By AL J. Vermette
You run into the dead of night trying to free the wrath of the creature who
seeks you. You are marked by the beast and its only a matter of time before
the demon seeks you out and rips you apart. You think you are safe...but only
for a moment for there in the dark you see him standing in the light of the
moon. His face seemed to almost grin at you as the creature moves forth. You
back away but you know its no use. Pumpkinhead has come for you.....and
there's nothing or no one that can save you tonight.
The demonic creature in question is Pumpkinhead, a demon brought forth by
dark magic who hunts people for whom bare the mark of the damned. He is The
Demon of Vengeance and can be called forth if someone is wronged and
someone wants that wrong to be righted. Turning to an old witch who lives
alone in the woods, one would ask her to call upon the demon and mark those
who one wishes vengeance on. Based on the poem by writer Ed Justin,
Pumpkinhead tells the story of a little boy who is ran over by accident by out of
towners just passing through. When the boy dies his father calls upon the old
witch of the woods to raise Pumpkinhead for him. Soon the man sees the horror
he has brought upon the youths and tries to stop the monster from it’s
"Pumpkinhead" the movie in 1988 was the directorial debut of make-up master
Stan Winston who stepped behind the camera for this creature feature.
Winston turned to his team of artists within his shop to create and build the
demon Pumpkinhead from the ground up. Stunt performer Tom Woodruff Jr.
played the creature inside the rubber costume that he and his fellow Stan
Winston Studios team members built. Wooddruff is no newcomer to donning the
monster suits for he's played such creatures as The Gill-man for the movie "The
Monster Squad" and he's played The Alien in all but the first 1979 film but has
been in the Alien costume form "Aliens" on through to "Aliens vs Predator:
Requiem.". So Tom know's his way around a monster suit.
The creature himself is a tall thin beast with long arms and legs and a big lumpy
head somewhat like that of a pumpkin. His bones show through his skin in a
very creepy way and his fingers are long, sharp and ready to tear into
someone's flesh. His long almost serpentine tail can be used as a weapon as it
whips behind him. The creature is so cool and in fact you almost believe that
the damn thing is real since the body is so un-human like. Unlike other
monsters such as Jason, Pinhead or Freddy, Pumpkinhead looks nothing
human despite having two arms and legs. The costume used in the movie and
its sequels show that you don't always need stop motion or CGI creatures to be
inhuman and yet pull off one hell of a creature and do it with a man in rubber.
Something sadly rare these days.
The first 1988 film was the first time the world got to see this new and opposing
creature but not the last. In 1994, the sequel to "Pumpkinhead" was released
as "Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings" a direct to video release. Like with the first
film, the creature itself out shined the movie he was in. Although it was a sad
attempt to follow up the first film and being even less received by reviewers and
fans alike, it was still good to see the monster in all its gory glory. Then it was
over and this wonderful creature went away for some time. As cool looking as
the creature was....his less received films dealt the monster a death blow from
which even the great demon could not recover from. Still fans loved the beast
and his two films gained cult fans all over the world.
I for one was thrilled to see Pumpkinhead featured as one of the display
creatures at a house of wax in the witch city of Salem, on a BMR visit in 2004.
But good monsters.....well you get my meaning.....never stay dead for long and
as the demon would once again rise from the depths of Hell. It would take 12
long years but Pumpkinhead would return to film with two new movies both made
in 2006. These two new sequels called "Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes" and
"Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud" marked the monsters return. Both films made and
played on the SyFy Channel brought the monster back and though not
wonderfully great films, they were at least the creatures long return. Funny
thing is in Ashes to Ashes Pumpkinhead faces another demon of sorts with the
casting of Doug Bradley better known as Pinhead. No he's not Pinhead in this
movie so don't run out and look for it thinking the two demons are in the same
movie. But I wish they were!
Pumpkinhead's fan base reaches far beyond just the movies he's played in.
Dark Horse Comics published a series of books featuring the beast in
"Pumpkinhead: The Rites of Exorcism" but the creatures luck never the best
only two of the four part series was ever published. By Issue 2's end, the
demon was to gain wings but issue #3 never was to be. The look of a winged
Pumpkinhead would not be seen until in 1994 when a garage kit model was
released called "Pumpkinhead: The Metamorphosis." The model stood 17
inches with the demon perched atop of stone staircase. The death of the Dark
Horse comic was not the last though, for the people releasing the model
GEOmetric Design picked up where Dark Horse left off and published the rest of
the storyline's started by Dark Horse and added the book along with each model
Today the creature has taken sleep once more.....and no films or other projects
are in the work......at least for now. But I know soon that the vengeance demon
will once again make his return. For he is Pumpkinhead and vengeance is all