Pumpkinhead (1988)

director: Stan Winston
release-year: 1988
genres: horror
countries: USA
languages: English

Pumpkinhead is one of the few 80s horror films based on a poem:

Bolted doors and windows barred
Guard dogs prowling in the yard
Won't protect you in your bed
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead!

I thought it would look like trash, based on my last viewing being from a rented VHS tape on a crummy old CRT, and because most 80s horror movies do. But it looks remarkably good, actually. Proper lighting, nice coloration, good framing, and actors who can at least somewhat act? Dynamic crane shots of the desert? This movie clearly had a real budget for some reason. Maybe I'm just miscalibrated because I saw Creepshow 2 yesterday, and anything would look good in comparison.

Crane shot.

A young farmer boy watches Pumpkinhead eviscerate the neighbor, and grows up to be a kind and loving single father despite living in a dusty backwoods desert town.

Nothing prepares you for fatherhood like mutant murders.

A batch of young kids from the big city come cruising in with their speedy sports cars and motocross bikes and fancy SLR cameras. Since they're big city jerks, they accidentally kill the son pretty much immediately. Dad is shockingly calm about finding his dead son in the grass.

At least they don't waste any time about it.

Dad makes a deal with the local mountain folk, and they give him directions to the local mountain witch, Haggis. The witch sends dad to the cemetery pumpkin patch that looks like it's from The Neverending Story, and you know things are about to get pumpkiny. He fetches a pumpkin fetus thing for the witch, she does some standard witchy stuff, and he heads home.

The neverending pumpkinheaaaaaaaaad

Mr. Head wastes no time getting all pumpkiny on the city-slickers. They run around screaming and getting murdered.

He plays with his prey like a cat.

The dad regrets his decisions and tries to back out of the deal in the worst acted scene of the film.

Maybe if the witch would have agreed if he were a better actor.

This movie's main flaw – and a mighty important one – is that the story has zero intrigue. It says what it's going to do and immediately does it. No mystery about what will happen or when it will happen. It just does exactly what it says on the tin. At no point is it even remotely interesting.

A pumpkinhead will kill some people.

This movie's main advantage is a foam rubber pumpkin beast butchering people violently. Exactly what it says on the tin.

A pumpkinhead does kill some people.

They take a pause from the pumpkin slaughter to have one of the hillbillies come out and explain the whole plot to us again. Considering that the entire plot is "we killed a kid and his dad summoned a pumpkinhead," and all of this was unquestionably clear, it's rather surprising that they take so much time to explain it again. Thankfully, a pumpkinhead shows up to shut them up.

Stop recapping and die!

The dad gets possessed by the devil, decides to whack pumpkinhead with a flamethrower, but nonchalantly impales himself horrifically on a pitchfork instead. What a klutz.

Hurting me hurts a pumpkinhead!

The pitchfork debacle triggers dad to realize that he and the pumpkinhead are one-and-the-same, so he shoots himself in the head to save the day. A few city-slickers survive, but all of the city kids were interchangeable; who even noticed which died and which remain?

Pumpkinheads burst into flames when they die.

Is it a patch of Pumpkinheads or a patch of Pumpkinshead? I can't believe nobody told me there are four of these movies.

This one is ripe and ready for a modern reboot.