THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS"
The original 1988 Pumpkinhead was a fairly original and effective horror movie. Like many such pictures, it also spawned some thoroughly unnecessary sequels. The first of them was 1993's Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. It would not be fair to call this movie “so bad it's good” because, quite frankly, it's so bad it's awful. However, dubbing it “so bad it's oddly fascinating” is totally accurate. You could also aptly say “so bad it's kind of fun.” Scream Factory brings the movie to Blu-Ray at long last.
This direct-to-video sequel stars Andrew Robinson as Sean Braddock, the new sheriff of the tiny town of Ferren Woods. His teenage daughter, Jenny (Ami Dolenz - remember when she was a thing?), immediately falls in with a trouble-making crowd, including Danny (J. Trevor Edmond) and Marcie (Soleil Moon Frye). The gang stumbles upon a creepy old woman's cabin, where they find a vial of blood. Because they're idiots – and because the movie needs a reason to exist – they pour it out on top of an old voodoo marking on the ground. This causes the creature known as Pumpkinhead to arise, and he begins killing people throughout town. Sheriff Braddock investigates, only to discover that many of Ferren Woods' most prominent citizens know something about the creature's origins.
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is borderline hilarious because of its ineptitude. The acting frequently reaches Tommy Wiseau levels of atrociousness. Andrew Robinson, who admittedly has had a long and diverse acting career, either couldn't make the insipid dialogue work or intentionally hammed it up to the extreme. The supporting players aren't much better. Steve Kanaly, playing the town's judge, virtually imitates Snidely Whiplash, which more or less tips the plot's big “mystery,” i.e. that he was the bully responsible for essentially creating Pumpkinhead. There is also something humorous about the way the plot strains to keep itself going. Characters do dumb, nonsensical things just to give the story a reason to progress.
Perhaps the most amusing thing is that former First Brother Roger Clinton has a small role as Ferren Woods' mayor. This suggests the tantilizing possibility that Bill Clinton has actually seen Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.
The best thing about the film is the creature itself. The special effects are quite good, making Pumpkinhead feel real, rather than just like a guy in a rubber suit. Whenever he's onscreen, Blood Wings starts to feel like a genuine horror movie. While not overly gory, the scenes where Pumpkinhead exacts his revenge are enjoyably nasty. It's obvious that all the filmmakers' creative energies went into these moments, to the expense of everything else.
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings offers a fair amount of unintentional laughs, and its overall goofiness is not without some entertainment value. Again, not a good movie, but if you like the occasional dose of kitschy horror, it fits the bill.
Scream Factory's Blu-Ray comes with an audio commentary from director Jeff Burr, plus an hour-long documentary about his career. A 32-minute “Recreating the Monster” featurette looks at the special effects and includes interviews with the people responsible for them. Finally, there are 17 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.
For more information on this title, please visit the Scream Factory website.
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is rated R for horror violence, sexuality and language. The running time is 1 hour and 28 minutes.
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