Plot: What’s it about?
Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) has just lost his young son and while his grief is tremendous, he has another frame of mind also, revenge. His young son was killed in a motorcycle accident involving some teenagers from the big city on their passage through town. Even though the death was an accident, Ed wants nothing more than to either have his son back or exact revenge on those who took him away from him. In an effort to regain his young son, Ed ventures deep into woods and elicits the help of a witch that resides there. He hopes she can resurrect his young son, but she is unable to do so and Ed is left with no chance to have his child back. With all other options consumed, Ed allows his anger and hatred to make his decisions and he asks the witch to invoke a powerful spirit to attack those responsible for the accident. Soon enough the two are able to conjure up “Pumpkinhead,” a devious creature that seeks out each person involved and brutally murders them. Before long Ed finds himself sorrowful for what he has done and after seeing visions of death through the eyes of the creature, he decides he has to stop the monster before it is too late…
This is one of the many terrific horror movies that MGM owns the rights to and while some releases (Phantasm:SE) turn out very well, this one seems to have been sent out with little or no care whatsoever. The main flaw with this release is the visual transfer, which offers only a full frame version of the movie. After all this time and success with widescreen titles you would think we’d never see these types of releases, but MGM seems to think we love them. Even if the transfer is open matte and not pan & scan, the compositions and placements are thrown off which means the visual impact of the movie is shot to hell. As if that isn’t enough this release contains next to nothing in terms of supplements. I can deal with the bare bones extras, but MGM please give us the anamorphic widescreen transfers we want, ok? While this movie might not be the finest example of the genre out there, it certainly deserves better than this below standard treatment. Pumpkinhead is a visually charged horror movie that offers eerie atmospheric chills and delivers on all fronts. I recommend this title as a rental to fans of the film, but I can’t imagine anyone but hard-core followers wanting to own this disc.
This film was directed by Stan Winston, who is best known for his make up and creature effects work which has won him multiple Academy Awards over the years. While he doesn’t have much experience as a director, Winston manages to create a terrific environment for this movie and all in all delivers a solid horror flick. The visuals are well done and seem very complex, which adds layers of realism that enhance the film a lot. It’s easier to be drawn into a movie when the atmosphere is just right and Winston has conjured up the perfect surroundings for this story, to be sure. Of course the creature effects and such look excellent and Pumpkinhead is quite a cumbersome and effective creation. If you want to see more of Winston’s make up and creature effects work I recommend Galaxy Quest, Lake Placid, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Edward Scissorhands, Jurassic Park, and End Of Days. In terms of acting, this movie belongs to Lance Henriksen (Aliens, No Escape) who delivers a convincing and powerful turn on all counts. The supporting cast also includes Jeff East (Superman), Cynthia Bain (Spontaneous Combustion), Kimberly Ross (The Last Starfighter), and Kerry Remsen (Two Moon Junction).
Video: How does it look?
Pumpkinhead is presented in a full frame transfer, which means the image has been modified so that fits your television screen. What a bummer, huh? Aside from being a hacked transfer that ruins the visual compositions, this is a decent looking visual presentation though not as good as we expect from this format. The colors seem bold while never smearing and flesh tones appear natural at all times. I didn’t find much wrong with the contrast either, as shadow layering is rich and detail is high. This is a decent transfer, but I can’t help but knock down the score because of the lack of a widescreen option.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a stereo surround track and I noticed no problems with the audio, though sometimes the surround use seems a little hollow. This movie has some nice atmospheric audio to complement the visuals and this track replicates it well, using the surrounds well to create that eerie feeling the movie needs to work. The music sounds good in this mix and also adds to the tone of the flick, so all is good in that area. The dialogue suffers from no errors I could detect, since vocals were clean and crisp with no volume hiccups.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The theatrical trailer has been included, but nothing else.