This is the Pumpkinhead sequel for William Shakespeare fans! After the standard issue horror plots of the previous three films which included a dad getting revenge for the death of his son, Pumpkinhead’s half-breed son getting revenge for his own death and a town getting revenge because the local crematorium defrauded everyone, we finally get a story of star-crossed lovers whose tale of warring families and forbidden love can’t help to bring to mind Romeo and Juliet.
If Romeo and Juliet were a pair of backwoods hicks and instead of committing suicide together, a demon was slaughtering family members before one of the lovers was forced to kill the other to stop the carnage. The Bard is surely rolling over in his grave! Because he knows his wimpy play wasn’t nearly as cool!
This final and most vengeance filled film in the original Pumpkinhead series dispenses with such half-assed grudges like Ed Harley wanting a bunch of college pukes disemboweled just because they ran over his kid with a dirt bike. Come on dude, it was an accident! If your kid doesn’t notice a guy doing an awesome jump on his bike, he’s too stupid to live!
There have been some great feuds in the history of the world. God vs Satan, cats vs dogs and Axel Rose vs almost everybody have all captivated us with their dramatic back and forth. But it is the granddaddy of all beefs that our melon-headed maniac gets himself mixed up in – the Hatfields and McCoys! The only question is whether there is so much revenging that needs doing between these two families that even an old pro at the vengeance game like Pumpkinhead can keep up!
Trick question! He doesn’t need to because the Hatfields and McCoys aren’t like all the other pansies in this film series and don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty with some do it yourself revenge when it’s warranted! So it is that while Pumpkinhead is busy sporadically stomping heads and ripping guts out, the families are loading up on the Molotov cocktails and trying to burn the other family alive inside their home! While this was happening, I had this image of Pumpkinhead lounging lazily against a tree, sipping a lemonade and enjoying watching fellow masters at work!
But if you’re concerned that you won’t be able to take things seriously what with the Hatfields and McCoys being shoehorned into the Pumpkinhead series (when do you we get Pumpkinhead Meets Jesse James?), you should first remember that this is a film series that tried to convince us that just because Andrew Robinson was wearing a creepy mustache in Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings that we should believe he was a hardened big city cop! Even more importantly though, you’ll quickly forget how goofy all this is because you’ll be focusing on how goofy it all is that there’s a bunch of Romanians playing the Hatfields and McCoys and that many of them are dubbed by people who sound like they were trying to do their worst hillbilly accent!
Shot at the same time as Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (why pay for Lance Henriksen to fly over to Romania twice, right?) it looks the same as that film, everyone involved apparently thinking that drab Romanian forest locations and grubby-looking buildings can convincingly portray America’s hillbilly heartland. And with the entire budget apparently spent on forcing Lance to reprise his Ed Harley character, no name English speaking actors were put in the main roles with the rest of the cast seemingly filled out with Romanians who wandered by the set out of curiosity.
Unconvincing locations and even more unconvincing hicks are all the more noticeable because nothing happens in the movie we haven’t seen before. A guy is mad someone died, blames a group of people, visits the witch to summon Pumpkinhead and eventually thinks better of it and has to be killed to stop it. Even the plot twist used in Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes where someone figured out the only way to stop Pumpkinhead is to kill whomever summoned it is reused to predictable effect.
Henriksen by now has assumed role as sort of cadaverous Obi-Wan Kenobi, appearing to select characters to dispense bits of dialogue that are even more inane than “use the force” and while his return was a welcome presence in the previous film after the atrocious Henriksen-free Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, it loses its impact here since it’s clear his character no longer has any sort of arc. He’s stuck between worlds and the price of his vengeance is that there is no redemption for him and he will never get to see his son again. We get it, but when he keeps showing up in the movies to complain about it, he just comes of as boring and whiny. If you have nothing new to say or do, just shut up and take your eternal damnation like a man.
And how silly is it that by now everyone living around Razorback Mountain doesn’t know or believe that Pumpkinhead is real? He appeared in the 1950s when Ed Harley first saw him, had time to father a son, showed up in the present at least four different times (including two separate times five years apart in this film) and murdered countless people. Heck, his dimwitted son alone killed a bunch of stupid teens plus the group of adults who killed him decades before, one of whom grew up to be the town judge!
The only acknowledgment that this stuff keeps happening is in Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings when Mayor Roger Clinton wisely suggests that they use it to market the town to tourists! And now I’m supposed to believe that in this very same county resides two families who have been feuding for a century? There is a scientific term for places like Razorback Mountain and its surrounding environs – shit magnet.
Marginally worse than Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes (chiefly because at least that film had Doug Bradley as an entertaining villain), but mostly the same, Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud really feels like the result of a concept whose had all the life sucked out of it, leaving it as deflated and smelly as the jack-o-lantern on your front porch is a week or so after Halloween.
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