Directed by Jeff Burr [Other horror films: The Offspring (1987), Stepfather II (1989), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Puppet Master 4 (1993), Puppet Master 5 (1994), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), The Werewolf Reborn! (1998), Phantom Town (1999), Straight Into Darkness (2004), Frankenstein & the Werewolf Reborn! (2005), Devil’s Den (2006), Mil Mascaras vs. Aztec Mummy (2007), Resurrection (2010), Puppet Master: Blitzkrieg Massacre (2018)]
While plenty of factors in this sequel should work, something holds this movie back from possessing the same emotional resonance that the first Pumpkinhead had.
Exactly what holds this back, I’m not entirely sure. The story certainly wasn’t bad, and the group of kids who did wrong here got more characterization than the group from the first movie, but something felt like it was missing. Part of this may be due to the lackluster cast, and the fact that the Pumpkinhead creature design felt weaker certainly didn’t help matters.
Andrew Robinson (who played Larry in Hellraiser, and may have been miscast here) as a town sheriff never really felt as though the part worked for him. I just didn’t get the ‘sheriff’ vibe from him. Playing his daughter was Ami Dolenz (who also starred in Witchboard 2: The Devil’s Doorway), who did okay, and certainly looked good, but didn’t have as important a place in the plot as you might think. Gloria Hendry (who is most well-known from many 70’s blaxplotation flicks) felt a bit too peppy in her role, and the only other individual of note was Soleil Moon Frye (who starred as the title character in the 80’s series Punky Brewster), who was another actress who I wished got more screen-time than she ended up having.
Straight-to-video, Pumpkinhead II still tried for a somewhat ambitious plot, utilizing many flashbacks and juxtapositions which ultimately don’t really do that much. It’s a shame, too, as I really think that the story in this movie is pretty solid. It’s just held back from something, be it the budget, the performances, whatever. The director, Jeff Burr (behind other films, most notably From a Whisper to a Scream and the third Texas Chainsaw Massacre) certainly had a decent film brewing, but couldn’t quite make it work.
For what this is, I wouldn’t go out of my way to call this a bad film, or even a bad sequel, but I’d just say it falls a bit below average. At least it has decent gore at times, but otherwise, it’s not really anything that special.