Review Date: September 6, 2000
Released by: MGM
Release date: 8/1/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Full frame 1.33:1 with mattes removed
The film opens with a man being chased by the monster Pumpkinhead. He runs to a cabin and pounds on the door, begging to be let in. The man inside of the cabin, worried for his wife and son who are also inside, refuses to let him in, telling him he cannot risk his family by opening the door. The son goes to the window and witnesses Pumpkinhead attacking the man. Flash forward to the present day - that young boy in the cabin who saw Pumpkinhead that night is now a grown man. His name is Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) and he lives a quiet country life with his young son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Together they run a small grocery store on the side of a country highway. They don't have much but they do have each other, which keeps them happy.
Ed's world is changed forever when a group of teenagers come into town with a truck full of dirt bikes. They begin riding their bikes around in the fields surrounding the store. Ed, worried for his son's safety, tells Billy to take his dog and come in the store. Ed has to run up to the house to pick something up and tells Billy to stay in the store. Billy does so until his dog runs outside with the ball, at which point he chases him out to the field where the teens are riding around. It's no surprise what happens next - Joel, the "bad boy" of the teens, hits Billy dead on with his dirt bike. One teen, Steve, stays while the others leave, some fleeing and some going for help. Joel was drinking and is on probation - if the police find out what he did, regardless of the fact that it was an accident, he'll be sent to prison. He's not about to let this happen so he forces the rest of his friends to stay at the cabin they've flee to.
Ed returns to find his dead son and Steve. Steve tries to explain that it was an accident but Ed only gives him the look of death as he carries his son away. He takes the body of his son and brings it to a witch up in the mountains. He strikes a bargain to raise Pumpkinhead and have it avenge his son's death. Pumpkinhead does indeed rise up and begins killing the teens one by one. Ed starts to have visions of Pumpkinhead murdering each teen and realizes what he's done is wrong. He goes to the witch telling her to stop it, stop Pumpkinhead before all the teens are dead. She doesn't, of course, so Ed decides to try and stop Pumpkinhead himself. Meanwhile the remaining teens must fend for themselves and try to escape Pumpkinhead. When Ed finally show up, Pumpkinhead has other plans for him, which spell almost certain doom for the remaining teens. Are they truly doomed or can they discover the secret to Pumpkinhead's existance and send him back to hell?
Pumpkinhead is a great movie - it has a nice pace to it and wonderful special effects. Overall the entire cast gives convincing performances. While the story itself - a man who seeks to avenge his dead son by raising a demo from hell, only to realize he's gotten more than he bargained for - won't win any awards, most horror fans aren't expecting a top notch story. What they do expect are some good frights and gore. This is where Pumpkinhead delivers. The death scenes aren't all that gruesome but the big treat here is the creature Pumpkinhead; it looks absolutely incredible! This has to be one of the most realistic looking monsters that I've ever seen and it is quite frightening. It really does steal the show from the rest of the cast.
MGM presents Pumpkinhead in a 1.33:1 full frame transfer. From what I've read the mattes were removed, so that really isn't a Pan & Scan transfer, but rather a full frame transfer with no mattes. I think only one word can describe the quality of this transfer - MGM. What better word to describe a horrible transfer? Yes, I know I've been a bit rough on MGM lately, but I think it's totally justified. If they do a good transfer I'm the first to admit it - see my Phantasm OblIVion review for proof of that. The sad fact is the majority of MGM's back catalog DVD releases that are non-Bond are just plain awful. Hopefully this will change someday, but can we expect MGM to go back and re-release all these titles they screwed up on? I doubt it...
Colors are strong and solid throughout most of the film, though some scenes contain red and blues that are oversaturated. Light grain is evident during many scenes, though it never really gets heavy so it's not too distracting. There's not a lot of blemishes, but you will see some scratches and dirt. The image quality is generally sharp, but there are some occasional MPEG artifacts that break it up.
Overall this is just another poor transfer by MGM on this one. I was also a bit disappointed they didn't include the option to watch a matted widescreen transfer, like Pioneer did for their Bride of the Re-Animator DVD release. Nahh....I'm expecting too much from MGM.
Pumpkinhead is presented in Dolby Digital Surround sound. Nothing spectacular on the sound, especially the rears with had hardly any usage, but it's crisp and clear with no distortion. This movie could sound quite wonderful with a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix.
The only extra is a trailer, which doesn't bother me at all. I prefer a studio concentrate on video/sound quality first, then focus on extras. Unfortunately, MGM does neither with it's back catalog titles.
A great film that has received poor treatment from MGM. Basically, MGM took the VHS tape of Pumpkinhead and slapped it on a DVD, giving it absolutely none of the restoration it needs and deserves. The only bonus to the DVD is a theatrical trailer, which I'd gladly trade for better video quality. What's a fan to do though? Get the VHS that will wear out and degrade? Nope, you're pretty much stuck with this DVD if you're a fan of the film. But at least after reading this review you can know not to expect too much. Even at a price of $19.99 you feel ripped off, especially with studios like Warner Brothers putting out 16x9 restored transfers of catalog titles for the same price.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - C+
Sound - B
Supplements - C
- Running time - 1 hour 26 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital Surround sound