Movie Review: Pumpkin Man

A Halloween Family Classic Movie – Halloween Film

My love for Halloween began as a child. The thrill of choosing a costume at the local dime store and then proudly parading around school in costume remains a favorite memory. When I was 11 my mother let me host a Halloween party in our basement, complete with spooky music, scary decorations, and eerie games. If any of these memories bring a sense of déjà vu to you, then the independent, short film Pumpkin Man by Pumpkin Pictures is a must see. (See sidebar for film synopsis.) Available on video, this timeless film just might be Halloween’s best kept secret.

Pumpkin Man Movie Poster

It’s a touching film with simple yet powerful messages. Producer/director Jennifer Wynne Farmer states that “if one kid watches it and realizes their life isn’t coming to an end, then it’s been worth it.” After being urged to tell a story from her own culture, Jennifer decided to develop a sweet Halloween story by Bob Garner that had been on her desk for five years. After obtaining the rights, she approached colleague and horror writer Dino Andrade to parlay the screenplay into a more intense version of the story. Meanwhile, Jennifer recruited Beth Hirsh, whom she had clicked with previously on a difficult shoot in Arizona, to serve as producer. From there, according to Beth, a series of “little miracles came along.”

Movie Director and Stars of Pumpkin Man

Destiny played a hand in making this film become a reality. Investors and resources critical to producing this high quality film came through with uncanny ease. For example, the film served as a beta-test site for Kodak’s new stock for night filming. Also, many items were contributed by fellow lovers of Halloween and by people who, like Jennifer, were committed to family entertainment.

An incredible talent pool was amassed for the production. Casting was a director’s dream come true. Denise Crosby, fresh from her role on Star Trek: the Next Generation contacted Jennifer about being involved with the film. Cast in the role of the mother of the lead character, Jason (Christopher Ogden), she is aptly complimented by Phil Abbott who portrays Jason’s grandfather. Milton Creagh, considered to be the biggest motivational speaker with kids, was cast in the role of Sam Hain, a reclusive man living on the outskirts of town who supposedly killed his father with an ax and awaits young children on Halloween to invoke on them a similar fate. The kids present as natural and believable, perhaps because Jennifer took the bold move of casting actors with no previous work experience in film. In a nod to Alfred Hitchcock, Jennifer made sure Christopher (Jason) had never met Milton (Sam Hain) thereby capturing on film his initial reaction.

The Pumpkin Man star sitting in a Director’s Chair

Shot in a mere nine days in April 1997, the cast and crew of the film quickly became a cohesive unit. Jennifer describes it as “a family film by, for and about families.” The film was shot at Jennifer’s house in California and included both her son Austin as the junior boy goblin and husband Bill, who is also the voice of Goofy and Pluto with Disney, as the father goblin. In fact, the kids in the cast became so close they spent the following Christmas together.

It is apparent Pumpkin Man was made by Halloween fans. Jennifer relates that she and her husband do a big Halloween party for 120 of their closest friends that is so popular friends call months ahead to make sure the annual frivolities are still on. She’s always loved Halloween as a night of “fun, frolic, and fright” and wanted to help others celebrate the Halloween she grew up with. To this end, she has been successful.

Pumpkin Man is distributed through Ventura Distribution Company and is available at Hollywood Video stores.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *