Pumpkinhead (1988)
October 27, 2022 8:53 AM - Subscribe

After his son dies in a hit-and-run accident, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks revenge against the teenagers responsible. With the help of a local witch (Florence Schauffler), Ed summons the vengeful demon Pumpkinhead to hunt and kill the group of friends. But when Ed discovers a bond between himself and the creature, he begins to have second thoughts about employing the vicious monster, and he fights to end Pumpkinhead's murderous rampage before it is too late.

Also starring Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Cynthia Bain, Mayim Bialik, George "Buck" Flower.

Directed by Stan Winston. Screenplay by Mark Patrick Carducci and Gary Gerani. Based on a screen story by Stan Winston & Richard Weinman. Inspired by a poem by Ed Justin.

65% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on AMC Plus. Also available for digital rental on multiple services. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It should surprise no one that Stan Winston's directorial debut is a veritable clinic in practical FX.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:53 AM on October 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

How to repeatedly show your entire monster and have it stay scary. Great flick.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:59 AM on October 27, 2022

One of my absolute faves for practical FX and monsterwork, I had to watch it again just a few weeks ago! I also love how the tone moves from 'shitty city kids get what they deserve' to 'oh man, i've gone too far, i gotta work with these city kids to fix it'. One horrific mistake addressed with another horrific mistake, and the spiraling mess that ensues..
posted by FatherDagon at 1:08 PM on October 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yeah, the “revenge helps no one” plot makes this a better film than it deserved to be — it was aiming for stupid monster fun, but it ended up punching above its weight. Although naming the witch “Haggis” might have dragged it down a little.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:22 AM on October 28, 2022

This is one of my favorite horror movies of all time, between the great practical effects and, as FatherDagon noted, the much better than expected theme work. Pumpkinhead is scary not so much because of what he does but because of what he represents.

The sequels for some reason decided to make Pumpkinhead, like, a tragic hero and the witch into a misunderstood saint, and at that point the whole premise just kind of falls apart, in my opinion. Calling on Pumpkinhead should be a literal devil's deal, a trade where you lose everything and gain nothing, and I think it's okay to have the embodiment of misguided revenge stay as a simpler kind of evil.
posted by Scattercat at 3:42 AM on October 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

On rewatch, this looked great but the story really needed a single likable character from the gang of young people.

The visuals (which seem nearly as simple as "I liked Evil Dead, but let's use even more giallo lighting") and the practical FX are still great, though.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:21 AM on April 5

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