Pumpkinhead (Collector’s Edition)
Director: Stan Winston
Screenwriters: Mark Patrick Carducci, Gary Gerani
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Brian Bremer
Rated R | 86 Minutes
Release Date: September 9, 2014
While Pumpkinhead received a limited theatrical run in 1988, it’s mostly remembered as a VHS release; the kind of little-known, low-budget horror movie you would take a chance on at the local mom ‘n’ pop video store.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Pumpkinhead is that it’s the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston. Best known for his work in films like The Terminator, Predator, Aliens, Monster Squad, and Jurassic Park, Winston won four Academy Awards for his groundbreaking work in the makeup and special effects fields.
We’re talking about the guy who designed the Queen Alien and the Predator, so it should be no surprise that Pumpkinhead features a first-rate movie monster. It’s the story, however, that is lacking.
When a group of teenagers inadvertently kills his only son, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen, Aliens) seeks the supernatural specialties of a backwoods witch to bring the child back to life. But instead, she summons Pumpkinhead – a monstrous, demonic creature that won’t stop killing until Ed’s bloodlust has been satiated.
Ah, the old “teenagers killed my son so I got a crazy swamp witch to unleash an eight-foot-tall pumpkin-demon” plot. You know the deal: outsiders visit a small rural town where they insult the poor, dirty townsfolk and stir up some trouble before hitting the road. The simple-minded country bumpkins, wronged by those damn city-slicker teenagers in their acid-washed jeans, rely on ancient backwoods magic to right those wrongs.
Beyond the still-impressive creature effects, there just isn’t much about Pumpkinhead that’s noteworthy. It’s an entirely
decent underwhelming horror film that provides plenty of atmosphere but little narrative depth. Henriksen delivers a solid performance, as does Florence Schauffer (Haggis the Witch), but the teenagers are altogether uninteresting.
It should be noted, however, that the cast is a fascinating ensemble of horror bit players, including Jeff East (Deadly Blessing), Joel Hoffman (Slumber Party Massacre II), and Kerry Remsen (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge).
Pumpkinhead hits Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. As with most Scream Factory releases, this film looks better than it has any right to, with healthy grain retention and full colors. As for audio, this Blu-ray release offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for home theater enthusiasts.
As for special features, this Scream Factory release is packed:
Pumpkinhead Unearthed (1:03:59) is a collection of interviews, production photos, and sequences from the film, combined to give the definitive story of the pre-production and filming of Winston’s directorial debut.
Behind the Scenes (7:11) has some archival footage of designing, creating, and testing the Pumpkinhead creature.
Night of the Demon with Richard Weinman (16:29) is an interview with one of the film’s co-writers.
The Redemption of Joel with John D’Aquino (14:02) focuses on John D’Aquino‘s character and offers some behind-the-scenes stories about the film’s production.
The Boy with the Glasses with Matthew Hurley (14:30). Actor Matthew Hurley is all grown up now, and reflects about being a child actor on the set.
Demonic Toys (4:50) looks at product tie-ins like comics, computer games, and models.
Remembering the Monster Kid: A Tribute to Stan Winston (49:11) is a fantastic tribute to Stan Winston that includes interviews with Henriksen, Brian Bremer, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff Jr., Shannon Shea, and more.
Audio Commentary with Co-Screenwriter Gary Gerani and Creature and FX Creators Tom Woodruff, Jr. and Alec Gillis, Moderated by Super-Fan Scott Spiegel.
If you’re a big fan of Pumpkinhead, I would totally recommend this collector’s edition Blu-ray. Scream Factory has provided horror fans with a definitive release of a forgotten creature feature. The extras – the Stan Winston tribute especially – and the amazing transfer are reason alone to pick up this release. For those diehard fans out there, Scream Factory will release the sequel, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, on October 28 with all-new bonus features.
Follow Me on Twitter!