In 1988 Stan Winston shot a chilling account of heartbreak, desperation and vengeance. The film was Pumpkinhead, the scares were intact, the atmosphere was terrific, the sets shined despite the thick layer of fog that shrouds numerous chilling sequences, and the practical monster effects were not only creepy, but visually impresve.
In the years to follow, a series of sequels have followed suit, though none possessed the pason or tangible sensation of dismay illuminated in the first feature. Perhaps that burden can be chalked up to monetary issues, perhaps no one really detected the potential impact this franchise could have once had upon the horror genre. Any way you slice the pie, sans the franchise launch, the collection of Pumpkinhead films to follow felt meek and inconsequential in every manner.
But, having revited the original picture, my sporadic mental wheels took to turning, and I couldn’t help ask myself: Is this not a tale that could be retold in stellar fashion? I do believe it is.
Of course, today’s habit of leaning on digital imagery would have to be completely ignored. Pumpkinhead is an ominous figure that serves as a far more terrifying monster when utilizing practical works (just check out some of the sequels to get a feel for how much presence is lost in the digitally enhanced renditions). A top notch scriptwriter would also be an absolute must: this is a multilayered tale that demands attention be given to humanity as much as the creature itself. And finally, anything short of an elite cast would be a complete embarrassment, and would certainly prove detrimental to the picture.
While I prefer my re-imaginings with new plot details and obvious, but controlled story shifts, I’m not completely convinced that this is the kind of story in need of much overhaul. As I’ve said many times, Pumpkinhead is a haunting tale, and while some suspenon of disbelief must be applied while viewing it, this is a story that is indeed conceivable. What man wouldn’t want to claim revenge by unleashing Hell upon those who killed his child in an immature fit of recklessness?
Of all the remakes we see churned out these days, Pumpkinhead is one of the few that truly is worthy of a second chance. But that second chance must be handled with care; anything less would be an insult to a terrific feature. For my money, I’d put Matt Reeves in the writer’s chair, and Victor Salva in the director’s seat.
What say you?
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