BLU-RAY REVIEW: PUMPKINHEAD 2

By Nick Durham

Do you enjoy needless sequels to beloved horror films that have no right to exist and only serve to squander any promise or good will that was made with the first one? If so, you’re gonna be head over fucking heels with Pumpkinhead 2: Blood Wings. Released in 1994 (and filmed in 1993) and directed by Jeff Burr (who knows a bit about needless sequels since he also directed Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and The Stepfather 2), Pumpkinhead 2 features more demonic small town shenanigans that seem to have little to do with anything that took place in Stan Winston’s original film, other than the titular vengeance-driven creature, who looks nowhere near as creepy or scary here, despite featuring effects work from KNB. But really how bad can this movie be? Well, Scream Factory has decided to give it the Blu-ray treatment, so let’s find out.

Pumpkinhead 2 focuses on small town sheriff Braddock (Hellraiser‘s Andrew Robinson) who returns to his home town along with his wife and teenage daughter Jenny (Ami Dolenz, suffering from 90s hair). Soon enough, Jenny begins hanging out with a crew of 90s cool kids/bad kids/toolbags (including Return of the Living Dead 3‘s J. Trevor Edmund and Punky Brewster star Soleil Moon Frye) who end up running afoul of a local old witch (not Haggis). Soon enough, Pumpkinhead is reborn thanks to the soul of a tortured deformed teenager, and he begins taking out those responsible for killing him back in the 50s before focusing on the crew of 90s toolbag teenagers. Got all that?

To put it bluntly, Pumpkinhead 2 is a slog to get through. It shifts between being boring and unintentionally funny, with plenty of cliches and predictable story twists along the way as well. It lacks the emotional depth that the original film had, and we don’t care one ounce about any character’s fate. Hell, in all honesty, I was flat out hoping that everyone would seriously fucking die. Not to mention the fact that the look and feel of the film comes off as being cheap. Now I know the original Pumpkinhead didn’t exactly have a large budget, but it overcame those limitations thanks to the fact that the film had heart and soul to it, where as Pumpkinhead 2 has the heart and soul of being a cheap knock off, which is exactly what it is. Between unlikable characters, shitty plotting, atrocious dialogue, and a score that sounds like someone gave a four year old child a bag full of sugar and let him go apeshit on a Casio keyboard, this movie is one pure fucking turd. Genre stalwarts Kane Hodder and Linnea Quigley (I recognized her by her rib cage I swear) are here in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos, but even they don’t help this amount to being anything other than a turd of a sequel that no one asked for.

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of Pumpkinhead 2 features a half decent transfer of the film, as well as a handful of special features. These features include an interview with director Jeff Burr, and a retrospective about recreating the monster featuring Greg Nicotero. It seems everyone involved thought the film would turn out to be more fun than it actually was, but at the end of the day, did anyone really expect an unwanted sequel to Pumpkinhead to be anything more than a steaming turd of celluloid?

Even though Scream Factory gave the film a half decent Blu-ray release, I implore you to skip Pumpkinhead 2. It’s a needless sequel that no one was clamoring for, and it isn’t helped by the fact that the film is a cheap mess from beginning to end. You know what’s worse though? There’s even more needless Pumpkinhead sequels out there, and even those pieces of shit are better than this fucking train wreck.

Rating: 1/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)

return-of-the-living-dead-collectors-edition-blu-ray

By Nick Durham

 

Oh how I love this fucking movie, so much so I can barely put it into words. Maybe that’s why this is my third purchase of this fucking movie, beginning with MGM’s old DVD release of it way back in the early 2000s, to the first Blu-ray release a couple years ago. Now, here we are in 2016, and those awesome bastards at Scream Factory have given us an edition of Return of the Living Dead that blows all previous releases away, and that’s saying it lightly. They’ve gone above and beyond giving this long time favorite a more than worthy release, and it’s an absolute must own.

 

I won’t say much about the story of Return of the Living Dead, because chances are you know all about it already: two morons (James Karen and Thom Matthews) accidentally cause a zombie outbreak, which leads corpses rising from the grave and eating the brains of anyone they come across, whether it’s local punks looking to party, or the cops and paramedics that get caught in the crossfire. In between all that, we get one of the best soundtracks to any horror film maybe ever, equally hysterical and horrifying moments, and Linnea Quigley being frequently naked. Quite simply, Return of the Living Dead is a fucking classic, and one of the most enjoyable horror films of its era.

 

Now, as wonderful as Return of the Living Dead is, the special features here in this Blu-ray set are just as fantastic. First off, the film itself has been given a 2K restoration, and it looks and sounds better than it ever has before. On top of that, you get brand spanking new documentaries on the film’s production, legacy, and even one covering the soundtrack. Not to mention new commentary tracks featuring Gary Smart (co-author of The Complete History of Return of the Living Dead), and ones featuring Thom Matthews, Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley, and more besides. There’s also a workprint version of the film included here featuring numerous alternative takes and scenes that is interesting to watch, and the usual trailers and TV spots, etc. The old features from the MGM releases are also included here, including the insightful commentary from late director Dan O’Bannon and production designer William Stout from the original DVD release. There is definitely a lot of material here, and that’s saying it very, very lightly.

 

I know I’m gushing over this, but I don’t give a shit. This is the release of Return of the Living Dead that we’ve all yearned for and deserve. This also may very well be the best Blu-ray release that Scream Factory has produced thus far. I’m dead fucking serious. This should be in every horror fan’s collection, even if you’re just a casual fan of the film. It’s just that damn awesome.  Go pick it up right the fuck right now.

 

Rating: 5/5