Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994)
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: March 16th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jeff Burr Actors: Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye, J. Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Alexander Polinsky, Steve Kanaly, Gloria Hendry, Caren Kaye

 


 

I

n Ferren Woods in 1958, an old hag feeds Tommy Parnell, a horribly disfigured young man (a freak of nature) who is regularly bullied by the local high school kids. When a gang of the rambunctious youths catches up to the boy, beats him with a baseball bat, strings him up over an old iron mine shaft, and slashes at him with a switchblade, the hag seems to feel every bit of the torture, as if psychically linked. This opening sequence is shot in something akin to SepiaTone, in a poor attempt to mimic an old movie, but the picture is so crisp that the filter just doesn’t work. Plus, the characters overact and behave quite unrealistically.

Years later, in present day, Sean Braddock (Andrew Robinson) and his wife move from a big Eastern city to sleepy little Ferren Woods in Thomas County so that he can take up a position as the local sheriff. Their daughter, Jenny (Ami Dolenz), doesn’t speak to either of them much, as she’s too hip and rebellious to concern herself with their old-fashioned rules and conduct. At school, Jenny immediately runs into prime hooligans Danny Dixon (J. Trevor Edmond) and his group (including Marcie [Soleil Moon Frye], Pete [Hill Harper], and Paul [Alexander Polinsky]), who play hooky by going to the iron mine (the same set, as this film surely couldn’t afford more than one). This absconding is cut short, however, as Braddock shows up to usher them home.

Itching for further misadventures, the quintet reconvene later that night for a drive in Danny’s convertible, which results in them recklessly running over an old woman (Lilyan Chauvin) in the middle of the road (perhaps one of the most contrived of all movie happenings). When they traipse through her cabin in the woods, Marcie comes across a spellbook (with a spell to bring back the dead), signifying that the grizzled, emaciated woman is surely a witch. In the most unexplained fashion, the teens manage to not only read the spell, but also successfully perform an accursed ritual over a grave (which they dig up for seemingly hours on end), summoning the Pumpkinhead creature for some typical ’90s revenge.

The acting is bad (save for Robinson, who is a bit too good – but not great – for this straight-to-video endeavor), but the dialogue is worse, giving the players little with which to work. The biggest offender is Joe Unger as farmer Ernst, who struggles so severely with the delivery of his lines that he would have sounded more natural simply reading from a sheet of paper. Of course, the kids are altogether terrible as well, with Hill Harper barely able to shout his lines without giggling). Similarly, the story is hopelessly unoriginal, ripping off “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (the book, since the movie wasn’t yet made) while not utilizing the plot from the previous film enough. The cheesy soundtrack and the amateurish editing also betray the low production values. And when the body count starts piling up, everyone instantly blames Pumpkinhead – another sad revelation for an earthbound thriller.

Laughably, the townsfolk are all well-versed in the “hill people” legend of Pumpkinhead. “There is a nursery rhyme about it, isn’t there?” chimes in Braddock, who really shouldn’t have any notion whatsoever about the vengeful demon. At least the doctor (Gloria Hendry), who performs routine checkups right alongside autopsies, assumes the culprit is a serial killer – but only after suggesting that the claw marks on the victims could have been made by something not of this world.

Perhaps the only elements done with moderate amusement are the creature effects, which are almost solely attributable to the Pumpkinhead costume itself. It’s oversized, rubbery, graceless, not very mobile, and thrust into the camera frequently and without much obscuring, as if the filmmakers (and the team from KNB EFX Group, Inc.) were incredibly proud of its look and felt no need to camouflage it with tricky editing or pitch blackness. But it’s nevertheless engaging in an unintentionally hysterical way. The related gore is also diverting, though these sequences don’t occur regularly enough, giving the film far too much time to waste on exposition and conspiracy theories behind Pumpkinhead’s rampage. Death scenes and chases actually have potential (except for a cockfighter who gets pecked to death by his own roosters), but so many other components are just utterly ridiculous.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10