Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Red Eye Report's 2010 October Horrorthon #17: "Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings"

Ah, yes, the 1950s. It was an innocent era, one of soda fountains, Buddy Holly, and premeditated murder. At least that's how it was in the cozy hamlet of Ferren Woods, were some teenage toughs slashed up a deformed mountain boy and made his death look like an accident. Some years later, whispers of the kid still echo throughout Ferren Woods, and they only get louder when a group of 30-year-old highschoolers swing by his gravesite. Through an elaborate and easily-avoidable ritual, the teens end up calling upon the demon Pumpkinhead, who proceeds to go on a bloody, vengeful tear through town on the dead boy's behalf. But after justice has been served, Pumpkinhead gets a hankering for fresh meat, leaving the kids little time to save their skins and send the giant clawed one back to the hell from whence it came.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings was one of the first scary movies I remember noticing when my parents buckled down and got HBO. Chances are that if it was late at night, this was on, and the likes of Leprechaun 2 or Ticks were soon to follow. But I never sat down for the whole thing (Killer Klowns from Outer Space was more my speed), and when I finally caught the 1988 original a few years back, it took me till now to summon the interest to explore its sequels. After watching Blood Wings, I could have waited a few more centuries, but to be fair, not a lot of folks dig this one to begin with. Pumpkinheads 3 and 4 have gotten a crummy rap as well, though it's Blood Wings that gets particularly dumped on for departing so much from its cult predecessor. Still, I wasn't a huge fan of the first flick, so I don't really hate its inaugural follow-up out of a sense of allegiance -- not when there are so many other things to hate it for.

No doubt, Pumpkinhead II is a dud, but it's a dud for the usual reasons: paper-thin acting, ho-hum effects work, and a script that chews up and spits out anything mildly creative (which you tend to get with Jeff "Sequel Killer" Burr in the director's chair). But reports of the film's unendurable crappiness have been greatly exaggerated, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't amuse me, at least a little bit. While the acting is indeed terrible, just looking over the casting choices is entertaining on its own. Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser) and Linnea Quigley are no big shock, but then come Soleil Moon Frye, Kane Hodder, and Roger Clinton (of "I'm freaking related to Bill Clinton" fame) to have you eager to see what C-list celebs will pop their heads in next. Also, as horribly executed as Pumpkinhead's kills are (mostly due to an accompanying strobe light that makes them borderline unwatchable), they're fun in their inherent silliness, especially when he takes on a trio of redneck chicken farmers.

Most people can and will go their whole lives without seeing Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. In fact, horror fans probably can too, save for us masochists, completists, and the compulsive at heart that just have to watch anything and everything. It'll be a while before Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes ends up in my player, but should anyone be foolish enough to question why, one finger pointed in the direction of Blood Wings oughta be enough to say it all.

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