Retro Review: Pumpkindhead (1988)

Here we have Pumpkinhead, another product of the horror boom of the 1980s.  Pumpkinhead is not a well known monster movie, most horror fans or really, kids from the 1980s know of Pumpkinhed.  But a strange thing occurred when I mentioned I recently watched Pumpkinhead.  Most people assumed I was talking about something that had to do with the Headless Horseman.  This kind of astonished me, I mean I am a horror fan, so of course I know Pumpkinhead.  But sometimes I forget about the norms, the normal people who did not grow up on horror and some horror from the 1980s are lost treasures to the masses.

Is Pumpkinhead a lost treasure for anyone new to horror?  I don’t know about that, we sometimes deal with something I like to call, the “Nostalgia Effect”.  Sometimes we look back at something from a simpler time with blinders on, this may make people love something that isn’t very good.  So, lets see if Pumpkindhead has the Nostalgia Effect.


After his son dies in a hit-and-run accident, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) seeks revenge against the teenagers responsible. With the help of a local witch (Florence Schauffler), Ed summons the vengeful demon Pumpkinhead to hunt and kill the group of friends. But when Ed discovers a bond between himself and the creature, he begins to have second thoughts about employing the vicious monster, and he fights to end Pumpkinhead’s murderous rampage before it is too late.

So, there are some strange things about Pumpkinhead that are really nice, give the movie a little heart.  The beginning of the movie really does set up the father and son relationship, so when the young boy dies, maybe you feel something.  But, where I find the problem, the death of the boy is shitty.  These two idiot brothers are dirt biking, where they shouldn’t.  The kid chases a dog, right into the path of the dirt bikes.  So, the one brother jumps and misses the kid, the dick brother, who has been drinking hits the kid.  The hit does not look fatal at all and really, was the kid that fucking stupid?  I mean one bike nearly hits you, get the hell out of the way, I mean the dog will come back.

Before that even happens, the local creepy, dirty ass kids of some out back farmer tease a younger brother with a chat about Pumpkinhead coming for him.  So, this at least sets up the legend of Pumpkinhead a little.  So when the kid is killed, you think one of two things, the dad will look for the witch to resurrect the kid or he will send Pumpkinhead for revenge.  Revenge!  That is what Pumpkinhead is all about.  And Pumpkinhead is unleashed on the 20 somethings that were a part of the death of the kids.  Flimsy!!!  I did like one thing, Pumpkinhead shared a psychic link with the person who is seeking revenge, which is Henriksen.  There is a scene where he tries to fight Pumpkinhead, but could not.

Pumpkinhead is buried on a little plateau that is a pumpkin patch.  Henriksen digs his remains up and brings him to the witch.  Eventually Pumpkinhead is unleashed and goes after the group.  Kills were boring and really not much to them.  Pumpkinhead looked great overall and of course comes from the mind of writer/director Stan Winston, that doesn’t hurt.  The story, as I said was flimsy.  It is a clear cut way to get Stan Winston’s creature into a feature.

Well, Pumpkinhead was not a good movie.  The Nostalgia Effect was a factor when being excited about seeing the film again.  I will credit Scream Factory for making the Blu Ray look terrific.  But the movie was mostly boring and again, flimsy.  Now, I may have lost some people on my opinion. Pumpkinhead has a cult like following and that is fine.  I remember really loving the sequel, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.  But watching that, wow, it was bad.  Pumpkinhead, not so bad, but not so great. has a rating of 6.2

I give Pumpkinhead a score of 5.8

There are three sequels to Pumpkinhead.  Blood Wings released in 1994, Ashes to Ashes in 2006 and Blood Feud 2007.


About Ray Marek III 655 Articles
I have been watching horror films since I was 6 years old. The story, one Saturday night, my mom and I were watching movies and she fell asleep on the couch. We had the channel set on HBO and the movie we were watching ended and the next one, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. This was some time in 1986. I watched then entire film, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. When my mom woke, she asked me what just ended and I told her, “Freddy”. That was all I talked about for weeks and finally she broke down and rented more horror films for me. She rented, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2, Re-Animator, Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives and Halloween II. I watched all and fell in love with horror films forever. 5 Horror Films to Watch Inferno (1980) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) The Beyond (1981) Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) Horror of Dracula (1958)