Thursday, October 27, 2016

Halloween Havoc: THE PUMPKIN KARVER (2006)

Jeez, has it really been 6 months since my last blog post (“Yes, it has,” says Tom)? Life, as they say, has a way of getting in the way. Well, my apologies but I know I wasn’t sorely missed. This will all be rectified with a glorious Halloween themed write up with a what will surely be a top notch film called...THE PUMPKIN KARVER? Goddammit, Wilson, will you ever learn?

The film opens with siblings Jonathan (Michael Zara) and Lynn (Amy Weber) preparing for a night of fun on Halloween. For Lynn this involves going to a party with her boyfriend and for Jonathan it involves carving up some pumpkins. This kid is wild, I tell ya. Said boyfriend Alec (David J. Wright) arrives in a costume that involves him putting stick-on devil horns on his head. Alec, however, is also a wild man and this is showcased by him showing Lynn he is sneaking a beer into the party. Yup, just one beer and it is imported. WILD MAN! Alec is a bit of a bully though as he sprays the pumpkin carving Jonathan with his beer, stabs the pumpkin with a knife and then burps in Jonathan’s face. Have you ever seen such cruelty?


Alec splits while Lynn goes to get ready for the party (bonus info: her costume is a slutty Native American). While alone in her room, a creeper in a pumpkin headed costume sneaks in and begins to attack her. At first she thinks it is wild man Alec doing a prank, but then things turn violent. Hearing the screams, Jonathan runs to her aid and goes O.J. Simpson on the intruder’s ass. Bad news because it turns out it really was Alec and now he is lying dead in a pool of his own blood. Hey, burping has consequences.

Cut to a year later and the kids (along with their single mom, who is never shown) are living in a new town called Carver. Apparently this small town (population 666 says the town sign...oh boy) is known for its pumpkin patches. Yes, what better way to help Jonathan to get over his trauma then moving to a place where he is surrounded by reminders of his accidental killing? Lynn, who is apparently taking the death of her boyfriend better than Jonathan, says to Jonathan of his guilt: “You have to let go or you’re going to drive yourself crazy.” Her idea to rectify things is to attend a Halloween party out in the boonies where there will be a pumpkin carving contest. Actually, she believes in sexual healing and has lined up for Jonathan to meet up with Tammy (Minka Kelly). Yes, nothing will make you forget your mental problems than hanging out with a girl. Especially a girl with a jealous ex-boyfriend named Lance (David Austin). On the way to the party they meet Old Man Wickett (Terrence Evans), the landowner where the party will be held and requisite doom ‘n gloom crazy guy. He is apparently cranky because there are no good pumpkin carvers around (later in the film he disrupts the pumpkin carving contest and exclaims, “Ah, crap! Ain’t none of ya damn carvers.”) Naturally once at the party things start going down - Jonathan starts having visions of the ol’ pumpkin head costume and random party goers start getting carved up.

Argh! Why did I do this to myself? I guess once you’ve exploited all the good Halloween themed movies (HALLOWEEN, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, FLESHEATER, ERNEST SCARED STUPID) that you have to start scraping the bottom. And honestly, it is hard to come up with anything positive to say about THE PUMPKIN KARVER. Well, it was shot on film so it has that going for it. It also has...uh...let me see...color! Yep, got that color everywhere. And it has...uh...hmmm...sound. Yep, you can hear stuff. Unfortunately, this isn’t a film coming out in the 1920s. Director and co-writer Robert Mann fills the film with such boring characters spouting boring dialogue that the ones that are supposed to be comedy relief (two stoners named Bonedaddy and Spinner) make you want to kill yourself. Take for example the scene where our Beavis and Butthead wannabes moon Jonathan and Tammy and her reaction is the poorly delivered line, “They’re so weird, but I love it.”


It is a shame because the crew went out of their way to make the farm where the Halloween party takes place look spooky. And there is a nice twist at the end that deserves a better execution. Of course, director Mann is the kind of filmmaker who has a ten paragraph long IMDb bio that you know before you reach the end was written by Robert Mann (spoiler: it was). It is a film so mundane and by-the-numbers that the band featured in it (The Dust Poets) take a stage name (Divine Chaos). Yep, they didn’t push to plug their band in the one line of dialogue where they say, “We’re Divine Chaos!” Perhaps the most interesting thing is that co-star Minka Kelly went on to snag the major network show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS the same year this came out. With her carved face adorning the cover (looking like a Juggalo on a three day Faygo bender) I’m willing to bet that much like The Dust Poets, she wishes she had taken a pseudonym and could carve this off her IMDb page.

Moments of Clarity:

1 Reactions:

  1. I'd love to feel sorry for you, William, I really would; but sometimes, despite a telltale title that should have put us off, we trudge forward and get what we deserve. For my part, I expect no empathy for having watched 30 minutes of The Greasy Strangler. :)

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