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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Pumpkinhead’ (1988)

Required Horror Viewing…

God, I love this fucking movie. First off, Pumpkinhead is one of the all-time greatest rubber monsters ever created. The practical effects are what this movie is all about. I mean, yeah they can be a little hokey, but that’s why they used the setting and filters they did. They used the atmosphere by layering it over the practical effects. It’s what made this movie. It’s just a damn cool monster.

I also appreciate the fact that they didn’t just throw a monster onto the scene but actually built up its mythos. Pumpkinhead isn’t just some rubber monster, it’s a rubber monster with history, reason, and a process. I guess I shouldn’t go too deeply into that outside of the spoilers.

Yeah, the acting wasn’t the greatest. It’s on par with horror though, so you can expect it to be a little hammy. Of course this has Lance mother fucking Henriksen, one of the most iconic actors in horror. He is really solid at what he does, but he can’t carry the whole movie.

The Story is simple, even if it is a little forced. Not that they drag it kicking and screaming, or that it’s offensively forced. It’s subtle but often just a little too convenient. I often accuse movies of spoon feeding the villain. This movie almost spoon feeds the victims. Again, more on that in the spoilers.

Pumpkinhead is a classic and required viewing for true horror fans, but I submit that even casual viewers will enjoy this movie, even today. It holds up to the test of time and is a must watch.


Yeah, I get it, something bad had to happen to drive Lance’s character to revenge. Yeah, you do kinda have to lead the plot in order to set up the circumstances that will end in the death of his son. But are you seriously telling me that three able body adults couldn’t outrun and tackle an eight year old? Just do something else to set up the kid’s death. I mean, one second he’s running past them, the next second he’s almost a football field’s length away. And the only person who thinks to stop the kid trips flat on her face, because of course she does. And rather than running after the kid, her two friends practically tackle her. Why? Did they think jumping on their friend was more important than preventing the injury of a little kid?

I also don’t exactly understand why Pumpkinhead needs to kill all of the dumb bastards. Only the one guy was actually responsible for the death of the little kid. Mind you, that’s not the guy who Lance’s character sees with his dead son. So why doesn’t Pumpkinhead go after him instead? What exactly are the rules of how it chooses the people who are marked? Lance’s character Ed Harley is what focuses Pumpkinhead’s actions, right? So, it would sort of make more sense that Pumpkinhead would go after either the guy who actually killed the kid or his brother who Ed Harley saw with the dead kid. Now, Pumpkinhead does kill the brother first. But we can’t have the movie end there, so it could make sense that Ed want’s Pumpkinhead to kill them both. But, if that’s the case, they would need to sell the concept that both the brothers are who Pumpkinhead was actually after, and only attacks the other characters because they interfered. Once they all clearly interfered with Pumpkinhead’s vengeance, then it could just start wantonly picking them off. They just needed to get there first.

Finally, having the random dog bite Ed Harley was also a bit forced. Yeah, they needed to show that injuring Ed meant injuring Pumpkinhead, but there are so many other seamless ways they could have done that. Ed could just as easily gotten injured in a tussle with any number of the cast, or with the big drooly demon itself. There wasn’t any need to force that scene.

But these infractions are just so minor. This movie is really a gem in the horror book.

Fans! I’m pleased to announce that “Inhuman Error” my new novella and collaboration with James Lief, is currently on sale for pre-order for only $2+tax, for the e-book. The official release date is 09/07. Check out the free sample at the link below and consider buying a copy.

And please join me for the official online release party that night at 8pm on FB.

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