One of these days, I am going to remember to check and make sure my alarm clock is not turned off on Sunday night. That way, I don’t oversleep and find myself rushed to try and get things done in the morning. So anyways, today I am watching yet another movie from a horror movie collection my friend Mark gave me. I always kind of laugh when I think of this series, not so much for this movie itself, but for one of it’s sequels. This is due to the fact that some friends of mine, knowing my love of sci-fi/horror movies, had made a comment about the sequel, as it was on Syfy at the time, and asked me if I had seen it, to which my response was which one as there were three of them, and about a week later, they laughingly told me that one of the later sequels happened to be on which made them think of me. So here is one of the forgotten horror movies of the 80’s, Pumpkinhead.
The plot: In 1957, young Ed Harley is getting ready for bed when his father, Tom, goes outside and his mother, Ellie, watches as he does something to their truck, then goes and puts their horses in the barn and locks it. Tom returns to the house and sits down in a chair holding his shotgun and waits. Outside, a man is running for his life and is attacked by something, injuring the mans leg. When the man reaches Tom’s cabin, he pounds on the door and begs for help but Tom refuses, saying that he knows nothing about what happened and can’t risk his family by getting involved. The man goes to try and continue running but is caught and killed by something, which Ed witnesses from the window. In the present day, Ed, now an adult, is having breakfast with his son Billy, who gives Ed a necklace he made, and they soon leave to go open their grocery store. Meanwhile, 6 teenagers (Chris, Joel, Kim, Steve, Maggie, and Tracey) are heading towards a cabin and make a stop at the grocery store and Joel, who is annoyed when everyone yells at him for making fun of Billy’s glasses, gets on one of the dirt bikes they brought and starts riding around the area behind the shop. As the others continue shopping, a truck pulls up and Mr. Wallace gets out and heads inside the store, telling his kids to wait by the truck. While he is inside, one of his kids takes Billy’s baseball but the others tease him about it, saying that Pumpkinhead is going to get him, scaring the boy until Tracey yells at them to stop. Steve goes and gets another dirt bike and starts riding with Joel as the others watch while Ed tells Billy to stay in the store while he goes to get something back at the house. When Billy’s dog runs out of the store and chases after the dirt bikes, Billy runs after him and is accidentally run over by Joel. As the others rush to check on Billy, Joel quickly puts the bike back on the trailer and tells Kim to get in the car so they can leave. Steve tells the others to leave as well and says he will stay with Billy until his father returns. When Ed returns and sees Billy, Steve tries to explain that it was an accident but Ed just stares at him as he takes Billy’s body to his truck and drives off. At the cabin, Tracey goes inside to call for help while Chris helps Maggie, who is in shock, but Joel rips out the phone cord and explains that he is on probation for injuring a girl in a vehicle accident and this could send him to jail. Chris wants to go get help but Joel knocks him out then locks him and Tracey in a closet. Ed goes to deliver some supplies to the Wallace house and asks Wallace where he can find an old woman that is rumored to be a witch. Wallace refuses to tell him, saying he is sorry for Ed’s loss but he can’t help him with that. As Ed drives away, Wallace’s oldest grandson, Bunt, stops Ed and tells him he knows who he is looking for. Ed has Bunt get in the back of the truck and Bunt gives him directions, getting off halfway there and telling Ed to stay on the road until he comes to a cabin. When Ed gets to the cabin, the old woman, Haggis, says that raising the dead is beyond her power and when the witch gets Ed to say that he wants revenge, she says that comes at a terrible price but directs him to an old graveyard and tells him to dig up one of the bodies there and bring it back. When Ed does this, Haggis uses some of Ed’s blood and that of Billy to transform the corpse into a giant demon, and Ed passes out as the demon rises up. When Ed comes too, Haggis tells him he can leave and he heads back home, stopping at a cemetery to bury Billy. Meanwhile, Steve is arguing with Joel about him needing to do the right thing when Maggie suddenly gets up and walks outside and Steve goes after him. As Steve catches up to Maggie and tries to snap her out of her trance, he is suddenly attacked by Pumpkinhead. As Maggie runs back to the cabin to get help, Ed has visions of what is happening. Joel decides to turn himself in and goes to let Chris and Tracey out when Maggie bursts in and tells them about Steve. Joel and Chris go looking for Steve but only find his bloody bandana and they head back to the cabin and tell the girls. Maggie wants to keep looking for Steve but as she walks outside, they see Steve’s body drop from the ceiling and Pumpkinhead grabs Maggie and drags her up onto the roof. While Joel and Kim take Steve’s body inside, Tracey and Chris go after Maggie but find no sign of her. Meanwhile, Ed continues to see what is happening and goes to see Haggis and begs her to make it stop but she says she can’t, as it has to run it’s course. Back at the cabin, Joel and Kim see Maggie shoved through the window and Kim passes out while Joel goes outside and screams out that he is the one it wants. When he heads back inside, he sees Pumpkinhead approaching Kim and tries to attack it with a knife but it easily disarms him and knocks him aside, then takes Kim away. When Chris and Tracey return, Joel tells them what happened and they go looking for Kim and see Pumpkinhead high up in a tree with Kim, just before he drops her onto some rocks below, killing her. Chris, Tracey, and Joel go to some of the neighbor’s houses asking for help but nobody helps them. One man shoots at them to get off his property but when Pumpkinhead shows up, he quickly runs away. As Pumpkinhead approaches them, Ed shows up and shoots it, seemingly killing it and Joel goes to check the body, shooting it for himself as well. Suddenly, Pumpkin head knocks Joel down and impales him with his own rifle. As Ed sees the attack in his mind, a dog attacks him and Pumpkinhead screams in pain as well and leaves. In the wallace house, Bunt decides to sneak out, making his sister swear not to tell anyone. He approaches Chris and Tracey and takes them to the remains of an old church, thinking it might be a safe place for them. When Pumpkinhead shows up, they quickly run for it when they see it enter the church. Meanwhile, Ed tries to get Wallace to help him kill Pumpkinhead but they refuse to help him and force him to get off their property. Chris, Tracey, and Bunt head for the trail and Chris goes to see if the dirt bike still works but as he starts it up, Pumpkinhead appears, holding the drive chain. Pumpkinhead picks up the bike, with Chris still on it, and throws it into a ravine and Bunt take Tracey and runs. They run into Ed, who takes them to his house and Tracey tries to apologize and tell him it was an accident. Meanwhile, Pumpkinhead drags Chris to Ed’s house and Ed, seeing the visions of this, turns to Tracey and his face is starting to mirror Pumpkinhead’s. When Pumpkin head reaches the house, he finds Bunt hiding in the closet and grabs him, planning on killing him for helping Chris and Tracey. Ed stumbles outside with a flamethrower to face Pumpkinhead but when the hose catches on a nail, he accidentally stabs his arm with a pitchfork. Pumpkinhead screams in pain and lets Bunt go and Ed sees that it’s face is starting to look like him. Ed races to his car as Tracey grabs the flamethrower and attempts to kill Pumpkinhead but it ignores the flames and grabs her. Suddenly, Ed shoots himself in the head and Pumpking lets Tracey go and collapses to the ground. As Tracey looks on, she notices Ed is still alive just as Pumpkinhead grabs Bunt. Ed is reaching for the pistol he dropped and when Tracey picks it up, he begs her to kill him and when he gets up and approaches her, she quickly shoots him several times, killing Ed and Pumpkinhead falls to the ground and bursts into flames. Sometime later, Haggis is seen burying Ed’s body, still wearing Billy’s necklace, in the grave that Pumpkinhead came from.
Pumpkinhead met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics praised the special effects and monster design. The movie was given a limited release in October of 1988, then a full release in January of 1989 but the movie only earned $4.4 million domestically at the box office. Despite the poor box office, Pumpkinhead had three sequels, one direct to video and two made for TV, and a remake is in the works.
You know, when I was a kid I didn’t think much about this movie, labeling it as just another one of the slasher movies to come out of the 80’s, but watching it now, it actually isn’t that bad. the acting was pretty good, with Lance Henriksen (Ed) doing a pretty good job in his role, as did Cynthia Bain (Tracey) and Brian Bremer (Bunt). The story was interesting, though the idea of someone resorting to the supernatural for revenge isn’t that original, but I liked the character growth of Ed and how he realized he screwed up and made the ultimate sacrifice in order to try and set things right. The special effects were pretty good and I have to give props to the monster design, as it is one of the last full body props before studios started using more CGI tech for their monsters. Not necessarily a great classic among the horror movies but definitely an underrated film that got lost in the shuffle.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5