PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS
Directed by Jeff Burr
Produced by Brad Kevoy & Steve Stabler
Written by Ivan & Constantine Chachorina
Director of Photograpy William Dill
Music by Jim Manzie
Cast: Amy Dolenz, Andrew Robinson, Steve Kanaly, J. Trevor Edmond & Soleil Moon Frye
1994/88 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 2.0
Full-frame/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
The tagline for PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS is "They couldn't leave dead enough alone". Which begs the question, is that talking about something in the story, or the first PUMPKINHEAD film? PUMPKINHEAD II features a different set of characters from the first, but it does have one thing in common -- it's disappointing.
PUMPKINHEAD II opens in 1958, as we witness a group of teenage thugs attack and murder a deformed man, while an old woman, Miss Osie (Lilyan Chauvin) searches for him. After the attackers kill the man, they throw him down a mine-shaft. The action then shifts to the present, as new sheriff, Sean Braddock (Andrew Robinson), moves to town with his wife, Beth (Caren Kaye) and Jenny (Ami Dolenz). Sean is having trouble adjusting, as he butts head with the local judge, (Steve Kanaly). Meanwhile, Jenny falls into a crowd of toughs, lead by the judge's son, Danny (J. Trevor Edmond). While out joy-riding one night, Danny and his crew stumble upon Miss Osie's cabin and decide to dabble in black magic by digging up a nearby grave. (And they also subsequently assault Miss Osie.) Seeking revenge, Miss Osie calls upon "Pumpkinhead", who rises from the desecrated grave. Instead of instantly going after the kids, the monster begins to stalk and kill specific adults in the community. As the bodies pile up, Sean tries to figure out what is happening. Once he learns that Jenny and her friends had violated Miss Osie, he looks into the history of the town and realizes that "Pumpkinhead" is on a mission of vengeance.
Before I get into a detailed critique of PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS, allow me to divulge my own personal problem with not only this film, but its predecessor. I really wanted the monster to have a pumpkin for a head, instead of looking like an albino alien. To this day, the fact that "Pumpkinhead" doesn't in fact have a pumpkin head still disappoints me.
Anyway, PUMPKINHEAD II is less of a sequel to PUMPKINHEAD as it is a remake. The only character that appears in both films is the "Pumpkinhead" monster, and he's even playing somebody different this time. The overall plot of PUMPKINHEAD II is essentially the same as the first film, as a group of teenagers accidentally kill someone and the monster is called forth to seek revenge. The characters here are very one-dimensional and there is no true depths to anyone in the film.
Unlike many, I'm not a fan of PUMPKINHEAD, as I found the film to be a missed opportunity. In essence, it was a slasher film with a big alien monster instead of a psycho. Yet, due to the fact that the Lance Henrisken character was grieving for his son, the movie did have some heart and the audience was able to identify with his character, and question his motives, as his son's death was (more or less) accidental. However, in PUMPKINHEAD II, the motivation for the creature's appearance feels very strained and it doesn't have much of a connection to any of the characters in the film. The monster simply plows through one character after another, most of whom we don't know.
Well, at least the film has a monster on the loose, right? Sure it does, and despite the fact that it doesn't have a pumpkin for a head, the monster looks good here. Director Jeff Burr knows that we've seen the first film, so he has no qualms about showing "Pumpkinhead" in all of his glory. Unfortunately, the attack scenes themselves aren't very violent, and some (yes, I'm talking about the chicken-pecking shot) are embarrassing.
When a movie uses the fact that Bill Clinton's brother is in it to promote itself, one shouldn't expect much, and PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS doesn't deliver much. I'd never seen this sequel until I watched this DVD, and I'd always assumed that the subtitle BLOOD WINGS alluded to the fact that this incarnation of "Pumpkinhead" could fly. Well, the monster never gets off the ground, and this movie shouldn't have either.
PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS doesn't fly onto DVD courtesy of Lions Gate Home Entertainment. For this DVD release, the movie is presented in a full-frame format. I'm not sure what the movie's original aspect ratio was, but as it was surely shot for video, there's a change that it could have been 1.33:1. As is stands, the transfer looks pretty good, although judging by the opening credits, it is off-center, shifting slightly to the left. The image is sharp and clear, showing little grain or defects from the source material. However, the image is also very flat and somewhat dark at times. I can't help but wonder if this DVD transfer came directly from a source used for a laserdisc transfer. The DVD has a Dolby Surround track which provides clear dialogue with no overt hissing. The dialogue sounds fine and there are some nice stereo effects here, but I didn't notice any overt surround effects and the bass is lacking.
The DVD contains two special features. Director Jeff Burr provides an interesting and amiable audio commentary, as he discusses the production of the film. Burr is surprisingly honest in his chat, as he talks about how he was hired at the last minute to direct the film and gives a no-nonsense assessment of the film's producers. The only other extra is a 17-minute featurette entitled, "PUMPKINHEAD II: Earning Your Wings". Here, producer Brad Kevoy talks about how the film came about, and there are archive comments from Burr and the cast. This segment has some on-set stills, but no behind-the-scenes footage.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©