FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Aug 20, 2013

The Wind Beneath My Blood Wings

Another day, another horror movie, another life lesson. The movie is Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, the 1994 direct-to-video sequel to Stan Winston's directorial debut. I looked up my review for the original film and lo and behold, I mentioned the sequel in my closing paragraph:
There is a Pumpkinhead 2 (Blood Wings) which is most likely awful. But the cast...the cast, man- look at the caaaast! Soleil Moon Frye (that's Miss Punky Brewster if you're nasty), Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder, Linnea Quigley (and her bare boobs, I'm sure), Roger Clinton as...the Mayor, Steve Kanaly- who played Ray Krebbs on Dallas...oh man, you know I'm all over this one.
It's been almost eight years since I wrote that and finally- finally!- I have, in fact, been all over that one. And what of this life lesson I have learned courtesy of ol' P-head?

How can I put this? Despite my predictions, despite every Magic 8 Ball giving me a "SIGNS POINT TO YES" when I asked if Pumpkinhead II was going to be awful, the movie isn't awful. It isn't even bad! Actually, it's a shit ton of fun- and I don't mean that in some ironic, MSTK, make-fun-of-it way. I mean it is quite enjoyable to watch. Not a good movie, but a good time. I was all ready for craptaculosity, and I got none. Well, there was all the 1990s realness going on in the atrocious patterns, velvet chokers, sheer tops, high waists, mullets, and McDonald's golden arches hair, but that's not Pumpkinhead II's fault. That's the fault of an entire era! Besides, any non-jerk who's watched a movie made before five minutes ago knows that fashions and the such aren't a reason to deride a film as a whole. Still, it cannot be denied that the 1990s were a low point in human history, aesthetically speaking.

Remember when Roger Clinton tried to be a thing? Ah, the days of innocence and $1.10 gasoline.

Anyway, back to that lesson I learned. Hmm, it's all getting a bit fuzzy now, but it has something to do with the idea of watching movies ironically and whether or not one should do it. I can't say that I don't do it, but at the same time...okay, what I think I mean is, the crap I love, I love genuinely and whole-heartedly. You know, not solely because it's crap or because it's make-fun-of-able. Take something like Sharknado. I have not seen Sharknado and I have no desire to see Sharknado because looking at it from the outside at least, it seems to have been made simply to be made fun of. It looks as if there's nothing genuine about it, and I'm not just talking about the obviously CGI special effects. It's not a comedy, but it wants you to laugh at it. That trying-too-hard obviousness doesn't hold much appeal for me.

Maybe I'm fooling myself by thinking that my love of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon and the love the entire world/internet felt for Sharknado are two unrelated things. I'm likely presumptuous in my thinking that when I say "it's so bad, it's good" I mean it differently than the unwashed masses do. I'll figure it (and myself) out someday. An unexamined life is not worth living, gazing into the abyss, et cetera et cetera.

My point is that when I fired up Pumpkinhead II, I had Sharknado goggles on, you know? I was ready to make fun of it, ready to post a review that tore it apart but good. Then I realized I was enjoying it, and I kind of hated myself for not giving it a fair shake from the get-go. Not that I'm a moron who expects every movie to be terrific; why, sometimes your only hope is that a film won't make you want to kill yourself. No, I hated myself because I was watching it ironically, my only intent to tear it down. How gross, right? What a jerk.

While not a horror-comedy, Pumpkinhead II is much more light-hearted than its predecessor and its sad tale of noble dirt farmers. Broadly-drawn bad guys get pulverized by the titular demon of revenge and it's a delightfully gory affair. The highlight, no doubt, comes when a jerk, knocked through the air by Pumpkinhead, lands head-first in a l'il coop and gets his eyes pecked out by chickens. I rewound it three times, just so you know.

I have to say, while I wasn't right all those years ago in thinking that PII would be awful, I was right regarding one thing two things, and those are Linnea Quigley's boobs. Of course they make an appearance! Then poor Linnea is terrorized by Pumpkinhead and she screams herself into catatonia, which gives my favorite character, the always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor, a chance to shine:

SHERIFF (played by YES Andrew "Hellraiser" Robinson): It's like she's not even here!

ALWAYS-ON-THE-EDGE-OF-PANIC DOCTOR: She's not! Whatever she saw, it scared her so bad, her mind couldn't deal with it and shut down. It's one step away from being...scared to death.

It's so great that when the killings start, always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor immediately dispenses with all doubt and heads right down to this is some fucked up shit town: "If an animal got ol' Ernst, it wasn't of this world." Really, only Halloween's Dr. Loomis can compare in a willingness to expand one's professional mind beyond a proper diagnosis and DSM-IV. I love always-on-the-verge-of-panic doctor!

And man, director Jeff Burr doesn't skimp on showing Pumpkinhead in all his glory. He's huge and maybe a little awkward and slow in his movements, but there ain't a lick of computer on him. When he picks up a jerk and twists the jerk's head off, he really does it! In a fake way, but you know what I mean. It's pretty awesome and quite satisfying.

Plot holes and logic gaps abound for sure, but dammit, I'm just gonna let Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings be great. Well, not great. As I said, not even good. It's certainly inferior to the original film. Geez, I was expecting to point at this movie and laugh...but we had a good time together, ol' P-Head and I. And that's one to grow on.


Pearce said...

Hooray! I have some love for Pumpkinhead 2. I actually think that Jeff Burr is quite a solid director. Have you seen his Night of the Scarecrow? It's quite similar to this in a number of ways, black & white flashback sequence and all. His nasty Vincent Price & Susan Tyrell-hosted anthology series From a Whisper to a Scream (aka The Offspring) is cool as well.

AE said...

So where do the wings come in? Are you allowed to say? Or are they more metaphorical wings, in that blood = success for a horror sequel or something?

Ooh yay, the comments are back.

matango said...


I haven't seen the original Pumpkinhead, but I guess I need to add it to my list.

I will try very hard not to steal the "One to Grow On" picture.

Stacie Ponder said...

The "blood wings" are a mark left at all the murder scenes by Poumpkinhead, a la Zorro. There's a reason he leaves them, but it's pretty dopey.

Enzd said...

I saw this almost ten years ago on the (then) Sci-Fi channel. I thought it was pretty entertaining back then... I can only imagine the enjoyment I'll get out of it now.

Tom said...

There is not a single aspect of this film that isn't awful. I really do like Pumpkinhead 3: Ashes to Ashes, though!

filmkat said...

I'm the jerk that got his eyes pecked out. Thanks for the cool words. Will Huston

Stacie Ponder said...

I'm sure you're a perfectly terrific person, Mr. Huston...but the character you played was a jerk! It happens in plenty of horror movies, and it's nothing personal against the actors who portray 'em. Thanks for stopping by!