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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (Blu-ray)
Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // R // November 18, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $29.93 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted November 9, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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THE FILM:

The original Pumpkinhead impressed with its practical creature effects and atmospheric direction by Stan Winston. That film is more of the "Grim Fairy Tale" its poster promises than a bloody horror film. Perhaps that is why some fans consider this sequel the superior film. Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is directed by low-budget horror maestro Jeff Burr (Leatherface: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre III, Stepfather II), and is a decidedly more gruesome affair. The film squanders some of the mystery its predecessor left behind by inserting more terror and death, but Pumpkinhead II is not without merit. Shot for less than the original's already miniscule $3.5-million budget, Pumpkinhead II is briskly paced and nicely lensed, with some solid kills and an impressively realized antagonist.

In the disturbing opening, several teenage boys torture and kill a deformed orphan, Tommy. Years later, Tommy's death is a town legend, and a group of teenagers, including Jenny Braddock (Amy Dolenz), visits the home of the witch, Miss Osie (Lilyan Chauvin), thought capable of resurrecting the dead. Osie refuses but the teens try a little magic of their own, which lands the witch in the hospital and brings a horrific creature back to life. Pumpkinhead is a killer with discretion, of course, so the creature begins literally tearing through the townsfolk that share a connection with its own tortured plight. The town sheriff and Jenny's father, Sean Braddock (Andrew Robinson), begins investigating the nasty deaths, and realizes a decades-old conspiracy has been unearthed.

I would not recommend spending too much time trying to nail down the rules on resurrecting Pumpkinhead and using him like an attack dog. That legend does not exactly hold water. Even so, Pumpkinhead is a pretty cool creature, and it gets even more screen time this second go-round. The cast is stocked with plenty of B-movie veterans: Roger Clinton as the town's idiotic mayor; Caren Kaye as mama Braddock; and Soleil Moon Frye as Pumpkinhead bait, among others. The core group of teens is perfectly situated for Pumpkinhead's claws, and Jenny is the only sympathetic character in the bunch. The film never takes itself too seriously, and I dare say parts of Pumpkinhead II are more fun than the original.

Burr does a nice job recreating the Winston look, but do not expect Pumpkinhead II to offer the same chilly, fairy tale atmosphere as the first. Winston was considered a creature-effects master for a reason, and Burr is no Stan Winston. The pacing here is quick and relentless, and there is more bloodshed in the first half hour than in the entirely of Pumpkinhead. The film has a lot of fun with itself, particularly in scenes with Miss Osie and another where a town bumpkin lines up for the slaughter. The conspiracy is interesting but not unexpected, and Pumpkinhead embodies the cruelty of men. I clapped for the villain. I see why this one earns fond memories from horror fans.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image from Scream Factory looks quite good. The print is largely free of dirt and debris. Detail and texture are both strong, particularly in outdoor scenes. Skin tones and color saturation are accurate, and shadow detail is more than reasonable. There are scenes in this presentation that really impress, and I am pleased to say the MGM master retains a natural layer of grain and lacks any egregious digital tinkering.

SOUND:

The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio stereo mix is reasonably immersive, with good element separation and clarity. Dialogue is free from all distortion, and is mixed appropriately with effects and score. The surrounds can be a little muddy without dedicated channels in the mix, but ambient and action effects are frequent. English subs are available.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

Scream Factory releases Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings in a standard case with two-sided artwork. Though not part of their "Collector's Series" line, the disc is pretty stacked: Extras kick off with a Commentary with Director Jeff Burr and an Interview with Director Jeff Burr (1:02:01/HD). Yes, you read that correctly, the interview is over an hour long! Both of these supplements provide excellent insight into the low-budget production, and Burr is conversational and interesting. Horror fans will enjoy hearing about some of the director's other works, and the interview makes you appreciate this kind of filmmaking even more. You also get the newly created Recreating the Monster (32:39/HD), with interviews from SFX artists Greg Nicotero and Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCracken; as well as some vintage Behind the Scenes Footage (17:24/SD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

While it does not have the same fairy tale atmosphere as the original Stan Winston Pumpkinhead, this sequel is an entertaining film that stands on its own two monster feet. The kills and pacing are ramped up in Jeff Burr's Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, and I can see why some horror fans prefer this to the original. Scream Factory's Blu-ray is excellent. Recommended.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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