Pumpkinhead: Ashes To Ashes (2006)
By: Markus Zussner on June 21, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Sony (Australia). Region 2 & 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, Italian DD 5.1, German DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1. English, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish Subtitles. 91 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jake West
Starring: Doug Bradley, Douglas Wallace, Lisa McAllister, Tess Panzer, Emanual Parvu, Loana Ginghina, Lance Henriksen
Screenplay: Barbara Werner, John Werner, Jake West
Music: Rob Lord
Tagline: He's back with a vengeance
Country: USA
He's back and with a vengeance! Yes, the loveable football headed monster that caused Ed Harley so much grief and damned his soul for the whole of eternity in the original has returned for thirds. With the lacklustre and poor sequel, Pumpkinhead Returns, it certainly looked as if the series was going to suffer the fate of a bad movie franchise like The Howling series. Well they left the old pumpkin alone for a while which was probably a good idea, and have come back to it with fresh minds, determined to provide something that doesn't resemble a tax write-off. The original Pumpkinhead was helmed by Makeup FX guru Stan Winston in his directorial debut. With Pumpkinhead, Winston provided us with a very entertaining horror flick, and what it lacked in blood and gore, it more than made up for with excellent sets and great spine tingling atmosphere, and of course a cool looking monster. I wonder if Stan got the inspiration for the creature design from Alien because both Pumpkinhead and the Alien could be kissing cousins.

Speaking of Kissing Cousins, that redneck family the Wallace's from the original are back and they's is all growed up. Writer/Director Jake West (Evil Aliens) gives us the next instalment - Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes. Bunt Wallace was the young redneck boy in the original that led Ed Harley to the Witch in the woods so he could exact revenge on the kids responsible for the death of his young son and in doing so committed Ed Harley to eternal damnation. The Wallace's now run the local crematorium, except they are not burning the dearly departed. It seems that there is a better way in making money from the crematorium business these days and the local Doc has just the business acumen to achieve this. Yes, hold onto you hats because Doug Bradley aka Pinhead is Doc Fraser, the unscrupulous and completely evil money grabbing local Doctor and he has brought the Wallace's into his evil scheme. The bodies of the dearly departed are not being cremated because Doc Fraser thinks that this is just a waste of human resources. Why throw skin and body parts away when they can be used for other things, namely making lots of cash. Doc Fraser takes what he needs, an arm, a leg, skin, or an organ and sells them on the black market. The crematoriums furnace has been on the blink for a while so the Wallace's are not burning the remains which would have been the smart thing to do. It's Bunt Wallace's job to get rid of the bodies, and he dumps them in a nearby bog in the woods as he's already filled up the barn. Along comes a wandering tramper enjoying his country stroll with his faithful dog, and wouldn't you know it, he's just spotted Bunt dumping another corpse. The tramper unfortunately makes a bad call by running to the crematorium to get to a phone to call the police. He stumbles into a room where Doc Fraser and the rest of the Wallace's are busy surgically removing skin off a dead corpse. Now smart tramper puts two and two and comes to the conclusion that it equals four and does a runner as fast as he can. He goes into the barn and hides under a pile of decaying cadavers (great corpses!) and almost gets away with it until his golden retriever sniffs him out and gives him away. A dog is a man's best friend, yeah right. He is pitch forked in the shoulder and dragged out. They place him on the slab and Doc Fraser proceeds to remove his Liver as he would hate to waste such a good liver. Bunt is instructed to dispose of the body in the woods and as he does so, the Ghost of Ed Harley, played again by Lance Henriksen, appears, giving a dire warning to Bunt that he's going to bring all hell upon himself if he keeps doing what he and his family are doing. Now bunt knows what that means. It means that Pumkinhead is gonna come back and git him, git him real good. Bunt tells Ed the appartition to jest shoo away, but he knows that the ghost of Ed Harley is gonna keep on hauntin' him.

Meanwhile Doc Fraser sells the now on ice Liver to the local drug dealer who also is his middleman contact for the organ donor black-market. A fresh liver can serve up a nice forty grand and plenty of Meth Amphetamine for the Wallace's extracurricular habit, which Doc Fraser supplies to the Wallace family to keep them under his manipulating control. Ok here's the catalyst for the story - the tramper that Bunt has ditched in the woods is still alive and has run out on the road in front of a pickup truck driven by Molly-Sue Allen played by Tess Panzer. She rushes the mortally wounded tramper to town straight to the local Sheriffs. The tramper manages to tell Molly-Sue everything. Molly-sue had lost a baby some years before and she is sure that the ashes that were provided were not of her baby and that the Wallace's were up to something immoral. Nothing was proven and Molly-Sue ended up having a breakdown. The police immediately dismiss this as crazy talk but sure enough, but when they look in her pickup there is the tramper, now expired. What follows is a raid on The Wallace's crematorium and the best 'let's find all the corpses' scene that I have watched in a while. The remains of Molly-Sue's baby are also found in the barn, and so vindicating her of her madness. Good old Doc Fraser luckily is not around to be caught up in the arrest. The Wallace's are rounded up and arrested as the townsfolk look on horrified at what has happened to their dead relatives. The Wallace's keep quiet about their ring leader Doc Fraser so that he is not implicated; after all you don't want to give away you're your prime source for methamphetamine. Oh no! Somehow the remains of Pumpkinhead have been dug up and added to the corpse line-up as well. Now this is where the shit hits the fan. I'm not saying anymore. That's only the first 15 minutes of Pumpkinhead Ashes to Ashes. If you think this is a nice start check out the rest; it only gets better.

Wow. This is the most fun I have had watching a horror film in quite a while. I thought that it was going to measure up to its sequel, but I was pleased to be very wrong. Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes is a worthy sequel to the original and in a lot of ways; a whole lot more fun. I was watching the Hellraiser series again just recently and I wondered what Doug Bradley was up to these days. I was pleased to see him in the sinister role of Doc Fraser which was an excellent casting move. It took about ten seconds for me to forget Pinhead and establish Doc Fraser in the deep dark recesses of my sick and twisted imagination. Doug Bradley is convincing as Doc Fraser from the very beginning and if you didn't already know that he is from England you would swear that he was from the deep south of the USA. Bradley handles the accent like a pro and his performance of Doc Fraser makes for one of the more memorable characters in a horror film for quite a while. He shows great restraint in Making Doc Fraser a very believable and cool headed character rather than an over-the-top farce of a performance. It's also good to see Lance Henriksen reprise his role of Ed Harley, or should I say the restless spirit of Ed Harley who constantly haunts Bunt Wallace with ominous warnings of what path poor old impressionable Bunt is going down. Lance always seems to be a trooper when he is in any movie and always gives 110 percent, and here there is no exception. It is a subdued role and he certainly plays it down like it should be, but what I mean by trooper is; Lance didn't have to go through the makeup transformation from Ed to Pumpkinhead. They could've used any extra to do that, but I know what he's like and I imagine he agreed, no, he volunteered to put himself through that. There is only one thing that lets this movie down a little, and that's the really bad CGI effects of Pumpkinhead crawling up buildings and creeping along rooflines. This is some of the worst CGI effects that I have ever seen. Thankfully there are only a few bad CGI moments in Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashesadding up to about one minute of total screen time; not enough to destroy the overall movie, so I can dismiss these moments and shove them in the dark recesses of my mind, filed under 'amnesia'.

Something that was lacking in the original Pumpkinhead and certainly is not lacking in Ashes to Ashes, is the gore quota. There is a substantial amount of gore, which should keep all the gore hounds happy. It certainly lives up to the classification rating that it received. The gore is not too excessive, but there's a good quota and it's nicely balanced so as not to interfere with the storyline.

Jake West, along with collaborating writers Barbara Werner and John Werner, has fleshed out a great script to keep viewers thoroughly engaged throughout, expanding on the original, much like Aliens expanded on Alien. Ok so it's not heavy drama, but the storyline is one helluva hoot. Another great aspect of Ashes to Ashes is the mature cast. There is not one horny college kid dribbling stupid lines like 'this is really freaking me out' or 'this place gives me the creeps', in sight. You want to watch stupid teens dribbling lines like these then just watch Incubus for an overdose of lame lines, and there are plenty. Sure, there are a few young characters in Ashes to Ashes but they are all of 'drinking age'.
A crisp and clear 1.85: 1 transfer. No grain. Most of the scenes are at night and they are nice and clear.
The 5.1 audio is nothing out of this world but it's still good. No audio hiss or hum so play it loud!
Extra Features
Sadly, there are none. Only a few trailers.
The Verdict
Gore, guts and humour and a very worthy sequel. A whole lot of fun so grab the popcorn or the beer or both; get your great grandfather off the mantelpiece and place his urn right next to you on the couch, kick back and prepare yourself for one helluva hootin ride. I'm sure gramps will appreciate it.
Movie Score
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