Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you're tired of living,
His enemies are mostly dead,
He's mean and unforgiving,
Laugh at him and you're undone,
But in some dreadful fashion,
Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot,
A plot that he has brewing,
It's when you think that he's forgot,
He'll conjure your undoing,
Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.
(poem by Ed Justin)
You might question why a monster called Pumpkinhead does not in fact have a pumpkin for a head, well don't because this film is awesome!
Directed by special effects giant Stan Winston and released in 1988 Pumpkinhead has, despite mixed review at the time, gone on to attain a cult following and it's easy to see why. Staring the always great Lance Henriksen and sporting some, unsurprisingly awesome practical effects this is a film that's great fun for both horror and monster movie fans.
We start with a scene in 1957 where Pumpkinhead is hunting a man accused of murder, he attempts to get help from a house he passes but no one will fearing the creature will kill them as well. When Pumpkinhead finally catches and kills the man it is witnessed by a young Ed Harly. Flashing to the present where the now adult Ed is a single parent running a shop with his young son Billy.
Tragedy strikes when a group of teens stop at the shop, two riding off on their dirt bikes, when Ed is off running an errand Billy is accidentally hit by one of the bikes. The guy riding the bike drives off fearing jail time due to the fact that he has been drinking, most the others go to find a phone to call for help while one stays with Billy. Ed returns and takes his son home to treat his wounds but it's to no avail and Billy dies.
Distraught Ed seeks out the Old Witch in the hills so she can help him summon Pumpkinhead, she agrees and once Ed has dug him up from the graveyard in the old pumpkin patch they send him after the teens.
Thats the set up but there is so much more to the film, though we don't get a proper look at Pumpkinhead till about midway though the film (and I must add he is a fantastic creation), he is built up though the 1957 scene and though a creepy little poem we hear some kids sing showing that he has become a bogey man and legend. Lance Henriksen gives a great performance as Ed Harley, in just a few short scenes we see how close he is with his son, and even though he is responsible for Pumpkinhead going after the teens, most of whom are innocent and did everything they could to help his son, you are still sympathetic, and when the character shows regret for his actions you don't completely judge him because we see the pain he is in and and that he isn't thinking clearly. One short scene I loved is not long after Ed and the Old Witch have summoned Pumpkinhead, Ed's driving back and you can already see the worry and regret he's carrying, but then his son appears in the car next to him and says 'why did you do it daddy?', we don't know if it was a ghost or an hallucination brought on by Ed's own regret, it's short and effective scene.
There are some more twists in the film and of course some great death scenes but I don't want to give anything else away. There are sequels, one stand alone story that just follows similar themes with a monster called Pumpkinhead and two more that follow on from this film with Lance Henriksen returning, I haven't seen any but will be checking out all the sequels as soon as I can.
I love this film and can't recommend it enough, if you get a chance check it out!