Wednesday, October 29, 2014

PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS (1994)

PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS (1994) 

Label: Scream Factory
Region Code: A
Duration: 88 Minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD MA Stereo 2.0
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.85":1)
Director: Jeff Burr
Cast: Amy Dolenz, Andrew Robinson, Soleil Moon Frye, Hill Harper, J. Trevor Edmond, Linnea Quigley, Kane Hodder

SYNOPSIS 

When five teenagers unwittingly resurrect a demon, nobody is safe from the creature’s bloody rampage. But this monster is different – inside its demonic form dwells the soul of a boy murdered years ago. Can the evil creature be killed without destroying the innocent boy trapped within?

REVIEW:

PUMPKINHEAD II is a direct-to-video sequel of the original which I hold in pretty high regard. The first film created a great myth of a vengeful demonic spirit and had loads of atmosphere and a fun backwoods horror entry. Jeff Burr's sequel is a bit less than that but is not without it's charm as a gory creature feature though minus a lot of the atmosphere of the original. 

Again we have a group of snot-nosed teens running for their lives from Pumpkinhead, though this time the foolish teens have resurrected the demons themselves after murdering a local witch. The creature is not only out for them but also a group of town father's who murdered a young boy forty years earlier. 

The cast is loaded with b-movie faces, we have Andrew Robinson from HELLRAISER as the Sheriff, I consider him the poor man's Terry O'Quinn for some reason. There's also Hill Harper of C.S.I.: NY in an early role and Punky Brewster herself Soleil Moon Frye! A the sheriff's daughter we have the super cute Ami Dolenz from WITCHBOARD 2 and J. Trevor Edmond as her bad boy boyfriend. My favorite cameo is Roger Clinton - none other than former president Bill Clinton's wacky brother - as the guitar-strumming mayor of the podunk town.

None of the cast are why you're watching this straight-to-video sequel, you're here for the creature effects and gore, right? Of course, so let me just say on that level the film does not disappoint as we have the venerable KNB FX Group on hand to keep the blood flowing. The Pumpkinhead creature design is very true to the original in design and with a body count of 10 there's no shortage of bloodshed for the gorehounds.  

Things that irked me just a little are a script that needed more polishing, the excessive use of an annoying Pumpkinhead POV and overused strobe light effects - between the two I thought I might have a seizure watching this one. Making up for these shortcoming are some great gore, damn decent creature effects and a brief naked cameo from Linnea Quigley of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD loving up a hillbilly!

BLU-RAY:
PUMPKINHEAD II: BLOOD WINGS arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory looking quite solid. A fine layer of fine film grain with good color saturation and black levels. The film lacks the style and storytelling of the original but does look damn decent in HD and the DTS-HD MA Stereo audio handles the dialogue, effects and score nicely. 

Extras are few but dense, we have a commentary from director Jeff Burr from the previous DVD plus an hour long video interview with Burr as he discusses his early love of horror and making the film which was a director-for-hire gig with the script already finished and the production underway. It's an interesting listen as he speaks about the issues on set and trying to make a fun monster-on-the-loose romp, he's very candid about it. 

Then onto RE-CREATING THE BEAST – featuring new interviews with special effects artists Greg Nicotero, Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCraken and this is a fun one as they recall trying to stay true to Stan Winston's original design and the tons of fun they had on set making the film. So much fun that they were kicked off set at least once for being a bit too slap-happy. 

Last up we have 17-minutes of behind-the-scene footage of setting up and shooting numerous creature shots with the infamous image of actor Mark McCraken in the Pumpkinhead suit wearing sneakers in a few of the shots. 

SPECIAL FEATURES: 

- Audio Commentary with director Jeff Burr
- RE-CREATING THE BEAST – featuring new interviews with special effects artists Greg Nicotero, Gino Crognale and actor Mark McCraken (33 Minutes)
- MAKING MOVIES – an interview with director Jeff Burr (62 Minutes)
- Behind-the-scenes footage


VERDICT: 
A fun backwoods creature feature  that offers up some trashy b-movie mayhem that passes the time just fine with a few brews and a couple of friends. It pales in comparison to the original but nonetheless proved to be a fun sequel.  

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