The Pumpkin Karver
Director: Andrew Wolf

Director: Robert Mann

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Mr. HalloweenIn this work of first-time, no-expertise-and-it-shows filmmakers, right from the title Mr. Halloween (2007) we aren't surprised by the extreme youth involved, as the title alone is kind of like naming your teddy bear Mr. Teddy, or your hand-puppet with bunny ears Mr. Puppet Bunny, or your alarm clock Mr. Clocky.

Despite how little director Andrew Wolf seems to know about making a movie, he has obviously seen a few just like this one, & has made the attempt to improve upon framing & camera angles to strike up a mood.

Anyone who likes extremely trashy stupid violent movies will delight in this one, & may recognize an endearing if failed effort being made.

However, it has nothing to do with killer clowns, & why it was marketed with a killer clown on the dvd box is anyone's guess.

A painting of psychotic clown, instead of something from the actual film, is the sort of packaging that would indicate there's not even one frame in the entire movie that would trick someone into thinking it might be entertaining.

Mr. HalloweenAnd indeed, for a would-be slasher, the "best" scenes look more like wrestling matches, or a cudgeling with a metal pipe which may be the least interesting psychopath's weapon ever filmed, & filmed with no knowledge of film lighting.

There genuinely isn't a single frame of the film that looks good enough to make an effective advertisement for the film.

For reasons later made clear, the sheriff just so can't be bothered to investigate the many teens who've gone missing. So it's up to the local teens themselves to do the detectiving. They suspect the mustachioed goofball who puts on a Haunted House Exhibition every year, & likes to be called Mr. Halloween (Bill Loomis), is responsible for the anual spate of missing children. Legend has it that the body parts exhibited in his elaborate Halloween displays are real.

A year later, All Hallows comes around again, & though Mr. Halloween had apparently been killed, his abandoned house is being especially well tricked out for the holiday.

Mr. HalloweenThe decorations are chained up dufus teenagers knocked out cold with a floppy rubber tire iron & when they come to, they're trapped as living props in horror-holiday tableaus. Eventually a heroine will arise to confront the evil.

For some odd reason, the half-hour documentary The Making of Mr. Halloween (2007) is missing from the dvd release, though it's posted on the web. It turns out to have better photography, & is a lot more watchable, than the film itself.

I recommend watching it beforehand, as there's nothing about the film that could be spoiled by spoilers, & appreciation will heighten if you get to know the actors & filmmakers a little bit. They're such cute folks to have attempted this with the amazingly low budget of $6,000, half of which spent on food for the unpaid cast & crew. Once you get to know everyone a tiny bit, their awful movie seems cute, too.

Oh, one saving grace of films this howllingly awful is they're usually short, often barely over an hour. Not Mr. Halloween. It's epic length. Prepare to need a butt transplant!

The Pumpkin Karver I went out of my way to see The Pumpkin Karver (2006) because I'm watching all the "psycho clown" films, no matter how rotten, & this one has been included on a half-dozen lists of evil clown movies.

As with Mr. Halloween however, there is no clown in this film, unless it was the director.

It ended up on those killeri-clown lists because the illustration of a pumpkin-carved face on the dvd box was mistaken for a clown by list-makers who didn't bother to watch it. As is too often the case, the image on the box is a lot better than anything actually in the movie.

A Halloween horror yarn, The Pumkin Karver opens with trick or treaters wandering through a neighborhood. Despite poor acting & mediocre cinematography, it effectively captures the mood of the holiday.

The Pumpkin KarverA young woman, Lynn Starks (Amy Weber), her obnoxious boyfriend Alec (David J. Wright), & Lynn's introverted weirdo brother Jonathan (Michael Zara) are celebrating the evening as trick or treaters come & go at the door.

As in a Peanuts comic strip, there are no adults in the story, it seems like Lynn & Jonathan live alone.

Alec leaves on some mission, while odd-duck Jonathon continues obsessively carving arty jack-o-lanterns. When a heavy-breather stranger enters the house in a pumpkinhead horror mask to terrorize Lynn, Jonathan responds to his her screams for help by leaping up & stabbing his pumpkin-carving knife through the mask-head & into the eye of the intruder. It's quite a gross scene, & a tragic one too, because the assailant was Alec playing an ill considered prank.

The police declare the killing an unfortunate accident. A year passes & it's Halloween again. Jonathan & his sister have moved away from their former town & now live in a town called Caver, named for a family to which Lynn & Jonathan Stark might or might not be related.

The Pumpkin KarverThe teenagers of the town are preparing a big outdoor Halloween get-together with rock band, at a pumpkin farm.

An array of stock characters are introduced -- the nice girl Tammy (Minka Kelly), the bullying jock Lance (David Austin), the jock's supportive minions, the fat boy, the comedy-relief nurds, Rachel (Charity Shea) the girl who likes sex so is first to die, & so on. These are picked off one by one in the mode of a slasher from the '80s.

The killer looks as Alec looked the night that Jonathan accidentally killed him, wearing a pumpkin-like mask. Though we're pretty sure it's not a ghost, but hallucinatory Jonathan who has lost his mind, it's somewhat mysterious exactly what it all means.

The sinister owner of the pumpkin farm (Terrence Evans) seems to have a death wish as he tells Jonathan an horrific campfire tale, supposedly factual from the old man's childhood, & strongly implies that Jonathan is the son or perhaps the new incarnation of the true pumpkin Carver, a maniac from a previous generation. There will be no "reveal" at any point in the film to make any of it sensible, so as a mystery it's all beside the point.

The Pumpkin KarverThe story is of minimal merit & the film exists for the sake of the kills, most of which aren't very imaginative, nor scary, nor funny, nor much of anything, though there are a couple exceptions.

The scenes that convey what is either supernatural or hallucinatory experiences surrounding Jonathan are more interesting than the gore FX, though not by much.

The key idea is that a pumpkin carver perhaps named Carver carves up his victim's faces like jack-o-lanterns, did so in a previous generation, doing it again now. But apparently there wasn't much of a make-up budget, as not all victims get the jack-o-lantern treatment, though when they do, this lends a bit of uniqueness to an otherwise workmanlike & cliche movie.

One gore gag is successfully ridiculous in the manner of a childish fart joke, when a teenager taking a piss gets his head lopped off & ends up pissing in his own mouth. That's pretty much as good as it gets, as no character's life matters, hence their demises have no emotional impact.

It's not much of a film but where slashers are concerned, many are much, much, much worse than this one, so it comes off as reasonably good for what it is, so long as one understands that "what it is" is a bad movie.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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