HMM Day 3 – Pumpkinhead

“Instead of a man of peace and love, I have become a man of violence and revenge.” – Hiawatha

Have you ever been in or could you recall certain past conversations with either your family, friends or co-workers where you discuss “what would you do” moments. It can range from a variety of situations. Someone keying your car, stealing money from your boss, discovering a dark secret of a loved one or even someone committing a terrible crime towards you. Those “what if ‘insert someone’ committed ‘insert crime’ to you” kinds of questions are awesome and have always helped pass the hours in my work office. But those kinds of topics are always uncertain.

We all try to be honest with each other. That we would all react in a fashion that at that movement in time seems logical and not illegal. Think about your home and family. If someone broke into your home tonight, would you act out in violence to defend your loved ones and yourself? What if someone hurt or killed someone you loved? Would you be a forgiving person or would you be filled with blind rage? Seeking terrible swift justice in a field of red vision?  We never know how we would truly act and I hope you never have to be confronted with that kind of choice.

To seek revenge is a slippery and dangerous slope for both those we seek vengeance on and to those delivering. Ed Harley is someone that knows the consequences of vengeance.

Pumpkinhead is a 1988 horror film directed by special effects legend Stan Winston and stars Lance Henriksen, John D’Aquino, Jeff East, Madeleine Taylor Holmes and Tom Woodruff Jr. as the creature Pumkinhead. It was Stan Winstons first directing debut and would release with mostly mixed reviews.


After Ed Harley’s young boy is killed by a dirt bike and the culprits run away. Harley is filled with such rage that he inquires vengeance from an old southern witch. Who then summons a demon of vengeance named Pumpkinhead, to kill and mutilate all those that are responsible.

“Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you’re tired of living,
His enemies are mostly dead,
He’s mean and unforgiving,
Laugh at him and you’re undone,
But in some dreadful fashion,
Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot,
A plot that he has brewing,
It’s when you think that he’s forgot,
He’ll conjure your undoing,
Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won’t protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead!”

Someone Must Pay

It is purely scandalous bullshit that Pumpkinhead doesn’t get the love and recognition it deserves. In my opinion it is one of my most favorite movies of the bronze age of horror. While there were an insane amount of slasher films coming out during this time, Pumpkinhead makes its appearance and takes the basic slasher tropes and compellingly establishes a believable and jarring story to accompany the madness. So why the hell was Pumpkinhead never placed on the top level of horror villains like Krueger or Pinhead? Some jackass must pay! I don’t know who set up the tier level of big baddies in horror films but it needs to be restructured with Pumpkinhead as a top level killer.

Pumpkinhead is tall and menacing. Wherever he walks the air turns into a frenzy and his presence is scored with the buzzing of locust. Because that’s what Pumpkinhead is. A raging plague storm. Anyone set in his cursed sights is ruthlessly hunted until justice is served. What I love about Pumpkinhead is how he seems to take pleasure in his massacre. He is a brutal killer that no mortal can comprehend. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Pumpkinhead picks up a gun and instead of shooting his victim, he merely looks at it and uses it to impale the victim like a pig. You see, Pumpkinhead is so badass that he sees a small projectile like a bullet is either too merciful or just a tool for pussies! Pumpkinhead is on an entirely different level.

Watch Pumpkinhead

But you know what, that is just my opinion. You don’t have to seek the inner realms of a film to truly enjoy it because aside from a message; Pumkinhead is still a great film. I love Lance Henriksen in this movie but he’s pretty much good in everything he does. The special effects for this movie are top notch and they truly hold up today. But it was made by Stan Winston, the same guy that did Terminator. So it couldn’t be anything but awesome. It makes me wish modern horror would shy away from the cheap looking digital effects because this movie looks far better than… oh let me think… a large ass spider with a clown head perhaps? Just look at this scene. The way Pumpkinhead moves and his facial expressions! It is terrifying because Pumpkinhead is an actual real thing!

From Kid To Boring Adult

When I was a kid, I was able to see Pumpkinhead at my Grandfathers house. This was of course, in a different room from my family. If my parents had known I was watching this then I would have been a dead kid. But I loved my grandpas house. He was living large off his retirement plan and social security so he could afford channels like HBO and Showtime. One night I was able to watch Pumpkinhead and man did it scare the shit out of me. But like most young kids do, I couldn’t see the forest from the trees. I was too involved in the mayhem to truly appreciate the film for what it is.

Blind Vengeance Will Corrupt Your Soul

If Pumpkinhead has one thing going for it that many popular horror films lacked is its message of vengeance and corruption. You see, Ed Harley is so enraged by his sons accidental death that he seeks blind justice upon those he deems responsible. He enlists a witch and her dark powers to fulfill his desire and by doing so is lost in his anger. This anger is what forms Pumpkinhead. It represents the blind anger within Ed. It cannot be negotiated with nor can it be stopped. This causes a link between Ed and Pumpkinhead where Ed experiences the murdering rampage firsthand. It’s not until the end where Ed realizes for the terror of this creature to cease, Ed himself must die. It’s a sad story and is one reason why Pumpkinhead is far above just a run of the mill killing monster kind of movie.

The entire movie represents how our thirst for vengeance can be a terrible thing. Making us lose sight of who we are. It can cause the people around us that were good neighbors and friends to despise us. We make wrong decisions and judgements based upon our rage. We judge and punish those that are innocent and push aside all the morals we once held. In the end our vengeance is merely a plague of violence and pain. Which in my opinion correlates with why Pumpkinhead makes the locust sound. We can see people today acting out in this same manner. Seeking vengeance for injustices is a curse upon our souls. It can create an uncontrollable monster that will inevitably cause us more pain than before. It is not until the very end that we see our own faces in the fury that we realize that we are the monster all along.

Wow, that’s some deep shit right there. But that is what makes this movie and horror in general such an amazing genre of film. That’s why Pumpkinhead is proudly hailed as an all time favorite and an entry for Horror Movie Marathon 2019!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Savior699 says:

    Such an amazing and often underrated movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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