Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pumpkinhead (1988)

... aka: Pumpkinhead: The Demon of Revenge
... aka: Vengeance: The Demon

Directed by:
Stan Winston

Widowed general store owner Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks the aid of a backwoods witch (Florence Schauffler) to avenge the accidental death of his son at the hands of careless young motorcyclists. She conjures up the title creature to do the dirty work, but when Harley has a change of heart, he finds that he no longer has any control over the relentless killer. Although grim, dreary and highly uneven, this is helped along by first-time director Winston's excellent monster creation. It's one of the best looking creatures since Alien (which was also designed by Winston) and it pretty much makes the difference here. It busts out windows, drags victims onto the roof, claws them and throws them from treetops and tosses everyone around with ease. Its monstrous face becomes more and more human as the film progresses and the body count rises. Henriksen, a fine and under appreciated actor, adds a great deal of warmth to his character, bringing a much-needed human edge to the proceedings and making his own scenes compelling. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the six "teen" characters, who are poorly-drawn and as disposable as they come. When the film begins focusing more on them and the routine kill scenes in the second half, things quickly go downhill.

Veteran character actor George "Buck" Flower has a decent role as a redneck father who lives in a shack with his wife and about ten little kids. Tom Woodruff, Jr., who gets credit for playing Pumpkinhead, also helped design the great suit. The cast also includes Jeff East (from Craven's Deadly Blessing), Cynthia Bain, John DiAquino, Kerry Remsen, Joel Hoffman, Kimberly Ross, Brian Bremer, Lee de Broux and Dick Warlock.

Followed by the OK direct-to-video sequel Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings in 1994 ("starring" Bill Clinton's brother, Roger!), as well as several more sequels in 2006 and 2007 that I haven't seen yet. Lance somehow reprised his role in the latest two.


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