Thursday, October 30, 2014

MR Pumpkinhead 1

Time to celebrate Halloween in style!

With this Halloween-themed slasher flick, a little film project from special effects veteran, Stan Winston himself!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of Terror
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders - Series 2 (Image)
Revival Vol. 1 - Vol. 2
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman series
It's Alive series
Gremlins - Gremlins 2: The New BatchCritters seriesTremors series
The Faculty / James Gunn's Slither
 Troll 2
The Thing from Another WorldJohn Carpenter's The Thing
John Carpenter's Prince of DarknessJohn Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness
Jacob's LadderJohn Carpenter's The WardEvent Horizon
DeepStar Six / Leviathan / Lords of the Deep / The Evil BelowThe Abyss
Deep Blue Sea

Movie: Pumpkinhead 
Directed by Stan Winston
Release date 1988
Genre Slasher/horror film
Country USA

If you're a horror fan, chances are you're familiar with the name of Stan Winston.

The man was a legend, he had his own special effects company, the Stan Winston Studio. He worked on the original Star Wars series, and collaborated regularly with great film directors such as James Cameron, John Carpenter or even Steven Spielberg. His most notable work includes the Friday the 13th series, The Thing, The Terminator series, the first three Jurassic Park films, Aliens and the first two Predator films.

In 1988, Pumpkinhead was his directing debut, which he also wrote. The idea was mostly inspired by a poem by writer Ed Justin.

The film stars a cast of mostly unknown actors, Jeff East, John D'Aquino etc. Along veteran of the genre Lance Henriksen.

It was produced by horror master Dino De Laurentiis' company, the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. The same company also responsible for the likes of Evil Dead 2 and King Kong Lives.

Pumpkinhead tales the story of a vengeful demonic creature that is unleashed after people.

Once Pumpkinhead is out... You stay inside for the night... It only goes after the people he was sent after... Don't get in its way...

The story opens with a prologue in 1957. A man and his wife and child were hiding inside their farm. The home was a closed to a man outside, asking for help and a place to hide. But the man refused to hear his cry. The son, Ed, looked through the window and saw a monster killing him...

We then jump to the present day of the 1980s. Ed Harley now owns a small store in the middle of nowhere.

One day he was forced to leave for a while and left the story in the hands of his own young son. The kid stayed behind while he went on this errand. That's when a group of teenagers stopped by. They started playing around, messing around in the dunes and riding their bikes off road. Suddenly it happened... They accidentally mortally injured Ed's son!

One of them stayed behind but the others ran off. Once the father came back... he was devastated! The others didn't want to call the cops, one of them is already on probation!

With no solution, Ed was desperate and decided to go see a woman rumored to really be a witch. She lives in the middle of this dark forest where nobody go anymore. But she can't bring him back to life. Instead... she promises a means for vengeance if it's revenge he really wants! She can summon a spirit of vengeance... but at a terrible price!

Ed goes to this old graveyard in the nearby mountain. He digs up this strange disfigured corpse and bring it back to the witch's. Using blood from both father and son, a "contract" is made... The Pumpkinhead demon arises!

One of the kids is starting to show signs of remorses and wants to turn himself to the local police. But it's already too late for that... the monster arrives! It starts getting them outside the cabin, one by one, and killing them!

But wait! We didn't forget Ed Harley just yet! He witnesses the murders of the kids through Pumpkinhead's eyes! And it's starting to weigh heavily on his conscience. He wants out of this deal! He asks the witch to stop the demon, but there's no turning back now!

The kids try fighting Pumpkinhead back, with no success. And Pumpkinhead's face is also slowly starting to turn into Harley's face somehow! It's starting to turn more and more into a human! They're both getting bonded as one! Hurting one hurts the other! Ed is left but with only one choice - he has to kill himself to put a stop to Pumpkinhead...

At the end of the tale, later that night, they defeat the monster at an heavy price... They decide to bury Ed Harley's corpse in Pumpkinhead's original grave, his body now as disfigured as Pumpkinhead was...

As far the creature itself go, this Pumpkinhead monster looks great! Winston always had a unique eye for special effects.

Pumpkinhead is a pretty fun and well-enough polished B-movie. A nice dark little tale, perfect for the season.

Sure, the acting is not always that great. LanceHenriksen is of of course the standout of the film, as this man blinded by his rage and anger.

The film has a great atmosphere. It's not that much gore compared to other films of the genre. In fact it differs a lot from these usual flicks, even the "teens" here are actually in their twenties and they're not really your regular faceless characters you see in these kinds of films, showing concerns for their actions and whatnot.

Which also means the kills are not that impressive, since they're not the main focus of the film. Pumpkinhead spends the film lifting and suffocating people by the throat.

The practical effects are great. They have this physical presence unlike most modern weightless CGi effects. They're the real focus of the film. With a great looking monster and some great sets such as the witch's cabin.

The music on the other hand is forgettable but serviceable. It was composed by Richard Stone.

At the time, Pumpkinhead received mostly a mixed reception from the audience and critics alike. Following a limited theatrical release back in October 1988 to very little success, like It's Alive it received a second life during a second theatrical run, again, in January 1989.

Overall, "the legend of the Pumpkinhead" is a perfect fun Halloween-esque tale for this time of the year. A very underrated slasher flick.

The film has a solid great atmosphere, perfect for this month. A simple but perfect-enough story for this kind of revenge-horror tale. The design of the close H. R. Giger's Alien on purpose.

There's plenty left to the imagination, unlike most modern horror films these days (like where did the creature or the witch came from? how does this curse properly works? etc.)

Pumpkinhead would go on receiving its well worth cult status. And spawning a few sequels over the years including a couple of direct-to-video SyFy sequels. With a first sequel in 1994, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. which would result in two later made for TV films of questionable quality. There also was a pretty bad old first person game for PC by Electronic Arts as well as a Dark Horse Comics comic in 1993.

And apparently there's been talks of a reboot, planned for a really long while now, with no results so far.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Necronomicons!

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