27th Apr2014

‘Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ami Dolenz, Andrew Robinson, Soleil Moon Frye, J. Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Alexander Polinsky, Mark McCracken, Steve Kanaly, Gloria Hendry | Written by Constantine & Ivan Chachornia | Directed by Jeff Burr

Pumpkinhead-II-Ami-Dolenz

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings was originally released in the UK at a time when I was heavily getting into horror yet was, legally, still too young to rent 18-rated titles from the local video shop (a shop which to this day I credit with the formative years of my movie tastes). It was also at a time when Jeff Burr was being hailed, at least in some corners of the UK and US horror press, as the future of the genre. After all, he had helmed the fan-favourite Vincent Price-starring horror anthology From a Whisper to a Scream and then the very successful sequel The Stepfather 2, before hitting the “big time” as director on the third film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.

1992/3 was also about the time ITV, at least in my local region, began airing Stephen King’s World of Horror, which went behind the scenes on not only Leatherface: TCM 3 but Pumpkinhead II as well. So when the VHS hit the shelves of my local video shop, alongside a re-released and retitled Pumpkinhead (the film was originally released on VHS in the UK as Vengeance the Demon) I was hyped to see it.

But it wasn’t only Jeff Burr who was the selling point for the movie for me. Oh no. This period in horror was also the time when Ami Dolenz, daughter of The Monkey’s Mickey was carving a niche for herself in the genre. And I was a fan. The triptych of Ticks, Witchboard 2 and Pumpkinhead II played in heavy rotation in my household (if I’m honest Ticks was the big winner out of the three) for a number of months after they were released on VHS and to this day I’ll still happily slap Ticks or Witchboard 2 into my home cinema set-up and enjoy the 90 minutes of horror (and memories) they bring.

The only part of my 90s Ami Dolenz horror-fest to not make it to the digital age was Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings but now, thanks to 101 Films new DVD release of the movie, I’ve had a chance to revisit the film some two decades after I last saw it.

Beginning in 1958 in the small town of Ferren Woods, Pumpkinhead II sees a gang of teenagers chase and attack a deformed boy called Tommy in the woods, eventually dropping him down a deep mineshaft and vowing to keep quiet about what has transpired. Fast forward to the present day and Jenny Braddock and her teenage friends, out for a thrill one night, stumble upon Witch Osie’s cabin and unintentionally resurrect a demon from rural myth – the vengeful creature known as Pumpkinhead. When a series of brutal murders begins to overtake the small town, Sheriff Braddock’s only clue is a chilling blood splash in the shape of wings. His investigation leads him to a final terrifying connection between the legend of Pumpkinhead, the story of Tommy and the kids that have brought the demon back to life…

There are many that say the 90s were a low point in the life-cycle of the horror genre but as someone who was exploring the genre via the shelves of the local video shop during that decade, the films released during that time often hold a special place for me – so it’s often the case that there’s a nostalgic “rose-tinted glasses” aspect to watching the films today. As is  probably the case of Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings.

With special effects by the masters of the monster movie, KNB, some knowing in-jokes for fans of the genre (the Necronomicon from the Evil Dead series appearing in the witches house), and appearances from genre actors like Kane Hodder, R.A. Mihailoff (who also appeared in Jeff Burr’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III) and scream queen Linnea Quigley, Pumpkinhead II is a lot more self-aware than many others of its ilk. And whilst the cast are a mixed bag – Dolenz and Robinson are the real standouts here, the direction from Jeff Burr is solid enough to carry the less-than-stellar script and the often cheesy aspects of the production. Its just a shame that Burr never really rose to the heights that the genre press, at the time, predicted; although if you haven’t seen his fantastic 2006 From Dusk Till Dawn “homage” Devil’s Den you’re missing out on one of the best DTV flicks of that year.

I’ll come out and say it right now, even to this day I enjoy Pumpkinhead II a lot more than the original – blasphemous that may be to fans of the Lance Henriksen original – thanks to it’s much more comic-book style approach to the genre (a la Army of Darkness), and some fantastic gore and monster effects from KNB.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is available now on DVD via 101 Films.

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One Response to “‘Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings’ DVD Review”

  • James

    Good movie review, but this is by no means a “DVD review”. You do not talk about the picture, sound, nor extras.