Horror Films A–Z, Sept. 2020: O, P & Q

Pumpkinhead

Year: 1988
Runtime: 1h 26m
Rated: R

Director: Stan Winston

Writers: Ed Justin, Mark Patrick Carducci, Stan Winston, Richard Weinman, Gary Gerani

Stars: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino

“You’re a fool, Ed Harley.”

Initial: I wasn’t in the mood for my original rewatch pick, but horror movies beginning with the letter “O” are few and far between. Instead, I decided to go with a Lance Henriksen double feature (after Near Dark).

Production Notes: Directorial debut of special effects creator Stan Winston.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Pumpkinhead is a solid story premise, fairly well executed. I hadn’t seen this movie in *years*, but I had remembered it fondly; happily, for good reason.

Pumpkinhead is a force when set in motion, but all of the human characters are shades of gray, none of them completely evil. That being said, Pumpkinhead is a moral tale, a fairy tale even, and prone to that sort of heightened reality. Where else but a fairy tale would you find a vengeance demon utterly dismissive of Christian iconography born in a pumpkin patch/graveyard?

Many of the nighttime outdoor scenes have an indoor set look to them, but that sort of works for this film. The day time is dusty and expansive, while the night is shadowy and back-lit. It is also a movie that takes its time with the story its telling, but is still in and out in under 90mins.


Psycho III

Year: 1986
Runtime: 1h 33m
Rated: R

Director: Anthony Perkins

Writers: Charles Edward Pogue, Robert Bloch

Stars: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey

“Well, he acted pretty weird this morning when I brought the subject up, but then Norman’s a pretty weird-acting guy.”

Initial: Rewatched Psycho II back in August; decided to put part three on my list for RIP.

Production Notes: Anthony Perkins only directed two movies. His son, Osgood Perkins, has thus far directed three features, including I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) which was part of my April view-a-thon.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
Despite what it had to live up to, Psycho II (1983) isn’t a bad horror movie and is actually a good sequel. Psycho III is pretty much what you’d be afraid that a Psycho sequel would be. Norman Bates becomes more of a slasher, retreading much of the same ground as the earlier films, but with a less interesting female lead. Funnily enough, it’s Anthony Perkins’ odd film-making choices that gives it any style at all.


Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite

Year: 2015
Runtime: 1h 32m
Rated: TV-14

Director: Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy

Writer: Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy

Stars: Alina Babak, Valeriya Dmitrieva, Igor Khripunov

There are some words you mustn’t say in front of a mirror.

Initial: A Russian take on Bloody Mary?

Production Notes: I’d really like to know if the Queen of Spades is really an urban legend or if it was concocted for the film.

What Did I Think: (possible spoilers ahead)
I feel like somewhere along the way pointless slasher movies were exchanged for pointless ghost-curse movies. Queen of Spades isn’t a badly made movie on a technical level, but it doesn’t have a story that hasn’t been done better elsewhere. Considering the low budget, the effects are decent, but the TV-14 rating means that it isn’t scary either.

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