Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-04-18 14:13

Directed by: Jeff Burr
Written by: Constantine and Ivan Chachornia
Produced by: Brad Krevoy and Steven Stabler

Reviewed by: Brett H.

“What kind of way is that to treat our baby sister?”
“You got a lot of room to talk.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I ain’t the one sleeping with her!”

Pumpkinhead has become a cult classic among horror fans, but the same can not be said for its sequel, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. The original was masterfully directed by Stan Winston and inspired by an Ed Justin poem, which is partially spoken in the original picture. It’s surprising a sequel didn’t come earlier (and it’s crazy to think the sequels after this came in 2006 and 2007), but when it did, it was brought forth by Jeff Burr. With sub-classics such as The Offspring and Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (among other moderately effective chillers) under his belt, it’s really not surprising that he’d be the one to make this picture. With Stan Winston’s moderately original demon opus still fresh in my mind, I’m more than a little excited to give this one a chance. I enjoyed the original and am a huge fan of sequels in general, but the real reason I am excited can be summed up in two words. Linnea Quigley.

The film begins with a black and white scene of the Ferren Woods in 1958. A creepy old lady is tending to her cauldron of food before taking it outside for someone named Tommy. He is nowhere to be found but in the next scene can be seen eating his food. He’s not normal as he’s hideously deformed and has straggly, thin hair. The fifties tunes blare as a group of six young men chase him with a baseball bat after catching a glimpse of him in the woods. They don’t want to tease the poor boy and they don’t want to beat him up; these thugs literally are out to kill him for no reason. Labelling him a freak, they promise to send him back to hell and chase him to an old mineshaft before pummelling, stabbing and hanging him as he writhes. They drop him down into the shaft and the film then cuts to the present time.

Sheriff John Braddock (Andrew Robinson) has recently moved his family back to the small town he lived for part of his childhood from New York City. His daughter, Jenny (Ami Dolenz) had been acting up and getting in some trouble, so John deemed it best they take her to the calm nature of a small town. It doesn’t go as planned as she gets in with the wrong crowd once again. While cruisin’ down the road with the headlights off one night, Jenny’s new boyfriend, Danny (J. Trevor Edmond) hits an old lady on the road. When they get out of the car to find her, she has vanished. They go looking for her and come across an old cabin in the woods stocked with plenty occult artifacts and most importantly a vile of cursed blood. The teens plan to use it on a grave in which there is a diagram of in the witch’s cabin, mostly out of boredom. The witch catches them in the middle of them taking the blood and orders them to leave the vile. No such luck as Danny slaps her around and the group goes to the grave to do the deed. Without further ado, Pumpkinhead lives again.

Pumpkinhead II is a far cry from that of the original, but is worth a watch for many reasons. First and foremost is the fact that KNB designed the monster well, even if he spends most of his time just walking around and mugging it up for the camera Demons 2 style. The story this time around is a bit different, but remains the same in certain ways. The history of the demon is all around different, but it maintains the witch and the rural setting (although it’s now in a small town that borders woods), but reduces the vengeance motif to that of an average slasher film. It’s to be expected, but it really seems unnecessary to change many things when in the end it’s going to turn out the same. The myth aspect of the creature is played down, he’s referenced but not in the blood chilling way he was in the original. Not only that, but the name, ‘Pumpkinhead’ is said so many times with below average acting that it just sounds absolutely silly and makes you chuckle. It’s hard enough to pull the name, “Pumpkinhead” off with great acting.

Although most acting is not so hot, it’s fun to see so many references and genre vets in the movie. Pumpkinhead II features Kane Hodder, R.A. Mihailoff, Andrew Robinson and the always sensational Linnea Quigley. In this one, we don’t get as good of a view of Linnea’s ravishing rack as we have in the past, but her scene is memorable nonetheless. She rides a big, hairy, bearded hillbilly and she rubs his belly and chest after they’re done, and that just begs to be seen. Not only are there many familiar horror actors, but the Necronomicon from The Evil Dead is featured in the witch’s cabin and the grave that is used is pretty much identical to what can be seen in the overhead shot in Pet Sematary, which leads the character to ask the question, “Shit, what the fuck is this place, Pet Sematary?” The scene in which the characters hit the old witch with the vehicle is nearly identical to I Know What You Did Last Summer, which wasn’t made for a few more years.

The misty atmosphere is decent and the music is all right, the main problems lie in the acting and dialogue. Although not horrendous, it’s not nearly as engaging as Pumpkinhead’s (not that I’d expect it to be), but when the script lacks polish, the dialogue tends to come across as a tad goofy. The witch in this one is pretty creepy and she has all the knowledge in the film. Therein lie some problems, because the plot holes begin to stack when she opens her mouth. She curses the teens because they’re about to go and try to resurrect the dead, but then later on speaks as though the demon rising is a bad thing. Not only that, but she reveals the information that makes the character of Pumpkinhead much different than the original and less interesting. They try to make Pumpkinhead a Jason Voorhees rip off and it doesn’t work too well. In the original Pumpkinhead, the demon acted like a one man swat team, shooting first and asking questions later. In Pumpkinhead II, the creature is even reasoned with at one point; naturally, it helps to look at the film as more of a retelling than a sequel.

Pumpkinhead returns in this one to not only take out the teens that hurt the witch, but to get revenge for the actions done to Tommy years earlier, which stems another question. Why didn’t the witch get revenge much sooner? It seems silly that Pumpkinhead takes revenge because of these teens unleashing him, why wouldn’t the witch free his soul years earlier? It’s no use harping on such things in a film of this nature, it’s really just another creature icon turned slasher with an average revenge motive as a new twist on the original’s story. It’s a bit of fun while it lasts, at least the direction is half decent on this one and there are glimpses of the original’s rich atmosphere, albeit glitzier. After the first half hour or so the kills come fast and furious and a decapitation is the highlight, amongst some limbs lost, a great impaling and lots of blood splattering on walls. Lions Gate’s DVD is full frame (probably intended this way) and looks pretty good, as is the audio track. There’s even a commentary by Jeff Burr and the DVD is very cheap, around $7. If you’re a fan of the original, it’s worth taking the chance, just don’t sell your soul to see Pumpkinhead II. Rent it!

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