Pumpkinhead is a dark fairytale of revenge and grief.
Pumpkinhead is a supernatural dark fairytale horror with a wonderful original monster that can be summoned to wreak vengeance upon its appointed victims. It’s a slasher horror in structure but it’s really a tragic tale of grief and loss in the core. With a fairytale atmosphere, slasher elements and a compelling background story, this new original monster called Pumpkinhead comes into his own in this imaginative dark tale that has more to it than a mere feature creature.
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In 1957 young Ed Harley lies in his bed at night as his parents are awake and afraid, waiting for something to come. When he looks outside his window he sees a man being killed by a terrifying monster. 30 Years later Ed owns a store and has a little son Billy. When some youths come into his store to buy supplies for their weekend in a cabin, they play with their motorbikes accidentally hitting and killing Billy. A bereaved Ed calls upon the local crone to summon the worst imaginable: Pumkinhead to take out his revenge on the teenagers who killed his beloved Billy.
Why you should watch it
Pumpkinhead is more than a teen slasher with an originally created monster. It’s about grief and desperation and being so bereaved that one’s actions aren’t thought over and clouded by strong emotions. It’s not your usual vengeance film where it’s highly satisfying to kill those who have done wrong. It’s also about realizing that revenge isn’t all that it seems to be and it certainly doesn’t bring Billy back. That makes this film more original and stand out from other teen slashers or creature features, and makes it even more heartbreaking. There are no winners in this tale, only losers.
The slasher part is brutal and Pumkinhead is impressive. His very originally and creatively created shape is not what you think of when you think pumpkin, but makes a fresh new monster. He’s big and a fairytale entity that is earthy shaped and his actions are not his own but summoned although not entirely controlled by those who summon him. He fees like an old forgotten fairytale, brought back to life. The fairytale atmosphere is enhanced by the little house of the crone, that is beautifully designed with detail. The foggy swamp-like place gives it a gothic dark atmosphere and the cemetery feels very fitting to summon such a creature. It’s a tale of legends and folktales that has come to life in a brutal slasher-like fairytale of revenge and grief.
The slasher part is the least impressive and feels like the outcome of what they did and subsequently what Ed has done. It’s very brutal, and a generic teen slasher vibe, but there’s more to it, because it does function as a symbol, a realization, an action that has consequences. When Ed battles the monster after he has realized what he has done, he fights both a real monster and the monster of hate and revenge in his head, from which Pumpkinhead originated. He even realizes that Pumpkinhead and he are one and the same, giving even more meaning to the symbolism. While Pumpkinhead isn’t to blame, his actions depicting Ed’s grief is.
Pumpkinhead is a cult classic that works perfectly for Halloween. Although it’s not Halloween themed, it does breathe the vibe of that special kind of year. Pumpkinhead has become an iconic monster that truly belongs in the long list of scary monsters, although he’s not doing anything out of his own motives, but is a conjured up creature that symbolizes the hurt and pain and acts upon it. This dark fairytale, with elements of a slasher is in its core actually a very tragic story, but one with an iconic monster.
My favorite part
The parts with the more fairytale-like atmosphere worked best for me. The house of the old crone or witch, her presence it’s all so well designed full with detail and bring the story to life. The death of Billy of course was heartbreaking and rather shocking, for little kid’s deaths are the most terrible and horrible to watch or to imagine. But it’s the big driving force behind the plot and a necessary evil, to bring forth Pumpkinhead. It does make Ed’s actions and his realizations about what he has done even more paramount and dire.
Gore factor: ★★★☆☆
Drama factor: ★★★★☆
Gruesome factor: ★★★☆☆
Originality factor: ★★★★☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆
Cast and crew
Pumpkinhead is directed and written by Stan Winston and cowritten by Richard C. Weinman, Gary Gerani, Mark Patrick Carducci. It stars Lance Henriksen (Ed Harley), Matthew Hurley (Billy Harley), John D’Aquino (Joel), Kerry Remsen (Maggie), Jeff East (Chris), Kimberly Ross (Kim), Joel Hoffman (Steve), Cynthia Bain (Tracy), Florence Schauffler (Haggis) and Brian Bremer (Bunt).
Duration: 86 minutes. Music by: Richard Stone. Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli. Edited by: Marcus Manton. Produced by: Bill Blake, Howard Smith, Richard Weinman. Production company: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group. Distributed by: United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.