Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkinhead

At some point in 1988, Hollywood pulled its head out of its ass and decided to make the long awaited
film adaptation of one of the greatest poems ever written. And then Allen Ginsberg shook his fist in the air, yelling at Hollywood to get the hell off of his property. Hollywood needed a backup, and Ed Justin was somebody who wrote words that kind of resembled poetry. It was a Cinderella moment that led to the greatest special effects extravaganza since the last one: Pumpkinhead.
  • The title card is engulfed in flames, which could only have been cooler in the '80s had it also been covered in tribal tattoos. = -5pts 
  • Marcus Manton was the name of the editor. We would like to take this moment to point out that that’s a pretty sweet last name, Marcus. = +2pts 
  • This film was inspired by a poem by Ed Justin. Yes, THE Ed Justin. = -3pts
  • A young Ed Harley is nervously shaking in his bed, wondering why his dad is outside taking the family gun for a walk. = -8pts 
  • It may be 1957, but most farms probably had electricity by this point. = -10pts 
  • “What kind of a Christian are you for God’s sake!” screams the neighbor, as Ed’s father looks on. Well, he’s apparently the type that lets you get eaten by a monster, so we’re guessing… Catholic? = +4pts 
  • We cut to the present, where an Adult Ed Harley is joyfully playing in the yard with his favorite flamethrower, as though he is reenacting the most recent swordfight he had in the bathroom. = +5pts 
  • The hand washing scene with Ed and his son has been the creepiest, most unsettling thing about this flick so far. = +6pts (For making us question whether or not this movie is deep enough to actually be an allegory for Priestly abuses.) 
  • After being acclimated to the backwoods of America, the modern 1980s literally drives full-force into this movie in the form of an SUV full of denim and headbands, with a drunkenly driven sports car bringing up the rear. = -15pts 
  • Joel, the drunken big-shot with the sports car, makes a comment about Billy Harley’s glasses looking like Coke bottles, to which everyone takes offense. Joel takes the criticism like a mature adult by peeling out on his dirt bike and ramping the first mound of dirt he sees. = -11pts 
  • Old Mr. Wallace likes to travel around with a truck full of feral children, just in case he needs to sic ‘em on the unwanted city folk. = +3pts 
  • The oldest feral boy looks like Evan Peters’ character in the first season of American Horror Story. We’re waiting for Pumpkinhead to come out in a revealing leather bondage suit at any moment.= +0 pts (No score. Just an observation.) 
  • A father and son’s relationship is only as sweet as the apples they share with one another. = -5pts. 
  • Billy chases his dog out to the open field, where the city dwellers are riding their dirt bikes in full douchebag regalia. Joel comes off his jump, clipping Billy on the way down, possibly killing him. He reacts like a mature adult by peeling out on his dirt bike, ramping the first mound of dirt he sees. = -13pts 
  • Steve is left with the dying Harley child as everyone else risks a felony charge by fleeing the scene. Ed Harley returns to his shop, and Steve waves toward him, as if he is saying, “Hey man, I’m just hangin’ with your son. What’s up?” = -20pts 
  • Ed Harley metaphorically shows us the size of his balls by not crying over his dying son’s body. = +7pts 
  • Joel may have killed a kid, but nobody fucks with his leather jacket. = -9pts 
  • Ed finally breaks down, trying to help his dying son anyway he can. He begins telling Billy a bedtime story, because as anyone who’s ever worked in a children’s hospital will tell you, it’s a tried and true method for bringing kids back from the dead. = -30pts 
  • Nothing screams revenge like a trip to Mr. Wallace and his shanty-town full of feral work slaves. = -6pts 
  • Mr. Wallace asks how Billy died, to which Ed Harley responds, “City folks.” Let this be a lesson to all you Gucci wearing, high-rise living pricks: You fuck with the country, the country fucks back…in the form of an unspeakable monster, dug up from a pumpkin patch. = -5pts 
  • There is no shortage of mouse sound effects in the witches hut. = -3pts 
  • An infamous demon monster loses a little credibility when you learn that its name is Pumpkinhead. It seems as though that would be better suited for a schoolyard bully. = -12pts 
  • The witch informs Ed that he must retrieve the body of the Pumpkinhead from the graveyard so that it can be revived. When he turns to grab Billy’s body, the witch demands he leave it behind. We’re not 100% certain what her plans are for the body, but we feel we are making a safe assumption that it involves bodily fluids in some way. = +10pts 
  • Even though the witch is performing a detailed ritual on the shriveled body of Pumpkinhead, we’re still not certain if she is an actual witch or just a standard Medicare recipient from Appalachia. = -2pts 
  • Pumpkinhead grows stronger as Ed Harley feebly falls to the ground, thus establishing the connection between monster and conjurer, saving the audience from 30 minutes of unnecessary exposition. = -20pts 
  • Ed wakes up with the witch standing over him, telling him he must leave. Ed responds to her request like a mature adult by peeling out in his truck, almost causing a head-on collision with another vehicle. In this moment, the irony of almost killing another person in a motor vehicle accident is completely lost on him. = -8pts 
  • Joel: “I’m always fuckin’ up!” His solution is to immediately grab a gun. = +30pts 
  • Tracy: “God is the only thing that can stop what is out there, Kim.” We’re not usually the gambling type, but we feel it’s safe to bet that God has better things to do tonight. = -6pts 
  • Kim grabs a weapon in response to Tracy: “Just in case God doesn’t show.” Tracy doesn’t gamble, either. = +15pts 
  • When Pumpkinhead goes in for his first kill, Ed gets to experience the pain of the victim, first-hand, from the comfort of his own home while drinking whiskey and cleaning his gun. Rumor has it that Ronald Regan shit an eagle when he watched this scene. = +30pts 
  • Having felt the pain of the victims, Ed charges into the witches hut, demanding that she stop Pumpkinhead. When she tells him it won’t stop until it has run its course, he tells her she will be damned to hell. She laughs in his face, knowing all too well that she is already destined to spend eternity in Hell. We had to wonder at this moment if Ed Harley na├»vely believes that everyone has redeemable qualities that will lead them to Heaven, or if he has a learning disability. = -22pts 
  • Pumpkinhead taunts his next victims by rubbing the current, not yet dead, victim’s face against the window. We’re expecting his next victim to receive a very deadly noogie, or an even deadlier nipple twister. = +10pts 
  • Pumpkinhead murders Joel by stabbing him through the chest with a shotgun. We would normally be distracted by the shear ridiculousness of this premise, but not today, folks. Not today. = +40pts 
  • Why has it taken him this fucking long to get his flamethrower out! = -10pts 
  • Pitchfork being pulled from body, clearly coming from between the armpit and the torso.= -30pts 
  • Ed realizes that the only way to stop Pumpkinhead is to die himself. He heroically shoots himself, failing, requiring Kim to finish the job with a few more shots. = -5pts (For terrible accuracy.) 
  • With the monster’s reign of terror over, we end on the witch walking to the pumpkin patch, burying a body in the spot that Ed originally dug the monster out of, only to reveal that the body being buried is Ed’s, signifying that conjurer is now poised to be the next monster. The most thought provoking moment of this scene is not the cyclical nature of violence and revenge, rather it is the revelation that the witches back is so shitty and crooked because she’s been burying monsters in the pumpkin patch for centuries. = -8pts. 
Total Score = -104pts
Available on: DVD, pumpkin patches all over the Appalachian countryside

For all of the films flaws, the special effects in Pumpkinhead hold their own, thanks to the direction of FX legend, Stan Winston. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the film’s plot and pacing, but that’s nothing a little alcohol can’t fix. It’s fun for the October season, and worth a watch to get in some cheap laughs, but be forewarned: the monster does not have a giant pumpkin for a head. We know…we were disappointed too.

Score Technician: Ryan VenHuizen

3 comments:

  1. "the monster does not have a giant pumpkin for a head"

    Imagine how I felt when I first saw Eraserhead...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We should make a buddy comedy with those two characters.

      Delete
    2. I think this is a perfect idea for Richard Kelly to smack his face on. If there is one thing he loves more than knocking off David Lynch, it's pumpkins. Win, win.

      Delete