A big part of Scream Factory’s appeal to hor­ror fans is that they will do spe­cial edi­tions for films that nev­er got that kind of treat­ment in the U.S. mar­ket (for exam­ple, con­sid­er their edi­tions of Halloween III or They Live).  However, they’re not afraid to tack­le films that might have got­ten a good treat­ment on DVD but have not yet got­ten the high-def bump.

Pumpkh-bluA recent exam­ple of this is Pumpkinhead, which got a nice spe­cial edi­tion DVD back in 2008 com­plete with an exten­sive ret­ro­spec­tive doc­u­men­tary.  Scream Factory has revis­it­ed this title and not only have they given it the blu-ray treat­ment, they’ve also added addi­tion­al extras that fur­ther will fur­ther enhance a fan’s appre­ci­a­tion of this film.

Things start well with a nice-look­ing trans­fer.  Colors and detail are appro­pri­ate­ly vivid, includ­ing the dra­mat­i­cal­ly-lit night sce­nes, and it achieves a nice cel­lu­loid look with nat­u­ral grain.  Both 5.1 and 2.0 stereo tracks are avail­able for the lis­ten­er, both pre­sent­ed in a loss­less for­mat.  The 5.1 was lis­tened to for this review and it’s a spa­cious mix that offers some nice sound-effect activ­i­ty in the rear chan­nels and spreads around the musi­cal score to atmos­pher­ic effect.

Fans will be hap­py to know this set car­ries over both the com­men­tary track and the exten­sive fea­turet­te done for the 2008 spe­cial edi­tion DVD.  The com­men­tary fea­tures screen­writer Gary Gerani and FX artists Tom Woodruff Jr and Alec Gillis plus film­mak­er Scott Spiegel as a mod­er­a­tor.  Gerani and Spiegel dri­ve this track, with Gerani sup­ply­ing plen­ty of infor­ma­tion about the devel­op­ment of the script and how the switchover from DEG to MGM Pumpkh-05hurt the film’s box office chances while Spiegel acts as a sort of cheer­lead­er for the film.

Gillis and Woodruff add some inter­est­ing mate­ri­al about the elab­o­rate crea­ture FX: Woodruff amus­ing­ly notes that Ray Harryhausen’s crea­tures influ­enced his style of move­ment in the suit while Gillis throws in some wry asides and an inter­est­ing the­o­ry about the 1980–1990 being the last gold­en era of prac­ti­cal crea­ture FX in gen­re fare.  All in all,  it’s a fast-mov­ing and infor­ma­tive track pow­ered by the enthu­si­asm of all involved.

Pumpkinhead Unearthed” is a 64-min­ute ret­ro­spec­tive fea­turet­te helmed by Michael Felsher that offers an exhaus­tive overview of the film’s his­to­ry.  Gerani starts the piece with a thumb­nail-sketch overview of the film’s devel­op­ment and a nice trib­ute to his deceased writ­ing part­ner, Mark Patrick Carducci.  The actors are high­light­ed next, with Brian Bremer offer­ing a fun tale of how cast and crew got the gig­gle while film­ing one mon­ster scene and Lance Henriksen reveal­ing how he builds a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion by “gath­er­ing” props and wardrobe to devel­op his vision of the char­ac­ter.

Pumpkh-pos2Of course, the spe­cial effects also get plen­ty of dis­cus­sion in “Pumpkinhead Unearthed,” with Woodruff Jr. and Gillis return­ing alongside fel­low artists Shannon Shea and Dave Nelson, with all reveal­ing how spe­cial it was to be trust­ed by Stan Winston to design effects for direct­ing debut and how they worked hard to jus­ti­fy that trust.  The doc­u­men­tary also devotes a sec­tion to the work of pro­duc­tion design­er Cynthia Charette, who goes into detail on the film’s many sets were designed and built.  The fea­turet­te clos­es on a warm note, with all the par­tic­i­pants shar­ing fond mem­o­ries of Winston (the FX guys have the most unique insights, of course).

That fea­turet­te might seem to cov­er it all but Scream Factory finds plen­ty of ways to flesh it out with a series of new spe­cial fea­tures for the set.  These bits begins with a 7-min­ute mon­tage of behind-the-sce­nes video footage that chron­i­cles the devel­op­ment of Pumpkinhead from a sim­ple padded suit to a ful­ly sculpt­ed crea­ture suit in all its glo­ry on the set.

Next up are a series of new inter­views.  A 16 min­ute chat with pro­duc­er Richard Weinman allows him to reveal his take on the film’s  devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion process­es, includ­ing the poem that inspired them to make the film, how future Hollywood cin­e­matog­ra­pher Bojan Bazelli was dis­cov­ered via a video reel and the frus­tra­tion of get­ting caught up in DEG’s sale to MGM.  Actor John D’Aquino reflects fond­ly on the film for 14 min­utes, includ­ing a great tale about hPumpkh-06ow his ini­tial dis­like for co-star Jeff East led to a heat­ed audi­tion that won them both roles and led to a long friend­ship.  Like most of the cast, he speaks kind­ly of Henriksen and how he act­ed as a men­tor to the younger cast­mates.

Also inter­viewed is Matthew Hurley, who tells tales of his life as a child actor and what a spe­cial, odd­ly whole­some expe­ri­ence it was to work on Pumpkinhead.  He prais­es both Winston and Henriksen for their kind­ness and gen­tle style of work­ing with him.  The most unusu­al inter­view is the one with Jean St. Jean, a sculp­tor who designed a collector’s toy ver­sion of Pumpkinhead and lays out the chal­lenges of his work in 5 min­utes.

The final inter­view piece is a 50-min­ute trib­ute to Stan Winston that includes com­ments from Woodruff Jr., Gillis and Shea as well as actors Henriksen and Bremer.  The FX guys are the stars here, paint­ing a por­trait of Winston as a busy pro­fes­sion­al who Pumpkh-VHSnonethe­less took time to find and nur­ture new tal­ent in his field.  Gillis in par­tic­u­lar reveals how Winston was also an influ­ence on their lifestyles, encour­ag­ing them to avoid over­work­ing them­selves and to devel­op a fam­i­ly life out­side of work.  Elsewhere, Henriksen tells some fun tales about how fun­ny Winston was and Bremer clos­es the piece with a great anec­dote about how his work on Pumpkinhead allowed him to build a bet­ter rela­tion­ship with his step­fa­ther.  Winston left this world too soon and it’s nice for him to have such a warm trib­ute from his close asso­ciates.

The final extras are devot­ed to pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als.  A 100-image gallery sec­tion offers a vari­ety of stills, pub­lic­i­ty pho­tos and behind-the-sce­nes pics (includ­ing some great ones of Henriksen palling around with Woodruff Jr. in the Pumpkinhead suit) as well as a vari­ety of posters, a few toys and sev­er­al pro­duc­tion design pho­tos and sketch­es.  The the­atri­cal trail­er is also includ­ed and it’s a great, atmos­pher­ic spot that lays out the film’s plot and moral­i­ty play ele­ment in art­ful fash­ion.  The last inclu­sion is an “also avail­able” set of trail­ers that amus­ing­ly high­light a trio of rural hor­ror films: Motel Hell, Squirm and Without Warning.

In short, Pumpkinhead offers both a nice HD upgrade for fans and an array of extras that pay trib­ute to the skills and influ­ence of Stan Winston.  In short, it’s a must for ‘80s hor­ror buffs, espe­cial­ly those who admire Winston’s work.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Pumpkinhead, click here.