"Bolted doors and windows barred,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. Ed Justin was a guy in the movie marketing business who wrote the poem to spook his grandchildren, his friend and film producer Billy Blake loved it and thought it would be a great horror film, so bought the rights pretty cheaply and with producer Richard C. Weinman began looking for writers. Enter writers Mark Patrick Carducci and Gary Gerani, who had toyed around with an idea for a horror movie in the late seventies about a demon existing for each of man's sins, with the plan to make one about the demon of vengeance set in the backwoods (hence one of the film's taglines and it's alternate title, respectively). Carducci pitched the demon idea to Blake, who loved it and decided to merge it with the Pumpkinhead project.The plot is actually the fairly common "Man summons demon to seek revenge" horror plot. It has the common hallmarks: teens from the city come out to the backwoods for vacation, one of them gets drunk and accidentally hits over the a young boy with a bike, and the boy is the son of local grocer Ed Harley, who becomes overcome with grief and rage and goes to a witch in the mountains to summon the demon of vengeance, Pumpkinhead. While Harley's son did deserve some justice, Ed takes it too far, wanting revenge on all of them, even the ones who merely witnessed it and the one who tried to help him. As Pumpkinhead goes about its task, killing the teens one by one in gruesome and violent ways, Ed gets flashes of the murders and sees the pain he's causing and regrets what he has set loose and sets out to try and stop it... but learns that vengeance has a powerful price.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.
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won't protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead."
These films provide examples of:
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- Antagonist Title: Pumpkinhead is a demon keen on Disproportionate Retribution.
- Anti-Villain: Ed Harley from the first movie
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The witch attempted to warn Ed that vengeance always has a price.
- Big Bad: Pumpkinhead, master of Disproportionate Retribution.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Each installment tries to one-up the previous.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Pumpkinhead specializes in these.
- Darkness Equals Death: Pumpkinhead never kills anyone during the day, for some reason.
- Deal with the Devil: The one summoning Pumpkinhead makes one with a witch. Though she actually warns them there's a heavy price to pay for summoning him and their body is used for the next Pumpkinhead.
- 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 only one of Pumpkinhead's victims deserves some form of punishment, Pumpkinhead takes it way too far and even kills people who tried to stop the tragic accident.
- 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, but rather beautifully.
- 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.
- After a while, Joel feels this way about hitting Billy Harley.
- 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 Joel in closer.
- Pumpkin Person: Actually averted. The eponymous monster is saddled with a Non Indicative Name, the true reason it is named this is because of the pumpkins that grow around its body when it's buried.
- 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 some form, but there is some subtle depth to them if one pays close enough attention.
- 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.