One Too Many: PUMPKINHEAD II – BLOOD WINGS!
We forced our intern, Charlotte Daraio, to watch a film, not just any film though, it had to be a sequel to a film from a franchise that she had never seen any of the films from before…then we asked her to review it.
One too many times have I found myself watching a continuation of a beloved franchise that doesn’t quite hit the mark, or watching a follow-up to a film I didn’t like that much in the first place. I’m all too familiar with the bitter disappointment and self-hatred of having probed the sanctity of closure, only to never be able to shut it quite as tightly.
Well, what better way to eradicate these negative emotions than to jump the hurdle of the high bar altogether? That’s right: I’m talking about skipping the original. Because who needs all that pesky pretext that hinders a sequel-viewing experience?
These reviews are based not on tech specs or creative merit, but on stand-alone-ability – on how well the sequel braves the cruel elements of knowledge, nostalgia and time. So sit back and let an ignoramus warble on about – and maybe trash talk – the nth instalment of your favourite franchise. Because let’s be real: you know she’s right.
PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS (1993)
First and foremost, I would like to address the name of this franchise: Pumpkinhead. While I had heard of the franchise and seen a few posters, I was shocked to learn that the titular Pumpkinhead – who is actually the son of Pumpkinhead in the second installment – does not have a pumpkin for a head. No part of his body, in fact, resembles a squash of any kind. Perhaps Squashhead would be a better name for the demon, as I can imagine he’d have squashed a head or two in his day.
Other than the moment of confusion I felt when I realised that this particular Pumpkinhead is, in fact, the original Pumpkinhead’s son, I was comfortable with the plotline all the way through. The movie doesn’t need any pretextual knowledge; the mythology of the demon is explained as though it’s a standalone film.
There’s a moment near the beginning when archetype bad-boy Danny forces new-girl Jenny to kiss him and honestly, I wasn’t sure whether it was just ‘one of those things’ of time and place or whether it was meant to be a foreshadowing of his questionable character. Boy, was I glad it was the latter.
Danny is a straight-up psychopath. I’m not sure if his character is meant to be this erratic or if it’s accidental: he forces himself onto Jenny, then is polite and respectful to her sheriff father. He sucker punches an elderly woman in the head in her own home so he can dig up a corpse in her backyard, but then protects Jenny’s dignity when his friends question her loyalty to them. He is caring enough to get Jenny a jacket when she’s cold, but then pulls a gun on her by the end of that very same scene.
To pause on the jacket scene for a moment, Jenny says ‘I’m cold’ and Danny gets her a jacket, telling her ‘it’s my dad’s’. Why are you giving your girlfriend one of your dad’s jacket and not one of your own, you actual complete weirdo? This is maybe what makes me question his character more than anything else in the movie. He’s nonsensical – but maybe he’s meant to be. Maybe the film is trying to perpetuate the very modern notion that people capable of doing horrendous things are, on the surface, just like you and me. Or maybe Danny is just a terrible and inconsistent character. One or the other, I suppose.
There are a few moments of the film like this, where I’m unsure whether what I’m seeing is tactful or tactless: whimsical, elevator-esque ditties plays during tense scenes and at one point, a love ballad plays over the top of a grizzly post-coital killing scene. It seems earnest, like Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is trying to elicit feelings of sex and love as well as fear. But could it be earnest if it’s that bad? Like when the nurse character says something as ridiculous as ‘her mind couldn’t deal with it and shut down. It’s one step away from being…scared to death’ is everyone on set in on the joke? Am I the moron for not laughing?
Throughout the whole film, I can’t help but think that the entire movie seems like a horrific, low-budget, physical-propped lesson George Bluth would teach his kids: that’s why you don’t lie about your presence at a crime scene.
All hail Pumpkinhead Jr.: killer of bad men and saviour of women.
I give it 4/5 for stand-alone-ability.