Pumpkin Karver (2004)
WRITERS: Original story by Robert Mann
Screenplay by Robert Mann, Sheldon Silversteine
DIRECTOR: Robert Mann
STARRING: Amy Weber as Lynn Starks
Michael Zara as Jonathan Starks
Minka Kelly as Tammy Boyles
Terrence Evans as Ben Wickets
David Austin as Lance
David Wright as Alec/Pumpkinface
QUICK CUT: A group of kids head out to the local pumpkin patch for fun and games, and watch out for the Great Pumpkinface.
Jonathan - A young man who is quick to stab. Protective of his sister, and dealing with a lot of darkness. And he likes to carve things.
Lynn - A young woman who is friendly and full of life, and makes friends easily. She’s taking care of her brother and helping him meet knew people.
Tammy - The love interest and art student, with a bubbly personality.
Wickets - A creepy guy who owns the farm the pumpkin patch party is being held on. He’s also a carver, and he will henceforth be known as Red Herring.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back Triskelions! After the utter soul crushing tedium nonsense of Space Psychos, I needed a palette cleanser, a nice standard slasher, and since we're still in Halloween season, let's go with Pumpkin Karver, a movie I've always wanted to see.
The movie starts out on Halloween with a solid enough intro to our two main characters, Lynn and Jonathan Starks. She's busy taking care of the trick or treaters, while John is honing his carving skills with a jack o'lantern. Why he didn't make that days or weeks ago is beyond me.
Lynn's boyfriend arrives to have some fun, and give John a hard time, because John is a bit weird, with the carving and nerdiness and whatnot. Alec finishes up being a jerk, then heads off to wait for Lynn to get ready.
Not long after, a new person quietly sneaks into the house, and John is too intent on stabbing pumpkins to notice. They find Lynn in the garage, who assumes it's Alec in a new mask. They lock the garage door, and menace the poor woman.
All that screaming finally gets Jonathan's attention, and he strolls on down to see what the matter is. He shows up just in time to see Pumpkinface stab Lynn, and hey! Those carving skills come in handy, as John stabs the fucker in the face, then kinda goes to town on the intruder.
That's when Lynn sits up, realises she's not bleeding, and that the knife that was used was a fake. Sadly, Johnny Stabbyseed has turned Pumpkinface into a pin cushion and hey! She was right all along, it WAS just Alec playing a prank! Ooops!
I'll give the movie this, that was a GREAT way to start a movie. And I love turning a number of tropes on their head, right out the gate, by doing a scene we really should have seen more of long before now.
We jump to a year later, Johnny's been recovering nicely, and they're moving to a new town called Carver. Clever. And the siblings are off to help set up a Halloween party at a nearby farm. So they're blending in nicely! I'm sure everything will be fine, and the trauma of last Halloween will not rear it's head again!
They nearly run over an old man picking up some pumpkins after the LAST batch of kids ran his truck off the road. And he's the guy who owns the farm they're transforming, so this is a great relationship they're gonna have, I'm sure!
Lynn and John get out and help him with his pumpkins, which is the least they can do after nearly hitting him, right?
ANOTHER pile of kids come blasting down the dirt road, making the old man yell at them and threaten to kill them if he catches any of these daggumbed kids!! Hello, Red Herring.
While the Starks drive up to the pumpkin patch, we meet the rest of the cast, already there, and oof. This is rough, and really dates the movie. The humour is groan worthy, and one of the kids is dressed up as Austin Powers. The hot costume of 2004.
They also intro us to a trio of victims...er, women, who are supposed to be dressed as their take on Charlie's Angels, which is funny to me for reasons that will become apparent shortly.
Finally the Starks arrive at the farm, and while Lynn wanders off, John gets assaulted by...PUMPKINFACE!! OR DOES HE?? WHY AM I SHOUTING?!
That's when the last important member of the cast drifts in to help John pick up his mess, Tammy. She's an artist, the girl Lynn is trying to set him up with, and Minka Kelly.
Everyone splits up to get things ready, leaving Tammy and Jonathan to spend some alone time and carve some pumpkins. Are we sure we want this guy to be handling knives?
While they work on pumpkins, some of the guys wander by, including Tammy's ex who just can't seem to let go and tries to claim Tammy as His. Oh good, toxic masculinity in a pirate costume.
That pretty much wraps up the first act, and the party gets started later that night, with the usual hookups and shenanigans.
After one of the Angels revokes her consent, pissing off Austin Powers, she hears a noise and walks into her own murder. Finally getting things started.
Blah blah blah, stuff happens, Red Herring scares Johnny and becomes Old Man Exposition for a bit. And he's a fellow carver! Is...is there some, ancient order of carvers? The movie really could've done something with that, but instead it's just Red being creepy.
If that wasn't enough of a warning sign, Herring tells John about the time he killed a man, and then tries to make the kid stab him too. Yeah okay nope, I'm outta here.
After some dopey party games, Hulk wanders off to throw up, and since he's all alone, you know he dead. And he gets it with an augur through the guts. Yikes.
Jonathan also wanders off to lie down after drinking some bugs, and eventually Dove goes looking for him all alone in a spooky barn.
Aaand this is when continuity and editing start to fail this movie. Tammy says John and Lance got in a fight, and she hasn't seen either of them, but we JUST saw them at the party games together. It was a legit plot point they were both there.
She does eventually find John, they talk, with some hellaciously flowery dialogue. "When the sun shines on a flower for the first time..." DID CLAREMONT WRITE THIS??
Lance wanders by and Tammy goes to talk with him, leaving Johnny Stabbyseed alone again to be attacked by Pumpkinface.
To say things get weird is an understatement, as there's disembodied voices, magical appearances and telekinetic throwing, and electricity.
Also, sidenote, Pumpkinpuss has a creeepy gravely voice that makes Bane sound coherent and understandable.
But just as quick as he appears, Pumpkintoes disappears and John goes to tell his sister what he saw, which she of course doesn't believe. But now it's time for the pumpkin carving contest! Guess who wins!! Yeah, he rants about seeing dead people and then they give him a knife.
Oh, and people finally start noticing that others are going missing. But being a party, SHRUG!
Lance is also there, being a jerk, and uh, I thought Tammy was gonna have a chat with him? Did she? Did we just not see it?
And bonus! Red Herring crashes the party to drunkenly tell everyone they ain't TRUE carvers!! AND WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THIS CARVER COMMUNITY SUBPLOT??
They split up looking for the missing Charlie's Rachel, and eventually find her with half her face missing. The two girls go off screaming while Rachel crawls around the ground.
Our surviving Angels find some others and try to get them to come look, Rachel's dead, and uh, she was VERY MUCH NOT DEAD when you LEFT HER IN THE DIRT. But whatevs.
While they try to find Rachel AGAIN, Tammy finds Lance to try and have a talk with him and...this was supposed to be earlier, wasn't it? These scenes are ALL a-jumble.
Also, there are WAY too many characters wandering through this movie with only twenty minutes to go. Pumpkinface is a slacker slasher.
Meanwhile, the two requisite stoners are wandering around trying to find anyone, and when Dionysus and Bacchus stumble through some pumpkins, one of them gets beheaded while taking a piss.
Lynn is off wandering around all alone for some reason, until she runs into Lance. He gets very hands on, and I'm sure he would be edging for a Supreme Court nomination if he wasn't stabbed almost immediately after Lynn runs away.
More wandering ensues as Tammy finds Rachel hung up like a scarecrow, until she gets attacked by Pumpkinspice. Which is interesting, because this is legit the first we've seen of him outside of John's visions.
The girl grabs a board and BWAHAHAHA she tries to attack the monster with it, but they are THE weakest lovetaps of attacks.
But she somehow knocks him down and runs away through some poor editing and continuity. But even that can't save her as Pumpkinface is right there when she stops. Tammy gives him a shove, and this guy is REALLY easy to knock down.
However, he gets up again, and she ducks into a garage shed whatever place, and finds a spot to hide.
Tammy tries to run away some more, and steps RIGHT into a bear trap, screaming, which makes Lynn come running. Lynn calls out for Jonathan and if you thought THAT was your brother screaming, wow.
She does find Lance though, and he got what he deserved. Lynn then stumbles across some rotting boards and spends some time trying to climb out of the plot contrivance she fell into.
Lynn finally escapes, runs into the garage, and finds Tammy's corpse in Red Herring's truck, with a candle shoved in her mouth.
She checks to make sure she's dead, and Red Herring grabs her arm through the truck. Dude, why so creepy??
Johnny shows up and threatens the old man with a pitchfork, and everyone assumes Red Herring is the killer, and we get more philosophy of carving. Hilarious.
Lynn runs off to call the cops, the two carvers fight, and Red Herring is suddenly in Pumpkinface's get up...OR IS HE??
Pumpkinpie removes the mask and it is revealed to be...ALEC. He's back from the dead! OR IS HE??
Lynn returns in the knife of time and stabs the killer, and Jonathan finishes the job, again. But Lynn points out that it's NOT Alec, and Jonathan sees the truth, that he just killed Red Herring. But they all think it's fine, because he did all the other killing...OR DID HE??
The cops agree, and the Starks get in their car ready to drive off since it's all over...OR IS IT?? A clue: no it is not. Jonathan stars to freak out, see Alec in the rear view mirror, until the two become one and stab his sister. And yeah, it sure is a great idea to start screaming while the cops are RIGHT OVER THERE.
While this Big Twist isn't really THAT unexpected, it is actually done really well, and kinda rocks. Especially some of the mirror gag, is especially chilling and effective.
Also, there is a great COOL mid credits scene where Alecarver addresses the audience. I looove breaking the fourth wall like that, and it's another great moment. Aaand of course they over do it with several of them. Sigh.
Video: It looks pretty good, although I’m sure it could be better for something from 2004.
Audio: A pretty standard mix, but they got in some good surround effects on Pumpkinface’s voice behind me.
Sound Bite: “Death must die!!” Yeah, okay dread Cthulhu.
Body Count: An okay amount, but a bit lackluster, especially with all the characters scampering around.
1 - Seven minutes in with a big twist kill of stabbing Alex!
2 - One of the girls gets her face carved up.
3 - The Hulk gets augured.
4 - Dionysus gets beheaded.
5 - Lance gets stabbed in the chest.
6 - Tammy becomes a human pumpkin.
7 - Old Man Jenkins gets killed by Johnny
8 - Lynn gets stabbed by Jonathalecarver
Best Corpse: As sad as it was, and as cheesy as the look was, the carved up face of Tammy was a cool idea in concept.
Blood Type - B-: Some decent moments of gore, but nothing spectacular. Lingering shots of carved up face give it a little bonus.
Sex Appeal: Some light groping and stripping, but most everything is kept PG-13.
Drink Up! Every time Wickets rambles about carvin’.
Video Nasties: A funner death of the Hulk than falling out of a plane.
Movie Review: Not too bad! It’s decently made, and the story is clear, but something about all this is off. It tries too hard to be hip with a number of the characters, and the editing choices make a mush out of the story. Nothing insurmountable, but just feels slightly not right. Three out of five carved up faces.
Entertainment Value: It’s a lot of fun, although not as fun as some other movies I’ve recently seen. It’s playing too straight, and doesn’t go quite far enough. But every death is pretty good, and it’s a fun ride, if you’re not too busy cringing at Bacchus and Dionysus and their antics. Three out of five pumpkins.