Pumpkinhead, FX wizard Stan Winston's debut film, wasn't exactly a huge hit when it was released back in 1988. However, in the years since, it's found an appreciative audience on VHS and DVD. It's easy enough to understand why -- Pumpkinhead is a pretty entertaining horror film that did just enough to separate itself from all the "me too" slasher films that were killing the genre at that time.

Lance Henriksen stars as an earnest, hardworking shop owner out in the country. When a group of city kids come through town on their way to go dirt biking, one of them accidentally runs down Henriksen's son. Rather than do the right thing and call the authorities, the young punk forces his friends to remain silent and flee the scene. That doesn't sit right with the grieving father, who takes his son to an old witch so she can resurrect him. She offers Henriksen a shot at vengeance -- through the demon Pumpkinhead -- which the shattered man willingly accepts. The resurrected demon then goes on the killing spree everyone was expecting.

Hit the jump to find out what makes Pumpkinhead interesting.
In a field filled with movies where killers offed teenagers for the flimsiest of reasons, Pumpkinhead was something different -- it was a story of grief, loss, and revenge that also happened to have a giant demonic creature killing off young adults. It was painted in broad strokes -- instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the language of horror cinema, but it at least made an effort to try to be more than many of its counterparts. The film has shortcomings -- lots of them, in fact -- but if you enjoy a good body count flick, this one's entertaining.

Most of that is thanks to Henriksen. A veteran of these kinds of films, the actor brings pathos to his role. He's heads and shoulders above everyone else in Pumpkinhead, and the film benefits greatly from his presence.

I spoke to the actor earlier this year, and he had this to say about his experience. "When I got the script they sent me, I opened the package and it said Pumpkinhead on it and I went 'What? What is that?' I thought it was Sleepy Hollow where a guy is riding around with a pumpkin on his head. Then I started reading the script and it came to one scene where the little boy and his dad are going to the witch to try to get her to bring him back to life. The little boy sits up and says 'Daddy what are you doing?' When I read that, the hair on my neck stood up and thought 'Oh my God. What a good scene that is.' That one little scene made me want to do it."

If you're not a fan of horror films, then Pumpkinhead isn't likely to make you a convert. However, if you do like these sorts of films -- or are just curious to check it out -- you can do it for free courtesy of our friends at SlashControl.