Pumpkinhead (1988)

Rated 18
Amazon Prime
Spoiler Free

When I saw this eighties creature feature pop up in my Amazon Prime algorithm I thought, “good algorithm, that’s a bit of me that is”. That Pumkinhead is also the directorial debut of effects legend Stan Winston was a further factor in its favour. Neither expecting or wanting anything more than a gory creature feature with well thought up practical effects, I put aside a little me time one night, and after that I watched Pumpkinhead.

I read a review which says lead actor Lance Henriksen adds gravitas to Pumkinhead. Gravitas is not a word which leapt out at me while watching the film although “adds”, I suppose, is crucial in that context. Henriksen’s country bumpkin, seeking revenge on some pesky kids who done came and damaged his kid to death, is all kinds of Cletus the slack jawed yokel, right down to the dungarees and buck teeth.

Cletus goes to visit Mother Bates at her holiday home, sitting all decayed in her armchair in a swamp. She conjures up a demon, although looking back, if she'd have said “sorry love not working today” and Pumpkinhead had ended there it would have saved me a good forty five minutes of my life.

Unsurprisingly, the physical form of this retribution is the titular Pumpkinhead, which is teased but takes ages to fully materialise. Got to love the effort at suspense but honestly, I was getting impatient to see the beasty. That’s mainly because everything about the film is so rudimentary my two remaining hopes were gore and effects, which I know is what I started with but as minutes ticked by even those died slightly. Eventually a vengeful creature which looks like a Xenomorph made love to a squash shows up.

Even when the monster finally does materialise, it doesn’t exactly show up; hoisting teenagers into the air without being seen. Now, I’m all for killing those characters off, it’s why I put the film on, but this is a wholly unsatisfying way to execute an execution. Not even a decent splat. There are no creative kills, and the Bedsit Cinema Awards 2025 do not have an addition to the Best Death Award from Pumpkinhead. Even frigging Deep Blue Sea 2 managed that.

Bedsit it?

Eighty six minutes which never flew by and certainly didn’t reward my famously fickle patience. I fail to see how even thirty six years ago Pumkinhead packed a punch. Except for one moment of nice facial animatronics on the creature, the film is badly painted by numbers and its centrepiece derivative, sorry Stan. Don’t do it to yourself. 2/10

Creatures and gore galore on Bedsit Cinema, and not all of them are a bore!...


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