George ‘Buck’ Flower
Chance Corbitt Jr.
By now it’s become obvious what I like about 80s horror films, original creatures and monsters, practical effects, some good eerie Synth music, and most of all, classic storytelling. Pumpkinhead is simultaneously an original and unique creature-feature film and a throwback to classic 1950s sci-fi/horror flicks. The monster is an amazing humanoid design with a unique origin/manifestation story. A spiritually demonic entity in physical form is a subject in horror films rarely handled as good as it is here.
To recap the story, the cutest kid in the world has Lance Henriksen as a dad, how cool is that? Kinda’ makes up for not having a mom. While helping his ‘Pa’ at the farm stand, the boy is run over by a dirt-bike riding, city slicker who, along with a group of friends, quickly seek shelter at their nearby log cabin. Ed Harley(Henriksen) takes his boy home. Now get the tissues ready, cause the boy dies. Harley asks the locals about an ol’ woman rumored to have some powers and who can assist with vengeance. The witch woman, Haggis, is one creepy witch and one of the highlights of the movie. She offers Ed Harley a means to avenge his son but it comes with a terrible price. Pumpkinhead is called forth and hunts down the city folk. Seeing the wrong in his hateful vengeance, Ed Harley joins the battle to try and stop the creature.
This film is the directorial debut from Stan Winston, famous effects artist responsible for bringing to life: Alien, Poltergeist, the Thing, and the Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, among others. I love the duo-tone lighting in the night scenes of this film; blue tints for outdoors, yellow-orange for the indoor scenes. The back lit scene when Pumpkinhead enters the hallowed land of the burnt out church, drips with dark atmosphere and mood. The creature hisses at the cross and halts his relentless pursuit of the city folks in order to break the cross into pieces in a nasty display of evil.
Pumpkinhead follows a classic mythological storyline involving the fulfillment of a wish or desire and adhering to the adage, be careful what you wish for, because you just might not like what you get. Self destruction by the desire for revenge is another theme here, along with similarities to classics like The Monkey’s Paw, Pandora’s Box, and the cursed granted wish of a Genie. The film spawned several sub-par sequels which I would ignore, the effects were not handled as well and the stories were not nearly as good.
I’m sure most horror fans have seen this fantastic film but for those looking for a not-so-gory Halloween Creature Feature, this would be a great choice. I can’t even guess at how many times I have watched it; it’s one of my all time faves. A true Modern American Gothic classic!
The boys dog, Gypsy, was the same dog that was in Gremlins
Lance Henriksen gathered his own props for his character, including visiting Pawn Shops to purchase silver dollars to pay the witch for her services.
Though the creatures head is not shaped like a pumpkin it is birthed from a pumpkin patch.
George “Buck” Flowers was an often called upon character actor in the 80’s, playing small parts in films like, The Fog, They Live, and Back to the Future