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Pumpkinhead

Digital Dismemberment: Scream Factory does it again with the definitive Collector’s Edition release Blu-ray release of “Pumpkinhead”

PumpkinheadDirector: Stan Winston
Producers: Bill Blake, Alex De Benedetti, Howard Smith and Richard Weinman
Special Effects: Tom Woodruff, Jr, Grant Arndt, Howard Berger, Larry Carr and Emilio Gonzalez
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Florence Schauffer, Brian Bremer and Buck Flowers
Released By: Scream Factory
Release Date: 7/9/14

The Premise

When a group of teenagers inadvertently kill his only son, Ed Harley (Lance Hendriksen, Aliens) seeks the powers of a backwoods witch to bring the child back to life. But instead, she invokes “the Pumpkinhead” — a monstrously clawed demon which, once reborn, answers only to Ed’s bloodlust. But as the creature wreaks its slow, unspeakable tortures on the teens, Ed confronts a horrifying secret about his connection to the beast and realizes that he must find a way to stop its deadly mission before he becomes one with the creature forever.

Also starring Jeff East (Deadly Blessing), Joel Hoffman (Slumber Party Massacre II) and Kerry Remsen (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), this “atmospheric, moralistic tale” (TV Guide) delivers demonic horror at its blood-drenched best.

While known primarily as one of the greatest Make-Up and Special FX Artists of all time, Stan Winston delivers in his directorial debut about a father’s loss, lust for revenge and redemption. Based on a poem by Ed Justin, Winston brings the characters and story together with great locations and a bevy of actors (especially Lance Henriksen in a powerful role) that hit all of the emotional marks that few horror films ever achieve.

Henriksen put lots of personal detail into his character by having a unique set of dentures made and providing most of his own props, including his hat, shotgun and the silver dollars he used to pay Haggis. His emotional and physical connection to the creature is played out through the film, and the rest of the cast plays off of this to the hilt. The amazing set locations give the impression of being miles away from “civilization” and really create a sense of isolation and hopelessness.

With being so busy with the behind the camera work, Winston left the creature designs to his more than capable FX crew that managed to create an iconic monster that is fondly remembered to this day. While the film only garnered a limited release due to the bankruptcy the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, it has since moved on to become a beloved cult classic in the genre. Bringing a modern, iconic new creature is no easy feat, but the inclusion of a great story, acting and amazing FX work make Pumpkinhead the basis for creature features to this day.

The Details

*SPOILER ALERT*

As a small child in 1957, Ed Harley is witness to his Father denying a neighbor admittance into their house during a terrible thunderstorm. Through the windows and the flashing storm, he sees a horrible creature mangling the neighbor until his death. In the present day, Ed runs a small supply shop with him young son and their dog. Three young couples are away for a weekend vacation and stop at Ed’s store for supplies.

While there, the men down a few beers while the ladies have an encounter with some local townsfolk. While teasing one of their younger siblings, everyone hears the story of Pumpkinhead. The young men decide to ride their dirt bikes in the area around the store. Ed goes off for a delivery and leaves his son behind at the store. The dog runs outside, and the young boy follows. He narrowly avoids being hit by one biker, but gets struck and mortally wounded.

In a panic, Joel (who hit the boy) and his girlfriend flee the scene of the accident and head to their cabin. One of the men stays behind to tell Ed what happened while the rest leave to try and find a phone to call for help. Ed comes back to find his son dead in the field while the man tries to explain what happened. He tries to help Ed, but he glares the young man off.

The other couples get back to the cabin, but Joel refuses to let them call for help and holds them all hostage in the house. Ed goes to visit a local family to drop off their supplies and to inquire about an old lady named Haggis, a local healer/witch. Wallace does not want to tell him and does everything to dissuade him, but Wallace’s grandson tells him where to find her.

He arrives at her hut and brings his dead son in with him, explaining what happened. She informs him that she can’t raise his son and asks him what he wants. He wants vengeance, and she sends him to a graveyard to dig up the withered remains of a certain corpse. He brings it back to her and she performs an arcane ritual that resurrects the spirit of Pumpkinhead.

It shambles off into the night to seek Ed’s vengeance. Joel continues to hold everyone at their cabin with a rifle as they continue to talk about what they should do. Ed buries his son next to his dead wife in the cemetery. One of the couples goes off into the woods and the man is savagely attacked by Pumpkinhead. During the attack, Ed is gripped with horrific visions of the man’s death.

The other two men go out to look for their friend while the women arm themselves inside of the house. They rush out of the house to find their friend, but one of the young ladies is waylaid by Pumpkinhead and carried off.

He begins to claw and tear at her face. Ed is at his house and overwhelmed by the visions of her death. He drives back to the witch’s house to try and get her to stop what is happening, but she tells him that there is nothing she can do to stop it and let it run its course. He runs out, determined to stop the monster and the visions in his head.

The two remaining couples retreat back to the cabin, where Pumpkinhead continues to attack and torture them. It drags one of the ladies up into a tree and drops her at their feet, killing her. Ed arrives at their cabin and surveys the gruesome carnage inside.

The three survivors try everything to escape, but are turned away by local townsfolk. Joel is eventually grabbed and impaled by Pumpkinhead with his own rifle, leaving the last couple to flee into the woods.

Will Ed be able to save the last couple and at the same time save his soul, or has damnation set in? You are going to have to watch to find out…

*END SPOILER*

The Dismemberment

Bonus Features

Audio Commentary-  with Co-Screenwriter Gary Gerani, Creature and FX Creators Tom Woodruff Jr and Alec Gillis. Moderated by Filmmaker Scott Spiegel

Pumpkinhead Unearthed (1 Hour 4 Minutes)- A fantastic behind the scenes look at Pumpkinhead broken into 6 chaptered featurettes: Evolution of a Demon, The Cursed and the Damned, The Tortured Soul of Ed Harley, Constructing Vengeance, Razorback Holler and Stan. Each takes a different look at all of the aspects of the film (location, cast, crew, FX, general life on set) and Stan Winston with new interview segments from the cast and crew. There are also nods to members of the cast and crew who are no longer with us. The exhaustive wealth of information covered, as well as scenes and stills from the movie make this Special Feature alone worth the price of owning.

Behind The Scenes (7 Minutes)- Footage of the FX crew discussing and testing out various make-ups and costume designs for the creature in Pumpkinhead. A really nice look at the development of the creature and how the FX artists put it all together.

Night of the Demon (16 Minutes)- Interview with Producer Richard Weinman about how he became involved with the film and how it all came together. Nice background info and helps to show how concepts and ideas change in the production end.

The Redemption of Joel (14 Minutes)- Interview with Actor Joe D’Aquino about his character Joel, how he got involved in film and how he got along with the rest of the cast. Great insight into his character and his motivations.

The Boy With the Glasses (14 Minutes)- Interview with Actor Matthew Hurley talks about how he became a part of the film, his early TV work and the connection between him and Lance Henriksen during the film. A really nice and heartfelt interview.

Demonic Toys (5 Minutes)- Really neat interview with Sculptor Jean St. Jean about the creation of the SOTA 20” Pumpkinhead collectible.

Remembering The Monster Kid: A Tribute to Stan Winston (49 Minutes)- Stan Winston is fondly remembered for all of his amazing FX work over the years from his peers and crew members. Just an amazing amount of praise is rightfully placed on Winston and his work. Everyone involved talks about their first experiences on a set with Stan and works that they would go on to do with him in the future. This piece really gives you a feel of what he meant to not only the film industry, but to the many people he worked with in life. Tons of great pictures, stories and behind the scenes footage flow across the screen and really paint of picture of a great person and a visionary.

  • Still Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • More From Scream Factory- Trailers from other films released by Scream Factory including Motel Hell, Squirm and Without Warning.
  • Discs: 1
  • Format: NTSC
  • Color: Color
  • Rating: R
  • Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)
  • Language: English

The Verdict

Shout!/Scream Factory has once again brought to us a classic horror film that is more than deserving of the Blu-Ray upgrade, and Pumpkinhead delivers the goods!

There have been several editions of this film, including four from MGM/UA’s vaults (2000 trailer only release, 2009’s Collector’s Edition and 2011’s multi-disc releases), but this particular edition blows everything away. The inclusion of the Special Features from the 2009 Collector’s Edition while skillfully blending in new features such as Night of the Demon, The Redemption of Joel and The Boy With the Glasses.

Anything and everything you could ever want to know about this film is contained on this disc. The Remembering The Monster Kid: A Tribute to Stan Winston is one of the best features Scream Factory has put together, and I hope they continue to do features like this.

I also really like the new artwork for the cover (which is reversible) as well. The transfer is bold and rich once again, and the film really booms over a decent system. With the inclusion of the still gallery and the Behind The Scenes footage, there is no stone unturned! The addition of other Scream Factory trailers is nice as well and gives a glimpse of the other great films in their portfolio.

Once again, this release is the perfect example of why Shout!/Scream Factory is the standard bearer for Blu-Ray horror releases!

Movie Rating: 4 out of 5
DVD Rating: 10 out of 10

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