Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Lance Henriksen
PUMPKINHEAD (1988). Director: Stan Winston.

Fruit seller Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen of Aliens) has a loving relationship with his little boy, Billy (an appealing Matthew Hurley), but this is shattered when the child is killed in a motorcycle accident. Harley holds responsible a group of young people who came to the country for a drive, some of whom seem irresponsible, to say the least. Remembering an incident from his childhood, Ed goes to see an ancient witch who revives the demon, Pumpkinhead, to help him seek vengeance. However, Pumpkinhead doesn't seem to care if he kills the innocent or the guilty, and Ed tries to save the members of the group who are still alive at great personal cost. 

Pumpkinhead, itself
Pumpkinhead had its admirers back when it was released, but even then I thought it was a disappointment and still feel the same. On one hand it's better than a lot of the tacky mad slasher films that came out around this time and earlier, even if this is really just a comparatively tasteful slasher film with a demon instead of a maniac. The script reads like an old EC Comics revenge story, and hasn't much originality, twists or surprises, except perhaps the bit with Ed turning out to be linked to the monster (although even this has been done before). The picture is also rather slow-moving, the monster is too Alien-like, and the film is never scary or especially suspenseful. The locations all have a sound stage-like artificiality, but there is some atmospheric lighting throughout. The victims aren't quite dimensional enough to really care about. The FX in the film are generally good, however. A major Pumpkinhead franchise did not develop, but there was a direct-to-video sequel, Pumpkinhead: Blood Wings, and a couple of cable follow-ups. Lance Henriksen gives a strong performance. The only other name actor is Jeff East from Superman.  

Verdict: Smash that pumpkin! **1/4.  


angelman66 said...

Love Henriksen - he is a horror film staple and can play either a leading man or villain with equal certitude. I love him as the military academy mentor of the anti christ in Damien Omen II.

William said...

Yes, one of his most memorable roles. He is a very good and reliable actor.