A classic monster movie from the late 80s, Pumpkinhead is FX master Stan Winston’s first foray into film direction. It stars Lance Henriksen as the lead, Ed Harley, who owns a general store out in the middle of nowhere. After a terrible accident involving Ed’s son Billy and some city slicker campers driving dirt bikes recklessly, Ed seeks revenge from a backwoods witch. Using the dark arts, the witch conjures the demonic Pumpkinhead to destroy the campers who killed the boy.
The creature FX were OK for the time, but I couldn’t help but feel like the monster looked an awful lot like the xenomorph from the Alien series. I think less shots of the monster would have sold it a little better, because some of the puppet-like movements looked goofy. In any movie like this, the menace of the creature is always very important. Showing too much and too early is going to lessen the impact of the creature.
The story did what it was supposed to by setting up the need for the main character to seek out justice for his son’s death. Lance Henriksen delivered a swell performance, but the rest of the cast was just there for the monster to kill.
The biggest problem I have is how nothing really had a chance to develop. When Pumpkinhead was over, it felt like something was missing. I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters, so I didn’t care at all if they lived or died. It wasn’t a bad setup for a different take on the creature feature, but it fell short in too many ways. We can only hope for a remake/reboot/re-imagining to make it what it needs to be, since I highly doubt the three sequels did anything remotely worthwhile for the series.