The first Pumpkinhead film was released in 1989 and for me personally has one of the most interesting horror characters ever with Pumpkinhead. However, the first sequel spawned from the film was a complete dud and now it seems that the direct to Dvd market is going to jump on the Pumpkinhead wagon and start tossing more sequels off into the rental stores. I picked up one such product: “Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes”, and here is my review.
Directed by Jake West, this third installment of Pumpkinhead boasts the acting talents of not only Lance Henriksen from the original, but also Doug Bradley aka Pinhead from the Hellraiser series. The story involves a twisted doctor and a family who have been violating the corpses of a small town in order to harvest and sell things such as skin. They also commit murder to cover up their acts, though not too well, for the townsfolk find out about the dirty dealings and a group of upset citizens embark upon the path of revenge in seeking the use of the demon Pumpkinhead. If you are unfamiliar with how Pumpkinhead works I suggest renting the first film, it is not the greatest movie ever, but the demon Pumpkinhead is solid and unforgettable to me.
Ashes to Ashes is more of a direct sequel for the first film. Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings went way off of the path and changed the storyline and did not fit at all with the way the series was set up. It also reduced Pumpkinhead from a twisted emotional being into a screaming dinosaur like thing. Ashes to Ashes at least gets back into the story line, but once again Pumpkinhead has been toyed with. This time the usage of CGI makes him feel like a different sort of creature. In the first film Pumpkinhead would pull people up into the sky and was a real bad ass; unstoppable. The budget for the first wasn’t so grand so special effects never showed Pumpkinhead flying or anything like that, however in the newest version they show a computer animated beast leaping high into the air on top of roofs. It looks stupid. It steals away from the power and mystery the first one had going for it. Pumpkinhead is indeed evil and enjoys doing its dirty work when summoned, however in the latest film the creature seems weak in too many instances and screws around not getting the job done right for too long to be befitting such a scary being. He is strong enough to punch through someone’s body and rip their head off with a twist, however in some scenes it takes forever for him to smash through a simple skull while someone else escapes; logically unsound.
Doug Bradley plays the bad guy in the film and Henriksen is basically Pumpkinhead, however is appearing as a spirit to help guide another character throughout the film. Both do fine in their roles, however the movie drags out too long with Pumpkinhead losing a lot of his efficiency. Some of the other acting talents trying to pull off backwoods accents and etc. are really lame.
There are some scenes that are interesting and this does continue the storyline in a satisfactory manner, but like most direct to Dvd sequels it is not anywhere near the original and not really all too worth the rental fee. Including the CGI effects it looks like a cheesy made for television horror film like the Sci-fi channel is famous for.