Pumpkinhead Movie Review

Release: Oct 14th, 1988 
Rating: R
Run time: 86 min
Starring: Lance Henriksen, Tom Woodruff Jr.
Director: Stan Winston
Official Trailer: Pumpkinhead


Okay, I’m probably cheating a little with this one, as it isn’t Halloween related in the least bit, but it does have the word pumpkin in its title and it makes for a great fairy tale story to watch on a cold October night, leading up to Halloween. Pumpkinhead is described as a grim fairy tale and that my folks, is what it is…

Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A man conjures up a gigantic vengeance demon called Pumpkinhead to destroy the teenagers who accidentally killed his son. 

Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a happy man, who’s young son is the most precious thing to him. He and his son, Billy (Matthew Hurley), run a local store in an unknown small country side. Everything is fine and dandy, until a bunch of city folk (his words, not mine) show up and go dirt biking near by. Ed needs to run off for an errand and while he is gone, his son wanders off and gets in an accident. One of the city folk guy panics and flees the scene, while the others go for help. Ed comes back and see’s his son hurt and instantly blames all the people. He immediately goes about getting in contact with a mysterious old woman in the woods, who is known to help the wronged get vengeance. The tool for the vengeance? Pumpkinhead!

Pumpkinhead is a great movie! End of review… just kidding, but I’m not lying when I say it is great. It’s directed by legendary effects artist Stan Winston, which was his first directorial debut and features special effects by Stan Winston Studios, who have created a beautiful monster in the way of Pumpkinhead. The creature is a sight to behold, with a bulbous, snarling head, long bony body and a devil’s tale. The effects work is spectacular on the creature and as the movie progresses, the effects only get better.

The movie feels through and through like a fairy tale, with some eerie set pieces, like the graveyard/pumpkin patch, that houses the evil. The cinematography is fantastic, combined with some spooky sound effects, whenever the Pumpkinhead is about to arrive. Stan Winston and crew did a great job.

For the most part, the acting is okay. Lance Henriksen is one of the highlights of the show, going from gentle man at the beginning, to rage-filled father and eventually ending with sorrowful soul. Lance does a great job and him along with Tom Woodruff Jr., who plays the vengeance demon, are the two main highlights character wise. Everyone else is pretty much fodder for the creature, with some stilted acting from most involved, which is a shame. You never really do get invested in any of the city folk kids, as the Pumpkinhead comes pretty quick for them and that beast really knows how to get down to business fast.

Verdict: Pumpkinhead is a fantastic creature feature film. The demon known as Pumpkinhead is relentless in its pursuit of vengeance and the story has enough mystery, to stick with you long after the credits roll.


Special treat for my readers. Here is the original poem that inspired the movie. I hope you enjoy it and all credit goes to the wonderful creator, Ed Justin.

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.
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Caffeinated Joe
10 years ago

I would definitely consider this one a good Halloween flick, even if it doesn't deal with the holiday. It just fits. Henriksen is a plus in pretty much anything he is in. Wish the sequels held up as well.

Michael Tatlock
10 years ago

I agree with you big time, on all accounts. The sequels are not the greatest. It's been awhile since I've seen the second one, but will be watching it sometime in the next few days/weeks.

Thanks for the comment Caffeinated Joe! 🙂

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