Lance Henriksen is Ed Harley, a normal man who lives with his son and runs his own business. One day, a group of city kids coming to have a wild time in a rented cabin accidentally kill his son, sending Harley into a lust for vengeance. He calls upon the witch Haggis and brings forth Pumpkinhead, a demon from Hell to kill those who caused the death of his son. Sadly, it’s only after the murders have begun that Harley sees the error of his ways, and now must fight to kill the creature and save the remaining kids before the final price is paid.
Stan Winston is a big part of my childhood, and a big part of me growing up as a film fan. His creations include The Terminator, the aliens in Aliens (including the Queen), the Predator, Robocop, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and many others. However, to me it’s always been his Pumpkinhead, which was also directed by him, who was on top of them all, probably because it was his film he gave it extra attention. There is a lot going on within the film that makes it rise above the typical monster schlock. It tackles the themes of vengeance, of taking responsibility for your own actions and of doing the right thing. Most of it is represented by it’s lead, played to perfection by Lance Henriksen in one of his best roles. He gives the role life by making him completely realistic, and letting us relate to what he’s going through. It’s also reflected on the rest of the cast, as the older brother must choose between turning himself in or letting the law take him dead or alive. But trust me, this movie is not all message. There is enough scares in here to make it compete with the best of them, with some genuinely great scare set pieces and incredible lighting techniques.
And of course, there’s Pumpkinhead himself. He is truly a nightmarish vision, with his long tail and talons, and devilish eyes. It’s incredible today with all the CGI in the world they are never able to create something that looks anywhere near as realistic as the suit worn in Pumpkinhead. The damn thing never looks like an effect! I also like that Winston gave the creature a personality. The thing is a real sadist who loves to torture and mangle the teens before killing them, and he also seems to hate religion, from the scene that he crashes a cross into the floor. This is the best monster movie ever made and is recommended to all.