“Ashes to Ashes” is no better than its predecessors. It’s a sloppy mélange of terrible acting, choppy editing, and a plot that’s better suited for “The Crow” franchise instead of “Pumpkinhead.” Granted, the original “Pumpkinhead” is great, but like “The Howling” the franchise begins and peaks at the first film and then goes downhill in terms of quality and overall engrossing story and lore very quickly. A local doctor who owns the corrupt town of any town, USA, is stealing people and taking parts from them for the black market.
Now the town folks have discovered this, and seek revenge. As with all films made and commuted to the Sci-Fi Channel here in the US, West wastes too much of its time on characterization, and its most times really vapid characterization at that. We spend an obscene amount of time focusing on characters that are never interesting, and put there in front of us just to die, while Pumpkinhead is shown, but kept in the shadows to prevent the audience from noticing the sub-par special effects present for the wider shots of the beast. And just to pad the story long enough to fit the running time, our characters stop to explain what occurred in the first film.
This gives the new audience a chance to relive a better film, it gives the writer a chance to pad the run time, and it gives those who know full well what the lore entails a chance to revel in its repetitiveness. “Ashes to Ashes” is basically just a series of torturous sequences in which a town seeks revenge, then bitches when the revenge methods go through, then discover they can’t control the monster, and now has to stop it; this may seem like a well laced sub-plot as it was in the original, but here it’s just arbitrary conflict to stretch the film. Meanwhile, we’re pulled into the endless nonsensical ramblings of our villains who exchange bouts of faux-witty dialogue back and forth. Pumpkinhead is sadly depicted as a man in a costume, an obvious puppet head, and awful computer effects.
And when I say awful, I mean awful, the long shot of Pumpkinhead on the side of a church climbing its walls is so conspicuous and shoddy it will take you out of the film immediately, as it did me, and when he finally wreaks unholy havoc on church goers, he looks like a terrible computer game mock-up used for pre-production on the actual big budget film. Essentially, there’s nothing really good about this cheesy sequel, and Henriksen attempts to resurrect his career. Gee, I can’t hardly wait for “Pumpkinhead 4.” By all means, save your time, and your brain cells and be sure to check out the original film “Pumpkinhead” for your juicy dose of Gothic horror, gritty direction, top notch special effects with the beast in its glory, and Henriksen when he was a star. Avoid, avoid, avoid.