Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular! #23: Pumpkinhead

We’re presenting a special series of articles this October on Movie Debaters. Every week day we’ll give you a write up of a movie that evokes fear into the viewer and sends chills down the spine. (Or, just, you know movies in the horror/thriller genre.)

We call it The Movie Debaters 2013 Fear-a-thon Spectral-tacular!

I never knew Stan Winston directed a movie. I mean, it makes sense and everything but I just never knew. It’s too bad the movie largely wastes his talents. Of course the creature effects are superb — that’s a given. The rest of the movie surrounding the monster is what falters.

I feel like the biggest problem with this movie is that it has two narratives. One is the Henriksen’s arc from grieving father to realizing the errors of this ways. The other narrative is the deaths of the teenagers who directly and indirectly cause the death of Henriksen’s son.

Lance Henriksen does a good job as the role of a grieving father driven to resurrect Pumpkinhead for revenge. I also appreciated his character arc where he realizes the errors of revenge and attempts to right his wrongs.

The teenage victims in the movie are largely forgettable. Except for the the one guy who runs over a Henriksen’s kid. He’s so despicable it’s hard to forget. I mean, seriously, this character has a back story where he got in trouble for drinking and driving, the proceeds to drink and drive again which ends up killing a kid.

The two story lines converge in a weird way that deflates any sort of horror in the movie. Once Pumpkinhead is released he dispatches with all but two of the teenagers in the span of like 20 minutes. From that point the two survivors plus a random townie run away from Pumpkinhead while Henriksen tries to stop it.

So yeah, the movie is pretty forgettable. Even the creature design of Pumpkinhead isn’t up to the snuff of Winston’s work on Terminator or Jurassic Park (obviously). Of course Winston’s going to create better work when he has a bigger budget, so why restrict him to a low budget horror movie? I will say this. As a filmmaker, Winston was competent in crafting a visual narrative. Everything on screen was clear and easy to process. He didn’t succumb to any sort of desire to be inventive or wacky with the visuals.

I wish there was one good redeeming value to this movie. I’d gladly promote if it had a really good, groundbreaking creature design or if the on screen deaths were super gruesome. That’s not the case. It’s just a wholly average movie. The only real draw is seeing what Winston was able to do in the director’s chair.

-Harrison

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