Pumpkinhead is a 1988 horror film directed by Stan Winston, who also designed the character of the same name and the Alien Queen in Aliens and stars Lance Henriksen. Pumpkinhead was also Winston's directorial debut. In West Germany, the film is ironically known as Das Halloween Monster. In the United Kingdom, the film was released titled as Vengeance the Demon.
Pumpkinhead is followed by three sequels. The first neglects connection to the original film, other than a similar creature being present. The last two installments, Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes and Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud, are made-for-TV films produced by the Sci-Fi Channel (now known as Syfy).
In the prologue, a young Ed Harley and his family are seen preparing for bed at night while an unknown man is chased by an unseen creature. The man arrives at the Harley's house and asks them to let him in, but Ed's father refuses. The man is eventually chased and caught by the creature, who Ed sees through his bedroom window.
In the present, Ed Harley and his son Billy live out in the country in a small unnamed town populated mostly by farmers and hill people, presumably the same town Ed grew up in. A group of teenagers consisting of Joel, Maggie, Kim, Tracy, and Steve arrive in the town, where Joel and Steve begin riding their motorbikes. When Ed's dog Gypsy runs off into a field to chase the bikers, Billy goes after him. Joel accidentally hits Billy with his motorcycle and tries to flee the scene as quickly as possible. Ed finds Billy and eventually realizes there is no hope for him, as he has died.
Ed seeks the help of Mr. Wallis, as he knows Wallis is familiar with the legends of the "old woman of the woods", but Wallis refuses, warning Ed to stay away from her. Wallis' son Bunt approaches Ed and offers to take him to the old woman. In Ed's truck, Bunt guides him into the woods, but stops at a certain point where Bunt refuses to go any further. Ed eventually finds the old woman's cabin and asks for her help, but she claims that she can't bring back the dead. The old woman hints that Ed wants vengeance, and instructs him to dig up a body buried in a nearby pumpkin patch, which is also a graveyard.
Ed digs up the burial mound, where he finds a shriveled-up humanoid corpse in a dormant state. Ed brings the body back to the cabin, where the old woman mixes Ed's blood with a special herb and pours it over the corpse. The corpse comes to life and transforms into the monster Pumpkinhead, as Ed seemingly falls unconscious. When Ed awakens, the creatures is gone and the old woman tells him "now it begins".
Later the same night, Ed goes to bury Billy in the same graveyard where his wife is buried. Meanwhile, the teenagers are staying in a cabin for the night and Steve and Maggie go outside, where Steve shows her a cross and tries to convince her to "have faith". Just then, Pumpkinhead grabs Steve by the neck and kills him. Harley realizes that he is experiencing the deaths of Pumpkinhead's victims through physical pain. The remaining teenagers search for Steve, while Pumpkinhead drags Maggie away and kills her.
Ed returns to the old woman's cabin, where he demands the she put an end to the monster's killings, claiming that he did not want vengeance that way.