Review : Pumpkinhead (1988)

Pumpkinhead, directed by Stan Winston, was released in October 1988 and stars Lance Henriksen as the main character. After his son is killed in a motorcycle accident, a farmer invokes the powerful demon Pumpkinhead in his quest for revenge. He soon comes to regret his actions, however, and attempts to stop the demon, but he may already be too late (source : Rotten Tomatoes).

Upon watching Pumpkinhead, I was expecting nothing more than a straight-forward creature feature. However, the story digs deeper into the motivation of the characters instead of pushing them aside in favor of some creature feature goodness. This is the aspect I enjoyed the most about the film : it takes its time presenting the characters and give you a glimpse into their lives before unleashing a demon upon them. This was very effective as it makes it easy to sympathize with Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), a loving father who tragically loses his son and becomes blinded by pain and a thirst for revenge. On the other hand, the group of youngsters responsible for the accidental death of the little boy are not evil people, just stupid teens having fun but with no real intention to harm anyone.

I particularly enjoyed how the creature is used as a representation of the father’s blinding pain and inability to grieve. Pumpkinhead is not a being you can reason with, the same could be said about the father who only has one idea in mind : avenge his child’s death, no matter the cost. However, when he realizes what he has done, he decides to help the surviving teens. The shift is very well made and feels natural.

Now, this is a creature feature so let’s talk about Pumpkinhead ! Stan Winston, who directed the film, is a well-known make-up effects creator. The creature has a great design, is very well crafted and looks fantastic. The name seems a bit off as it doesn’t look like a pumpkin at all. However, the film does address the reason behind its name. Pumpkinhead is a great creature feature with a solid script and sympathetic characters. I highly recommend it as both creature and story are entertaining.




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