Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Movie Review: "Pumpkinhead" (1988)

Director: Stan Winston
Year: 1988
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

After his son is accidentally killed in a dirt bike accident by a group of vacationing college kids, Ed Harley seeks out the help of a witch to conjure up a demon known as 'Pumpkinhead' to exact revenge on the group of city folk who wronged him.

It's Halloween! All of the Jack o' Lanterns are out and ready to go, and it's the last day of our Halloween horror movie marathon. We are ending our month-long horror extravaganza with the 1988 film "Pumpkinhead." It is directed by the Stan Winston, who is known more for his special effects work than he is for his directorial work. "Pumpkinhead" stars Lance Henriksen as Ed Harley, the owner of a small town general store and single father of a young spiky-haired boy with glasses named Billy, played by Matthew Hurley. When a group of college-aged "city folk" visit the country on vacation, one rowdy member of the group named Joel, because every group has to have that one asshole, decides that after having a few beer, he wants to go dirt-biking outside Harley's general store. When Ed leaves the store to get some livestock feed for a customer, Billy is in an unfortunate accident when Joel hits him with his dirt bike. Fearing jail time, Joel takes off, because apparently hit and run is a less serious offense than vehicular manslaughter, while the others go off looking for help. When Ed gets back, he is understandably distraught and angry, but instead of contacting the police or taking his son to the hospital, he seeks out the help of a witch who will summon Pumpkinhead, a towering demon who will take revenge on your enemies in exchange for your soul...because that was obviously the rational decision in this situation. 

"Pumpkinhead" is a horror movie inspired by a poem. Yes, a poem, one you can read here if you are so inclined. Much like the poem, this movie is short and simple. It is a tale of revenge and regret. It isn't very deep and mostly consists of a giant pumpkin patch demon tormenting some college kids. It stars more of a collection of stereotypes as opposed to characters, including the loudmouth bro type who causes the conflict and the unwarshed hillbilly kids ridin' 'round in the backs of pickup trucks. The acting isn't exactly good. Anyone can put on a Southern accent, but to be truly successful at it takes practice, and no one here does a great job with it. Despite this, the movie excels in two areas, the special effects and makeup work. This is particularly true for Pumpkinhead and the witch who conjures it. They both look super impressive. That's to be expected since Sam Winston is a renowned FX artist.

In "Pumpkinhead," there is a little bit of tension, numerous jump scares, and a little bit of gore that winds up making this a mostly fun watch, though it is still a rather basic creature feature.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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