Happy Monday, monster fans! It's time for everyone's favorite moment of the week: Monster Monday! Today I'll be taking a look at the super creepy and superbly crafted "Pumpkinhead" from 1988. Featuring some of the most rad monster effects and puppet work of the 80s (or all time), Pumpkinhead is truly a monster movie to be admired! And, as always, if you haven't seen it, check out the full movie right here on 80shorror.net!
A group of city kids go into the country to relax. While there, one of them is involved in a biking accident that takes the life of the son of the local storekeeper. In a fit of rage, the storekeeper has a witch unleash an unstoppable demon called "Pumpkinhead" to kill the group. When he realizes he's gone too far, the storekeeper attempts to save the kids, but is continually afflicted by visions of peoples' deaths through the eyes of the monster. - IMDb
If you've read any of my previous Monster Monday entries, you should be aware of the fact that I'm sort of fascinated by and gravitate toward monster suits. I can't articulate the appeal very well given the limited time and space in this entry; however, it should be noted that there's simply something peculiar about awesomely constructed suits (accompanied with the fact that someone is actually controlling the creature we see on screen). But, while this may be the case, it also needs to be noted that puppets and puppeteering in general has gradually shifted itself into earning the same amount of admiration as performing in a monster suit, from my perspective. This can be illustrated most clearly with something like Pumpkinhead (1988), which features the incredibly awesome and impeccably puppeted (and performed) monster of the same name.
Pumpkinhead's mixture of suits, puppet work and animatronics is an absolute whirlwind of awesomeness. I mentioned last week that Rawhead Rex embodied everything I love about monsters; however, if you asked me on another day, I might well have said the same thing about Pumpkinhead. Gargantuan in scope and terrifying in motion, Pumpkinhead is the ultimate nightmare monster - there's nothing cheesy at all going on here. And, indeed, it's not solely Pumpkinhead himself that manifests this nightmarish feeling. The movie, more than any other, demonstrates the importance of environment in constructing a truly atmospherically, nightmarish monster. Throughout the movie, it's almost as if Pumpkinhead is an aura or force rather than solely a corporeal thing.
In fact, I might even argue that Pumpkinhead is historically significant (cinematically speaking) for perhaps reaching a pinnacle of monster effects work. Some have perhaps reached the same apex, but I can think of no other movie that has managed to surpass it. I recall watching the movie as a child and, while most monsters of the era were seen as intriguing to me, none really incited a sense of fear. Pumpkinhead, on the other hand, managed to manifest this feeling quite memorably. I remember days after having first seen the movie, laying in bed on a stormy night and thinking, with certainty, that Pumpkinhead was outside roaming around someplace. At one point, one of the characters in the movie comforts his family by telling them that they need not worry about Pumpkinhead, as he has no interest in harming those not involved with the person(s) he was sent to kill. Similarly, I attempted to remind myself of this fact as well. Despite this, however, another part of me insisted that I had done wrong at some point and, in fact, I was the the unlucky person who Pumpkinhead was sent to kill. Luckily, that isn't the case... Or at least, wasn't the case at the time... But, the trees have begun blowing and a storm seems to be approaching: wish me luck!