Review by Michael Jacobson
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
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!
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.
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!