Before we dive in, let’s have a moment of sympathy for some of these monsters. Yes, they’re ravenous, evil, and generally uncaring about the fate of the whiny humans that get in their way. Yet, some of them want only to do their job (Pinhead, Zuul) or are just following their basic, instinctual programming (the Thing, Fluffy).
Perhaps worse, some of them are bound to appear in endless sequels of diminishing prestige. Even the Predator, who is perhaps the most obvious jerk of all these monsters, has been forced to show up in some really execrable films.
Keep that in mind while we discuss the demonic Pumpkinhead. But, still, don’t cut this demon too much slack. It does enjoy murdering quite a bit.
Pumpkinhead, released in 1988, was the directorial debut of special effects master Stan Winston. In it, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) experiences gut-wrenching tragedy when a group of teenage campers accidentally kill his young son. Ed goes to see a witch, seeking revenge. She can’t bring his son back, but she does resurrect an unrelated corpse to create the frightening Pumpkinhead.
Pumpkinhead promptly begins to dispose of the teenagers in gruesome fashion. Harley, meanwhile, sees the murders as if he himself is committing them. And after each killing, Pumpkinhead’s appearance begins to change. It eventually becomes clear that Harley himself is connected to the demon, both in appearance and action.
Lance Henriksen is not at all a bad-looking fellow, but a demonic brother of sorts doesn’t do him any favors. And Pumpkinhead itself is a truly grotesque creature. It’s barely recognizable as a former human, with its protruding snout and elongated skeletal structure covered with putrescent skin.