“Keep away from Pumpkinhead unless you tired of living,
his enemies are mostly dead, he’s mean and unforgiving”
~from a poem by Ed Justin
I have received a lot of email about the movie “Pumpkinhead”. Most asking when the page would be up and a few asking what I was smoking when I decided to add it to The Vault and of course if they could have some. Well…nothing out of the ordinary. Actually, I have always been a fan of “Pumpkinhead”. It’s too bad the sequel royally sucked. Here are a few things about this film that really sticks out in my mind. Perhaps they are the foundation for my love of this film, and the reasons why I’ve included it in The Vault.
My first and foremost reason: Lance Henriksen. I have been a big fan of Lance’s ever since “Aliens” and “Near Dark”. Someday I might even include him in The Observatory. Too bad he hasn’t had better roles to work on within the genre. Lance was the only reason I gave “Millennium” a chance at first, although even he couldn’t save my interest. I have heard the show has gotten much better after the first season. Is it true??? Email your opinion.
Second: the plot line. Vengeance is one of man’s strongest motivators. Even more than jealousy and sometimes even love, from which it most always pours forth from. It has been the cause of many wars and has almost brought the world to annihilation. But at the root of fear and pain is always the urge to strike back and reap vengeance.
The tool of choice in this film isn’t a gun, sword, or explosive, but rather something more powerful and menacing: a demon from hell known as “Pumpkinhead”. Its vengeance is final!!!!!
Thirdly: the creature. In the great tradition of movie monsters comes “Pumpkinhead”. Not just a one-dimensional killing machine, but rather a character is driven by the motivation of vengeance. In fact, Stan Winston (the director, as well as, a master special effects guru) had absolutely nothing to do with the effects on this film or the creation of “Pumpkinhead”. He vested his total confidence in the effects team of Shane Mahan, Alec Gillis (Starship Troopers), Richard Landon, and Tom Woodruff, Jr (Starship Troopers).
Finally, Stan Winston. This was Stan’s directorial debut and he was able to craft a very entertaining story with great emotion and visual imagery. Unfortunately, Stan has been a little reluctant to go back behind the camera, especially since the dismal ” A Gnome named Gnorm”. But at least he is still a leader in the special effects arena and continues to entertain us all.
So Caretaker, are you telling us to go out and rent “Pumpkinhead”? YES, YES, YES!!!!! If you haven’t seen…rent it and if you have and didn’t like it…give it another chance. As always please e-mail me if you have anything you can add to this page, or if you have any comments, criticisms or suggestion.
Rising from fiery legends of backwoods folklore, our story begins as a young Ed Harley witnesses the gruesome death of a “marked” man by a creature known only as “Pumpkinhead”. Fast- forward to the present. While living a peaceful life with his son Billy and their pooch Gyspy, a now grown Ed Harley’s (Lance Henriksen) world is turned upside down when careless city folks accidentally kill his boy. “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” (Romans 12:19), but not in this case.
Pained by his son’s death, Ed knows that simple justices will not be enough. He turns to the only avenue he knows…Pumpkinhead. Were the legends true? Did he really see this mythical beast as a child? What will the price be for vengeance??? Good questions, too bad Ed’s doesn’t care about the consequences, he wants retribution. After striking a deal with the mountain witch Haggis (Florence Schauffler), the demon “vengeance” (a.k.a Pumpkinhead) is sent forth to unleash its hellish fury upon these transgressors.
As blood, body parts, and religious symbols fly, this dark executioner of the netherworld reaps vengeance on its unsuspecting prey. But something strange begins to haunt Ed as Pumpkinhead dishes out its unholy justice upon the innocent. Is Ed too late to stop this verdict of damnation ?? I won’t tell. Rent the movie.
Pumpkinhead Frightful Facts
- Pumpkinhead was Stan Winston’s directorial debut.
- It was originally titled “Vengeance: The Demon”.
- It was shot on location in LA in 36 days on a $3.5 million budget.
- Pumpkinhead was in the can for almost a year before it was eventually released in 1988.
- Because of Stan Winston’s request, the screenwriters made both Pumpkinhead and Haggis (the old woman), much darker than in the original script.
- Because of money problems, DEG (De Laurentiis) sold the rights to the film to United Artist. This was the main reason for the long delay in the theatrical release.
- Winston turned down directing “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3” to do “Pumpkinhead”.
Robert ” Bob” Williams
RE: The Mysterious PUMPKINHEAD
As a child, I’ve seen alotta scary stuff on the screen. But the spookiest would have to be PUMPKINHEAD hands down. The story is brilliant, a well-known star ( Lance Henriksen ) appearing as the main character, and plenty of spine-chilling scenes. Anyone who hasn’t seen this movie definitely isn’t a TRUE horror fan.
I was fortunate enough to see Pumpkinhead in the theater – an empty theater, come to think of it. Just me and my drummer, another horror-movie freak. While there were a few tense moments in the film, you couldn’t say it was really scary. Not like, you know, Exorcist scary. Still, I’ve seen that movie several times, and I never tire of it. The monster is an enduring icon (I wear horror t-shirts when on stage with my band, and somebody always comments about Pinhead or Pumpkinhead). In fact, to find a non-human type monster with this kind of identification qualities, you’d probably have to go back to the original Gillman.
And, like the Gillman, you feel pretty good about rooting for the creature in this flick – in spite of the fact that he is pure malice!
Then there’s Lance Henriksen. He puts in a killer performance, plain and simple. In fact, plain and simple is just about right, for this guy is in Clint Eastwood’s league when it comes to mastering minimalism. From funny moments (“… God damn yew, God DAMN yew!”) to some genuine scares ( when the little boy suddenly sat up in the car and started talking, and we see how Ed Harley is really LOSIN’ IT…), Lance puts forth a really memorable performance.
I think some people are a little put off by the name, and the silly portrayal of the “mountain people” who perpetuate the myth. Still this movie should be given a chance – first, second, or otherwise.
PUMKINHEAD rules! I don’t understand why it’s so unknown, although it would have been more popular if it had been released in the 70’s when a lot of the other modern horror classics were released. One of the few horror movies I’ve ever seen that actually has real, raw emotion behind it, and a great monster.