Pumpkinhead is a quintessential horror movie, solid on every level making it a true classic of the genre. It is a tale of revenge, built on tragedy and it is one that is filled with blood and death, fright and regret.
With Lance Henrikson heading up the cast, the man puts in a spellbinding performance as a grieving father, one that is willing to go to extremes to avenge the death of his son and while that does not mean getting his hands bloody directly, he is more than willing to do it through a proxy, a creature that will not stop until it is done. Visually, the monster is absolutely frightening and the fact that it is so large, so strong and near invulnerable just adds another level to the horror that it embodies. The real evil in the film though is not that perpetrated by the father or the creature but that of those who would run a little boy over and leave him for dead. To be fair, a couple of them did try to help but in the end, that would matter for nought as all would be painted with the same cursed brush.
There does come a moment in the film though when Henrikson’s father, who feels and experiences everything the monster does due to a blood tie with it, discovers that the death and destruction that is being wreaked is not what he wanted, that his grief drove him to madness and now he must find a way to stop it all. One can see that Henrikson puts a lot into the performance he gives and it pays off as viewers can feel the man’s love for his son and later, the grief that follows. To this day, the man is underrated as an actor as he often appeared in genre films but he would deliver no matter the role including this one. While the man would have numerous co-stars, most of them would simply end up as fodder for the beast that would be set loose and they too would deliver in their roles, though none so effective as Henrikson in his.
Directing this would be special effects master Stan Winston who might have been new behind the camera but would end up creating an eerie and atmospheric picture that would immediately draw its audience in, making a movie one could not help but love. With the film enchanting viewers through the incredible performances, the sets and the mood created, as well as a nightmare-inducing appearance on the creature’s part and an ending that evokes one last bit of sadness, Pumpkinhead remains a perennial horror favourite.
4 out of 5