‘Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings’ at 30: Fun Sequel Delivers Halloween Atmosphere and Gory Kills

Don’t ever assault a possible witch, light her house on fire, dig up her Pet Semetary backyard and use the vial of blood you found next to her book of the dead to resurrect the town monster, K? Equally, don’t ever watch Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings right after watching the original Pumpkinhead. It’s not meant to happen that way.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings forgoes the typical sequel that actually tries to live up to its predecessor and goes straight for the fourth-to-seventh sequel package. It does not pass go nor collect $200 but rather heads straight to video and parks its barely running, smoke engulfed 1993 Ford truck on Camp Avenue. Many hate it for that reason. I understand.

I also happen to enjoy the ever lovin’ shit out of it.

While Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead featured amazing practical effects and an original monster that was frightening as hell, it also featured an amazing acting performance from Lance Henriksen and a heart wrenching and emotional story that added its own forever stamp on the legacy of horror. 1993’s Blood Wings stops at amazing practical FX and a monster that looks really cool with a strobe light behind it. Then, it rips all the other shit out and replaces it with slasher camp. I can totally understand why people were upset. Pumpkinhead definitely deserved a serious attempt at a sequel. But if you can be willing to forgive and forget? Blood Wings can be one of the most entertaining slasher monster parties around.

I truly believe that had the original Pumpkinhead never existed, Blood Wings would be a beloved cult hit. Maybe I just have bad taste, but allow me to explain why I feel that way…

Halloween Atmosphere in the Holler

One of the things that makes Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers so beloved to me – despite Michael’s shoulder pads and constantly surprised looking mask – is the unrivaled Halloween atmosphere. Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings looks as if it were made in the exact same universe. Though the holiday is barely mentioned (if at all, despite a glass pumpkin breaking outside a barn), the entire screen is dripping in Halloween atmosphere.

Ferren Woods could easily be amongst the backroads to an even smaller town connecting to Haddonfield. They even have a country militia carrying rifles and driving around on the beds of trucks for God’s sake! And when Pumpkinhead shows up in all his glory it is truly something to inject straight into your veins on a dark October night. It may not be an A24 and a glass of wine kind of night, but it sure goes down smooth with a Busch Light and a laugh.

A Cast That Compliments The Mood

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings features a cast that includes everyone from Kane Hodder (as a chicken fighter manager who has sex with his sister) to Bill Clinton’s brother Roger Clinton (as the perm-headed town mayor who wants to kill Pumpkinhead and use him to attract tourists). Punky Brewster herself, Soleil Moon Frye (as a troubled youth into the supernatural) is in the mix as well, and then there’s the new town Sheriff, played by Hellraiser’s Andrew Robinson. Almost every cast member otherwise has some sort of classic connection to horror, from Texas Chainsaw Massacre III to Return of the Living Dead III.

You see this kind of thing from time to time in certain low budget flicks and unfortunately more often than not, the cast members deserved better. Sure, Pumpkinhead II brings the camp as previously mentioned but does so with intent and focus. It’s not quite as subtle as Tom McLoughlin’s Jason Lives or a Sam Raimi flick (specifically the hilarious but also frightening witch possession scene), but it’s somewhere in that stratosphere. The actors here aren’t accidentally making a campy film; they are doing so on purpose and laughing along with us.

Pumpkinhead Kills

When ole’ Pumpkinhead finally shows up on screen and starts tearing limbs, it’s an absolute sight to behold. The wind flies everywhere as though an Evil Dead portal opened just outside the barn doors, the strobe light is going crazy, and there is Pumpkinhead in all his glory. The camera is un-afraid to show every inch of this glorious practical FX creation. I think he looks, excuse my French, fucking awesome.

When Pumpkinhead shows up its kind of like his theme music comes on and he’s running down a ramp to whoop some ass. It’s pure Halloween fun. Sure, there are moments where you wish they would throw some goo on him or something to make the suit a little less obvious but alas; it’s just nice to see the original movie’s incredible practical FX once again on display here. The camera also does a pretty good job of cutting away right as the mechanics of Pumpkinhead slicing, dicing and squishing heads is about to look a little silly.

Almost every death set piece in Blood Wings is fantastic. Most specifically when the local, thieving mailman with no reasonable explanation is sleeping with a lady who looks like she walked straight off the set of a Whitesnake video in his actual barn home and Pumpkinhead shows up for his vengeance. It’s a hilarious scene where he swigs a Budweiser and grabs a Marlboro Red, exclaiming “This sure as hell beats delivering the mail” as Pumpkinhead shows up and brutally massacres him. When his lady friend is found, the doctor exclaims that she’s now catatonic because she was one step short of being (as she dramatically turns to the camera) “scared to death” … and if you don’t spit out your Oktoberfest in pure fourth wall-breaking delight, then maybe this movie just isn’t for you.

Bottom line, if you want to watch a cheesy slasher movie where the FX are actually extremely impressive, the Halloween atmosphere is on an eleven and the actors are selling the shit out of a campy script? I’d recommend Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings in an instant.

Maybe it’s time to resurrect Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings and see if it doesn’t rip your insides apart this time. Just don’t watch it right after partaking in the original. They don’t mesh.

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