Pumpkinhead is a 1988 American supernatural horror film. It was the directorial debut of special effects artist Stan Winston. While Pumpkinhead received mixed reviews, the film has built up a cult following in the years since its release.
A man conjures up a gigantic vengeance demon called Pumpkinhead to destroy the teenagers who accidentally killed his son.
- Lance Henriksen as Ed Harley
- Jeff East as Chris
- John D'Aquino as Joel
- Kimberly Ross as Kim
- Joel Hoffman as Steve
- Cynthia Bain as Tracy
- Kerry Remsen as Maggie
- Florence Schauffer as Haggis
- Brian Bremer as Bunt
- Buck Flower as Mr. Wallace
- Matthew Hurley as Billy Harley
- Lee DeBroux as Tom Harley
- Tom Woodruff Jr. as Pumpkinhead
The film was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by United Artists in October 1988 and again in January 1989. In total, it grossed $4,385,516 total at the domestic box office.
The film was released on VHS in the U.S. by MGM/UA Home Entertainment in May 1989. MGM released the film on DVD twice; once in 2000 as a standard edition and again in 2008 in a 20th Anniversary Edition featuring an audio commentary and over an hour of featurettes.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 56% of 16 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 5.3/10. Dave Kehr of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "As a technician, Winston clearly knows how to make a monster, but as a director he`s yet to learn how to bring one to life." Richard Harrington of The Washington Post wrote that the film has poor writing and acting, but it is surprisingly polished for a B movie. Chris Willman of the Los Angeles Times wrote that, despite its poor writing, the premise is interesting, but it's not executed as well as Forbidden Planet.
Bloody Disgusting rated the film 4/5 stars and called it "a gothic story of love, loss, vengeance, and redemption." Joshua Siebalt of Dread Central rated the film 4/5 stars and wrote that film "stands as a timeless, dark fairy tale." Reviewing the 2000 DVD release, G. Noel Gross of DVD Talk rated it 3.5/5 stars and wrote that the film is "too good to pass over", despite its lackluster presentation. Nick Nunziata also criticized the 2000 DVD release and wrote that the film does not hold up. Nick Schager of The A.V. Club called it an endearing, pulp film that lacks subtlety.
Despite its poor box office results, Pumpkinhead has become a cult film.
A sequel, entitled Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, went straight to video in 1994 directed by Jeff Burr.
Two additional sequels, titled Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud, were filmed in 2006 as made for television movies and aired on Syfy. Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes aired in October 2006, and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud aired on February 10, 2007.
- Cruel, devious, pure as venom. All hell's broken loose.
- For each of man's evils a special demon exists...
- A Grim Fairy Tale.
- The origin of the story was a poem written by Ed Justin.
- Gypsy the dog is also Barney from Gremlins (real name: Mushroom).
- The one scene that made Lance Henriksen most want to take the role was where the deceased Billy sits up and asks his father what he's done.
- Body count: 7. (4 killed by Pumpkinhead).
- Although the FX team created the titular monster, Stan Winston was so busy with directorial duties that he was unable to directly supervise their work.
- An early scene introducing the young adults from the city at a dinner was filmed, but cut from the final version of the movie.
- Stan Winston's two children can be glimpsed as members of the Wallace clan.
- Because of Stan Winston's request, the screenwriters made both Pumpkinhead and Haggis (the old woman), much darker than in the original script.