Common sense would dictate that a certain hick town nearbouts Razorback Holler wouldn’t have all that much crime happening. The last time some city folk came by and killed a local boy, old Pumpkinhead showed up and slaughtered the lot of them. Then his boy appeared to kill not only a bunch of townspeople but also another pack of moronic teens. People should be no more inclined to commit some wrong there than they would in a similarly strict place like Singapore. Except that instead of getting caned for throwing your gum on the sidewalk, you’d have your head crushed by demonic claws!
But if there’s one thing that’s even stronger than the fear of supernatural vengeance, it’s plain old inbred stupidity! That can be the only explanation for why Bunt Roberts of all people would get himself involved in something that’s a little bit outside the law in Pumpkinhead County.
When we last saw Bunt way back in the original Pumpkinhead, he was just a young whippersnapper eager to make a quick buck by showing Ed Hurley how to get to Haggis the witch so that Ed could have Pumpkinhead summoned to avenge his dead boy. Later, Bunt even had a close encounter with Pumpkinhead when he tried to help a couple of city folk survive the demon’s rampage. But here we are a decade or two later and Bunt is knee deep in improperly disposed corpses!
Oh Bunt how could you be so stupid? What would your kin say if they knew you got mixed up with the evil Doc Fraser and instead of cremating them dead bodies, you just buried them in the swamp (or even more gross, just piled’em up in the barn!) even as the ghost of Ed Hurley was telling you not to! (If Ed was really a friendly ghost, he’d ask you if it wouldn’t be easier to just turn on the crematorium and incinerate the bodies which has the added bonus of no one ever knowing you did anything weird to the bodies in the first place.)
Clearly this is one of those movies where the motivations of the characters make no sense. Bunt knows Pumpkinhead is real and still chooses the wrong path. Bodies aren’t disposed of properly for no real good reason. And the townspeople, while understandably upset about the condition of their loved ones’ corpses seem to overreact by having Haggis summon Pumpkinhead. And is Pumpkinhead really going to show up and go all out because folks want vengeance because they didn’t get their money’s worth on their cremation fees? What’s next? Pumpkinhead murders everyone at Best Buy because of a dispute over a Geek Squad installation?
If you were a fan of the original, this film deserves credit for getting back to the basics of the Pumpkinhead mythos and ignoring the witch’s cauldron of stupidity that was Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. Gone is all the dopey stuff about Pumpkinhead having a son and the son getting revenge 30 years later. And you can’t go summoning Pumpkinhead just by having some teens screwing around. Old melon head needs to have his corpse dragged out of his pumpkin patch grave and brought to Haggis so that those with a thirst for vengeance can seal the deal in their own blood and feel the awful things the demon does on their behalf.
Of course hewing so close to the original film without adding any new wrinkles can make things just as tedious as the second movie was for totally ignoring the original and unfortunately that is mostly what happens here. The only real difference is that Doc Fraser figures out that the sole way to stop Pumpkinhead is to kill the people who summoned him. While this means much of the film is Fraser stalking the townspeople while Pumpkinhead stalks him, the tension is drained from the pursuit because after getting a taste of what Pumpkinhead is doing, most of the townspeople want it to stop (just like in the first movie) and in fact one of them crawls into the crematorium herself to end it! (Too late for Doc Fraser though because by this time, he was already impaled by a laughably bad CGI demon tail!)
And while having Lance Henriksen return as Ed Hurley is great and gives you hope that this isn’t just going to be a routine low budget TV movie sequel, he’s wasted in what amounts to a glorified cameo as Bunt’s nagging conscience.
Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes wisely further connects itself to the first film, employing footage from that film in flashbacks so that Bunt can explain to the others what is happening, but the gloomy Romanian locations (does that country have any colors other than brown in it?) and low energy body snatching story suck any life out of things.
Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) is fun as the villain with the can-do attitude who never gets too worked up about whatever horrible thing he’s doing or faced with. The film is also surprisingly gory for a TV movie though it is sometimes let down by its noticeably substandard special effects (a sequence with Pumpkinhead on a roof is particularly egregious).
While Pumpkinhead fans won’t feel the need to summon their cantaloupe Cthulhu to take revenge on the this film like with the earlier abomination of a sequel, it will likely be disappointing considering how the uninspired story let things down when so much effort obviously went into trying to get back to what made the original memorable.
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