Film / Pumpkinhead
Eh, maybe a little pumpkin-like.

"Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.

Pumpkinhead (1988) was special effects guru Stan Winston's directorial debut and essentially deals with a monster that doesn't actually have a pumpkin for a head.

The quote above is said to be by Ed Justin and the inspiration for this movie making it possibly the only movie Based On A True Poem. However since nobody has ever heard of anything else to do with this Ed Justin some people (by which we mean someone at The Other Wiki) wonder if he really exists, making this possibly Based on a Great Big Lie while not claiming to be based on any actual fact.

The plot is actually the fairly common "Man summons demon to seek revenge" horror plot. It has the common hallmarks: the Jerkass Victims do deserve some revenge, but he takes it too far (they did a hit-and-run on the guy's son), there is one guy who was actually trying to help the victim but is targeted for revenge anyway, the victims are a bunch of bland teens, cue My God, What Have I Done? and then Redemption Equals Death.

Followed by one Direct-to-Video sequel (1994's Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings) and two Made for TV Movies on Sci Fi Channel (2006's Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes and 2007's Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud). There is also an FMV videogame based on the second movie, Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge.

These films provide examples of:

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    Pumpkinhead (1988) 
  • Dirty Coward: In order to avoid the legal trouble it would have brought, Joel chose to sacrifice a little boy's life despite the fact that his life was not even at stake. He did show that even he had loved ones he would risk his life for, but by that time most of his innocent friends (including his brother) were dead so it did not do much good.
    • Joel is also on probation at the time, and winds up locking two of his friends due to their wanting to contact the authorities.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While many, if not all, of Pumpkinhead's victims deserve to be punished, Pumpkinhead takes it way too far.
  • Downer Ending: Most of the cast is dead and Ed's body is buried in a certain pumpkin patch.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: It's implied that the summoners of Pumpkinhead are trapped in a sort of limbo between life and death till the end of time in exchange for summoning him.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Pumpkinhead isn't exactly a menacing (or indeed, accurate) name.
  • Forced to Watch: An interesting variation: Pumpkinhead's summoner is forced to see and feel the deaths of the demon's victims, as if he were killing them himself.
    • More straightforwardly, Pumpkinhead prefers to kill his victims in front of each other.
  • Genre Savvy: Joel makes sure to fire a second round at the downed Pumpkinhead even after Ed initially fells him with a round from his own rifle. Unfortunately for Joel, it's still not enough to actually harm him.
  • Healing Factor: Pumpkinhead heals instantaneously.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Most of the people who turn to summoning the titular Pumpkinhead experience this after realizing what they've unleashed.
  • Heel Realization: Joel comes to acknowledge how much of a prick he's been around the halfway point.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Utilized excessively. You'll be hard-pressed to tell the cast members apart after you've been squinting at the screen for half an hour.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Averted. Pumpkinhead is able to enter a church (though the sight of a cross pisses him off and he destroys it). Although the church was only half-built before it was abandoned, so it's possible this wasn't true holy ground.
  • Immune to Bullets: Pumpkinhead. Subverted at the end of the second film, however.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: With a rifle. Pumpkinhead must have gotten tips from Michael Myers.
  • It Can Think: Pumpkinhead is smart enough to set traps, disable vehicles (including so subtly that they initially appear to be intact), and taunt his victims mercilessly.
  • The Juggernaut: Pumpkinhead will not stop until he's completed his mission. The only way he can be beaten is if his summoner is killed.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Ed wanted justice for his son, but he quickly saw how out of control this was getting.
  • Left Hanging: The comic Pumpkinhead: The Rites of Exorcism, which was supposed to be four issues, was cancelled after two.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Due to seeing and feeling Pumpkinhead's murders, the summoners often ultimately end up with this reaction by the end.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Pumpkinhead will kill anyone, even Ed, if they attempt to help its prey. This was foreshadowed by the 1957 prologue, where Ed's father refused entry to a targeted man in order to protect his wife and son.
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: There have been male and female Pumpkinheads. You'd never know.
    • Averted on one action figure, which did have a sculpted flaccid penis and scrotum
  • Non-Indicative Name: As mentioned, the titular demon's head doesn't really resemble a pumpkin. It gets its name from the fact that summoning it involves digging up a corpse that's been buried in a pumpkin patch.
  • Playing Possum: At one point, Pumpkinhead feigns being killed to lure a character in closer.
  • Pumpkin Person: Actually averted. The eponymous monster is saddled with a Non-Indicative Name, and looks closer to a Xenomorph.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • Though justified in this case, since Pumpkinhead can only be defeated if the summoner is killed.
    • Joel starts off as a gigantic asshole and is the one whose primarily responsible for the death of Ed's son. Eventually he decides to face the consequences of said actions and turn himself in to the authorities, and dies attempting to protect the rest of his friends.
  • Revenge: Why Pumpkinhead is summoned is to carry out revenge, though it's normally not long before the summoner realizes that Pumpkinhead always takes it way too far.
  • Stingy Jack: Pumpkinhead himself.
  • Stock Character: All the teenage characters in the original. Each one is a Slasher Movie stereotype in distilled form.
  • Synchronization: The summoner feels the deaths of Pumpkinhead's victims, and Pumpkinhead feels any injuries inflicted on the summoner.
  • The Voiceless: In the first film, Pumpkinhead could talk, but it mostly just said character names. In the sequels, it is silent.

    Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1994) 
  • Asshole Victim: Both Judge Dixon and his son Danny.
  • Big "NO!": Two instances of it:
  • Came Back Wrong: Pumpkinhead was originally a mentally retarded boy who was killed by a group of teenagers in the 1950s. His distraught mother researched witchcraft to find a way to bring him back, but opted against it because it would revive him as an unstoppable demonic killing machine. Of course, our stupid main characters decide to do just that.
  • Corrupt Hick: Mayor Bubba wants to keep the deadly monster alive so its existence could attract tourists. The sheriff doesn't react to this plan well.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: After being riddled with bullets and hung at the end of the film, Pumpkinhead explodes into a ball of flame.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Blood Wings was retooled into a Pumpkinhead film overnight by its writer according to director Jeff Burr.
  • I've Come Too Far: This is Danny's reasoning for summoning Pumpkinhead, even though there was nothing stopping them from just walking away.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A man organizing cockfights gets his head rammed into his chicken coop, where the terrified chickens peck out his eyes and slash up his face.
  • Milking the Monster: Mayor Bubba tries to stop the sheriff from killing Pumpkinhead because he thinks having an unstoppable demon rampaging around the town would be good for tourism. Though he at least says that he doesn't believe in demons and seems under the impression that they're just dealing with some sort of wild animal, which he presumably thinks they could put down in case it became too dangerous.
  • Numbered Sequels: The only one of the three sequels to actually have a number in its title. The following two sequels didn't bother doing this, probably so as to make it easier to consign this film to Canon Discontinuity status.
  • Only Sane Man: The Sheriff. It helps that he's played by Andrew Robinson, who may be letting his own incredulity at the script seep into his performance.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: In the backstory a disabled teenage boy is murdered by a group of greasers. His distraught mother then researches witchcraft for the next several years (she's completely unrelated to the woods witch from the first film, btw) to bring him back from the dead, but decided against it when she found out that his restless spirit would be reincarnated as an unstoppable demonic monster, making her a subversion. But rather than destroying any of her work, she just leaves the spellbook lying around in her cabin so a bunch of drunk assholes (our main characters, folks) can steal them and revive Pumpkinhead anyway.
  • Teens Are Monsters: This movie's Pumpkinhead started out as human, who was brutally beaten and hanged by a group of rowdy teens. A different group of rowdy teens ends up being responsible for the death of his adoptive mother several decades later.

    Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (2006) 
  • Canon Discontinuity: Ashes to Ashes (and the subsequent Blood Feud) ignore Blood Wings.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The FBI agents at the end.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Averted. Holy water has no effect on Pumpkinhead.
  • Made of Iron: Doc Fraser. Despite being an elderly man he takes multiple blows from Pumpkinhead and even gets blown off his feet a considerable distance by an explosion, and gets back up rather easily.
  • Man on Fire: The death of the priest, who is batted on to a table full of candles by Pumpkinhead, and is set on fire.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Averted. Molly Sue is the only summoner of Pumpkinhead's that doesn't come to regret doing it, and who tries to skip town while Pumpkinhead does his thing, outright stating she doesn't care what happened when confronted.
  • Murder by Cremation: A sucide variant happens at the end.

    Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud (2007) 
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The knife Billy Bob is forced to amputate his own leg with.
  • Bear Trap: A character gets thrown head first into a bear trap.
  • Dramatic Thunder:
    Dolly: Does that mean the monster's coming?
    Jodie: No. Just a storm. Normal, harmless storm. Nothing to be scared of.
    Dolly: ... Then how come there's thunder and lightning and no rain?
  • Eye Scream: Pumpkinhead getting shot in the eye with a handgun.
  • Feuding Families: The Hatfields and McCoys.
  • Hillbilly Moonshiner: One of these is killed by Pumpkinhead.
  • Man on Fire: How one of the Hatfields dies; he fires his old shotgun while soaked in moonshine, and is set on fire.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The Sheriff pulls a You Shall Not Pass on Pumpkinhead, holding him off for the survivors to escape and the heroine to get through to his summoner despite knowing he's going to get killed, so he can atone for the two deaths he had to cause before the first film.

Alternative Title(s): Pumpkinhead II Blood Wings, Pumpkinhead Ashes To Ashes, Pumpkinhead Blood Feud