Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Film Review: Pumpkinhead (1988)

Pumpkinhead (Review)
United States/1988
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"Pumpkinhead has a chilling and intimidating design."

At his small store in the country, Ed Harley's (Lance Henriksen) son is fatally injured by teenagers dangerously riding dirt bikes. In a moment of weakness, Ed visits a supposed witch to revive his son. Instead, he foolishly summons a demon to exact his revenge...

Surprisingly, the first half of the film builds up the plot and characters well. It introduces Ed and his son, as well as the legend of Pumpkinhead. The teenagers are your basic slasher campers: the ultra-douche, the joker, the submissive girlfriend, the overly religious girl, the self-righteous artist and so on. I enjoyed the slow buildup of the first half and the great restraint and suspenseful teasing of Pumpkinhead. The second half is more of a tradition creature feature where Pumpkinhead awakens and slaughters the teens. The ending is okay, but it was predictable.

As for the horror, the first half has some suspense and buildup, as well as an urban legend vibe. The second half features the slaughter. I like the Witch, she's incredibly creepy. And, Pumpkinhead has a chilling and intimidating design; I liked his movements and his flashy entrances. The death sequences in this film are good, however, the often choppy editing makes it feel inconsistent. They're not very gory, but they are brutal. It's not exactly scary, either, but it is thrilling and entertaining -- pretty much what you'd expect from a creature feature. Ultimately, though, the second half of the film really doesn't compliment the first half well.

The acting is good from the entire cast, at least at the standard of 80s horror. I thoroughly enjoyed Lance Henriksen's performance, though. The creature design and animatronics are superb, and the gore effects are also great. Fans of practical special effects will find paradise with Pumpkinhead. I also really like the soundtrack for the film, it was a creative choice, yet it worked well with the theme and setting. Stan Winston's direction is great throughout, despite losing some momentum during the second half.

Overall, Pumpkinhead is a fun and entertaining creature feature. The first half is great for fans of slow-burners, and the second half offers an incredible creature and slaughter. However, both don't effectively compliment each other.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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