The leading cause of death among hillbillies: not heart disease or cancer, but Cityfolk, September 22, 2008
We went back to the B well once again this week with 1988's Pumpkinhead. The film was actually completed in 1987, putting it right in the middle of the Golden Era of horror B. We vaugely remember this one from our youth, and upon learning that it's original production company went belly-up before the film's release, we were absolutely excited about the project. We reviewed the sequel, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, a few weeks ago. While the sequel failed miserably as a legitimate horror flick, it excelled in the world of unintentional comedy that Sid appreciates so much. So going into the Pumpkinhead viewing, we were hopeful that the movie would be good enough to satisfy a horror jones, and bad enough to satisfy an unquenchable B/unintentional comedy jones. This is not an easy task, but Pumpkinhead delivered.
The movie starts off with a farmer/country store owner named Ed Harley being a doting dad to his young son, Billy, who is a dead ringer for the the kid in Jerry Maguire. Later, the father and son go to their store for their day's work. Some young hotshots from the city(cityfolk) stop at the store on their way to a Crystal Lake ripoff for the weekend. At the same time, a hick family consisting of a middle-aged man named Mr. Wallace and his 85 kids and grandkids stop at the store as well. Ed Harley forgets to bring Mr. Wallace's feed to the store from home, so he has to go back to the house and leaves his 7 year old in charge of the store with a bunch of rednecks and rowdy 20-somethings roaming around. Great judgment there. For some reason, the out-of-towners decide to ride the hills near the store on their dirt bikes. The noise sends the Harleys' dog chasing after the bikes in a frenzy, with the kid following. Naturally, the kid gets killed after being barely brushed by a dirt bike. The dirt bikers flee the scene immediately. You could see that coming from a mile away. Ed is obviously crushed by the loss of his son and he wants revenge and his boy back. So he attempts to employ the help of an old nearby witch via Mr. Wallace. Upon seeing the dead boy in Ed's truck, Mr. Wallace asks, "What killed him?" To this, Ed replied, naturally, "Cityfolk." Just priceless. One of the highlights of the film, really.
Ed Harley is eventually brought to the witch by a Wallace kid. She takes some blood from Billy and Ed and instructs Ed to dig up a body buried in a pumpkin patch. Ed brings the body back to the witch and she does some black magic, midnight, evil stuff. The result is Pumpkinhead. Even though the rest of the film is shot, like a true B horror, in daylight through a blue filter to make it look like nighttime, they did a great job with the Pumpkinhead creature. This thing was awesome looking, especially for more than 20 years ago. Pumpkinhead is a 10 foot tall skelaton with a tail and wing-like appendages. He also has a dinosaur shaped huge head. In short, if you saw this thing coming at you, you'd probably pee on yourself in hopes he would pass you by.
Pumpkinhead is set in motion by the witch to exact revenge on the cityfolk for Billy Harley's death. If you don't get in Pumpkinhead's way, you're all right. If you do decide to get in his way or attempt to help one of his potential victims--not good times. Bad times. He'll probably kill you in a really cool way, like when he ran the Fonz through with the barrell of the shotgun. Even if it was obviously a rubber prop shotgun, it was still awesome. Everytime Pumpkinhead rubbed someone out, Ed Harley would feel it. In fact, Pumpkinhead started to look like Ed as the film wore on and the killings piled up. Sid is going to give the ending away, so beware. At the end of the film, Ed had no hope of his son being brought back and he wanted the Pumpkinhead reign of terror to stop. So, he instructed one of the female cityfolk kill him after realizing that this will also kill Pumpkinhead. What he wasn't banking on, however, was that he would be burried in place of the old Pumpkinhead. So, this means that he would be the next incarnation of the terrifying creature. Personally, Sid thinks that's pretty cool.
Pumpkinhead was your typical 80's horror flick. It was part creature film rip-off, part Friday the 13th ripoff. In fact, the house that the kids stayed in was the same one used for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. Maybe we will review that one at some point. But, meanwhile, Pumpkinhead was a huge winner by our calculations. It had enough real horror elements(awesome creature, people you wanted to get iced getting iced in cool ways, sweet concept) to keep you interested, but enough unintentional comedy(the cityfolk line, the hicks, awful acting, poor quality) to keep you laughing. This one is highly recomended by us, Sid the Elf, it's right up our alley. Pick it up and enjoy, but be careful of those Cityfolk.