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  • Pumpkinhead is a criminally overlooked 80's horror movie that stands up there as one of my favorites of the entire decade. It is exceptionally well made by first time director Stan Winston who shows more skill behind the camera than one might expect from someone primarily known for special effects. Most of the lead actors do a very good job, with a few exceptions, however Lance Henriksen brings an enormous amount of credibility to the whole thing. I have great respect for character actors such as Lance and this is some of his best work. The creature itself is well conceived however it is hidden in shadows throughout most the picture which allows the actors and the story to take center stage, much to the film's benefit. Overall this is one of the best Halloween movies ever made as that is the perfect time of year to watch this movie. It's dark, it's Gothic, and it's damn cool.
  • This film stands as one of the most underrated I have seen. It has a compelling story of a father's love and the powerful grip of vengeful desires. It is well acted, has amazing creature affects, and takes the road less traveled by most horror films. It takes no easy ways out. The plot prefers to turn slowly into a gnarled tale of battling with an inner demon. The lighting in the fog and the mere visual presence of the witch, Haggis, with her wispy hairs in the fire light, are genuinely creepy. I think Lance Henriksen gives one of his best performances in this film. Definitely give it a look if you haven't yet.
  • Ed Harley lives with his young son in the country, where they live a simple life and run a small store. Some city teens stop by at the store and get on their bikes for some fun. While this is happening Ed leaves his son to look after the shop as he delivers a item to a customer. When Ed arrives back he finds out his boy has been accidentally killed by one the careless riders. In fist of anger he seeks out an old lady who can summon up a demon which shall exact revenge on those involved in the death of his son. However, Ed starts to realise it was a bad idea and he eventually finds out that conjuring up this demon comes at a price.

    Oh hail, B-legend Lance Henriksen! It's Henriksen's burning conviction and special effects whiz Stan Winston's masterful monster design that lifts this B-grade monster feature out of the very ordinary mould. I can see why those factors get highly praised. Pretty much it's typical 80s horror fodder, but on that point I found this minor piece be an enthralling backwoods shocker that's effectively creepy and ominous in its set-up. The atmospheric air just has that feel of the old style monster flicks. I found it to be a vivid treasure in that department with the empty woodlands being so chillingly, foreboding in presence. The dread of it all just swallows you up! Especially the glum conclusion. The night scenes are sensationally staged with very classy touches with the moon's rays shinning through, swirling mists and the shades of blues flood the screen with great impact. Director Stan Winston (making his debut) utilizes the scenery with skillful execution by giving the film such an organic feel and producing some blinding images within some eerie and thrilling set-pieces (the transformation scene being one). Chiming in also is that of the score which creaks an unsteady terror with it's alienating chords. I thought the dark feel and slick look of the film is perfect and that's rightfully so.

    Though, it's not without its flaws. The main one being the scratchy writing with it being riddled with clichés, loose characters and repetition. The premise and feeble script could have done with a polish up, because the urban legend of this rural demon does make for an interesting viewing. Thrown up in the story are some thoughtful questions and a emotional edge, but still it was kinda lacking. The stock characters are reasonably an unlikeable bunch, but thank goodness Lance Henriksen gives out a powerful and hypnotic performance that you totally feel his hurt. While, the rest of the cast were modest even if their characters are vague as can be and had very little to work with. Now the other star of the film was the magnificent, but horrific looking demon that's simply grand in stature and hands out punishment with such ease by toying around with it's victims in such a cruel manner. Death scenes might be brutal, but if you want some gore out of those moments… there is some bad news. There ain't any. Some blood, but no gore. But if you're looking for some suspense leading up to the kills it seems to mishandle those moments by being very foreseeable. Pacing wise the film is solid even though after the intense beginning it seems to stall for a while, well that's until Pumpkinhead reappears and things really do get going with it's quest for relentless horror.

    A solid and creative effort overall that relishes from it's visually brooding direction, superior lead performance and convincing monster design.
  • Most critics (who actually get PAID to critique films, unlike me, HA!) really hated this movie, dismissing it as yet another "brainless teen" slaughterfest and slamming it with either one star or a big fat turkey. I've never really understood this. Okay, it's not ever going to win an Academy Award, some of the acting is atrocious and much of the incidental music was cheesy and had me rolling my eyes, but the basic story is quite good. Six city teens on a vacation in either the Appalachians or the Ozarks, make the mistake of running over a little hillbilly boy with a motorcycle. 5 of them want to do the right thing and call the police, but the 6th, a hulking moron with a police record, takes his friends hostage. By the time he comes to his senses, it's too late. The dead boys father has been to see the local Witch, who in turn has summoned the Demon of Vengeance: Pumpkinhead.

    There's really not a lot of gore here, and no sex whatsoever. The "typical teens" here actually appear to be in their early twenties, and are hardly the faceless victims you usually find in these kinds of films. The real menace lies with the hill folk, many of whom look like the genuine article; inbred and dangerous. Lance Henriksen turns in a great performance as the dead boys father, blinded (most understandably) by grief and anger, yet still compassionate enough at last to try and reverse what he has done. The monster, Pumpkinhead, is really cool looking, created as it was by special effects man Stan Winston, who also directed. The atmosphere and mood of this movie are constantly menacing, even in the bright light of day, and Pumpkinhead seems to bring an aura of electrical storms with him wherever he goes, the sound of cicadas and the flashing of heat lightening most unsettling. The Witches cabin in particular is a magnificent set piece. Worth seeing at least once. The "professional" critics are NOT always right.

    PS - Don't bother watching "Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings." I've never seen a more horrible sequel with a more annoying cast of arrogant teenagers who deserved to be killed. Banal, moronic waste of film.
  • goevikes18 November 2003
    I will be the first person to stand up and admit that Pumpkinhead is, in some ways, as silly as it's name, but there's something there. It's just enough to elevate this above much of the other "Dead Teenager" dreck that was thrown at us in the glorious eighties.

    First off, the monster is a doozy. Stan Winston was up to his usual standard of excelence and creativity, and he created a creature that, while not actually convincing, is alot scarier and easier to enjoy than most. Pumpkinhead is no Freddy or Michael Meyers, but he delivers.

    Second of all, the plot is more intelligent than I have come to expect from slasher flicks. The "Kids" are more thought out than most disposable teens, and their motives are more understandable. They accidently take the life of a child, but most want to do the right thing and go to the authorities. Even the Jerk who doesn't is eventually persuaded. And Harley, the father who is the real hero AND villian of the film is much more human than his actions would suggest.

    There is also a good twist at the end which I will not reveal here, only say that surprised me with it's subtlety, which is something you rarely see in a horror film that is more than 2/3 done.

    Bottom line, I was pleasently surprised with Pumpkinhead. People who don't like horror films are unlikely to be impressed with it, except on a technical level because the effects and atmosphere are superb, but horror fans looking for a harmless new thrill may find it better than expected. It's smarter, wittier and deeper than the norm.

    Pumpkinhead gets 6 out of 10 for technical expertise, great atmosphere and an above average story.
  • In the countryside, the quiet hick Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) raises his beloved son Billy alone, working in his grocery on the side of the road. When three couples from the big city stop off at his store to buy some supplies, their leader Joel (John D'Aquino) accidentally kills Billy with his motorcycle and he does not allow his friends to call for assistance. In his hatred, Ed visits the evil witch Haggis (Florence Schauffler) that conjures the demon avenger Pumpkinhead to destroy the teenagers. Later Ed regrets and tries to call off the deal but he finds the price to be paid.

    "Pumpkinhead" is a great slash movie of a demon called Pumpkinhead that is summoned by someone to revenge the death of another person. It is interesting to note that the boy is accidentally killed and five teenagers try to do the right thing, but the question is not to be fair or not: the boy's father is blind by his feeling of revenge, and only after calming down, he unsuccessfully tries to call off the deal, but it is too late. Therefore there is a good message about the danger of a revenge in the end. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Sangue Demoníaco" ("Demoniac Blood")
  • "Keep away from Pumpkinhead, Unless you're tired of living, His enemies are mostly dead, He's mean and unforgiving, Bolted doors and windows barred, Guard dogs prowling in the yard, Won't protect you in your bed, Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."

    So goes the poem by Ed Justin. I've never heard of it previously. I'm assuming it's more of an American pop culture thing.

    Stan Winston may be the man behind many of todays horror icons and creatures but how exactly does he hold up as a director? Not that great I'm afraid to say. But let's be reasonable. This film is almost 20 years old (it was completed in 1987) and Winston has no doubt improved in many ways since. But what he lacks in style he makes up for in enthusiasm.

    The ever-brilliant Lance Henrikson (the man with THE coolest voice in the world) is Ed Harley, a backwoods shopkeep who's Milky-Bar Kid-lookalike son is killed by reckless dirt-bikers. After this surprising sad and touching scene, Ed visits the house of a mysterious old hag who has ties with the forces of darkness. Wishing vengeance upon the bikers he is sent on a mission to dig up the remains of a demon buried in a pumpkin patch. With his blood thrown into the mix of an evil spell, the demon is soon resurrected and goes about his usual mission of killing people who deserve it.

    And so begins a series of scenes you've seen many times in numerous Friday the 13th films and the subsequent rip-offs. Only instead of a masked killer you get a very tall, weird looking creature that looks a lot like the Xenomorph from the Alien series. Despite Winston's usually awkward framing and cutting, he does pull off a couple of good scares and generates a decent amount of atmosphere. But the constant unnatural lighting, floodlit woods and fog effects get a bit annoying.

    Pumpkinhead is, essentially, a tribute to urban legends and ancient scary stories told for generations before TV and mass-communication came along. In that sense, Pumpkinhead ranks alongside other mythical characters such as Spring-heeled Jack, the Skunk-Ape, Shadow People and El Chupacabra. Many of these characters are in the public subconscious, but like I said, perhaps the Pumkinhead myth is too uncommon outside of America to make that kind of impact.

    Plus, there is good amount of story going untold. The whole idea of Harley and Pumpkinhead being connected through blood and bloodlust isn't developed too well and the film should have had a stronger showdown between them. The mysterious old hag could have had a bigger part too.

    But if you're in the mood for undemanding horror, with slight irony, mild mythology, an interesting killer and one of the coolest actors ever (Mr Henrikson, take a bow) then go for it. Don't expect anything groundbreaking or memorable.
  • utgard1421 December 2013
    A group of young adults heading to a cabin for the weekend accidentally run over and kill the son of country storekeeper Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) and then drive away. Driven by grief, Ed goes to a witch for help raising a demonic creature known as Pumpkinhead to wreak vengeance upon his son's killers. Directed by special effects wizard Stan Winston, Pumpkinhead is one of the most original and underrated horror films of the last thirty years. Lance Henriksen is terrific, as is John Carpenter favorite George Buck Flower. The best scenes go to the witch Haggis, played by Florence Schauffler under a ton of makeup. Every scene involving the witch is gold. On the minus side, the kill scenes are not terribly inventive and are done with a minimum of suspense, despite the terrific atmosphere Winston has set up with the dark and misty backwoods locale. And, of course, praise should go to Winston and his special effects crew for creating a unique creature like Pumpkinhead to begin with. I'm sure the dream of every special effects artist who grew up idolizing Jack Pierce, Willis O'Brien, or Ray Harryhausen would be to create a memorable monster of their own. Winston did just that with this film.
  • Pumpkinhead is directed by Stan Winston and stars Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Kimberly Ross & Joel Hoffman. Music is by Richard Stone and cinematography comes from Bojan Bazelli. Plot sees Henriksen play Ed Harley, a loving and devoted father raising his young son on his own after the death of his wife. His world is shattered when a group of adventure seeking teenagers accidentally kill his boy in a motorbike incident. Struck with grief and fury, Ed seeks out a mountain dwelling witch that can invoke the demon Pumpkinhead to do his vengeful bidding for him. However, calling up Pumpkinhead comes at a cost to Ed as much as it does to the teenagers it now seeks.

    Tho in essence it is just a creature on the loose killing the teens movie, so a stalk and slash piece if you like, Pumpkinhead is more appealing than most of its ilk. It's an old fashioned movie, rich on atmosphere, presenting a moralistic tale that's steeped in rural folklore and horror legend. It's also propelled forward by a damn great performance from Henriksen. Special effects guru Winston directs assuredly, with a strong visual sense and a knowing that as his movie shifts to the inevitable kill after kill sequence; he had to develop his protagonist first. It's during the first half where Pumpkinhead earns its stripes as Winston takes time to fully form the relationship between father and son, it's tender and very believable, so when the tragedy happens, Ed's reaction is totally understandable. We too feel vindictive such is the way Henriksen has let us feel the love.

    On to the second half where the magnificent creature makes its appearance and the blood starts to flow. Here the film is only let down by its relatively low budget and the fact that Winston has nowhere to go other than formula. The youths are the usual array of cocky, bickering shriekers, tho in fairness a couple of the girls here are at least scripted as being intelligent and capable of reasoning. But thankfully in amongst the carnage is Henriksen peeling off another emotional layer, as he starts to get conflicted about what he has done. A fine performance from an actor who is far better than his king of schlock reputation. Tho still rated averagely on some internet movie sites, Pumpkinhead (dreadful name in truth) has garnered, and earned, a big cult fan base. Popular enough to warrant a solid 20th Anniversary DVD release, there's a chance that it will find more fans along the way. It deserves it, if only for Henriksen, the creature, and the attention to art design and detail. And of course if you like the stalk and slash formula anyway? Well it delivers there too. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've made my lack of enthusiasm for 80s Horror fairly well known here. It's not so much that I hate this period of Horror films as much as I don't really have any kind of strong love for it, especially in comparison to other decades like the 30s, 40s, 90s and 2010s.That being said, I have an extremely strong love for FX wizard Stan Winston's directorial debut Pumpkinhead. It's a dark, tense, atmospheric and engrossing creature feature that oozes Halloween atmosphere in a manner rivaled only by The Blair Witch Project. It's a better Pet Semetary film than Pet Semetary, a better I Know What You Did Last Summer movie than I Know What You Did Last Summer and an October must watch.

    I was really impressed by just how real Winston was able to make his characters. They don't feel like stock archetypes, they don't have oodles of terrible dialogue and bad jokes, they're acted and written to be taken seriously. Lance Henrikson's Ed Harley isn't some creepy, backwoods hick, he's a friendly and loving family man raising his son out in the country, away from the corrupting and cruel influence of civilization. His descent down the irreversible path of darkness is handled with patience and care; he doesn't just see his dead son and vow revenge, we as an audience are given time to let his loss sink in with us. Henrikson's reaction to his son's death, his transition from horror to disbelief to sorrow to rage, is acted phenomenally well and paced just as perfectly. (This isn't a particularly long movie either, clocking in at 1 hour and 27 minutes. It just goes to show what you can do with effective pacing.) The torment and suffering Henrikson conveys in Harley, first inflicted from the irresponsible delinquent who took his son from him and later inflicted upon himself, is shown wonderfully through Henrikson's tortured, exhausted and anxious expressions. He just gives off the impression of a man fully ready to eat a bullet at any second and that's exactly what this kind of character demands. His vocal range is also outstanding, able to hit the heartwarming highs with his son and the heartbreaking lows upon realization of the evil he's unleashed, with ease.

    How did John D'Aquino (President Richard Martinez from Cory in the House. Yes, I recognize the meme value there.) not get more Horror roles after this? His performance as Joel is astounding. His explosive "animal in a cage" acting style combined with a wonderful script help to create a character who, while not likable, is still undeniably understandable and more than a bit scary. The tragic circumstances behind his situations keep him from being a true villain, persay, but his inability to take responsibility for his life and his actions make him a cautionary tale for anybody finding themselves in his situation. By the time Joel has realized the consequence of his inaction, his obsessive denial to accept reality, his girlfriend is dead and his friends are following. He's a figure simultaneously repulsive and sympathetic, morally nuanced characterizations like this are exceptionally rare for the teenage cast of an 80s Slasher film.

    The special effects work here is criminally underrated, some of the best I've ever seen. Pumpkinhead himself feels like something out of a child's worst dream, spindly and unnatural with a sickening smile, towering over anybody unlucky enough to stand in his path. The best kind of movie monsters are the ones that you look at and immediately root for the heroes to escape and Pumpkinhead absolutely does that. Nobody should have to suffer at the hands of this grotesque creature. I'm still fascinated by how Winston was able to create such a detailed and convincing prosthetic that moved so naturally. The makeup on Henrikson as he becomes more devilish in appearance, a physical manifestation of the evil he commanded be sent upon his enemies, is also rather impressive; like Pumpkinhead, it's frightening and unnerving, but there's also something rather pathetic and tragic about the visual design. It evokes a feeling of deep sympathy, nobody should have to become a creature like this and it makes sense that this is the kind of being one would become upon unleashing an evil like Pumpkinhead into the world.

    Pumpkinhead is a deeply frightening film, in no small part due to its visual aesthetic. The cinematography for the movie is absolutely breathtaking, its use of shadow and fog is just iconic and creates an almost otherworldly feeling to a very familiar (And very American) setting. The ominous blue and harsh orange lighting and foreboding clashes of lightning create a subconscious feeling that I'm almost watching something that I shouldn't be. It's a nightmare of the old world come to life, much in the same manner as The Blair Witch Project or The VVitch. I'd argue it has much more in common with those films stylistically, thematically and tonally than any of its slasher contemporaries of the time like Friday the 13th or Halloween or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It almost feels more Dark Fantasy at times than 80s slasher, as if the Pumpkinhead demon is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Horrors and monstrosities than inhabit this spooky countryside.

    This is my 2nd favorite 80s Horror film behind Tetsuo: The Iron Man and I couldn't be more grateful for the recommendation. A superbly acted, refreshingly dark and ghoulish ride through the Southern countryside that remains a must watch for any lover of Halloween. An 80s Horror masterpiece. (Or, should I say, "monster-piece?")
  • It was a pretty fun experience. The story is alright and Pumpkinhead himself is AWESOME. The acting was alright too. I really liked Florence Schauffler in her role as Haggis the witch. Really creepy and evil old lady! Lance Henriksen's performance as Ed Harley was also really good. I didnt really like the teens though. They were just a bunch of unlikable asses and i didnt care much about them at all.

    But overall, it's a great little monster flick! I recommend every monster fan to give it a shot!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's amazing how what appears on the surface to be another creature feature dressed up as a teen slasher film can have so much to say and deliver a morality fable for a modern age. Much like the fairy tales of centuries past, 1988's "Pumpkinhead" not only aimed to please horror junkies but teach them something along the way. At the heart of all the gore and scares are a few different messages like, "Be careful what you ask for," "Be sure your sins will find you out," and "The price of revenge is your soul."

    Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a simple farmer who runs a general store in a remote community. He keeps to himself and raises his son alone after the death of his wife. Ed's life is turned upside down when a wild group of teenagers come through town on their way to a summer cabin. His son is struck down and killed by one of them riding a dirt bike. After they flee the scene, the boy dies.

    Ed takes the body to a local witch who is rumored to be able to bring people back to life. She says she can't bring him back but will help the mourning father take revenge on the people who caused the senseless tragedy. She conjures the demon of vengeance, which goes by the name Pumpkinhead, to serve bloody justice on the teenagers responsible. But with every victim the creature claims, there comes a price.

    The movie is rated R for violence and gore, profanity, alcohol use, and frightening / intense sequences. I know many people have issues with children coming to harm in movies, but "Pumpkinhead" doesn't feel exploitative when it comes to this. There's also no nudity, which is surprising for a movie made in 1988 which includes a group of male and female friends on a weekend party retreat.

    "Pumpkinhead" is a truly endearing and touching film it is. I had only seen it once as a teenager and barely remembered all the gory details. With great pacing and something to say for itself, it really does succeed at being a contemporary fairy tale for today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Pumpkinhead" is an eerie masterpiece - gripping action made stronger by its themes of vengeance and remorse. Lance Henriksen creates a strong and sympathetic character as Ed Harley, Billy's loving and grieving father. He pays the creepy backwoods witch Haggis (true evil personified) to summon a "vengeance demon" to punish the young folks involved in his son's accidental death. Haggis warns that the magic has a "powerful price" but she isn't really trying to dissuade him. In a stroke of foreshadowing, he imagines poor dead Billy sitting up to ask, "What have you done, Daddy?" Ed Harley doesn't realize the true impact of his choice...until it's too late. He becomes increasingly linked with the implacable monster. His face and Pumpkinhead's transmogrify, a spooky visual reveal of the nature of the demon.

    Ed Harley wasn't evil but his choice created evil, with dire results. The last scene is masterful. Haggis buries Pumpkinhead's dessicated body. It wears the handmade necklace Billy gave his daddy. Like Ed Harley, we finally understand the powerful price of demonic revenge.

    Lance Henriksen portrays a tough man with heart. He and the supporting cast - especially Bunt, Haggis and little Billy - make the supernatural events believable. The good characterizations, inventive plot, nasty demon and eerie backwoods locales raise this film above the level of run-of-the-morgue horror.

    Three lackluster sequels had none of the strengths and depth of the original. Will the planned series reboot rekindle the spirit of "Pumpkinhead" through strong characters and thematic force? If not, why bother? The first incarnation is good enough to stand alone.
  • Some city kids take a trip to the country and one of them ends up killing a local boy in a biking accident. That boy's father decides to make a deal with a witch to get vengeance on the city kids by unleashing a powerful demon. Shortly after, the man realizes he went too far and has to try and help save the kids. This is such a great horror movie with quality sets, good acting, and a creepy demon. The demon, Pumpkinhead, is very well-done for an '80s movie and feels like just another character. The sets are outstanding, especially the witches' cabin, cemetery, and old church. They really give you a rustic and eerie tone that suits the movie's overall tone. Lance Henriksen gives a great performance as a man struggling with the sudden loss of his son and the choices he makes. I think that is one of the main reasons I like the movie so much because it's not just some monster killing pretty people, it's also about this man struggling with his own inner demons. There also some memorable lines in the movie, especially from the witch, Haggis, who is very creepy. The score also fits into the movie very well and is perfect for the setting and type of movie that it is. Another important thing about the movie is that it never drags on or gets too full of itself, but it is very creative and has a surprising ending. It is definitely a must-see for any horror fan.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Southern Gothic, a most deliciously specific sub genre, has hardly been explored in the American cinema, and one may not approach 'Pumpkinhead' with any expectation of artistry, but the movie surprises. It surprises as an accomplished and authentic-feeling example of Southern Gothic, better than 'Deliverance,' but nowhere near as good as 'Night of the Hunter,' and also as a morality play with a streak of dark irony.

    Lean at 86 minutes, the film's build-up is exquisite. Lance Henriksen, excellent here as a highly physical, laconic grocery store owner in rural Rural, U.S.A, lives alone with his son, who is his sole companion after the death of his wife. The movie carefully and quite skillfully establishes the importance of this boy to his father, and this gives almost unbearable gravity to the boy's accidental death at the hands of six urban motorcycling youths. The movie's handling of this situation is brilliant and completely devoid of cheapness or exploitativeness, and the underrated Henriksen reveals himself as an actor of depth and significance.

    There is moral and material conflict among the youths, who retreat to their cabin. One of them, a violent and dominating thug, is on probation for DUI, and taking responsibility for the boy's death would likely yield a prison sentence. Meanwhile, Henriksen consults an old witch to unleash the titular demon, one who's only been rumored about in campfire tales and bedtime stories, to avenge his child's death, and subsequently undergoes moral turnaround himself.

    The last third of the film lacks weight or interest, as the demon dispatches each youth against the sudden protests of Henriksen. It's almost as though the director, Stan Winston, wanted to avoid hunt-and-slay elements altogether, and went through the motions as quickly as possible. While this is admirable, this portion of the film almost completely lacks flair.

    It's forgivable, though. Not many horror films are as good as this, which is concise, atmospheric, and manages to provoke both thought and genuine emotion, with wonderful supporting players like Joseph Piro and Buck Flower that augment the film's rural ambiance with an enchanting authenticity.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Growing up in the nineties, when Pumpkinhead was deemed iconic enough to stand alongside Michael Myers and Norman Bates, the film garnered something of a status as one of those great 1980s horror films. Since then, attempts to launch the movie into a franchise have fizzled out and the movie is now more regarded as a minor cult classic of the era, not that well-known outside of the horror fandom. This is something of a shame because "Pumpkinhead" really is that good.

    The tagline referred to the movie as a "grim fairy tale." The intentionally fable-tastic tone is used a bit to excuse the script's shortcomings. The story of a group of city kids coming to the country, accidentally killing a poor store owner's son, and the demonic wrath that follows is simple as simple can be. The teens are all, at best, sketchy character types. You've got the Jerk, who's insistence on not taking responsibility for the manslaughter spurns on the carnage. He's got a Little Brother (Moral Alliance: Mostly Good.), a Girlfriend (Spunky, just shy of annoying), Christian Girl, Nice Girl, and Nice Guy. Of those last three, Christian Girl is easily the best performed, while the two heroic teens aren't developed much beyond disagreeing with the other characters. It's not completely unreasonable to say that these kids exist just to start the plot off and to get slaughtered.

    Normally, that would hold the movie back, but there are three major factors that make "Pumpkinhead" a genuinely good creature feature. First off, Lance Henriksen is given a real starring role. Ed Harley is the heart of the movie. Lance is such a subtle actor in this. He manages to show so much with just his face, a cock of the eye, an upward angle. Though the early scenes between him and the son are brief, they feel genuine. Henriksen prevents hokey lines about being the luckiest dad in the world from sounding contrived. Next to Bishop, it's probably his best performance. The warm, sweet musical score moves this along.

    As good as Henriksen is, the real star of "Pumpkinhead" is the monster himself. The film was directed by the late, great Stan Winston, a creature effect artist who I've always loved. His make-up team, the same team that made iconic characters in "Aliens," "Predator," and "The Monster Squad" are the ones responsible for Pumpkinhead. It's a great design, a creature reptilian and demonic, humanoid but alien. It doesn't quite fall anywhere on the recognizable animal scale. It looks so amazing. This is why CGI can never top practical creature effects: Pumpkinhead looks and moves like a living thing. More then that, it has a personality. The suit actor brings even subtle cues to the monster's personality. He can snarl or have a sinister little smile. He does things like play with a victim's corpse, taunt them, carve a cross in their forehead. This is the same reason why Freddy Krueger and Frankenstein's Monster endure. They are clear, obvious, fully formed personalities. Anyway, I'm rambling but it's fair to say Pumpkinhead is one of my all time favorite movie monsters.

    Finally, the film simply looks fantastic, a combination of atmospheric shooting and detail oriented set designs. The color is great. The nights are clear and blue. The days are orange and brown, lived in and rural. Every set is lived in. The witch's hut is super atmospheric. The burnt out church is so friggin' cool. A demon appears in the doorway of a ruined church, fog swirling all around the blue night. Classic. The graveyard where Ed Harley digs up the demon feels like walking into another world, especially the giant burial mound. This is Southern Gothic, Hillbilly Noir. A lot of movies and shows have attempted this but few are as successful.

    The fable tone successfully comes through several times. The opening sequence, of a child seeing something horrible he can't really understand, sets the tone fantastically. The ending brings an ironic, mythic quality to the film. "Pumpkinhead" is one of those movies I like more every time I see it. It's easy to pick apart the movie's flaws but it's successful qualities are hugely endearing.
  • Pumpkinhead is a pretty damn good horror movie. It has an interesting story with a relatable, empathetic main character that sets up the monster's origin very nicely.

    Mist, shadows, and moonlight in a dark forest provides a creepy atmosphere throughout most of the movie that allows for an immersive experience.

    And best of all, the monster is a masterful example of practical effects. This creature looks genuinely terrifying with an original, alien-looking design that you don't see that much in monster movies.

    If you want a delightfully creepy, interesting monster movie to watch for your next Halloween movie marathon, Pumpkinhead comes highly recommended.
  • Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a poor but hard working man, who cares for his only son Billy (Matthew Hurley) after his wife dies. Harley also owns a small grocery store. When a group of young people (Jeff East, John D'Aquino, The late Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain and Kerry Resmen) accidentally kills Harley's son, when two of the guys of the group were trying their dirt-bikes. After Harley leaves his son for several minutes for business. While some of the group are trying to get call for help and the others are hiding in their cabin for the weekend. When Harley finds his son dead, he gets mad and he seeks for vengeance of his son's killer. He decides to go see a old witch named Haggis (Florence Schauffler) and Harley tries to find out about an old Urban Legend if it's true. This legend is about an revenge seeking demon that could be brought back to life by this witch but it's only works if Harley gives part of his soul to this demon by giving his blood and the blood of his dead son. When the deal is done by bringing back this creature for finding revenge. Harley finds out that the creature can't be done and there's no turning back, until the monster finds all for those who are responsible for his son's death. The only way, it could be stopped if Harley kills himself and saves his soul before it's too late.

    Directed by Four Time Oscar-Winner:Stan Winston (T2 3-D:Battle Across Time) made an well directed horror/fantasy/thriller that is well acted, well produced and strikingly photographed by Bojan Bazelli (Dangerous Beauty, Kalifornia, The Ring "2002"). Winston, who's best known as a Make-Up Artist/Creature Designer. Since this was his first film as a filmmaker, he didn't have time to supervised the creature effects of this movie. But it was created by his F/X studio and Tom Woodruff Jr. (Who works with Winston on many films before), he plays the title role of the film. Perphas the problem of the movie that is not entirely original on storytelling or dialogue. But Winston and his cinematographer keeps this lively minor cult classic interesting. Character-Actor:Henriksen is excellent as usual in this kind of movie. This picture went on to have three sequels and "Pumpkinhead" is the kind of film that plays well on Halloween night. This was the last film to be produced by the short-lived infamous studio:DEG (De Laurentiis Entertainment Group). But United Artists brought the film for a limited release and it came out in 1989, after it was filmed in the fall of 1987. Despite for some serious flaws in the movie, this picture is worth a look. Horror Fans will impressive with this 1980's gem. (*** ½/*****).
  • This film is pretty classy for a horror film. Everything about this movie has such simplicity, the plot deals with themes of "KARMA" and "VENGANCE", as the movie opens with A family locking themselves in their cabin while a man is stalked and killed outside, the little boy of the family peeks outside and sees the man being killed by a monster in the shadows. It's now the present and the little boy is a grown man ED HARLEY (THE GREAT LANCE) who is a widower and has a small boy. All is fine and dandy until a group of city kids, a motor bike accident, a creepy witch, and a demon that is resurrected and called "PUMPKINHEAD" changes all that, ED and the teens find out the hard way that "WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND".

    Great Monster...I remember the design for Pumpkinhead gave me the creeps..especially the far shots of it hiding in trees, the first opening chase scene is creepy because you don't understand what is going on. The witch scenes are also done with so much dread...I love it.

    Stan Winston is a very talented director giving the simple monster after teens story more depth and soul. I really felt for Ed and his Grief. How many horror movies do you know that do that?...The blue and orange filters really give the film a nice look. A forest never seemed creepy.

    The soundtrack hits all the right notes and elevates the movie to more creepy level.

    Some minor complaints would have to be the teens don't get enough screen time..I liked the majority of them but they get killed way too soon (you'll see)...more range and development would have been nice...but on a whole..this movie is all good...nice direction..and themes. Creepy Ending

    *** out of ****
  • skallisjr24 April 2005
    Back before television and even dramatic radio, there were storytellers. Often, the more avuncular of them might spin tall tales around a campfire. Usually, such stories were scary. This is like those stories, and is probably a direct descendant.

    At the very beginning of the film, we see a flashback of a country lad looking through the edges of a window at a Creature who's on some sort of rampage.

    Shift to the present. Here we find a widowed father, a farmer with a beloved son. Tragically, the boy is accidentally killed by "city folk," and the father seeks revenge. He asks around the country folk, and locates a witch who agrees to help him, and evokes a similar creature as he saw as a child.

    One point: the atmosphere in the witch's hut is extraordinarily well done, and oddly, the scenery is weirdly beautiful.

    Spoilers: This is not a slasher flick; not really a horror flick: it's a Greek Tragedy. In these, the protagonist is approaching doom with a certain inevitability. So it is with this film.

    Once the farmer realizes what he has wrought, he slowly figures out what he must do to stop the creature. And that is a terrible price to pay.

    Recommended strongly.
  • isantistao20 October 2019
    This is one of the greatest horror films of all time. They made the demon look super amazing even without any CGI. I'm not sure why it is getting such a poor rating, maybe people are comparing it to the over produced horror films of today that are mostly green screen and CGI. But this film is from a time before all of that and really set the stage and standard for all the horror movies of the 90's and after. It deserves way more credit. From where I am sitting today I see it as one of the greats, a classic. Definitely worth a watch if you are film connoisseur, especially of horror, but even if you do not normally like horror films, because this is a work of art.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Pumpkinhead" was late FX master Stan Winston (1946-2008) first and only directorial effort other then some shorts. Well he did direct Anthony Michael Hall in "A Gnome Named Gnorm" but his only in horror for that matter. But, this is defiantly one of my favorite horror flicks. Lance Henriksen makes this flick everything worth watching that and of course the awesome effects. Henriksen has some nice sweet moments with his on screen son that makes it super awful when he finally dies. The only real crappy part here is that our main a-hole teen guy, who actually kills the boy doesn't die a good appropriate death, especially when we find out he's ran some other people over drunk before. I also recognized on this viewing one of the girls as Kerry Remsen who played in "Ghoulies II" and "After Midnight". All in all, "Pumpkinhead" is a fun watch and one of my favorites defiantly recommend it to the two horror fans that might not have seen it yet.
  • Phantasm0127 August 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Pumpkinhead, also known as Vengeance of the Demon, is based upon characters from American folklore and classic allegory, adding to its potent-unyielding terror. It is one of those rare horror films that does more than merely provide an assortment of sadistic death sequences for shock value, as so many others do in this genre, but being all that they're good for. It not only features tremendous special effects by Oscar-winner Stan Winston that center upon the most ideal monster, and performances that are beyond exceptional (most notably by our leading man, Lance Henriksen, who I think, despite of his appearance in much more highly budgeted theatrical films, delivered his finest performance in this one); in addition, it has an extraordinary intellectual and well-written, riveting plot line that make this one of the most beloved horror films of all time, with a growing fan cult following despite it being released over ten years ago.

    This grim, highly evocative and compelling picture, which was critically-praised as being "stylish and atmospheric," will have you frozen with fear until the very last moment! As you watch this impassive and vicious creature with ghastly appearance that can't possibly get anymore authentic than they already are, in pursue of its victims in whom it could once again take pleasure of dragging its massive claws all throughout as it previously has following several other resurrections, there is no doubt that your jaws wouldn't have dropped and eyes wouldn't have practically hung out of their sockets; it really is likely that blinking is something you may forget to do here. And it's even the littlest things that make this film so momentous, such as, prior to the demon's awakening, the part of the film where Ed Harley, emotionally-driven, attempts to journey up to the mountains where an actual witch is believed to live yet feared by all, who do not dare to enter her grounds, for they are aware of the evil force that lies within her and her abilities to turn lives of the innocence upside-down. Having ended his journey after a little help from a curious local boy who, however, did not come along for the entire ride as surroundings began to modify into a menacing gloom, Harley steps inside an old, roach-infested cottage holding his lifeless son, and ultimately comes face-to-face with evil itself. While the witch performed upon her rituals in aim of fulfilling this man's desires, she actually makes it feel real. She truly makes you forget that you're even watching a movie. Never before have I been so affected. The acting and the direction was outstanding! If you're a horror fanatic as myself am, I would urge you to see this one.
  • Dammit, why did I put off seeing this for so long? Pumpkinhead is a complete and total 80s horror flick all the way through, and if you're tired of modernized torture horror and dumb ripoff slashers, throw this on as a reminder of why you loved the horror genre in the first place.

    I think the best thing about this is that it isn't just for fans of one specific type of horror. There was slasher horror and there were monster movies, and maybe a few odd-man-out occult flicks, but Pumpkinhead doesn't really fall into any of those, rather settling to sit on the divider between them. I guess you could call this a monster movie more than anything, but you've got more than enough elements of the slasher and "occult" types of films in there too, so it's pretty much up to the viewer. Watch it as what you like. No matter what, though, no horror fan can deny that this rules, being both totally old school and boasting a somewhat new twist on the films it took influence from. The monster might seem cheesy or awkward, but I grew to appreciate it the same as I did other horror icons like Jason and Michael Myers, which says it all. The kills are brutal yet not overdone (learn a lesson here, Mr. Eli Roth!), and the characters are generally enjoyable and not too shallow (at least not compared to the random teens in Friday the 13th flicks).

    This might not be the best film from a critical standpoint, but as a horror fan, I can't give this anything but a perfect score. With a great setting, a healthy helping of mozzarella cheese, some classic 80s blood and guts, a monster that is as much cheesy as it is cool, and a certain spark that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole demonic thrill ride of the movie, Pumpkinhead will fit right in on your shelf next to Friday the 13th, Halloween and Sleepaway Camp. If you don't already have it, then take it from me and go get it right now.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Lance Henriksen stars in this 1988 horror film directed by late, special effects genius, Stan Winston. Henriksen (Near Dark) plays Ed Harley, a country storekeeper who lives with his young son, Billy (Matthew Hurley). Soon, Billy is killed in a motorcycle accident involving city teens. Ed seeks revenge and begs an old witch to help him in which she conjures up a demon, Pumpkinhead (Tom Woodruff Jr.) to rid them. Ed becomes afflicted with images of the killings and tries to stop Pumpkinhead from finishing the job. Henriksen is great in this as usual, Woodruff is creepy as Pumpkinhead and Richard Stone's score is chilling. Henriksen also worked with Winston on "The Terminator" and "Aliens." I recommend this good 80's horror/revenge flick.
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