Sunday, January 21, 2007

One Mother of a Migrane: Pumpkinhead

A while ago I watched a movie called "Darkness Falls."

It was, without a doubt, one of the worst things I have ever seen.

I could go on for ages about the hackneyed acting or the tear-worthy special effects, but all I need to clearly demonstrate the caliber of this film is to reveal the villain.

Are you ready?

The Tooth Fairy.

I'm just gonna let that one sit for a bit.


Someone actually pitched that idea. There was a meeting, and people tossed around things like, "what if the Easter Bunny goes on a rampage?" And then someone had to point out that they did that last fall.

And then, silence. A lone figure stands at the end of the table, his eyes glowing with the greatest idea that ever happened to anyone ever.

In a voice almost inaudible over the sound of reverence, he whispers: "The Tooth Fairy."

For an entire day, no one moves. Finally, the big boss man shoves his chair aside in a gruff manner. Most think he is about to chastise the idiot savant. But then, in a scene of pure Hollywood, he begins the finest tradition of all films. He starts a slow clap.

Now I'm sure this isn't exactly how it all went down, but that about gets the idea.

This movie was made with a sizable budget. People were paid for it, and promotional events were held in its honor. Does that not blow your friggin mind?

We live in a different era, where film writers have lost all sense of originality (save the genius behind "Pan's Labyrinth" who ought to receive a medal for kicking ass and taking names in the sense of magical adventure).

How many remakes of old Asian horror films to we have to slough through before something new comes along?

Why are we rehashing old franchises and cartoon shows?

Why won't Peter Jackson admit he went a little bit overboard with the LOTR trilogy and make the "Hobbit" with my sister as dramatic advisor (and yes, she can have a beating-stick with which to ensure loyalty to the text)?

But back in the 80's, when life was sweet and fashion non-existent, horror movies carried new and interesting characters brimming with storylines yet untold.

Freddy rose from the ashes of our dreams with a bladed-hand.

Jason emerged from the depths of a lake to deal out his own brand of bloody justice.

And one creature stepped forward to right the wrongs of the backwater folk of Hicksville, USA.

That demon was Pumpkinhead.


I actually never saw the original "Pumpkinhead" until just recently. I'd seen the Punky Bruster version, i.e. number two, but I never knew what to make of the whole thing. A demon with a head shaped like a pumpkin went around tearing kids limb-from-limb for no apparent reason.

Maybe it's because I grew up with such plot-oriented horror, like "Child's Play," but throughout the run of "Pumpkinhead 2: Bloodwings" (not to be confused with the KFC tie-in, Pumpkinhead Buffalo Wings) I found myself deeply dissatisfied.

Now, upon revisiting the beginning of this monstrous opus, I realize exactly what was missing from the sequel:


There is a deep and serious story playing out behind the scenes of this monster-from-hell-out-to-kill-horny-teenagers movie.

And yes, I am pulling your leg.

Lance Henriksen ("Aliens") plays creepy farmer Ed Harley. He's a bit "too close" to his son, with lots of affection directed in ways I'd rather not elaborate on in a PG film BLOG. One day, city folk come into town to practice some hardcore biking...right next to Ed's shop.

While Ed goes to get some feed for a farmin' buddy, his son goes a-chasin' after the dog, Gypsy. As luck would have it, he gets run over by one of the kids on a bike.

But this kid already has a record, and he's been drinking since about noon-thirty. And he's so wild, no one can handle him.

Ed comes back from a happy drive to find his son dead and the killers off on the lam, trying to hide in a cabin in the middle of Hicksville...with the friends and family of the boy they just killed.

These kids aren't really packing too much in the brains department. Some would say they aren't playing with a full deck. I assess they brought the card box and forgot the cards.

Ed tracks down Old Lady Haggis (yes, the sumptuous Scottish dish involving sheep intestines and manly chest hair) and begs she help him get some sort of vengeance.

He does this without a hint of emotion, because Lance Henriksen is too badass for any wussy tears.

Haggis tells him of a pumpkin patch where evil grows. And thus our tale introduces the titular demon: Pumpkinhead.

Now...I can't actually explain what this thing looks like, except that its head does indeed resemble the gigantic orange vegetable. The creature itself is one of Stan Winston's creations, the FX genius behind such greats as "Terminator", "The Thing", and "Dracula's Dog."

So, while it looks like the next logical step for Michael Jackson, it moves with a grace only Stan's team can produce.

The disposables in this are...well, just that. Aside from John D'Aquino (A "JAG" regular) no one made it out of this film alive.

These kids have no emotional stability. In one scene, they can curse each other out and prepare for epic blood rivalries, and then forget it all to have lunch in the next. One girl becomes religious after watching the little boy get steamrolled, and by "religious" I mean she goes insane and quotes the bible.

Also, as with most monster films, these people are BLIND AS EYELESS BATS WITH SEVERE MENTAL DISABILITIES. I can't count how many times I asked the TV "why can't you see the monster EATING YOUR FRIEND not FIVE FEET from you?"

Alas, no one answered me but Pumpkinhead himself, whose only response was to eat more brainless children.

Had the beast of this film been a zombie, it would have been sorely in want of a good meal.

At the end of the film, nothing is answered, but you won't ask any questions. Back in the 80s this was something, perhaps a statement of the filmmakers on socio-economic freedom in the fictional South. Today, it's just another B-movie with nothing to show.

I've decided to create a ranking system that will be easier to interpret. Remember that my opinion is just that, and you can't always go on the word of a man who's actually seen "House of the Dead" twice. My brain has been permanently altered.

So from now on, a 10 will be a film I'd recommend renting, as one should never own too many of these types of movies (and please don't ask me how many I own, it's just sad). A 5 will be a movie that is very bad, but still funny as hell to watch, mainly due to its awful nature.

A 1...well, let's just say that I will always warn about the effects of a 1 on your psyche.

"Pumpkinhead" with Lance "The Snake Man" Henriksen gets a 5 out of 10.

Now I've got work calling me that was supposed to be done hours ago, so I'd better get to procrastinating.

Watch carefully.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where do I start?

-I totally imdb'ed "Dracula's Dog"...holy crap. Zoltan!!!

-This movie was On Demand a few weeks ago, so i started watching it because I remembered watching it back in the BB days. By the time the whole crew got to the cabin and the beast was re-raised, I stopped.

-"noon-thirty." hahahahaha....

-"Pan's Labyrinth" = The SHIT
I saw this movie twice and it kicked my ass even harder the second time. Best back to back? MirrorMask and then Pan's Labyrinth. Blow your creative mind out. And Guillermo del Toro wrote/directed it. You'd know him from Hellboy...and Blade II. Oh, and imdb who played the Faun...he was on Buffy once. Mwahaha!!!!

-I would kill Lindsay Lohan in a second for a beating stick to use on Peter Jackson's next directorial move. Now I truly believe you are writing these things for me.

-I think that's it...

-Oh wait...I was really sad that "Darkness Falls" was such shite because Emma Caulfield was in it. Poor girl. I still heart her. At least she's got Robot Chicken.