Saturday, September 6, 2014

PUMPKINHEAD (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Your Vengeance Demon Has Arrived

Having had the chance to enjoy Pumpkinhead on 35mm recently, I was very excited to see what Scream Factory's Blu-ray would look like in comparison. I enjoy Scream Factory's transfers. I love their extras. When I saw it, it was screened as Vengeance the Demon, an alternate title and a nice looking print at that. As it turns out the Scream Factory transfer is astoundingly good picking up the most beautiful film grain. In talking with some of my fellow reviewers, we all agree that that grain is something to enjoy on this transfer in particular. Please make a note of it. Now let's discuss the movie itself and the smorgasbord of material that Scream Factory has provided because it's a meal. It's two meals! It's two meals... and a snack. ... with dessert.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

When a group of teenagers inadvertently kill his only son, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen, Aliens) seeks the powers of a backwoods witch to bring the child back to life. But instead, she invokes “the pumpkinhead” – a monstrously clawed demon which, once reborn, answers only to Ed’s bloodlust. But as the creature wreaks its slow, unspeakable tortures on the teens, Ed confronts a horrifying secret about his connection to the beast – and realizes that he must find a way to stop its deadly mission before he becomes one with the creature forever.

Having enjoyed Pumpkinhead since I first had the chance to view it as a youngster when it hit the home video market (with Fright Flicks cards in hand featuring some clever jokes at the movie's expense) I was waiting for the monster movie experience of my youth. You know the drill. Some kids do some bad shit, and then a demon is summoned to make things right; that demon being Pumpkinhead with full on Stan Winston design in tow. What I got with my most recent viewing theatrically and on this Blu-ray was a feeling of heartache. I suppose having a kid really changed my perspective on this movie. You can identify so well with Lance Henriksen's performance as a father. He tosses you through a full gamut of emotions, and then makes you believe that revenge is the perfect option. Hell, I know the story of Pumpkinhead and how that kind of power could be used in a vulgar fashion. Yet I still root him on to bring justice (even though there is not justice in this revenge). That's due in part because this demonic creature almost feels like a good guy. It's also because I have a kid and if some twenty something's kills her with their dirtbike I'd find my own Pumpkinhead. Man, I felt like weeping. Both times I watched it recently I had the same reaction. Then I talked to some of the other theater patrons with kids; same result. We were all a little upset. In love with the display of practical effects gold, but emotionally shaken. It's a movie that will make you want to hug your kids when it's over.

That being said, the reason to watch this movie if you're not a giant pussy (blubbering in the back) is for some classic 80's horror movie attributes, an outstanding performance by Lance who never let's us down and because Stan Winston made a demon life and breath on those film frames. Pumpkinhead may be an iconic 80's horror baddie (or goodie depending on how you look at him), but that's only because good ol' Stan made him that way.

This disc has a near intimidating extra package:

Audio Commentary By Co-Screenwriter Gary Gerani And Creature & FX Creators Tom Woodruff, Jr. And Alec Gillis
Featurettes – Evolution Of A Demon, The Cursed And The Damned, The Tortured Soul Of Ed Harley, Constructing Vengeance, Razorback Holler, Demonic Toys
Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Still Gallery
Theatrical Trailer

The featurettes are full bodied and brimming with interesting factoids about the movie and creature creation as well as production notes.  Of course Stan Winston has passed, but you can still get the feeling for what was going on during this production from the folks that surrounded him giving in depth snapshots of how Pumpkinhead was created. The newly created Justin Osbourn artwork is really sexy with great colors. The reverse is a more traditional cover with a still, but I know that I'll be keeping Osbourn's new creation for the Collector's Edition facing out. 

For those of you who haven't had the chance to enjoy Pumpkinhead, Scream Factory has given you a ticket to the backwoods and all the legends that lie inside waiting to be summoned. This is one of my favorite transfers of any release from Scream Factory truly capturing what it means to take a movie from the a film format and restore, love and nudge it onto a digital, Blu-ray medium. It's a damn scary movie, but one that has heart too (like Lobo from Bride of the Monster). There's a thrilling story that plays off perfect late 80's murder by numbers while still maintaining originality in both creature design and twist. Wanna know how you call off a vengeance demon? Watch Pumpkinhead, but resist the urge to summon him. 

You can pick up Pumpkinhead September 9th. Preorder now:

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