Pumpkinhead (1988)

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Released 15-Aug-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 83:23 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stan Winston
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Lance Henriksen
Jeff East
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Pumpkinhead was the directorial debut of creature effects genius Stan Winston. Made in 1987, the film stars Lance Henriksen, who was then hot off the success of James Cameron's Aliens. The story relies on an oft-used horror staple - revenge. A farmer, Henriksen, is wronged when a group of rampaging teenagers accidentally kill his young son in a dirt bike accident. Henriksen seeks revenge on the group by conjuring up the spirit of Pumpkinhead with the help of an old witch. Once re-awakened, Pumpkinhead exacts a bloody revenge on the teens.

    What makes the film a cut above the average monster movie is the brilliant creature design by director Winston, who unsurprisingly doubles as the special effects supervisor. The creature is 9 feet of gothic Lovecraftian terror come to life. This is not a man in a monster suit, it is a finely crafted animatronic work of art. It is also the film's saving grace. The actual story is full of clichés and second rate performances, with the exception of veteran character actor Henriksen who always does his best. On the positive side, the cinematography is appropriately atmospheric, a trick learned from years of working with Cameron I would suggest and the pace of the film is not slow. At the end of the day, Winston should rightfully be proud of this first effort as it is a better than average low budget horror film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Universal should be ashamed of themselves for releasing this awful print.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1 and it is not 16x9 enhanced. The film was originally shot in 1:85:1, and we have received a full frame version of the film.

    Sharpness levels are fairly atrocious with an overall soft picture that resembled the quality of a bad VHS tape. There is very little shadow detail with dark colours and shadows blended together to form a murky blur. There are frequent grain problems, but on the plus side there appeared to be no low level noise problems.

    Colours were washed out, but adequate compared to the rest of the print.

   There are constant film artefacts throughout the film, but they are a minor annoyance compared with the soft picture.

    This is undoubtedly one of the worst prints I have seen in quite some time, and there is no excuse for a full frame transfer. A remaster is definitely in order.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Pumpkinhead is presented with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

    Dialogue is always clear and there are no audio sync problems.

    The film's music is well-suited to the picture and is not intrusive.

    Surround channel usage is essentially non-existent, with directional effects undetectable.

    The subwoofer helps where it can with redirected bass, but it is fighting a losing battle.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Nothing at all, not even a menu or scene selection.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R4 misses out on a menu, a trailer and scene selection menus.

    The R1 is the winner, but both are very ordinary discs.

Summary

   Pumpkinhead is a better than average monster movie that is noteworthy for its awesome creature effects. The DVD is appalling and is an example of how not to present a film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Greg Morfoot (if interested here is my bio)
Friday, September 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLG 76cm Widescreen Flatron Television. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony HT-K215.
AmplificationSony HT-K215
SpeakersSS-MS215

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