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PUMPKINHEAD
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Lance Henriksen, John DiAquino, Kerry Remsen
Director:  Stan Winston
Audio:  DTS HD Stereo
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Shout! Factory
Features:  Theatrical Trailer
Length:  86 Minutes
Release Date:  September 9, 2014

Film **1/2

Pumpkinhead is a good old fashioned monster movie, and the directorial debut of Hollywood’s legendary and Oscar winning creature man, Stan Winston.  As expected, when he creates a monster, it’s a memorable one.  Pumpkinhead is definitely the kind of thing you DON’T want to see when the lights go out.

The best horror stories are often the simplest, and this one embraces that tradition, playing out like a “rural legend” about an avenging demon in the heartland.  When storekeeper Ed Harley (Henriksen) finds his little son killed in an accident caused by some “city folk” who were drinking and having an impromptu motocross, he seeks the help of a backwoods witch.  The creepy old woman can’t bring the boy back from the dead, but she can make revenge possible for the anguished father. 

Against his better judgment, he goes to a particularly surreal and frightening cemetery and returns with a strange, deformed body he exhumed.  His own blood is used to bring the demon to life.  Pumpkinhead is reborn…a huge monstrosity that awakens to exact revenge on “bad ‘uns”. 

But the revenge turns out not to be so easy on Ed.  His life force has joined with the creature, so whenever it brutally murders, he experiences the horrific deed himself.  We later learn that the demon also shares Ed’s experiences, a point that proves important to the film’s climax.

In the meantime, the city folk, which are pretty much just a frightened group of youngsters, try to hold up in a cabin and stay alive.  But Pumpkinhead is coming to pick them off one by one, and it won’t be so easy to stop him.

Overall, this is pretty standard faire made a little bit better by Winston’s extraordinary design of the creature, which I think has to be considered one of horror’s most memorable images.  It’s tall, grotesque, with long spindly arms and claws and a mangled, twisted skull. 

This is what Ed has to confront when he can’t stand the horror he’s unleashed any longer.  He’s lost his soul in resurrecting the demon, and he’s ready to lose his life to put him back where he belongs.  The film’s ending offers a nice ironic twist, and a memorable final image to linger with you through the end credits.

Video ***

At last...widescreen!  Shout has done right by fans by giving us a properly framed picture, with a much cleaner look for high definition.  Some of the darker scenes still show a bit of grain here and there, but overall, the images are sharper and the coloring better.  Nicely done!

Audio **1/2

The DTS stereo mix is decent...some stretches are a little dated sounding, but dynamic range is fair and dialogue always clear.

Features ***1/2

There is a new tribute to Stan Winston, featuring stars of this movie and collaborators.  There is also an audio commentary by the writer and creature effects creators, six total production featurettes, some behind-the-scenes footage, and the original trailer.

Summary:

Pumpkinhead is a decent slice of 80s horror with a memorable monster and helmed by a true legend of the genre.  Fans who have been waiting for a much better version of this film than previously offered need look no further than this quality Blu-ray from Shout!

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