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John’s Horror Corner: Pumpkinhead III: Ashes to Ashes (2006), a bad creature feature sequel doing no service to the legacy of Ed Harley.

September 18, 2019

MY CALL: I’m sure you weren’t expecting much, but this was just plain terrible. MORE MOVIES LIKE Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes: Pumpkinhead (1988) and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993) were both much better.

Remember the hillbilly kid from Pumpkinhead (1988) who took an angry bereft father to Haggis the swamp witch? Now all grown up, Bunt is haunted by the ghost of Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen; PumpkinheadHarbinger DownAliens, AVPThe Pit and the Pendulum). And with good reason! Bunt and his siblings/cousins work for the criminal mortician Doc Fraser (Doug Bradley; Hellraiser I-VIII, Wrong Turn 5, Proteus, Nightbreed) illegally harvesting organs for profit. Seeking revenge for their lost loved ones, several locals make a pact with the hag to conjure revenge.

Director Jeff Burr (Puppet Master 4-5, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III) waited a respectable five years before sequeling Stan Winston’s (Pumpkinhead) original classic. And while Burr’s sequel was nothing amazing, it was an enjoyably decent B-movie creature feature. Now another 13 years later and deep in the era of video-released crap, director Jake West’s (Doghouse, Feral) third franchise installment feels exemplary of everything wrong with cheap throwaway sequels.

Never before has Pumpkinhead looked so cheaply rubber suited as in the opening scene—more akin to your neighbor’s awesome Halloween costume than simply subpar creature effects in a real movie. And the CGI portion of the Pumpkinhead summoning-transformation was terrible. However, the monster suit we see post-summoning thankfully looks much better than the opening scene and more in league with part II (but still worst of the three).

The very same can be said for Haggis (Lynne Verrall; Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud), whose make-up and swamp hut set design likewise worsen with each subsequent movie. Even Haggis’ lines and the brokering of the curse are watered down unrecognizably. With some drawn blood from the bereft locals, Haggis resurrects Ed Harley himself who then immediately transforms into the demon Pumpkinhead. So based on the in-movie references (and things not referenced), this sequel seems to clearly follow Pumpkinhead (1988) and completely ignore Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings (1993). Which is just fine—because even though part II was much better than this, it took some annoyingly inconsistent liberties with the rules of the curse.

The writing (largely exposition dumps), direction and performances were very amateur (except for maybe Bradley, who felt comfortable even if hammed-up as Doc). Pumpkinhead has certainly seen better days, and this demon’s death scenes are pathetic. Pumpkinhead crushes someone’s head and it takes all day with the probably cool stuff happening off-camera. Another death scene is a crappy CGI silhouette of the action with after-the-fact impalement gore. Oh, and the CGI is shameless—we suffer through Pumpkinhead climbing up a church and it looks like 90s Aliens videogame graphic. More horrible CGI depicts a tail stab through the chest (yet more Aliens influence) and a finger stab through the chest. Just awful. There was really nothing redeemable in this movie.

Even the manifestations of the curse (i.e., linked fates) was presented poorly. And this film relies far too much on what was the big finale reveal of part 1 (i.e., that the fate of the conjurers of the curse was linked to Pumpkinhead’s fate). This was exploited so much it cheapened its meaning. But, then again, when this movie’s finale includes blowing up a meth lab as its big “gee-wow” I guess there are bigger flaws to consider.

In the end Haggis returns a body (not Ed but Ellie with the star necklace) to the pumpkin patch so that the curse may be conjured in the next cursed sequel of a franchise fallen so far from its original grace. Not recommended.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2019 7:27 am

    These films are fun. The practical special effects must have been challenging.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 18, 2019 8:49 am

      I’d agree with respect to parts 1-2. But they seemed desperately wanting in this sequel. Did you enjoy part III???

      • September 18, 2019 10:28 am

        I had it on as background when I was writing so can’t really say I did or didn’t as my attention was divided… but I can tell from your review that I didn’t miss much…


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