Pumpkinhead (1988)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Creature Film, Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Oct 14, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Josh Ralske

Pumpkinhead, the directorial debut of special effects wizard Stan Winston, is a routine horror film. It opens well, establishing a touching father/son relationship between Ed Harley (horror movie stalwart Lance Henriksen) and his little son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Then along comes a careless and rude group of fresh-faced, dirt bike-riding post-teens, and things get fairly predictable from that point. The swampy rural setting is used to nice effect, and Henriksen, as usual, does solid work, but none of the other actors make much of an impression (not even Mayim Bialik [TV's Blossom] in a small role as a hillbilly kid). The unruly kids being picked off, one by one, by a monster from the depths of hell is a motif that had already been seen before, countless times, in the string of knockoff slasher movies that followed Halloween. Pumpkinhead (Tom Woodruff Jr. wearing the suit), the creature itself, is less scary then it should be. Rather than creating something creepy and homespun like the backwoods witch who summons the demon, Winston opted for something far too otherworldly, and too evocative of the monsters in Aliens (for which Winston did the makeup effects). Some kind of shambling hick monster would have been more appropriate for a demon spawned from a backwoods cemetery, more believable, and, in the end, scarier than the invincible high-tech superbeing that wreaks havoc in Pumpkinhead.