Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings (1994)

by JM

Let’s face it, Pumpkinhead movies are, by and large, total bores. They are usually gothic messes that focus on revenge—oh god, I want to yawn just writing that sentence. By the time the series got to Ashes to Ashes, the title character was almost entirely CGI, which even under the best circumstances and a huge budget still makes monsters that can’t interact very well with actors and look like characters in a video game. I mean, everyone knows that Lou Ferrigno in body paint is a hell of a lot more effective than whatever the hell Ang Lee was trying to do in 2003.

However, in 1994, in an effort to cash in on the inexplicable popularity of the first entry, Blood Wings was released straight to video. To call this entry the best in the series is a bit of an understatement. This movie is the Wrath of Khan of this series.

It opens with not one, but two pseudo-bluesy guitar songs. These are the types of songs not normally associated with a horror movie, but are more familiar to Patrick Swayze action movies and Whitesnake B-sides. Seriously, the first song finishes and the second one begins before one line of dialog is uttered. This is what I call top rate time padding.

Just as Kevin Tenney had discovered the year before in Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway, casting Ami Dolenz in a movie will automatically garner it critical acclaim (as long as I am the critic). Here, she is put to maximal use as Jenny Braddock, the new girl in town. She is streetwise and we learn quickly that she has moved to finish high school in the county because she got in trouble in the city.

Obviously, the idea of any Ami Dolenz character being a troublemaker is silly. Ami Dolenz looks and acts like she is an understudy for the role of Kelly Taylor on 90210. And I am supposed to believe her parents were forced to relocate because she got into so much trouble at school in the big city? What could she have done? Held a pack of cigarettes for a friend?

Jenny quickly hooks up with a group of misfit teens (that also happen to look like the gang from 90210).

These punks are:

Danny Dixon. He is the good-looking son of the local judge. He also appears to be a good five years older than the high schoolers he is hanging out with. Usually a guy this age hanging around high schoolers is called a “predator”.

Peter. Well, let's just be honest here. He is body count.

Paul (Alexander Polinsky). He is the goofy one, I guess. Actually, I have no idea why this character is in the movie. The actor, though, played little Adam Powell on Charles in Charge.

Speaking of talented kid actors, Soleil Moon Frye plays Marcie (I really think the writers missed an opportunity here. I mean, they already had a Peter and a Paul in the group…). Although Soleil Moon Frye continues to have a successful entertainment career, she will always be remembered by those of us who were kids through the 1980s as Punky Brewster.

These trouble makers decide to go drinking in the woods. Better watch out! They aren’t there very long before the sheriff arrives. The new sheriff. Yep, Jenny’s dad.

The sheriff is played by Andrew Robinson, who is best known (by me) as the dad (and later demonic uncle) in Hellraiser. His character comes off as much stranger than I think was intended.

Early on, his daughter says that she “understands a lot of things” and he gets upset. Later in the movie, he is at home going over books for the case, when his wife enters the room. She is holding the shirt Jenny was wearing the other night. The shirt smells like smoke which indicates that she may have been present at the scene of a crime. I only mention this because just as he starts to raise his voice and get upset, Sheriff Braddock is interrupted by Delilah Pettibone, the medical examiner, who enters the frame with some news.

That’s right. She is just suddenly in his house with relevant news. Now, where did she come from? Is she living with Sheriff Braddock, his wife, and daughter? What exactly is their relationship?

Even later on, the sheriff and the medical examiner are at a hospital together and she touches and holds him like they are lovers. Huh. I guess they’re adults and are free to do what they want. I mean, it could just be that this guy is a devout Mormon. But, let’s not act surprised, then, that Jenny Braddock acts out. It must be a pretty confusing situation for her.

I have jumped ahead though. Let me sum it up. An old woman, who is clearly a young woman in bad makeup, is hospitalized. This pisses off Pumpkinhead who exacts revenge. It is a little confusing though, because his revenge starts with the adults who as teenagers killed a deformed boy named Tommy. It is later revealed that Tommy is the son of Pumpkinhead and some woman (maybe the old lady?). Later, though, we find out that Pumpkinhead is Tommy. I guess it is kind of like Jesus being the son of God and being God. I guess. You may think I am off base here. But, they even give Pumpkinhead a Christ pose moment at the end of the movie. So, I think it is safe to assume that Pumpkinhead is Jesus.

It is hard to fault a movie, though, that has a topless Linnea Quigley (is there any other kind) and features a Kane Hodder death scene. Those are the sorts of things that inspire Billy and me to keep watching. Hell, one guy even gets his head popped off like a cork from a bottle.

Here is a little nursery rhyme from the movie:

Bolted doors and windows barred/ Guard dogs prowling in the yard/ Won’t protect you in your bed/ Nothing will from Pumpkinhead.

Well, I can rhyme, too.

Even though the smell of this movie lingers, I’ll still give it

Three fingers.


  1. I'm enjoying the reviews I'm reading on the site, but I couldn't agree with you LESS than I do about this movie and its relative quality to the first entry. I thought the original PUMPKINHEAD was an awesome, dark fairy tale with Faustian overtones, and Lance Henriksen was great as the good man so heartbroken by his son's pointless death that he's willing to damn himself forever to make sure that his enemies suffer. It helps that the enemies are just dumb but believable kids who made a dumb mistake and genuinely regret it, but you can't un-run-down a toddler, that's for sure.

    Conversely, I though PUMPKINHEAD 2 was almost malicious in its determination to shit upon everything that made the first one good.

    Which is not to say I don't respect your opinion--after all, I know better than anyone that what makes one person giggle with glee can make another person want to gouge his eyes out. (A friend of mine and I went to see FREDDY VS. JASON together--he absolutely hated it, I absolutely loved it, and both for EXACTLY the same reasons.) It takes all kinds to make a world. ;)

    Maybe if I had more of a thing for the Monkee-Spawn on display here, I'd feel more charitable toward it. :)

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Im with Vic on Pumpkinhead being infinitely superior to Blood Wings, but I truly hope Pumpkinhead IS Christ, or all my years of praying will have put me on the fast track to hell. And not the cool fire and brimstone torture hell, the Kenny G and Dido hell.

  3. I think the first "PUMPKINHEAD" excels not so much because of rad kills or even because the monster is all THAT awesome, but just because it has such a unique flavor and atmosphere when compared to the largely rote, slasher-dominated tapes it shared shelf space back then.

    "BLOOD WINGS", on the other hand, is just dumb... although a passable, nearly-fun kinda dumb,and while I neither truly like nor detest it, I gotta admit that I felt kinda bad for the mongoloid kid.

  4. J. Astro, Vicar of VHS, and Carl-- Thanks for the comments. I am laughing out loud as I read through them. My favorite so far has been "...I thought PUMPKINHEAD 2 was almost malicious in its determination to shit upon everything that made the first one good". Although the "Kenny G and Dido hell" is a strong second.

    I knew as I wrote this one no one would agree with me. But, at least, you have to admit this movie is head and shoulders above PUMPKINHEAD: ASHES TO ASHES.

    So, I don't know, maybe I need to give the first one another chance. I only saw it once on a really beat up VHS copy.

    BLOOD WINGS is a lot of fun, though. Not one of my favorite movies. But, one I pop in pretty often.


  5. I can agree to that, I dont dislike the second film at all and it ranks pretty high on my list of guilty pleasures, but I am a HUGE fan of the original. Think I gave it a 10/10, if I didnt I suck. Im still stuck with the lame full frame version that looks like it was ported from a black-market swap meet VHS.

  6. yeah, i definitely stopped after the first one, not that i didn't like it, but i saw no need to continue

  7. Brother,
    You know, of course, that I totally agree with you. Part One put me to sleep and Part Three will never, ever enter my home. But the dynamic pairing of Ami Dolenz and Punky Brewster is pure genius.