Judge David Johnson summoned the Pumpkinhead vengeance demon last week. The guy just won't leave him alone now.
Vengeance will be his.
A lesser-known franchise monster rematerializes and inserts his slimy, pumpkin-head-having behind into the age-old dispute between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Facts of the Case
The Hatfields and McCoys are still going at it after all these years, and the feud takes a turn for the lethal when a violent encounter leads to the death of a young McCoy girl. She happens to be the sister of Ricky McCoy (Bradley Taylor), who's in the middle of a secret affair with Jodie Hatfield (Amy Manson). When Ricky's sister buys the farm, he's torn up with vengeance and opts to summon Pumpkinhead, the "legendary demon of vengeance," despite the dire warnings of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen, Alien vs. Predator), a former Pumpkinhead-summoner himself.
After some incantations and whatnot, Pumkpinhead rises and immediately goes to work, laying waste to a series of Hatfield guys. Desperate to fend off the beast, it will take a truce between the antagonistic families.
Here's what I said in my review of Pumpkinhead 2: "It's a cheesy creature follow-up…but I didn't hate my life watching it." That's about what I feel about this fourth entry into the third-tier monster franchise. It's an adequate horror flick that maybe thinks it's a little more awesome than it actually is, but the sum total of the copious bloodletting and fun, old-school creature effects equals "not a waste of time."
Let's hit the highlights first. There a plenty of good kills scenes here, as the film embrace its R-rating and pours on the over-the-top Pumpkinhead-perpetrated violence. Head stomps, decapitations and lots of slashing courtesy of the titular creature, but there are some bonus dispatches like my favorite of the runtime, when a guy's head gets intimate with a bear trap. Lots of goo, too.
Then you've got Pumpkinhead himself, a lumbering monstrosity that doesn't seem terribly agile but he's a got a huge head and isn't a poorly-rendered CGI beast, so I'm happy. Really, the man-in-suit approach the filmmakers and effects designer take with their monster is welcome in this age of straight-to-DVD economy-visual-effects half-assery that I find myself bombarded with on a weekly basis. Sure I don't buy that there's a living, breathing vengeance demon with a swollen cranium running around the woods killing folk, but that's not going to happen with anything less than a bloated budget anyway so I'll stick with the practical effects work, thanks.
The Hatfield and McCoy storyline is kind of neat, but it saps away some of the B-movie cheese that I enjoyed from the second film. There's a lot of learning here, about setting aside differences and forgiving one another and banding together to defeat a rampaging vengeance demon that likes to punch old guys in wheelchairs in the chest. There's not much humor and the focus of the melodrama is on the star-crossed lovers which fails to deliver any emotional payoff whatsoever. But I think they're around just to give an excuse for unleashing Pumpkinhead. The story is serviceable, but takes itself too seriously for this kind of outing.
The DVD is straight-forward, transferred in a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, supplemented by a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Previews are it for extras
It's not ground-breaking, but the fourth adventure of Pumpkinhead does what it needs to: has a big ugly monster kill a bunch of idiots
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