The Pumpkin Karver Review

It be October folks! And we all know what that means, Halloween, everyone’s favourite ‘holiday’. Seriously, I don’t get why it’s referred to as a ‘holiday’, it’s one night based around consumer greed, promoting childhood obesity and making one’s offspring go against the message of NOT taking sweets from strangers. Or, for adults, getting muntered and wearing slutty costumes based on the smallest flesh to cloth ratio possible. I live in Newcastle, we don’t need one night devoted to this, 365 days a year baby! Halloween is of course, also one of the greatest horror films ever made and other films based on this ‘holiday’ flounder in its majestic wake. And I’m including the Halloween sequels, after Season of the Witch (underrated) in this broad sweeping statement. Once you’ve seen Busta Rhymes Kung Fu Michael Myers there is no unseeing it, even if you remove and microwave your own eyeballs. And since I’m still steadfastly ignoring the Rob Zombie Halloween remake using the true infant’s method of if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist, today I am instead going to be reviewing The Pumpkin Karver, an all-around cinematic low point from 2006. Yeah, take that Rob Zombie. (And this, ladies and gentlemen is the very definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face). Spoilers to follow (does saying that it is *really* fucking terrible count as a spoiler?)

See That Vaguely Creepy Image On The DVD Cover? Yeah. That’s No Where To Be Found In The Film.

A young man carves a pumpkin while his sister hands out candy to treat or trickers dressed in just her dressing gown, which must be an added ‘treat’ for all the young boys in the neighbourhood. Her dickhead boyfriend shows up. Don’t ask me why I know he’s a dickhead, some things you just feel instantly. He’s stingy too as he’s bought just *one* bottle of beer for the party they’re going to tonight. They start getting frisky in front of the younger brother, which is a sure fire way to up the libido. I am nothing if not wise as her dickhead boyfriend immediately proves his dickhead credentials by tormenting the brother by wasting his one bottle of beer by spraying it over him, destroying his pumpkin and burping right in his face. Why is it siblings in horror films insist on going out with such shit for brains, and are always utterly oblivious to this very basic fact? Boyfriend leaves, having arranged to meet the girlfriend later. We get some shots of the sister getting ready that were, like, totally relevant to the plot and nothing at all to do with showing a hot girl in her underwear.

Jesus, Guy On The Right, It’s Called Emoting. You May Want To Try It, Being An Actor And All.

A mysterious figure clad all in black sneaks into the house. The brother is too engrossed in his pumpkin carving and being Emo to notice. He’s also listening to a radio programme that I think is describing the original Halloween. How Meta. Or completely stupid. You choose. ‘Mysterious’ figure makes his way to the garage where the sister is…doing something that meant she had to be in the garage for this scene. The black clad figure enters and she assumes it’s her boyfriend, messing around. ‘I thought you were going as that red thing from Jeepers Creepers’ she simpers, is that was his costume was supposed to be before? Because it fucking sucked. He does the silent menacing thing; she does the Rose McGowan in Scream thing (‘Please don’t kill me Mr Pumpkin Head’). Pumpkin? Really? Looks more like a bell pepper to me. He pulls out a knife, she tries to escape, they tussle for a bit before she gets to the door and cries for help. Brother come to her aid just as the intruder knifes her and he stabs the guy up beyond repair (He really gets into it as well). Sister realises she isn’t wounded and the knife wasn’t real. Too late for dickhead boyfriend. And honestly, would anyone really miss him? During the credits we hear voiceovers  of the sister phoning the police, ambulance crew etc. dealing with the incident, and crime scene photos, all shown in a lovely sepia shade, like a Victorian CSI.

Obviously A Fan Of Gangnam Style. See, I Can Be Culturally Up To Date (Note, I Have No Idea What Gangnam Style Is).

We cut to a year later and the siblings have healed this minor stumbling block in their relationship (a years all it would take yeah?). Their heading to a party in…I don’t know, some random isolated location where mobile phones won’t work and help won’t be found for miles around. Lynn (sister) has forgiven Jonathan (brother), even though she should probably be thanking him for a narrow escape from extreme dickheadedness, and is trying to set him up with a girl that will be at the party. Oh, the town’s called ‘Carver’. You clever little film you. After a quick detour when they nearly run over a grumpy, intelligible (seriously, I replayed his lines 3 times and couldn’t make out his words) old man they arrive at the ‘Killer Party’, being held at an old pumpkin patch/farm. Already at the ‘killer party’ are some of the party goers, already in costume – a Pirate, a Hulk and an Austin Powers, and three girls in tight jumpsuits claiming to be ‘the new Charlie’s Angels’, empowering, Girl Power, look at my tits etc. ad nauseum. Just putting it out there, this party is going to be wank of the highest order.

“Hey, Remember When I Stabbed Your Boyfriend?” “Yeah, That Was Total LOLS”. That’s Those Two That Is.

Lynn and Jonathan arrive, we meet more costumed idiots (A Marilyn Monroe, a 60s Hippy Chick and a guy wearing a hoodie with a Baseball Cap? Efforty) Lynn goes to find her friends as Jonathan unpacks the car. He suddenly gets attacked by a Pumpkin Head (wait, I can’t all him that. Erm, Bell Pepper Head?), he struggles with him and falls to the ground, but when he gets up the apparition is gone. In one of the worse jump scares I have ever seen, his prospective date turns up to help him pick up the fallen party supplies. This is Tammy, and she launches into her entire life story from the word go, she is so artsy and cute I want to throw up. She also takes the time to admire his tattoo, which we don’t fucking ever see, he doesn’t actually have so it totally pointless. Tammy is the Pirate’s ex-girlfriend.

Oh my fucking Christ, we then meet possibly the most annoying characters ever, which given the myriad of such types that slasher films have given us over the years is almost an impressive feat. Two fucking aggravating beyond all belief and reason toga wearing stoner twats, whose lines can basically be reduced to the following; ‘Duuuude! Parrrrty! Duuuude! Parrrrty!’. They shout every single bloody line, accompanying them with wide-eyed obnoxiousness and wild arm flailing like a pair of complete and utter doilums (bit of Geordie slang for you there). Everything is ‘extreme, to the max’ and I want them to get hurt very, very badly.


Lynn, with the subtlety of a falling grand piano, leaves Jonathan and Tammy to carve pumpkins while she helps the band set up. Wouldn’t you think carving pumpkins would be the last thing this kid would want to do, last time he carved someone’s face. Jonathan and Tammy flirt awkwardly, talking about pumpkin pie and pumpkin seeds and cockroaches and all sorts of lovely things. They select the most pathetic looking pumpkins ever. She leaves him to find one last pumpkin, as he does a guttural voice starts calling his name. He sees the Bell Pepper Head, and has ‘treat or trick’ carved onto his stomach. He bolts. He goes back to Tammy and she actually buys his excuse that ‘he couldn’t find another pumpkin’, in a field full of the fucking things. They scoop out pumpkin guts and continue to make what I guess you could call a conversation if you had never spoken to another human being before. Their dull chatter about art is interrupted by the two wankers in togas who flash their bums and shriek like fucking morons. ‘I love it’ gushes Tammy, ‘It’s just so weird’. I’m sure you meant to say insufferable and irritating.

The Pumpkins Have More Personality Than These Two. They Were Jealous, So They Killed Them.

Their lovely insightful banter (‘what else do you like? ‘You know…things’) is interrupted yet again by the Pirate, the Hulk and Austin Powers. Pirate is a Neanderthal fuckwit with a neck almost as think as Channing Tatum’s who views women as things. He forces himself on Tammy and then shoves her over when she slaps him. Jonathan leaps to her defence and gets pounded for his trouble. Pirate’s mates just stand there like every stupid lemons and eventually break the fight up (good rule of thumb guys, if your mate starts shoving around women and beating up innocent men, he’s a fucking prick and you shouldn’t be his friend, no matter how thick his neck is).

Here Is The Exact Moment Where He Realises He’s Going To Have ‘Pumpkin Karver’ On His IMDB Page Forever.

Night falls, and the party starts. I would honestly rather be at that lame ass party from Halloween 5. There’s drinking, a band, random car sex…one of Charlie’s Angels has hooked up with Austin Powers. Bit of a weird scene, she’s really into it, likes him taking photos of them getting randy (to use an Austin Powers parlance), then she isn’t, he gets a bit rapey and his slaps him (absolutely right), he storms off.  If they needed a reason to get him away so she could be killed, could have picked a better one. Charlie’s Angel gets out of the car to look for him, I would have stormed back to the party and called the police, but there you go, that’s why I would survive in a horror film and she won’t. She gets back in the car to tidy herself up and notices a message written in blood (?) on the windscreen; ‘trick or treat, time to carve up something sweet’. A hand clutching a knife slashes at her from the backseat of the car. She, brilliantly, climbs into the backseat where the fucking killer is and tries to get through the back window of the car. This, obviously, doesn’t work, he traps her head in the window and slices her face. Sorry, ‘carves’. Or is it ‘karves’, as the spelling of the film’s titles insists upon for no other reason that the letter ‘K’ looks lightly creepier than the letter ‘C’. Which it doesn’t, but that’s just the kind of reasoning I can see behind it. Idiots.

Tammy is still fannying about with pumpkins even though the party has started and no one is going to notice there not being enough fucking pumpkins. She knocks over a wheelbarrow of pumpkins and Hulk (this everyone being in Halloween costumes thing is handy, saves me the trouble of remembering most of their names. Gives me more energy to be pissed off) comes to help her pick them up. He admits Pirate can be a dick (you think?). Jonathan is still carving pumpkins, still, why do all these characters think the pumpkins are the be all and end all of this shitty party? Intelligible old man from earlier shows up, he owns the land and has been watching Jonathan carve, he’s basically Crazy Ralph from Friday The 13th, but if he were a fully-fledged psychopath, as opposed to being vaguely mentally challenged. He takes Jonathan to look at some ‘real carving’. Crazy guy starts ranting on about carving being his life and how scandalous it is that people don’t appreciate it except at Halloween. Maybe he’s Jonathan from the future; that would be a twist. This guy places way too much importance on fucking pumpkin carving. And carving in general. They chat about the need to kill, and he tells Jonathan a charming little story about his Mum and Dad being butchered by a ‘carver who had turned evil’, who he in turn killed. He then entreats Jonathan to do the same to him, Jonathan flees. Hmm, maybe Lynn should have researched the place a little before bringing her delicate younger brother here.

There We Go, Emoting. Not Sure What He’s Trying To Convey Like, But We Can’t Have Everything.

Oh God, we’re back to the stoners, who are still cackling away in the most unbearable way possible. They are playing some ridiculous game where they answer dumb ass questions and eat bugs. The future of our country folks (well, not my country technically, but you know what I mean). Jonathan loses and has to chow the bugs. How he managed to retain any party spirit after his run in with mental farmer is beyond me. Hulk, who earlier also lost at the game of being a fucking moron and went to throw up somewhere, he gets enticed into a barn, thinking his mates are pranking him. He finds a pumpkin, then a drill type thing sticking out of the wall (health and safety would have a field day with that) starts up on its own? Either that or the killer had a remote control as he is at the other end of the barn as he advances on the Hulk making a noise like a pig stuck in a passage. Hulk backs up into the drill and gets his insides pushed out of him. Laters Hulk.

Hulk Sad. And Dead.

Back to the totally awesome party. Everyone dicks about a bit more. Tammy is looking for Jonathan and goes into either a different or the same creepy barn where Hulk met his end. It’s the same, his innards are still hanging about. Jonathan is clearly not in the creepy barn, yet she keeps looking, going further in like a fool. When she leaves she bumps into Lynn, and Tammy says she’s looking for Jonathan as she hasn’t seen him since he fought with Pirate. Er, non, you were with him in the earlier scene with the bug eating, although it’s entirely understandable you would want to erase that from your memory. They just split up for no reason at all and Tammy goes to check out yet another creepy farm building. She finds crazy farmer.  Instead of just leaving she starts a conversation with him, but Jonathan finds her before she gets to hear the very lovely murdering of the parents story. Maybe next time eh?

Jonathan asks her if she believes in life after death, which is a change from talking about pumpkins I guess. If someone is evil, can they come back, is her opinion. Sister’ boyfriend was a dickhead alright, don’t know if I’d go do far as to call him evil. She witters on about lights, he clearly isn’t listening, I wouldn’t be, she doesn’t half spout some drivel this girl. They kiss. Farmer watches jealously, he thought the creepy darkened room bit was totally going to swing it for him to the get the girl.  We get to watch the super awesome band for a bit, then back to the love birds. Jonathan’s Dad was a master carver too, but he fucked off a few years ago. Pirate shows up and Tammy goes to calm him down, cue monster growls again.  Jonathan nearly goes into the transformation scene from American Werewolf In London before remembering he’s in a shit film and just has ‘I’m here’ carved on his hands instead. Pepper Bell Head bursts through the straw, and the actual ground, to attack him. He uses his super physic powers, guess that’s how he started the drill thing then, to make Jonathan get attacked by mini Emperor Palpatine electrical charges. If can hurt people just by thought why was he using a knife before?  ‘I made a deal with hell’ says the Pepper Bell Head, before vanishing.

Did The Deal With Hell Actively Involve A Costume With A Pumpkin Mask That Looked Like A Bell Pepper?

More fucking pumpkins, and as a bonus more fucking carving. It’s a carving contest in fact. Jonathan finds Lynn and tells her he saw Bell Pepper Head, she’s gutted, but doesn’t believe him.  She calms him down, why she though going to a Halloween party was a good idea I’ll never know. The carving contest is about to start. ‘We need another carver’ says toga wearing cretins, because…like it fucking matters. Cue Pirate from stage left. It’s a good old fashioned pumpkin carving contest folks. Jonathan beats Pirate, but before Pirate can in turn beat him to a bloody pulp crazy farmer shows up and tells them ‘they’ll never be carvers’, which I’m sure emotionally devastated every last one of them. This dampens the party spirit and the remaining Charlie’s Angels want to head home, they are guilted into looking for their missing friend and the group go to look for her (Female empowerment and solidarity, Am I right?). Charlie’s remaining Angels have caught nonsensical rambling disease from the toga idiots, and they witter on for a bit before stumbling on an outhouse. Inside they find…random girl with her face carved up. Oh, they think it was meant to be missing Angel, it wasn’t the same actress like, but whatever. Instead of finding anyone with maybe half a brain cell to help they get the toga dicks, wise move girls.  They don’t believe her, they act like pricks, shouting and yet more shouting, can’t they all just shut the fuck up? The stoners stumble about and then decide to steal more pumpkins. Is this even how pumpkins grow? In random spots on a field with no earth for the roots? My prayers are answered then one of them gets beheaded (in a way that ends up with him pissing on his head, don’t ask and he deserved it frankly).

If A Terrorist Dropped A Bomb On This Barn Right Now, I’d Be A Happy Bunny.

Lynn goes to the water towers to look for the missing, now dead, Angel (and why would she have gone there exactly?) This farm seems to be entirely populated by buildings housing pointy things of death. Pirate turns up and tries to force himself on another lady, but this time he dies for being a pervert. Good. Jonathan stupidly goes back to the farmer’s weird carving hut while Tammy goes to her car. She spies weird a scarecrow, goes to investigate and finds the dead Angel, I think it actually might be her this time. Bell Pepper Head attacks Tammy who knocks him over with a piece of wood and runs for it. What happened to his psychic powers? Tammy struggles through a barbed wire fence and runs away from the party and help. Nice one. Bell Pepper Head attacks her again, she hides in a barn. There is absolutely no tension, not even a little bit, believe me, I looked very hard. Lynn finds Dead Angel, Tammy runs into a bear trap, and screams. Lynn runs to help her but finds dead Pirate instead. Erm, Tammy wasn’t in water tower that Lynn was running towards, but that’s where the scream came from anyway. Whatever. Lynn eventually finds the right location, but no Tammy, or Jonathan, who she’s looking for, even though it was clearly a women screaming. She finds Tammy in the car, carved up and shit. Farmer turns up and reaches through the car window to grab her, she runs, Jonathan shows up with a pitchfork. So, what, he heard her calling for him but wanted to wait until the exact right moment to reveal himself? Jonathan threatens farmer with pitchfork, he says he’s a carver, he has to use a blade. Stop talking about carving like it’s this big fucking deal! Nobody cares. Literally, nobody.

Gah, I Used A Facial Joke In My Last Review…Meh, I Got Nothing.

Lynn talks Jonathan down from killing the farmer and goes to get the police. More bullshit carving talk. They struggle. Farmer rationalises that he has to kill Jonathan to cleanse his own soul. Now the farmer is Bell Pepper Head. Jonathan stabs him with a nail, then Bell Pepper Head electrocutes him again.  Bell Pepper Head takes off his mask to reveal boyfriend. He went to hell, apparently. Lynn shows up and stabs boyfriend, then Jonathan finishes the job. He’s supernatural, surely just stabbing him loads won’t do it? But it’s the farmer instead. So Jonathan is crazy after all? Lynn’s ok with all of this, she’s seen it all before after all after all, it’s just sooo five minutes ago. The next day, the police have shown up and are investigating. They don’t do much of it. It was crazy farmer all along. The police send the kids home, really? After all the murderizing that went down? They get in the car and find a pumpkin and bloody chisel. Jonathan gets possessed or something. Instead of getting out the car to get the police Lynn just sits there and just watches as Jonathan turns into the Bell Pepper Head, then back to Jonathan, and kills her.

You Know There’s A Shit Ton Of Police Just Outside Right…Ah, Forget It.

If that last paragraph didn’t make any sense, don’t blame me, the film really was this garbled and nonsensical. Oh, and shit. Can’t forget that little detail. Let’s try and unravel it shall we? So, if Jonathan was the killer all along, and all the appearances by Bell Pepper Head were merely his hallucinations, then that must mean he had a Bell Pepper Head costume stashed away somewhere as Tammy both saw, and ran away from, him after finding the Angel scarecrow. And how did he operate the drill that killed Hulk, if not with physic powers? The same questions apply to the crazy farmer being the killer theory. So, we’re left with the fact that dickhead boyfriend really did come back from hell and is a supernatural being (Hell is obviously not a discerning place if this is the best they’ve got). So what was with the last scene in the car in that case? If you’re going to have a twist, it has to make sense in the context of the rest of the film. And considering the ending credits has interludes of boyfriend taunting us about how big and scary he is (no mate. Just, no) I’m guessing the film makers went with the supernatural killer idea. So, again, why the lazy and ill conceived ‘twist’? You can’t toss something in at the end to show us how clever you are and then back track on in 30 seconds later. That makes chumps of us all.  Enough of the ending, what of the film as a whole? Fucking dreadful. Characters all extremely galling, and I’m gutted one of the toga wearing gimboids actually survived. This is what I talking about in The Mutilator review about disagreeable characters who you want to be slaughtered. I was rooting for nobody in this thing, there was nobody to root for. Absolutely zero scares, they were all too obvious, badly done or mistimed. Bad script, I wanted to rip my own head off just so I would have something to throw at the screen every time the toga fuckers spoke. There was actually the bare bones of a good idea behind all the ineptitude, but they threw too many things at it, hoping some of them would stick. None of them did. They could have focused more on the crazy farmer’s murdered parents part. Say, the teens gather for a party on the anniversary of this event and then start dying at the hands of a mysterious killer. Not original I grant you, but a clear focus at least. Or, to bring it back the pumpkin idea, place the emphasis on the origins of the jack-o-lantern, also known as will o’ the wisp, thought of being ghosts playing pranks on travellers (actually naturally occurring flickering lights that can be seen on marshes). You may notice with that idea I basically dump everything from The Pumpkin Karver, which was my intention. Frankly, Halloween as a tradition is so chock full of folklore and rituals that there must be hundreds of great things film makers could do with the ‘holiday’. But, for now, the legacy of Halloween (the film) is safe as houses, although not the ones actually in Haddonfield.

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