Pumpkinhead 3: Ashes to Ashes (2006)
Pumpkinhead 3: Ashes to Ashes (2006)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.

Release Date: October 28th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jake West Actors: Doug Bradley, Lance Henriksen, Lisa McAllister, Tess Panzer, Emanuel Parvu, Ioana Ginghina, Douglas Roberts, Radu Iacoban, Lynne Verrall

 


 

B

unt Wallace (Doug Roberts) awakes from a frightful nightmare, haunted by images of the demon Pumpkinhead chasing him through the woods. And later, he’s visited by the ghostly apparition of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen), the man who originally summoned Pumpkinhead to reap vengeance against the young adults who killed his son. At the crematorium where he works with his family, Bunt is forced to collect and dispose of bodies by sadistic patriarch Doc Fraser (Doug Bradley), who harvests organs from unfortunate victims – the type of work destined to cause shuteye disquietude.

“What a fine specimen.” After Fraser cuts the kidney out of his latest target, and then has him dumped in the swamp, local woman Molly Sue Allen (Tess Panzer) comes across the Wallaces’ handiwork. Once Sheriff Bullock (Dan Astilean) is involved, dozens of corpses are recovered from the crematorium, stirring up the anger of the townsfolk, many of whom have lost loved ones to the family of murderers. Although the authorities are slow to link Doc Fraser to the Wallaces, Molly Sue leads a group of fellow survivors, including Richie (Radu Iacoban), Ellie (Ioana Ginghina), and Ronnie (Catalin Paraschiv) into the woods to speak with a hideous old witch (Lynne Verrall) with the power to resurrect Pumpkinhead once again.

With a fast pace (and a torture-porn vibe), this third film in the Pumpkinhead series immediately offers up blood and guts for anxious fans. And there’s no comic relief; amid violence, cruelty, dead bodies, sexuality, and drugs, no one cracks one-liners to break up the tension. It’s quite unrelenting in its morbidity. The story, however, offers nothing new, essentially serving as a remake more than a sequel (though Bunt is the link to the original entry); a few details have changed, but the premise is virtually the same – and incredibly flimsy. It takes almost no time at all to begin the hunting and slaughtering.

Although the movie looks like a movie, the cinematography employs a few gimmicks that drastically detract from the quality. Manipulated slow-motion, acid-trip-like visuals, high contrasts, and extreme color desaturation makes everything dark and grungy (and nearly black-and-white on occasion). Yet for all the digital tweaking, the monster itself is basked in light far too often. Rather than obscuring it in the shadows, the rubbery man-in-a-suit sequences are out in the open, allowing audiences to see all of its faults.

Nevertheless, the practical makeup effects, even when shown too clearly, are infinitely better than the computer-animated shots. Full-body CG sequences are so pitiful that they make Pumpkinhead look like a completely different creature. And now it has a ridiculous tail. The supplemental moments of gore, such as skin-flaying and liver-extraction, are the ones that convey the most disconcerting realism.

Although Pumpkinhead and his brutal ruckuses are essentially the only reasons to watch this unnecessary follow-up, there’s a curious lack of protagonists. Bunt is mentally unhinged; meth-head sister Dahlia (Lisa McAllister) is complicit in the murders; and Molly Sue doesn’t have enough screentime to establish much of anything. Even her brother, Oliver (Emanuel Parvu), is hardly a force of good. Human villain Fraser is actually the most prominent of the characters, and he’s a remorseless butcher. But Bradley plays a great baddie, even without all the makeup and nails that typically adorn his face as Pinhead from the “Hellraiser” franchise. In the end, at least the tone remains consistent, despite a couple of unintentionally humorous shots and the sense that very little in the way of storytelling has been accomplished.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10