Pumpkinhead (1988)

Director: Stan Winston

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, Matthew Hurley

MAGGIE: “Don’t worry, God will help us.” (loads shotgun)
TRACY: “Then what’s that for?”
MAGGIE: “In case God doesn’t show up.”

Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a bit of a hillbilly. He lives in a house with his young son, who makes him a necklace thing for seemingly no reason. The next day a few bikers come to the village and run his son over, killing him. Lance is clearly pissed off (and rightfully so), so he seeks out a crazy old woman who teaches him how to make a demon based on his rage that will seek vengeance. And so Pumpkinhead is born. Cue mindless killing of the bikers.

I had always wanted to see Pumpkinhead ever since they made an action figure of him in my favourite action figure series, Movie Maniacs. After all, it had to be memorable if someone took the time to make an action figure of it. As it turns out, Pumpkinhead is at best an average film which lacks a set of balls.

Pumpkinhead is a huge monster (even the action figure dwarves the other ones in the series), but all it seems to do to the people it kills is put its hand over their head and pick them up a bit. That’s extremely fucking weak. The plot’s also a bit simple. Boy dies, man goes mad, enlists the help of a demon which then kills people. Meh.

The fact that it’s from the ’80s is no excuse. Pet Sematary still scares me to this day. But this was just poor. There are two ‘jump’ scares in the film. One just isn’t scary (Henriksen’s dead son sits up in the car next to him) and the other’s poorly timed (a dog wanders slowly into the frame to a dramatic musical sting). And as impressive as Pumpkinhead looks, it doesn’t seem that it could do any harm at any point, especially given that its main party trick is the old “picking people up by the head” routine. Give me a pointy stick and I could probably take the bastard.

Yes, there are a couple of deaths, but they all happen off-screen so we don’t really know what happens. The only one that’s sort of shown is when Pumpkinhead uses the tried and tested “pick up by the head”, climbs a tree then drops the person he’s carrying. Naturally however, we don’t see the impact. To be fair, there’s one clever moment where an unfortunate chap is impaled on a rifle, but that’s about it.

Incidentally, the story for Pumpkinhead was based on a poem by Ed Justin. Here’s how it goes:

Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you tire 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

Oddly, it doesn’t mention anything about Lance Henriksen’s son getting his head caved in.

Sorry to say, Pumpkinhead isn’t too great. If you’re a special effects junkie it’s certainly worth a watch to see the great Pumpkinhead puppetry (with Stan Winston directing it’s no surprise the monster looks great), but I wouldn’t make it top of the priority list if I were you.

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12 thoughts on “Pumpkinhead (1988)

  1. Pet cemetery? Pumpkinhead is raw Stephen king writes for idiots and his stories are so terribly constructed, they are only popular and interesting because they’re ambiguous and barely make sense anyone can do what he does Don’t talk shit about Pumpkinhead

  2. Pumpkinhead… What this movie may lack in catering to effect hungry movie goers… It MORE than makes up in having an awesome concept, eerie atmosphere, and great characterization.. The story itself I find to be incredible… Pumpkinhead being more than your Monster without a cause that is omnipresent in sooo many other Boogeymen… A vengeance driven supernatural force of nature? Yes Please… Summoned by black magic from a backwoods witch named Haggis, who is quite a bit more frightening then the monster, herself… Great performance.. In my top 3 favorite horror movies of ALL time

  3. “Don’t talk shit on PUMPKINHEAD unless you are tired of living”

    You silly little wanker DONT TALK SHIT ABOUT PUMPKINHEAD!

  4. Do you know why Zelda was so fucked up and left to rot in that dingy attic in Pet Semetary? Because she TALKED SHIT ABOUT PUMPKINHEAD!

    DONT TALK SHIT ABOUT PUMPKINHEAD!

    DONT DO IT!

  5. I’m not exactly sure what the penalty is for talking shit about Pumpkinhead, but it will certainly involve being picked up by the head and tossed across the bloody Thames. Don’t you EVER talk shit about Pumpkinhead!

  6. “And as impressive as Pumpkinhead looks, it doesn’t seem that it could do any harm at any point, especially given that its main party trick is the old “picking people up by the head” routine. Give me a pointy stick and I could probably take the bastard.”

    The writer of this “review” is obviously just jealous because he has never successfully picked anyone up at a party before. Lonely mother fucker DONT TALK SHIT ABOUT PUMPKINHEAD!

  7. You know who else talked shit about PUMPKINHEAD? My grandma, and now she is dead!

    You still have time to take it all back you silly blasphemous bastard!!

    DONT TALK SHIT ABOUT PUMPKINHEAD!

  8. It’s true! Pumpkinhead killed me! All I said was that I would be too heavy to lift by my head, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it! It’s a shame that raisin’ the dead ain’t within my daughter’s powers.

    Listen here young fella, I’ll bet you a buffalo nickel that a pointy stick won’t stop pumpkinhead! So if you learn anything from me, learn this: A ring don’t plug a hole and don’t talk shit about pumpkinhead!

  9. “Give me a pointy stick and I could probably take the bastard.”
    This is an outlandish and typical male-chauvinistic statement spawned by a sexist piece of shit who thinks just because he has a penis (pointy stick) that he could “take” (rape) pumpkinhead, who by the way, is clearly sexless. Joel had a MACHETE and couldn’t scratch pumpkinhead. AND he rode a motorcycle and wore a leather jacket. Who are you, little man? Why don’t you get off your high-horse, mind the gap, and don’t talk shit about Pumpkinhead!!!

  10. “Don’t talk shit about Pumpkinhead
    Unless you tire of living.
    He is most certainly not dead,
    This review he will not be forgiving.
    Bolted doors and pointy sticks,
    Firewalls on your internet
    Won’t protect you in bed
    Don’t talk shit about Pumpkinhead”

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