It has been 30 years since Pumpkinhead (1988) hit theaters. Three decades ago on October 14th, the film opened to a limited US release, dropping a bombshell of a horror flick onto the unsuspecting public, that yanked at the heartstrings while introducing us to a pitiful yet violent creature that has stood the test of time and introducing many of us to the man who would become a horror legend, Mr. Lance Henriksen. To celebrate this near perfect horror film, PopHorror is taking a look back at it during this Halloween season. Let’s experience some nostalgia from the ‘80s by revisiting and learning some trivia facts about Pumpkinhead.
Pumpkinhead was written and directed by debut film director Stan Winston (Wrong Turn 2003). It centers around father Ed Harley’s (Lance Henrikson: Aliens 1986) need for vengeance after the violent death of his son (Matthew Hurley). With the help of a local witch, he summons the demon Pumpkinhead (Tom Woodruff: Aliens 3 1992), a creature of local folklore, to get his revenge against the city folk that caused his son’s death. He quickly learns that what he unleashes is far more than what he asked for.
Blink and you might miss it, but you may notice the appearance of 12-year-old Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory, Blossom). Pumpkinhead was her film debut. She later went on to star in the hit movie, Beaches (1988), where she wowed audiences as the younger version of Bette Midler’s character in the film. I love going back and seeing familiar faces in these old ‘80s horror films.
The reason the film had such a limited release was because it debuted around the time of the bankruptcy of De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and was tentatively purchased by United Artists, who tested the film with an entirely different title: Vengeance – The Demon.
Another fun trivia fact about Pumpkinhead is in regard to the dog actor, Mushroom. He was apparently very busy working in the horror genre in the ‘80s, as he also portrayed Billy’s dog in Gremlins (1984) as our beloved Barney. It should be mentioned that he did all of his own stunts in both films. What an exceptional canine!
One final fun trivia fact about the film is in regards to the star of the movie, the legendary Lance Henriksen. He was so invested in his role for Pumpkinhead that he gathered his own props, wardrobe and even a set of dentures. He visited several pawn shops for the silver dollars that were used in the film, as well as the WWII pump-action shotgun.
If you are making a list of horror movies to watch this month, add Pumpkinhead to the list.