Tis the season to be scared again. Yes, Halloween is soon knocking on our doors, or some kids wanting either candy or decorating your house with toilet paper and other nasty things. So what better way to celebrate this strange night of imaginary and real horror than offering some horror-themed reviews? As time doesn’t allow to publish two articles per day like last year, this special will be divided into two parts, mainly movies and games. Two weeks of scary goodness starting today, ending the first half on Oct 30 and the rest a week later… if everything goes according to plan. One never knows…
So without further ado, let’s dive right into a movie series which has the most obvious connection to the season of the witch, but without flying brooms. Still maybe it’ll give you an idea how to carve your pumpkin(head).
(USA 1988, director: Stan Winston)
After the tragic accident of his son, a man wants revenge on some teenagers and resurrects an old demon.
Atmospheric, disturbing, mixed with a bit of violence and some touching moments, this is quite a unique if flawed movie. Even if it takes some time until Pumpkinhead appears (don’t let that name deceive you, it’s less comic than it appears) and the teenage characters aren’t that interesting (as with most standard horror movies), the overall story (simple as it is) works better than expected.
This is particularly true of the cinematography. The creature itself looks and sounds a bit like a cheap version of Alien (Stan Winston after all created the special effects for that one), but because of the camera angles and use of lighting, the movie feels rather creepy.
A sidenote: The flick has a rather stupid German title which translates “The Halloween Monster”. Of course it has not much to do with the season per se. Still the pumpkin justifies to have it in our little Halloween special either way ;).
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings
(USA 1994, director: Jeff Burr)
Teenagers resurrect a demon in whose body the soul of a deformed child lives who wants to take revenge on those who murdered him.
With a runtime more or less the same as the first one, this feels much longer. Probably because the characters are pretty annoying and there’s way too much talk going on. Fortunately the special effects are quite good and there’s plenty of gore.
Actually, the story isn’t so bad and at the end it is quite touching. Compared to the original, the violence is upped a notch and especially at the beginning pretty disgusting. The killing sequences of Pumpkinhead have less of an impact, but they are original in a twisted sort of way.
All in all it’s not the best of sequels, but there are sure worse creature features to waste some time.
Pumpkinhead 3: Ashes To Ashes
(USA 2006, director: Jake West)
A twisted mortician with a thing for organ trafficking is the target of the Pumpkinhead curse the townsfolk put on him and his gang.
The series is getting a bit stale and cheap. Not only does the creature look less frightening with very bad CGI effects, but the story isn’t that interesting anymore. The formula of people wanting revenge and resurrecting the demon works in a certain way, but the whole thing is let down by uninteresting main characters (evil or good) and simply no real highlights.
It’s not as bad or boring as a lot of other demon movies, as there’s quite a lot of blood spilling, but compared to the first two movies, one doesn’t miss much by skipping this entry.
Pumpkinhead 4: Blood Feud
(USA 2007, director: Michael Hurst)
Rivalry between two families escalates and Pumpkinhead is back again to pick apart the pieces.
Again more or less the same main idea, but better executed. Not that the staple of having two star-crossed lovers in the midst of two rivalling families (Shakespeare, anyone?) is very original, but it at least makes the audience more engaged with the characters, even if the bad rednecks are annoying to watch.
But oh do they get what they deserve. Even with a low budget and Pumpkinhead being even less frightening than before, the amount of guts and body parts ripped out and torn apart, and the bucket loads of blood splattered is quite a sick joy to behold (and whatever the FSK in Germany thought when it gave this a 16+ rating is again beyond me).
Maybe not a good movie, but definitely a very entertaining gore flick which delivers more than one could wish for in a direct-to-video production.
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