with a wild atmospheric energy, he makes damn sure that every time Tommy is summoned onscreen, he comes backlit with a lightning strobe effect that just feels like the kind of horror movie we all grew up loving. Between that and the trippy red Pumpkinhead POV, it just feels like we’re in for a good old fashioned fright flick.

Straight up, the first fatality in the film was so gnarly that the MPAA forced Burr to chop it down in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. What happens? Tommy shows up and shreds old Ernst (Joe Unger) to pieces in a slaughterhouse, first picking him up, throwing him across the room onto a meat hook. The he tears the dude limb from limb with those giant reptilian claws until faucets of fresh blood pool down below. Shite’s resplendent!

The next time we see PH, he scares the piss out of Jenny in a PHANTASM-like dream-sequence, in which we get a good close-up of KNB’s solid monster design. Again, love the lightning-strobe effect! Immediately afterwards, PH picks up a burly redneck into the air, drops the poor bastard onto his knee and shatters his spine before throwing him like a ragdoll out onto the street. Trust, Pumpkinhead’s just warming up. Once Danny and his pals realize they’ve successfully summoned Tommy from the grave (“What is this, Pet Sematary?”), they know they’re evilly imperiled.

They retreat to a cabin in the woods (as you do) with hopes of hiding out until the wave of mutilation ceases. Uh uh. Old Pumpy finds those young sumbitches and proceeds to gruesomely vitiate anyone he can land those towering talons upon. Next? F*ck yes, our main man Kane Hodder catches a bad one! After selling some wares at a cattle ranch, PH storms in with evil agog and quickly dismantles Hodder’s pal by lunging him into a chicken coup, where voracious hens pluck the sucker’s eyeballs out. Hodder then gets disemboweled by PH’s mighty claw, as he plunges it into Hodder’s back and out through his chest. How about that, Voorhees getting his own dose!

Or how about when Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) gets barbarously impaled, one of the few graphic, non-cutaway deaths? I always loved that one almost as much as the report that Frye “had” to gain 20 pounds to play the role of Marcie. But the best of the bunch is reserved for Danny, whose pretty little head is so gorgeously decollated in the end, one can’t help but think of RE-ANIMATOR or THE THING. It’s got that gooey neck viscera stretching from the base of his spinal cord, with fountains of gore coursing out of his carotid. It’s a showstopper, and easy to understand why it was held until the end.

Speaking of ends, there’s a nice, dare I say touching full-circle finale that brings us back to the iron mine. I guess we’ll leave this one detail unspoiled, and tease it up as a reminder to see PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS again. If you can get past the terrible acting, there’s a damn good time to be had. I swear. A double digit body-count, a jaunty 88 minutes (one death every 8.8 minutes), a menacing energy and pitch-perfect atmosphere and some stellar (albeit cheesy at times) FX work, yeah…you could do a lot worse. Besides, is there a better sounding combo than a F*cking Black Sheep and Blood Wings!? Hell no. Stan Winston, you’ve inspired yet another cinematic PREDATOR!

STREAM PUMPKINHEAD II; BLOOD WINGS HERE

GET PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS ON DVD HERE

GET PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS ON BLU-RAY HERE

Extra Tidbit: PUMPKINHEAD 2 was shot in 24 days.
Source: AITH

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