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!
Pumkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994)
Directed by Jeff Burr
“Witches be some scary bitches.”
One of the best things about writing this column is that it forces me to investigate flicks that either I’ve never seen or never considered watching. Case in point: Pumkinhead II: Blood Wings. In horror, franchises make the genre go, which means there’s wayyyy too many franchises. Can’t keep up with them all, so with the Pumpkinhead series, it was always one of those where the covers always stood out in the video store (back in the day, obviously), but for whatever reason, I never one picked up. Regardless, it’s never too late to try something new. And with Halloween approaching, it only seems fitting to visit something…Halloweenish. And nothing says the holiday like a title with a pumpkin in it.
Anyway, Pumpkinhead II isn’t exactly classic. Clearly. If it was, if it was a perfectly amazing film, the franchise would have continued to rock on consistently and the body count would’ve continued to pile. That wasn’t the case. Released in 1994 to your local video rental establishment, Pumpkinhead II offered up what you’d expect. Wacky teens, ghost stories, hillbillies, and a body count. Thankfully, there’s more. There’s a witches, well, one witch whose makeup is a complete rip off from the Evil Dead. Or it might have been stolen from Billy Crystal in the Princess Bride. Or maybe both. Regardless, let’s get something straight. Witches be some scary bitches, and frankly, it’s a nice change of pace from the usually horror brigade of slasher baddies. Sure, Pumpkinhead isn’t a witch and she doesn’t kill anyone, but the witch has an odd kinship to the ugly dude for whatever reason, and she ends up more frightening than the Pumpkinhead himself.
Speaking of which, Pumpkinhead isn’t the smoothest villain ever… which really isn’t his fault considering he’s just a massive puppet. That handicap leaves him a bit on the stiff side during his murdering. Yet, dude still manages some mean brutality as he rips folks apart in some gruesome ways from removing limbs, to gutting stomachs, to some nasty slashings. While he’s effectively brutal, he lacks…personality. The design is suppose to give him that, but he’s more of less a poor man’s Alien. However, all this helps to create the entertainment. This isn’t high level stuff here and somehow a villain like this just works. He’s large, gruesome, and ugly, the perfect killing machine (especially for dumb rednecks).
Likewise, the acting leaves a lot to be desired, but what the hell do you expect from a direct to video sequel? And while Lance Henriksen isn’t back for more, the producers thankfully cast the underused Andrew Robinson, who will always be remembered for Dirty Harry and Hellraiser (or for Star Trek: DS9 as a Cardassian for the dorks). Here, he plays Sherriff Braddock, who returns to his small, boyhood town after moving back from New York. Braddock doesn’t quite understand everything about the town, especially the tales of the witch and her monster. What he does know is that the town’s bad boy is trying to get down with his daughter, which is already bad, but it’s made worse when the bad boy (played by J. Trevor Edmond) decides to kill the witch and resurrect Pumpkinhead for a reason that escaped me. Again, it doesn’t matter because we need some dummy to bring back the curse, so it might as well be the town hotshot.
In the end, what was learned? Well, Pumpkinhead II isn’t exactly original. Actually, it reminded me of about ten different movies …but so what. It’s a near-perfect B monster movie with gore, boobs, blood, mayhem, and country music. Hell, it even has a nursery rhyme to go along with the character: “Bolted doors and windows barred. Guard dogs prowling in your yard. Won’t protect in your bed. Nothing will…from Pumpkinhead.” And we all know that no great horror movie is complete something catchy to tell the kids late at night.