Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pumpkinhead 2: Bloodwings (1994)

I wouldn't consider the original Pumpkinhead a bone fide classic by any means, but in the world of creature features it probably ranks as one of the best of it's kind, achieving an extra level of awesomeness with the presence of Lance Henrikson in the lead role. Bloodwings was actually the first movie of the PH franchise I saw, which is kinda like making a judgement on Metallica based on St. Anger, but hey. I bought Bloodwings for 3 bucks in a used video shop when I was about 12, and watched it a bunch of times out of boredom more than anything. This was my first rewatch of this movie in over ten years, and it turned out to be more or less exactly as I remembered.

Bloodwings opens with a particularly annoying and clichéd scene where a bunch of 50s greasers murder a deformed Jason-lookalike in the woods. What was it about the 50s that made all bullies laugh in that irritating high-pitched fashion? Anyways, naturally the murdered deformo-kid returns years later in Pumpkinhead form to exact his revenge, having been resurrected by a bunch of teenagers messing around with a book of spells. This is kind of screwing with the legacy of the first movie, but I guess you can't really get too hung up on these things.

The gang of kids who are responsible for resurrecting Pumpkinhead are all horribly blatant clichés - there's the blond girl who we're rooting for, the greasy love-interest bad boy, the token funny black guy, the gothy girl with an encyclopedic knowledge of demonology and the grungy stoner who spends the whole movie smoking and looking jittery. They are exactly the kind of characters that you just really want to die as soon as possible.

Bloodwings' biggest flaw is that it's totally by the book - there are no surprises here. From ten minutes into the film, you know exactly what's going to go down, although I have to say that the ending was actually even worse than I expected, being totally half-assed and also trying desperately to push some kind of "tragic" angle, which just doesn't work at all. If I sound like I'm expecting too much, I can assure you that I'm really not. It's just not a very fun film, for the most part.

In terms of the creature effects, I think it's probably less impressive than the first film - there are points where Pumpkinhead looks really cool, and seconds later the illusion is spoiled by showing too much of the monster. Most full-length shots of PH look really shabby, and the flopping, rubbery limbs are far too clearly seen. The original movie also suffered from the same problem at points, but far less frequently. Also, a big fault with Bloodwings is that it's just too tame for my tastes. There's only one instance of real gore, and even then it's over in a flash. Most of the kills happen off screen, or with minimum bloodshed. And on the subject of the kills, the use of a flickering blue strobe light in every scene Pumpkinhead appears in becomes irritating very quickly. 

One thing that Bloodwings has going for it is the presence of Andrew Robinson of Hellraiser, but he isn't exactly given much room to display his acting chops. Watching him slowwwwwwwly figure out the mystery of who's responsible for the murders is extremely tedious, especially given that the viewer knows exactly what's going on. That said, the cast is for the most part competent I guess, and I was happy to see Kane Hodder's cameo as a sister-banging carny.

I wouldn't really recommend Bloodwings to anyone unless they loved the first movie and just had to have more. And even then, I would exercise caution because it really shits on the original in some ways. It's not a terrible way to pass 90 minutes, but not exactly great either. 

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