It’s amazing how what appears on the surface to be another creature feature dressed up as a teen slasher film can have so much to say and deliver a morality fable for a modern age. Much like the fairy tales of centuries past, 1988’s “Pumpkinhead” not only aimed to please horror junkies but teach them something along the way. At the heart of all the gore and scares are a few different messages like, “Be careful what you ask for,” “Be sure your sins will find you out,” and “The price of revenge is your soul.” Scream Factory gives a new generation the opportunity to learn these lessons while being frightened out of their minds with their Blu-ray release of “Pumpkinhead” Collector’s Edition.
Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) is a simple farmer who runs a general store in a remote community. He keeps to himself and raises his son alone after the death of his wife. Ed’s life is turned upside down when a wild group of teenagers come through town on their way to a summer cabin. His son is struck down and killed by one of them riding a dirt bike. After they flee the scene, the boy dies.
Ed takes the body to a local witch who is rumored to be able to bring people back to life. She says she can’t bring him back but will help the mourning father take revenge on the people who caused the senseless tragedy. She conjures the demon of vengeance, which goes by the name Pumpkinhead, to serve bloody justice on the teenagers responsible. But with every victim the creature claims, there comes a price.
“Pumpkinhead” Collector’s Edition is the first time the movie’s ever been released on Blu-ray. It’s presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1:85.1) with DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The picture looks great and is cleaned up without losing any of its “real” film splendor. There is such a thing as a classic movie like this being overly restored. Most viewers will find it easy to overlook, but the 2.0 sound will no doubt bother those who wanted a truly solid up-conversion from regular DVD to Blu-ray. However, there’s no question in my mind that the movie looks and sounds better than it ever has in the past.
The movie is rated R for violence and gore, profanity, alcohol use, and frightening / intense sequences. I know many people have issues with children coming to harm in movies, but “Pumpkinhead” doesn’t feel exploitative when it comes to this. There’s also no nudity, which is surprising for a movie made in 1988 which includes a group of male and female friends on a weekend party retreat.
Plenty of top-notch special features come with the “Pumpkinhead” Collector’s Edition. Actors Lance Henriksen and Brian Bremer are among the cast and crew who celebrate Stan Winston’s life and work with a new tribute featurette. There are new interviews with producer Richard Weinman and actor John Di’Aquino. Six featurettes focus on the work it took to bring the movie and creatures to life. Audio Commentary is provided by Co-Screenwriter Gary Gerani and Creature & FX Creators Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis. Behind-the-Scenes footage and a theatrical trailer round everything out.
“Pumpkinhead” Collector’s Edition reminded me of what a truly endearing and touching film it is. I had only seen it once as a teenager and barely remembered all the gory details. With great pacing and something to say for itself, it really does succeed at being a contemporary fairy tale for today.
“Pumpkinhead” Collector’s Edition is available now on Blu-ray.
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