Thursday, June 29, 2017

In short: Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993)

Sean Braddock (a badly miscast Andrew Robinson) has just moved with his family to the little hamlet of Generic Horror Movie Small Town, to take on the job as Sheriff there. A a main reason for the move was to drag daughter Jenny (Ami Dolenz) away from the “bad influences” she had encountered in the Big City, and for Sean to get away from the traditional Big City malaise. The new sheriff will quickly learn that small towns are just as nasty as the big ones, and Ami falls in with the local teens of bad renown faster than you can say “obviously”.

The kids’ first big night out together turns very bad indeed when they harass the local witch (Lilyan Chauvin in the worst age make-up imaginable), knock down said witch, dig out a corpse, cast a magic spell on said corpse(!), and half-way accidentally set the old woman’s house - still with her in it - on fire before finally fleeing without trying to help her. Obviously, the corpse turns into Pumpkinhead and will soon go on a teen-killing rampage, but only after he has taken care of the men responsible for his own tragic backstory.

Because, yes, among one of many, many sins committed by Jeff Burr’s direct-to-video sequel to Stan Winston’s much, much superior Pumpkinhead is that it provides the thing with a backstory replacing its feeling of legendry, a backstory it then proceeds to use as a particularly dumb crutch to end the film on a note of bad melodrama to replace the ending of the original that felt perfectly in tune with characters and theme of the film.

Of course, characters or theme are not elements prominent or even just existing in Blood Wings. It’s just an exercise in putting one cliché after the other without even a single thought into actually making sense of them. Even the underwritten teens from the first film feel deep in comparison to the zeroes the sequel presents. But one shouldn’t expect a sequel to improve on the less successful elements of its predecessor when it can’t even cash in on the successful ones.

So Pumpkinhead has now turned from a creature of legend and tale, an unstoppable force of evil into a guy in a crappy rubber suit with a kitschy backstory who attacks his copious victims always in full-frontal view of the camera, all the better to show off how bad the monster suit is I assume, going by its killing by the numbers business like every shitty horror creature ever; fake-yet-real-Appalachia is replaced by a boring generic small town full of boring generic people with some added yokel clichés. Basically, everything that was great about the first film, Blood Wings turns into typical horror movie crap in a way that’s offensive to the first film, and boring to boot.

Worse, it’s not even a good or entertaining generic horror movie, with the usually dependable Jeff Burr directing without focus, style or taste, a bunch of actors who clearly can’t be arsed, bad effects, an uninventive plot, and a whole load of pitiable monster attack scenes. It’s enough to make one bitter, at least until one watches something better.

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