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Film Review: Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993)

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SYNOPSIS:

Thrill-seeking teenagers resurrect a demon from his grave and a bloody rampage for revenge begins

REVIEW:

If horror films have taught us anything it is that being a freak is the worst! You either kill from the get-go (The Hills Have Eyes) or get bullied and teased so bad that you come back as an evil killing machine (ie Carrie). Never having seen the original Pumpkinhead (which I believe has hit cult status) I dived straight into its sequel Blood Wings a tale about a poor outsider who comes back for revenge against the bullies that caused his death. Made in 1994 and directed by Jeff Bur this straight to video release surprised me as an entertaining 90’s gore fest.

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The story begins in Ferren Woods a small all-American town in 1958 where a disfigured boy named Tommy is being looked after by an old lady. When Tommy goes out to play in the woods he is teased and eventually killed by a group of school bullies who bludgeon him to death and throw him down a mine. We then fast forward thirty five years later when a new sheriff (Andrew Robinson), his wife and daughter move to Ferren Woods from the big city looking for peace and quiet. His daughter Jenny (Ami Dolenz) has a troubled past and gets caught up with the bad kids at Ferren Woods High on her first day. They drive to the woods (shock horror where Tommy was killed), find the hut of the old lady who now is a decrepit old witch, end up beating her up and raising Pumpkinhead from the dead (who has Tommy’s spirit inside looking to enact revenge on anyone who caused him pain).

The thing about Pumpkinhead 2 is that this kind of narrative has been rehashed hundreds of times but the film’s attitude towards itself allows it to have fun with the story. For me personally anything with witches and disfigured revenge seeking kids is perfect in my books. Pumpkinhead 2 knows what kind of film it is and plays up the camp and ridiculousness of the situation with references to other horror films “what the f**k is this Pet Semetary?”. Yet Pumpkinhead 2 never crosses the line of going too over the top with the actors mostly playing it straight, like there REALLY is a pumpkin headed monster after them.

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The kills in the film are surprisingly gruesome and fantastic with heads and limbs being ripped off left, right and centre. In one scene a farmer is being killed while his mistress is out in the car looking for cigarettes. Pumpkinhead is ripping the poor farmer apart and while the terror is happening on screen a country western love song is being played, juxtaposing the action  This on the nose technique is just one of the kind of winks from the director telling the audience that he is in on the joke too.

Pumpkinhead’s appearance is the most dated part of the film and looks more like a costume shop puppet than any killing-alien-revenge machine I’ve ever seen. Yet what I love about Pumpkinhead as a character is that he isn’t a ‘baddy’ per-se but rather a vessel of justice. A bit like Hellraiser where sure he does horrific things but the catalyst for Pumpkinhead’s actions are justified – to get revenge on the bastards who hurt poor Tommy. This film may just have some kind of heart!

The actors all give serviceable performances playing the 2-dimensional characters that you can expect from a straight to video film. The old lady (Lilyan Chauvin) is memorable as the future seeing witch with a wonderfully disfigured face. The poor lady doesn’t have much to do though being beaten at the beginning of the film and laid to rest in the hospital where she sprouts premonition after premonition in a demonic voice – gotta love creative exposition!

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You know what you are getting yourself into when you start Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings. You’ve seen it all before but the added humour, gore and not taking itself too seriously allows Pumpkinhead 2 to become one kick ass slasher/monster movie which has a lot of silly fun.

3/5

Bluray Bonus Features:

Audio Commentary with director Jeff Burr
RE-CREATING THE BEAST – featuring new interviews with special effects artists Greg Nicotero, Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCraken
MAKING MOVIES – an interview with director Jeff Burr
Behind-the-scenes footage

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993) is now available on bluray per Shout Factory

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