Pumpkinhead (1988)

Director: Stan Winston

Writer: Mark Patrick Carducci, Gary Gerani (Screenplay) Mark Patrick Carducci, Stan Winston, Richard Weinman (Story)

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Florence Schauffler

 

Plot: After a tragic accident, a man conjures up a towering, vengeful demon called Pumpkinhead to destroy a group of unsuspecting teenagers.


Tagline – The Demon of Revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun 80’s Slasher

 

Story: Pumpkinhead starts when small town shopkeeper Ed Harley’s (Henriksen) young son is killed in an accident involving reckless motor cross riders, Joel (D’Aquino), Chris (East), Kim (Ross), Steve (Hoffman), Tracy (Bain) and Maggie (Remsen), with the one that caused the accident Joel running from the scene.

Desiring vengeance for his son’s death, Ed turns to the known witch Haggis (Schauffler) who offers him a chance to bring a demon called Pumpkinhead to life and destroy the teenagers that killed his son.

 

Thoughts on Pumpkinhead

 

Characters – Ed Harley is a hardworking shop keeper and single father, he gets on well with the community and enjoys the quiet life. His life is turned upside down when his son is killed in an accident, which pushes him to turn to the dark arts to avenge his son’s death, only he didn’t plan for what would be expected from him. Chris is one of the teenagers that wants to do the right thing after the accident, much like the rest of the teenagers they all blend into one, except for the one that caused the accident, who only wants to look after himself.

PerformancesLance Henriksen is the star of the film, he is easily the best performer as his character goes through the biggest trauma and shows the desperation for revenge and regret for his decision. When it comes to the rest of the cast, they are performed to the level most slasher films reached.

StoryThe story here follows a man that will do anything to get vengeance for his son’s death, which sees him summon the evil Pumpkinhead to kill the people that took his son, he soon learns the errors of his choice and must figure out how to stop the killing machine. For a monster creature feature slasher this is a simple story, we don’t get twists, we don’t need much character development as we are more interested in seeing the effects being used. It is nice have a story that remains simple in the horror genre at times too.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy elements of this film comes from the figure of Pumpkinhead that gets summoned to do revenge for people that believe they have been wronged, which plays hand in hand with the horror side of the film which is slasher elements which show just how deadly this figure will be.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town where we don’t have many people with the ones living their knowing each other and anyone coming from the outside being frowned upon.

Special EffectsThe effects are the highlight of the film, Stan Winston was known for his ability to create some of the most memorable creatures in film history and with him directing he brings us another terrifying creation.


Scene of the Movie –
The first imagine of Pumpkinhead.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The teenagers are stupid for how they acted for the accident to happen in the first place.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slasher that can be enjoyed by the horror community, it offers everything needed to just let us enjoy ourselves without challenging us like other horrors.

 

Overall: Simple, effective and fun horror.

Rating

 

 

Scrooged (1988)

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Mitch Glazer, Michael O’Donoghue (Screenplay) Charles Dickens (Novel)

Starring: Bill Murray, Karen Allen, John Forsythe, John Glover, Bobcat Goldthwait

 

Plot: A selfish, cynical T.V. executive is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.

Tagline – The spirits will move you in odd and hysterical ways.
Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Reimagining of Christmas Carol

 

Story: Scrooged starts as we meet TV executive Frank Cross (Murray) who is preparing the Christmas line up with his own live production of Scrooge. He puts pressure on his assistant Grace, fires staff who go against him in Eliot (Goldthwait) and pushes the boundaries of television.

When Frank gets visited by his former boss Lew Hayward (Forsythe) he gets an encounter from beyond the grave that warns him he will get a visit from three ghosts over the next day to show him his past, present and future.

 

Thoughts on Scrooged

 

Characters – Frank Cross is the ruthless TV executive that sees Christmas as a chance to prove his value by getting the highest ratings, when he pushes people to far he gets a visit from three ghosts that show him the errors of his way, but can he change. Frank is one of the first characters in a Scrooge role that he is going on the same trip, so he doesn’t believe it on the same levels. Claire is the former love that Frank let go for his own career, she was the only person that could get through his selfish ways in the past.

PerformancesThis film is a Bill Murray vehicle, it was designed for his comic timing and quick wit as a stand-alone performer which is something he hasn’t done much previously. It is strange because I am not the biggest fan of his comedy, but in this role, I enjoyed his performance that is filled with arrogance to make us hate his character while also being able to sympathise with him. The rest of the cast work well for the film that show us how Murray can get the best out of many different talents.

StoryThe story is a different take on the classic Christmas Carol, first the film shows characters who know the story, so they know where the ghosts are taking them, which is different and refreshing to see. I can see the traditionalist not enjoying this version, but let’s be honest how many times can you tell the same story? the problems I do have with the film is that we don’t get the full impact of what the supporting characters of the story get enough time see their impact on the story, in the way they were originally designed.

Comedy/Fantasy/RomanceThe comedy comes from Bill Murray, it only comes around him which can give and take from the bigger picture too often, the fantasy and romance both suffer in the same feint.

SettingsThe film is mostly set inside the TV studio showing how Frank sees the characters and the production going on and how he treats them.

Special EffectsWhile the effects are not used very often, but when they do they all work very well for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Final Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The dramatic moments are lacking the punch needed.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see a different version of the Christmas Carol, this works because it brings us into a world where the book exists.

 

Overall: Nice little Christmas Film.

Rating

 

 

Willow (1988)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Bob Dolman (Screenplay) George Lucas (Story)

Starring: Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Pat Roach

 

Plot: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.


Tagline – A world where heroes come in all sizes and adventure is the greatest magic of all

Runtime: 2 Hours 6 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Fantasy Adventure

 

Story: Willow starts as Queen Bavmorda (Marsh) whose evil rule has been hunting for a baby that will one day kill her and end her reign. When the baby is snuck out of her kingdom she ends up floating down the river the dwarf village where Willow (Davis) reluctantly takes her in, but only ends up needing to leave his village to delivery her to a rightful owner.

Willow must team up with lone warrior Madmartigan (Kilmer) to get the baby to safety, with half the kingdom seemingly after them, the true power of the magic inside is about to be released.

 

Thoughts on Willow

 

Characters – Willow is a dwarf farmer that reluctantly agrees to help a baby get to safety, he must go on an adventure unlike anything he has been on before, he will finally get to see if his years of training will unlock his sorcerer ability. Madmartigan claims to be the greatest swordsman in the land, but has been trapped escaping enemies while reluctantly joining Willow on the mission to save the baby. Sorsha is the daughter of the Queen, leading the party to capture the baby, which soon changes when she meets Madmartigan. Queen Bavmorda is the evil ruler of the land and knows the only way to stay in control is to make sure her prophecy doesn’t come true.

PerformancesWarwick Davis is the star of the movie, he must keep his innocence while showing strength through the film. Val Kilmer gets plenty of laughs showing that he could handle both the action and comedy through this film, this showed us just what sort of career we could have seen from him. Joanne Whalley does a good job with what she has but doesn’t get too much time to show u her skills, the same goes for Jean Marsh because we don’t get enough screen time for the evil queen.

StoryThe story is an unlikely hero needing to go on a quest to save the kingdom he lives in from the reign of terror it could fall into under the Queen and her armies. The story does put our hero needing to overcome his own fears, become the strong figure he has been trying to become. It does have moment of fairy tale behaviour but doesn’t reach the levels of the previous years film, ‘The Princess Bride’. This is one that can be enjoyed by all the fantasy fans out there.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy The action is battle sequences which are fun and play out for the characters to get their moments to redeem themselves. The adventure takes Willow on the unlikely adventure for the good of the kingdom while also using his desired magic abilities in the fantasy world.

SettingsThe settings take us to a land of wizard, witches and creatures that could be a threat. It is basic, but it works for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Snow time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Would have liked more of the Sorsha character.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun adventure movie, it sums up the 80’s style with how it unfolds. This is one to enjoy the ride.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Animation – L – The Land Before Time (1988)

Director: Don Bluth

Writer: Stu Krieger (Screenplay) Judy Freudberg, Tony Geiss (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Judith Brasi, Pat Hingle, Gabriel Damon, Helen Shaver, Bill Erwin, Burke Byrnes, Candance Hutson

 

Plot: An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley.


Tagline – The adventure that started it all!

Runtime: 1 Hour 9 minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wonderful Family Adventure

 

Story: The Land Before Time starts as we head back to the dinosaurs, we follow Littlefoot a longneck travelling with his family, but when an earthquake separates them, Littlefoot must join forces with fellow baby dinosaurs including triple horn Cera, big mouth Ducky, flyer Petrie and spiketail Spike.

The dinosaurs must use their memories passed down by their parents to head to the Great Valley a paradise for leafeaters, but they are tracked by Sharptooth who is looking for his next dinosaur snack.

 

Thoughts on The Land Before Time

 

Characters – The characters are dinosaurs and instead of using the scientific names, we get names that are going to be easier to relate to for the audience. Littlefoot is a longneck, he watches his mother killed by Sharptooth and needs to get to the Great Valley, he guides the other baby dinosaurs on their adventure. Cera is the stubborn triplehorn, she won’t back down from a fight despite being scared of what is out there waiting for them. Ducky is the fast-talking big mouth that joins the adventure keeping them group together, Sharptooth is the villain of the adventure a meateater meaning he will be hunting the baby dinosaurs and their parents, a threat throughout the film.

StoryThe story that follows five unlikely dinosaur friends that must travel to the Great Valley after becoming separated from their parents, this shows the courage they need to make it and survive this time and shows just how unlikely the friendship will help them make this happen. This is a standard and enjoyable journey movie which hits the marks needed for everyone to enjoy.

Adventure/FamilyThe adventure takes our dinosaurs across the land in need of safer grounds, which is an easy to follow adventure and one that needs to be experience.

SettingsThe settings show the different worlds that the dinosaurs must travel through to get to their next safety area, the great valley

AnimationThe animation looks wonderful from start to finish, there might be a few issues with colour schemes, but it looks great.


Scene of the Movie –
The battle against Sharptooth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is slightly too short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good simple family adventure animation, it checks all the boxes and is short enough for kids to enjoy.

 

Overall: Enjoyable family animation.

Rating

 

 

Big (1988)

Director: Penny Marshall

Writer: Gary Ross, Anne Spielberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, John Heard, Jared Rushton, David Moscow, Jon Lovitz

 

Plot: After wishing to be made big, a teenage boy wakes the next morning to find himself mysteriously in the body of an adult.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Comedy

 

Story: Big as teenager Josh (Moscow) is tired of the rules he must face, not being considered big enough to ride fairground rides and not being noticed by the girl he has a crush on. Josh goes to a wish granting machine wishing he could become big.

The next Josh (Hanks) wakes up as a 30-year old man, needing to hide from his parents. Josh moves to New York getting himself a job in a toy company where he gets promoted after befriending the boss MacMillan but deep down he is waiting for information about the machine which could bring him back to his original age. This gives Josh a chance to grew as a person and learn about himself too.

 

Thoughts on Big

 

Characters – Josh is the teenager that grows up overnight, he must learn to be an adult where his innocent charm helps his rise through the toy industry as the adults learn from him not to take things too serious. Susan is one of the co-workers also high up in the company, she learns the most from Josh about relaxing and enjoying life over the stress filled life she had been living. MacMillan is the boss of the toy company that takes a shining to Josh believing he can help continue to make the profits and making the toys fun once again.

PerformanceTom Hanks is fantastic through the whole film showing that he always had the ability to handle comedy and carries this movie throughout. Elizabeth Perkins is good in her role as is Robert Loggia as the friendly boss.

StoryThe story shows us what would happen if a teenager became an adult overnight and having to learn about an adult life. The idea of this must have felt fresh for the time and with the first boom of technology it also works because the teenager would have been just as good with computers as a lot of the workforce. This is a feel good story about growing up fast and not taking life too seriously at times.

Comedy/FamilyThe comedy being played out in the film works because it isn’t this wild over the top which we have seen from the genre before and it is one the whole family could enjoy.

SettingsPutting the teenager as an adult in New York City needing to learn about grown up life.

Scene of the Movie – Piano scene, because it has become an iconic scene in cinema.

That Moment That Annoyed Me As I saw Elf first, I just felt like I was watching the inspiration for that film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic comedy that could and should be placed inside Tom Hanks’ top 5 of all time.

 

Overall: One of the all time classics.

Rating