In a little country town that makes my own look like the big city, a single father by the name of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) loses his son to some careless kids on motorbikes and enlists the aid of an old witch to summon an ancient revenge demon, Pumpkinhead, to avenge the boy’s death. Unfortunately, the witch doesn’t fill Ed in on the particulars of the deal, and Ed starts seeing the violent murders being performed by the demon via what appears to be a psychic bond with it. Ed sets out to right his wrong and to send Pumpkinhead back to Hell before it completely wipes out the pesky city teens. Will he succeed? I’m not telling, watch it for yourself.
This film is directed by Stan Winston, special-effects artist from “Alien” and “Predator”. Stan’s good taste for visual flair rivals that of Tim Burton, with color and lighting effects the likes of which I’ve never seen before. The creature effects are incredible for their time, definitely due to Winston’s experience with animatronics and costumes. The old witch make my skin crawl!
Lance Henriksen (from “Millennium” fame) is an outstanding actor, and though I prefer him in villainous roles, he does a great job with the tormented and backwoods character of Ed. I usually laugh at exaggerated hillbilly characters like the ones found in this film, but the strong story and Henriksen’s standout performance kept it serious for me.
The film’s greatest strength, though, lies in its conflict. The film breaks one of those seldom crossed barriers of never killing children and puppies. And while no pups are harmed in this film, a kid buys it, and that tells the viewer that this will in no way be your standard monster flick.
Pumpkinhead is cruel, picking kids from the trees, stepping on them, and even carving a cross in a religious teen’s forehead. And though the film scores very low on the gore-meter, the kills are stretched out and wicked cool, and the climax is original and fitting. I expected to watch another killer demon horror flick when I bought Pumpkinhead, but what I got was something more of a gothic story of love, loss, vengeance, and redemption. I recommend this not so much because of quality (don’t get me wrong, it’s good!), but because it’s different from anything I’ve ever seen before. Do good visuals, good directing, and an original horror tale sound like a good movie to you? Then check Pumpkinhead out.
WARNING: Stray away from Pumpkinhead 2 at all costs. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear the main characters are all kids, and I hear it shames the original. If you want to see a bunch of kids save the day, check Goonies or Pumpkinhead 2 out. If you want to see a REAL movie, then pick up Pumpkinhead I.