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Pumpkinhead (1988)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Stan Winston

Starring:
Lance Henriksen/Ed
Cynthia Bain/Tracy
John D’Aquino/Joel
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Loving father Ed (Henriksen) is living a simple life is some boonie town. That’s until some "Big City" teens arrive, accidentally kill his son and ruin his life. Full of hate, Ed with the help of some creepy witch, conjures up a nasty demon, a demon who only has one purpose: Vengeance. The demon is loose and teens are dying.
THE LOWDOWN
Stan Winston, the special effect dude behind the creatures in Aliens helms his first film. It’s a triumph. This is a grim movie that doesn’t shy away from emotions. We understand Ed’s pain and also understand the teens situation. This flick could have easily fell into the slasher mold but it avoids all the pitfalls. The teens are not horny and the teens do the right thing "they run". The movie feels old fashioned, almost like a children’s tale. The witch in the woods, the nursery rime, the demon buried in the pumpkin patch, all those elements contribute to that. Another thing that elevates the movie a notch higher is "Lance Henriksen". The man is a great actor and his heartfelt, angry, bitter performance hits all the right notes.

The setting of the film is very creepy. A forest never felt scarier. And the demon…wow…Pumpkinhead never looks like an effect. He looks like a breathing 10 foot demon. I love that they gave Pumpkinhead a personality. This demon loves toying with his victims, taunting them and he clearly enjoys his work.

My only complaint is that the movie mostly concentrates on the Ed character. We never get to really know the teens too well. But we still care about them cause we know it was an accident and that they don’t deserve Pumpkinhead, that’s for sure.

Slap in some religious imagery, some fun violence and some suspense (I loved that Pumpkinhead attacks from high places, pulling his victims up into trees with him…effective) and you get a monster movie that should be slapped in the cult classic folder.

Let's carve this one open…
GORE
Pumpkinhead is one cruel mother. He carves the symbol of the cross in some girl’s forehead, impales a guy with a rifle and puts this girl’s head through a window. It’s not overly bloody but it’s very mean.
ACTING
Lance Henriksen (Ed) delivers another solid performance. This man can play anything and has presence to boot. Cynthia Bain (Tracy) gives an intelligent, sympathetic performance. John D’Aquino (Joel) plays the Italian asshole perfectly, you will hate him. Joel Hoffman (Steve) does good as Joel’s brother. His performance is focused and enjoyable. Nice bandana dude…
T & A
No time for that, the teens got a demon on their ass. Pumpkinhead is naked…
DIRECTING
Winston directs with a firm hand. He uses camera movements to express character’s feelings. The movie is also beautiful to look at. It’s bathed in blue and red lighting. Slap in some subtle slow motion and some tightly directed suspense scenes and you got one for the books.
SOUNDTRACK
An eerie score with a hint of bumkin twang.
BOTTOM LINE
A well done, haunting monster movie. It takes the time to set up its story and delivers the horror goods. Sometimes I feel quality is lacking in horror movies. This film is all about quality. Quality script, acting, effects, directing and ending. If you haven’t seen this baby, you’re missing out.
BULL'S EYE
The movie was shot in LA and took 36 days to film.

The budget for this film was $3.5 million.

Stan Winston turned down: Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors to direct Pumpkinhead.

The movie’s title went back and forth several times. From Pumpkinhead to Vengeance: The Demon to Pumpkinhead again and so on until Pumpkinhead stayed.

A sequel exists called Pumpkinhead: Bloodwings directed by Jeff Burr (Texas3), I hear it sucks…I’ll let you guys know.
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11:50PM on 10/02/2008
One of my favorites. Amazing film. Sleak, scary, with good acting and a badass monster. Pumpkinhead rules!
One of my favorites. Amazing film. Sleak, scary, with good acting and a badass monster. Pumpkinhead rules!
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