When I was about nine years old, Pumpkinhead was one of THE horror films to watch. I hadn’t read any reviews or talked to anyone who’d actually seen it, in fact I didn’t even know what it was about, but it definitely had the most terrifying box in the whole video shop. Who was that haggard old witch? And why was she called Pumpkinhead? And how could anyone bare to use such a creepy font? Oh my god!
Even after I’d managed to wangle a lone viewing of ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’, andscared myself silly, I still couldn’t bring myself to watch Pumpkinhead. Over the years I watched every horror film I could rent, but I’d always shy away from this, just in case it really was too scary. And then, when the videos suddenly began to disappear and be replaced by fancy pants DVDs, Pumpkinhead was nowhere to be seen.
It became the film I thought about most, even though I knew nothing about it but its name; a thing which I had never had, but I missed just the same. When my wife gave me a copy of Pumpkinhead for my birthday a couple of years ago, I almost burst into tears…
At long last I was to discover what this movie was all about. And it didn’t take long to find out that it was bonkers.
Lance Henriksen was out for another jaunt, in between being in ‘Aliens’ and ‘Every Other Film Ever Made’. He got to give some City Kids the evil eye for accidentally killing his son, then conjuring up a chuffing great big vengeance demon to wreak havoc upon them. Ruggedly exciting though this was, I couldn’t help but ask myself: wouldn’t it be easier to get a gun and just shoot them? Eh Lance? Eh?
Naturally the City Kids didn’t fair well, neither in terms of narrative nor acting prowess. This was strictly running, shouting, crying, dying type stuff. Which is exactly what I wanted. So good work people!
But Stan… Well now, everybody knows that Stan Winston can make a fine looking monster, but this, his first movie as director, seemed to have been a bit of a stretch for the poor lamb. Having a lot of red lights and blue lights a horror film does not make. Never mind eh.
Now I don’t want to spoil the mysterious mythical maze that is Pumpkinhead’s plot, but I will say that my biggest disappointment came early on when I found out that the old crone on the front cover isn’t actually Pumpkinhead after all! She’s just some old crone! After years of dreaming about her, wondering who she was, what she did, where she came from, she could only be bothered being on screen for 5 blinkin’ minutes! Selfish? Yes, actually. Very selfish indeed.
That just left me with the actual creature itself, which did look pretty damn impressive. While Stan was busy directing (traffic?), his team really had done a sterling job. It may not be the most scary looking movie monster you ever saw, but it’s more believable than most, and surprisingly nimble. So that’s nice.
Does that cover it? I don’t know. It’s too emotional. So here are a few final things I learnt from watching the movie:
Pumpkinhead will do any kind of revenge work, but he does charge. Pumpkinhead is not scared of fire, nighttime, hillbillies or Jesus. Dogs do not like Pumpkinhead. They think he is ugly and they growl at him. Pumpkinhead knows lots about motorcycle mechanics and is good at throwing motorcycles with people on them.
And finally, Pumpkinhead was the best film I never saw, until I saw it. Then it was ok.