One of the greatest rewards in a job writing about movies is that every so often you’re reminded of a long-forgotten property thanks to someone attempting to reboot it. I could probably have gone another few years without ever thinking of Stan Winston’s 1988 dark horror fantasy Pumpkinhead, but luckily today’s news has jogged that particular dusty neuron back into action.
As EW reports, Saw franchise executive producer Peter Block has conjured up the rights to the creature feature franchise and plans to start filming the reboot next year; the search for a director is currently ongoing. I’m not sure how you Pumpkinhead aficionados out there are taking this news, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the mythology and its central demon get a modern update. (It deserves better than the made-for-TV sequels that aired on Syfy roughly a decade ago.) Block certainly has experience shepherding a horror franchise and he clearly seems to be a fan of this property as well, so I am cautiously optimistic.
Block rightly points out that the creature of Pumpkinhead is important, but the complicated story of vengeance is even more so:
“Pumpkinhead is one of my favorite horror films of the late ’80s, early ’90s. Stan Winston sits on that Mount Rushmore of iconic filmmakers because of his creature designs, and that was his first directing effort. The creature’s great but the emotional story is wonderful as well. I got the rights to Pumpkinhead, and hooked up with a great young writer called Nate Atkins, and we developed our script, which is really solid.”
If this is the same Atkins who wrote S. Darko and Deadly Descent: The Abominable Snowman, I will probably start to lose confidence in the picture. However, Block’s understanding of the story’s importance and the necessity of practical effects for the film are encouraging:
“[We need a director] who really understands why the first one is terrific, the emotional beats of ‘Is the revenge you seek worse than whatever befell you in the first place?’ But it’s also somebody that wants to embrace what I think audiences really want these days — a really scary, fun thrill-ride. You get a lot of people who want to be in this genre because they see the commercial opportunities. I’m looking for a director who has a love for the genre and knows how to get those beats for the audience…
“That was the great thing about the original. A lot of the films I still respond to most today, it’s because of the practical effects. We think that it’s going to be a nice slow reveal, lots of scares and lots of action in the beginning, and a great creature in the end, which everybody should be able to look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s Pumpkinhead!’ It’s not like you’re all of a sudden going to find that it’s some amorphous, nebulous, CGI wispy thing. You’re going to know it came from the Pumpkinhead family lineage.”
If you haven’t had the experience of watching Pumpkinhead, get a taste by watching the trailer for the original 1988 film below:
Here’s the original’s synopsis:
When a group of teenagers inadvertently kill his only son, Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen, Aliens) seeks the powers of a backwoods witch to bring the child back to life. But instead, she invokes “the pumpkinhead” – a monstrously clawed demon which, once reborn, answers only to Ed’s bloodlust. But as the creature wreaks its slow, unspeakable tortures on the teens, Ed confronts a horrifying secret about his connection to the beast – and realizes that he must find a way to stop its deadly mission before he becomes one with the creature forever.