Friday, November 15, 2013

Pumpinhead 1 & 2: A Popjunkie Movie Review


Pumpkinhead (1988)
Pumpkinhead II: Bloodwings (1994)

The 1988 cult classic, Pumpkinhead, is one of those films where a decent story idea carries the entire project. Throw in a fantastically frightening creature and you can excuse the questionable acting skills and the obviously staged-looking sets. Directed by special effects master, Stan Winston (Terminator 1-3, Predator, Aliens… yeah, he knows creatures!) Pumkinhead created its own lore and wisely stuck to it throughout; creating a film that was effective in the scares department and just plain thrilling from beginning to end.

The premise is simple; Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is the local store owner whose son is hit and killed in a motorcycle accident. The driver of the bike is the requisite “movie-jerk” that leaves the scene of the crime – with his hysterical friends in tow. Moments after his son dies in his arms, the grief-stricken Harley goes down the supernatural path in search of Pumpkinhead - a demon who could be conjured to seek brutal revenge by someone who has been severely wronged.

Pumpkinhead’s keeper is “the scary, old Southern witch lady that kind of looks like a man and lives in a graveyard”. But she warns Harley that what he is asking “comes with a powerful price”. We come to learn how powerful a price by the end of the film. But like any good witch, all you have to do is go to her with your problems, make your sacrifice and voila – Southern demon justice!

And justice is certainly doled out in spades!

A guilty pleasure to be sure but nothing to be embarrassed of as Pumpkinhead is a solid ‘creature feature’ with one hell of a creature, a few good scares and pure, revenge-fueled mayhem!

But proving that you can get too much of a good thing…

Pumpkinhead II: Bloodwings has none of the scares or originality of the first film. In fact, it is frustrating to watch since it decimates everything cool that was established in the first movie. While there was a six year gap between the two films, trust that the time was not spent on plot development.

The worst aspect is the fact that the ‘plot’ is not revealed until three-quarters of the film is over! So while it seems like the monster is just killing poor country bumpkins at random, there is an actual reason for the carnage. But by that point – no one cares. But if you do care, it involves the now popular plot device where they have to “give the monster a backstory” to explain why he tears heads from their bodies. No surprise that this fails miserably.

Throw in bad acting, insipid dialog and the creatures’ beyond silly death scene and you end up with pure cliché-ridden crap that has caused me to de-evolve mentally.  

The most frightening part of all is that somehow, two further sequels were made!

I made a promise to myself that I won’t be watching them.