Keep away from Pumpkinhead,Unless you’re tired of living,His enemies are mostly dead, He’s mean and unforgiving, Laugh at him and you’re undone, But in some dreadful fashion, Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot, A plot that he has brewing, It’s when you think that he’s forgot, He’ll conjure your undoing, Bolted doors and windows barred, Guard dogs prowling in the yard, Won’t protect you in your bed, Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead! -Pumpkinhead(poem) by Ed Justin
Without a doubt, October is the month to revisit the horror movies of yonder years. With Pumpkinhead now available to stream on Hulu, I thought I’d revisit the genre classic that debuted legendary special effects wizard Stan Winston as a director. Hot take incoming: I don’t think it holds up half as much as some people think. The nostalgia goggles are real on this one.
With that being said, that doesn’t mean Pumpkinhead as a franchise should stay buried. The premise has some unrealized potential in my opinion. The movie was based on a poem by writer Ed Justin who was also credited as a writer for the movie.
In the film, Lance Henriksen stars as a country-faring father overwrought with grief as his son is accidentally killed by a group of vacationing city slickers. In his despair, he seeks the counsel of a local witch to help him exact his revenge by summoning the demonic entity of vengeance known as Pumpkinhead.
My biggest problem with Pumpkinhead is the lack of character development for the city folk. In the end, they are just cannon fodder to be slain by the iconic demon, a problem that is all too common in horror. There’s a powerful arc about forgiveness and redemption that remains unexplored, one that could elevate the franchise from cult film to mainstream appeal. With horror decidedly winning over audiences at the box office, the time to revive the old legends is at hand.
There is also a line the witch says in the movie that reveals a mythology yet to be explored by the franchise. She says there is a demon for every sin of man. That means there could be other demonic entities out there besides Pumpkinhead to tangentially bring back the franchise. Hollywood, make a Pumpkinhead cinematic universe a thing, please!