Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings  (1994, dir: Jeff Burr; cast: Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz, Soleil Moon Frye, J. Trevor Edmond, Hill Harper, Alexander Polinsky, Mark McCracken, Steven Kanaly, Gloria Hendry, Lilyan Chauvin, Caren Kaye, J.P. Manoux, John Gatins, Roger Clinton, Linnea Quigley, Kane Hodder, R.A. Mihailoff)




An aggressively average horror film, mildly enjoyable but forgettable, its few smallish rises matched by some minor dips. What distinguishes Pumpkinhead 2 is its journeyman cast of minor "names." No real stars, just the B-list and Z-list. But ... so many of them!

Click any cast member at the Internet Movie Database and a ream of credits follow. Part of the fun of watching Pumpkinhead 2 is trying to remember where you've seen this or that familiar face before. I knew I'd recognized the sheriff from somewhere. Turns out he appeared in Hellraiser -- though I confess, I probably recognized him from the ABC soap, Ryan's Hope, which I watched for about a year in the 1970s.

Most of Pumpkinhead 2's cast has soap credits, daytime and nighttime. Dallas fans will recognize Steve Kanaly, who plays a corrupt judge in Pumpkinhead 2. Soleil Moon Frye ("Punky Brewster") is a surly teen. Roger Clinton (brother of Bill) has a few lines as the mayor. Z-starlet Linnea Quigley (whose minor cult following baffles me) has a few lines during her topless cameo.

Much of this "name cast" only has a few lines. Just enough to grant some bragging rights. The video box brags: "Featuring Cameos From Horror's Hottest Cult Faves! KANE HOLDER as Hockeymask in Friday The 13th Part VIII. E.A. MIHAILOFF as Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre III."

I didn't even know that Kane played "Hockeymask" in Friday The 13th Part VIII, much less that he was one of "Horror's Hottest Cult Faves!"



But, peruse this cast and you may discover some of your own personal favorites. Mine is Caren Kaye. Back when I was a teen in the 1970s, I'd predicted Kaye would soon be big. It was the Age Of Farrah, and Kaye had that layered blond "look." She appeared in several TV pilots but, defying all odds, they all flopped. Her longest regular gig (as best I recall) was on Celebrity Charades, a syndicated game show, sort of a cross between The Gong Show and The Hollywood Squares. That lasted a few months. Kaye was a recurring TV guest star in the 1980s (Fantasy Island, Love Boat, New Love American Style). She is probably best known as the "older woman" in My Tutor, although horror fans might know her from 1990's Satan's Princess.

But aside from its cast from Memory Lane, what's Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings about?

As the title implies, the film is an (unnecessary) sequel to the respectable but unremarkable Pumpkinhead (the object of another minor cult following that baffles me). Both films feature a demon named Pumpkinhead, the stuff of mountain lore (Appalachian, I suppose). If someone wrongs you, you can summon Pumpkinhead to take vengeance. But afterwards, Pumpkinhead goes on a killing spree, attacking innocents, and you'll be damned for eternity. Something like that.

The plot is jerrybuilt from the flotsam and jetsam of a hundred mediocre horror films. There is the shunned freak living in the woods. There are fratboy bullies. The "prank that goes wrong." The mountain witch in a cabin. The small town legend. The respectable town elders "with a dark secret in their past." The "bad girl" daughter who rebels against her straight-laced folks. The drunken teens. The sex in inappropriate public places. The redneck vigilantes in pickup trucks. And against this rustic tableau, there is Pumpkinhead, trouncing about and ripping off everyone's heads.

I'll give the film points for this: not all its gun-crazed redneck vigilantes are white. And director Jeff Burr does create a few nice visuals. Atmospheric sepia shots to evoke the 1950s. Colorfully glowing mist to convey demonic magic. The gore is generous and well-done. Pumpkinhead's hands and feet are stiff and rubbery, but one can live with it. Horror films have a long tradition of "rubber suit monsters."




More problematic is the witch's pointless makeup. One wonders ... why? I'm guessing Burr wanted the witch to appear old. Well, why not just cast an old woman? Maybe he did, but we can't see it. The actress playing the witch is heavily layered with "age makeup," making her indiscernible. Her face looks like a plaster mask. Maybe Burr wanted the witch to look really, really old. She doesn't. She looks really, really weird.

Pumpkinhead 2 is an enjoyable but unremarkable gorefest, as watchable as a hundred other horror films out there. And if you get bored between killings, there are plenty of minor "names" to keep you playing "Where have I seen him before?"

Review copyright by Thomas M. Sipos


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