Judge David Johnson didn't like this as much as the third installment in the series: Pumpkinhead vs. Zucchinilips.
They couldn't leave dead enough alone.
The direct-to-video sequel to the original Pumpkinhead (which I had seen a long time ago but have no real recollection of what went on) resurrects the titular monster for another night of bloody mayhem—but the twist here, is that this demon may be cuddlier than you'd expect.
Facts of the Case
We are first treated with a flashback. It's the late '50s and in a small rural town a disfigured young feral boy is being menaced by a group of slick-haired punks. As he tries to flee, the boys just step up the harassment. Ultimately, this abuse leads to the child's death.
Back in the present day, Sean Braddock (Andrew Robinson, The Puppet Masters) has just accepted the job as sheriff of the small town he grew up in. Transplanted from the city, Sean brings with him his daughter Jenny (Ami Dolenz), a fiery blonde bombshell with a penchant for defiance.
Jenny immediately ends up embroiled with the wrong crowd of kids, a group of thrill-seeking friends, descended from the jerks we met in the flashback. This cabal of ne'er-do-wells decided to have a good time defiling the graves of the dead, specifically, the resting place of the little boy killed so many years ago.
Unfortunately, their meddling has prompted the resurgence of the demon known as "Pumpkinhead," a monster that kills for vengeance, and targets those connected with a specific wrongdoing.
Soon, the monster begins a town-wide massacre, as Sean dashes to piece together the mystery of the slayings, not realizing that this own daughter may be next on the chopping block.
Pumpkinhead II is a low-budget, direct-to-video horror sequel to a moderately well-known film that does enough fun stuff to not make me hate it. Director Jeff Burr has crafted a fairly entertaining hard-R little creature feature tossing plenty of overblown gore and corny story elements my way for me to get on board with it.
Bottom line: I had fun watching this film.
Is it a particularly good movie? Well, no. The storyline is weak, featuring twists and reveals that can be seen coming from miles away and the characters represent your usual assemblage of throw-away teen idiots.
Refreshingly, Pumpkinhead II never really takes itself too seriously. It's not a tongue-in-cheek film, but the mood is kept light enough, and Burr dispenses with the lame machinations often found in pretentious bad horror movies (the worst kind).
For one, when the creature gets down with its bad self, which it does early on, we get full-blown shots of it. Pumpkinhead isn't slowly revealed throughout the film like in most mysterious slasher flicks. No, our monster is in full view, getting his killing groove on for all to see.
This is cool because the creature design is cool. Originally created by legend Stan Winston, the Pumpkinhead costume is this giant, lanky teeth-baring thing, looking like a cross between one of H.R. Giger's aliens and an NBA center. It moves a little awkward, but it's a fun design and I'm glad Burr wasn't gun shy about revealing it.
The kills are decent, too, as Pumkpinhead dismembers, decapitates, impales, and even delivers a sweet backbreaker that would make Sergeant Slaughter proud. The gore effects are done on the cheap, but no matter how fake the ripped-off head with red spaghetti trailing from the neck looks, at least the filmmakers weren't afraid of offing their cast in inventive ways.
Is this movie high art? Of course not—though a solid case can be made that you'd enjoy it more if you were indeed high. But I've endured enough boring, bad horror films of late as to appreciate an entertaining one, even if it is still pretty bad.
While the full screen transfer and 2.0 stereo mix is par for a Lions Gate release, I was pleasantly surprised with the extras. Jeff Burr offers a detailed feature commentary and a half-hour documentary called "Pumpkinhead II: Earning Your Blood Wings" is robust and candid. How often do you hear producers flatly admitting they dig the idea of a film simply because it will make money?
It's a cheesy creature follow-up from the early '90s, but I didn't hate my life watching it. Pumpkinhead II was fun. There I said it.
The accused is released on the condition it terrorizes the bullies who pushed me around in elementary school.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Director's Commentary
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.