Pumpkinhead is one of the most straightforward and simple movies I think I have ever seen. You know that motif of, “made for TV movie” that movies like Tremors have? Pumpkinhead has that same feeling. While it does hold a place as a cult classic, that doesn’t mean it’s good.
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- Skip to Trailer – 8:08
- Skip to Synopsis – 9:37
- Skip to Review – 12:00
- Skip to Score – 18:16
- Skip to Spoilers – 36:00
- Skip to Final Recommendations – 1:00:30
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- Skip to Special Thanks – 1:07:15
- Skip to Outro – 1:11:25
Pumpkinhead can be found on Amazon and free on Hulu if you have Hulu right now.
Pumpkinhead is the story of a group of young twenty-somethings who are headed out to a cabin in the woods. As far as I can tell this is supposed to be set in the south, which is difficult for me because what isn’t shot on a soundstage is very obviously locations in the hills of LA.
As our group of kids stops at a small local store for some supplies, the rowdiest of the group inexplicably hops on dirtbikes and starts riding around doing sweet tricks. The son of the store owner is fatally injured by one of these sweet tricks, and all but one of the kids head into the hills to avoid having murder pinned on them.
The owner of the shop returns and finds his child mortally wounded, so he seeks revenge the only way he knows how – he goes to see a witch to put a death curse on the kids who killed his son.
Long story short, Pumpkinhead is summoned by the witch – he is a big ugly creepy looking …pumpkinhead. He cuts a swath of revenge through the kids and anyone who gets in the way of his revenge.
Pumpkinhead (directed by Stan Winston) is a better than terrible slasher that has a great monster and a cult following of adults who were scarred in their childhood by this gruesome beast. As far as movie structure goes, it’s pretty clear what is going on at all times and why.
Unfortunately, it’s never interesting enough for me to care about anyone or anything. The lighting is intentionally on the pitch-black side of dark (to hide the costume), and the writing is barebones and interchangeable with any other crappy 80’s slasher.
Here at Horror Movie Talk, we try to see things as they are, putting down the nostalgia glasses and looking at horror movies to compare them honestly. We won’t pander to you, or your childhood, and only minimally to our own (we hope). Pumpkinhead is a bad movie. What it brings to the table is an easy to understand storyline and a pretty great monster, along with a memorable name.
While you may remember this movie fondly, I think only the most die-hard horror snobs will go down with this ship to be seen as a “true horror fan”.
My Score for Pumpkinhead
This movie is about as barebones as you can get. I won’t go into astonishing detail because it doesn’t exist.
At the start of the movie we get to see a flashback of Ed Harley as a little kid. His family is enjoying a nice evening in, and their neighbor comes to their door screaming about something hunting him. They decline to let in this neighbor and avoid being killed.
Dirtbiking Gone Wrong!
Cut to present day, and Ed (Lance Henriksen) has a kid of his own. Ed runs a local shop. Some rowdy twenty-somethings show up at Ed’s shop for some supplies, and the rowdiest of the bunch just can’t contain themselves – they MUST dirtbike NOW!
While these ruffians are performing sweet tricks, Ed’s son is fatally wounded by dirtbike antics. All except one of the kids escape, Steve stays behind to look after Ed’s kid.
Revenge Via Witch Inspired Pumpkinhead
Ed heads over to the local witch, as you do when you are seeking ultimate revenge on a pack of ruffians. She warns Ed that revenge comes at a terrible price, but he is willing to accept the charges. She sends him out to retrieve a dead body at the most insane graveyard ever.
When He returns, she uses the blood oh his kid and him to resurrect this dead body into, you guessed it, Pumpkinhead.
Pumpkinhead Does The Thing
At this point the kids are feeling remorseful for, you know, murder – buts it’s too late. Pumpkinhead kills them. Yeah, it takes a while, and yeah, it’s boring. Every time Pumpkinhead kills, Ed has visions of the kill from within his own head, as though he also has a pumpkinhead…
Ed decides he can’t stand watching Pumpkinhead’s rampage and starts trying to stop him. He injures himself, and we see that Pumpkinhead is injured at the same time inexplicably. Now we know Ed and Pumpkinhead are linked. Ed tries to kill himself to end the spree, but ultimately Tracey kills both Ed and Pumpkinhead.
You may like this movie – that’s fine! Cult classics are cult for a reason; they posses something that keeps people coming back. If you haven’t seen this, don’t bother unless slashers are your bigtime jam, and even then, probably don’t bother. If you dig crazy monsters, ok maybe. The real reason to watch this is to say you have.