Ah, the 1st of September. In my neck of the woods, it’s currently 87°F (about 30°C for those of you in the civilized world) and 65% humidity. Me personally, I think September 1 should be the official start of Fall, and the climate should therefore behave appropriately. Oh well. At least it’s okay to start drinking pumpkin ale now (as doing so any time before September is an abomination).
And whilst we’re on the subject of Cucurbita pepo…let’s talk about the severely overrated Pumpkinhead. I mean, it has its moments I guess, and I do love revenge as character motivation, but ultimately this movie just leaves me pretty flat. The story, such as it is, revolves around a grieving father played by the almost always effective Lance Henriksen. “Almost always?” you ask. Ah, another movie for another post some time.
Anyhows, if you’re not familiar, Lance Henriksen is Ed Harley. As a child, he saw a guy killed by a monster after the guy sought refuge from Ed’s father only to be turned away at the end of a gun. In the present, Ed owns a little country store. One day his young son is accidentally killed by some dumbass teenager on a dirtbike.
Grief and anger will drive one to desperate measures, so it’s no surprise that Ed seeks out The Old Witch Of The Woods, Haggis (uh, yeah, clever) demanding vengeance. With all the necessary elements including a dug up corpse and some blood from Ed and his son, Pumpkinhead rises.
There is, of course, a catch or two. For one, Pumpkinhead can’t be stopped until the required vengeance is satisfied. Second, anyone attempting to help or protect the object of Pumpkinhead’s wrath ends up on the kill list as well, all of which sounds like a great premise, very Dungeons & Dragons like in fact. Sadly, the movie doesn’t quite deliver the goods.
I’ve seen a number of folks tout this movie and in particular this monster. I don’t get it. I never have. I mentioned this a while back on a list of 10 Monsters That Just Aren’t Scary. Don’t get me wrong. The creature effects themselves aren’t bad, but Pumpkinhead just doesn’t flip my scare switch. I think a big part of this has to do with the fact that, to me, Pumpkinhead looks too much like a badly ripped off Xenomorph.
That’s not much of a surprise. Pumpkinhead was Stan Winston’s debut as a director. Winston was a special effects giant boasting involvement with the likes of Spielberg, James Cameron, and Tim Burton. Knowing he won an Oscar for effects in Aliens and was nominated for those in Predator, it’s easy to see where Pumpkinhead came from.
Finally, a personal bias. I’ve stated numerous times that I’m a big fan of vengeance and, relatedly, vigilante justice (especially when it’s driven by vengeance). So for me, Pumpkinhead doesn’t quench that thirst. If it were my son, I’d wanna be the one meting out the vengeance first hand, that way I know my target is getting exactly what he deserves in exactly the manner I find appropriate. Probably explains why I love stuff like The Crow and Law Abiding Citizen.
Okay it is kinda cool that Ed gets to “experience” the deaths of the murdering little punks through the monster’s eyes. But as Haggis warned Ed, vengeance comes with a price, and Ed begins to become one with the vengeful spirit raised in his name. So yeah, while revenge might be a dish best served cold, it’s even better delivered in person.
Y’know what they say. If you want a job done right…
Stream- Pluto, Prime, Shudder, Sling
Rent- AMC+, AppleTV, Google Play, Prime, Vudu, YouTube
PS: Look out for Mayim Bialik in her film debut.