Streaming and Suds #13 – Rumpkinhead

Rumpkin - Avery Brewing Company - Streaming and Suds

October is probably my favorite month. I’ve talked about fall before, but October has a certain essence to it. Mostly because it has my favorite holiday. There’s something about Halloween that pleases my soul.

It’s not about the candy or dressing up anymore. I’d much rather watch horror movies all month long. Admittedly, I can do that at any point of the year, but it feels appropriate as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. The wind whistles a little harder at night tricking your ears into thinking you heard something else out there, possibly watching you. The glaring full moon puts a notion into your brain that a werewolf could be out there looking for a fresh meal. The creepy house in the neighborhood creates a greater sense of unease. Goosebumps appear at a greater occurrence.

I can remember my last years of college and a few years after where IFC would air horror movies for what seemed like all month long. They had independent domestic and foreign films I had read about that never reached the ‘burbs, and others I was completely unaware of that opened up a whole new realm of horror for me. I saw my first Dario Argento films as well as other giallo films on that channel. There was no chance I was going to change the channel.

So, in celebration of Halloween, this whole month will be dedicated to those creepy and hopefully scary films. A Spooktober fest for Streaming and Suds. And hey, this happens to be the 13th post for this feature. What a fortuitous sense of timing. Hope you like pumpkins.

Rumpkin - Avery Brewing Company - Streaming and Suds

Rumpkin – The Basics

Rumpkin – The Details

I had made a promise to myself not to drink any pumpkin beers this year. I had become burned out on them. When I first got into craft beer it had an air of being a novelty to me. I never even considered the idea of putting pumpkin into beer. And you know what? I enjoyed some of them.

But then I started working in the retail side of beer and I got introduced to even more and more pumpkin beers (thankfully, I’ve never worked at a Starbucks and had to deal with PSLs). I don’t know if it was a combination of dealing with customers that only came into the store during the season looking just for pumpkin beer (and getting upset at us when we had sold out of that specific beer) or the large ratio of bad pumpkin beers. Some were way too rich and artificial tasting while others were bland and lacked any presence of pumpkin. Customers lost interest once Thanksgiving came and went, and few sad cases would remain as winter rolled around.

That’s why I was a little hesitant to pick up a bottle of Rumpkin from Avery. I haven’t yet had a bad experience with an Avery beer, so I put my faith in that 12-ounce bottle. It is aged in rum barrels, and it paired up with a movie I had in mind once I saw the name. You can say I might not have the strongest willpower.

The beer pours a ruby red color with hints of brown and orange depending on the way the light hits the beer. There is some clarity to the beer, but it is not crystal clear. A thin off-Rumpkin - Avery Brewing Company - Streaming and Sudswhite head develops on top of the beer with some soapy looking bubbles. Rumpkin is made with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. Those spices come smashing through on the first sniff. The cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg notes brought back memories of coming home from the local market and having some local, hot apple cider along with some donut holes. Following the spices, you get the molasses from the rum and a subtle hint of pumpkin. The beer has a potpourri characteristic to it. The kind you’d find in a bathroom at your grandparents’ house.

The pumpkin notes on the taste are much stronger than the ones found in the smell. Instead of the spices dominating, all the elements intermingle well with each other. The spiced dark rum notes come at the end lingering on the tongue like you’ve just taken a shot. There is a tart fruitiness in the middle of all that, but it goes by fast. This could be due to the Westmalle Belgian yeast used that also contributes to the spiciness. Then there’s the ABV.

This is a boozy beer. One that you should sip and savor. The heat on it doesn’t make you feel like you’re breathing fire, and it’s not super malty where it becomes too rich. These two elements sort of balance each other out. I felt like I was enjoying an expensive rum as I swirled the snifter. After taking a few sips of the medium bodied ale, with light carbonation, I could feel my body getting warmer. I had to take off my hoodie. If I had a couple more of these I’d probably be taking off my pants. For all the sweetness of the beer, Rumpkin finishes dry.

Pumpkinhead (1988)

Pumpkinhead - Streaming and Suds

  • Director: Stan Winston
  • Genre: Horror
  • Total Running Time: 1hr 26mins
  • Rating: R
  • Availability: Hulu and Amazon

I cannot recall if I had seen Pumpkinhead before, if I had I blanked it out, but I recall getting the chills at the local video store when I saw the video cassette cover art. Unfortunately, the memories I had of the artwork were far scarier than the movie itself.

Pumpkinhead is the directorial debut of special effects wizard Stan Winston. Known for his work on The Terminator franchise, Aliens, Predator, The Monster Squad, and a whole bunch of other credits; Winston brings his know-how to create a monster that stands above the rest of the film. It’s too bad that the creature, which has some resemblances to H.R. Giger’s xenomorphs in Alien, seems to only pick up and toss around its victims (It does at one point impale a guy with a rifle.).

Based on a poem by Ed Justin (given a writing credit), the movie starts off promising with its Southern Gothic influences. The opening scene contains a beautiful color palette. The glowing red and oranges in the interior of a cabin add to the tension, while the woods bask in foreboding deep blues and purples and inky blacks. There are nods to the camera work from The Evil Dead. The sense of dramatic color becomes non-existent throughout the rest of the film as it jumps thirty years to the present.

Lance Henriksen (Bishop from Aliens) stars as Ed Harley, a single father who runs a small store in the country selling his produce. His regulars are the stereotypical mountainPumpkinhead - Streaming and Suds hillbillies. The kind where their faces are caked with dust and dirt, the kids don’t wear shoes, the girls basically wear burlap sacks for clothes, and everyone gives off a weird inbred vibe. Just imagine Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel, but worse.

As per custom, some city kids come into town for a weekend get-away. There’s the pure-hearted girl, the jerk and his girlfriend, and the other blank slates. While goofing around on their dirt bikes, the jerk accidentally runs over Ed’s son. The gang, save for one who decides to stay with the boy, skedaddles out of there.

When Ed finds his dead son he vows vengeance on the “city kids.” Remembering the old childhood folklore of Pumpkinhead (who doesn’t actually have a pumpkin for a head) he tracks down the hag that lives in the mountains. She directs him to a pumpkin patch for him to retrieve some skeletal remains. The witch warns him that his revenge will come with a price. These sort of things always come with a price.

The old woman resurrects the demonic monster as Ed becomes psychically linked to it. As the creature picks off the college kids one by one Ed gets visions of the killings. Ed sets about saving what’s left of the group and stopping the monster after seeing the error of his ways.

Overall

Rumpkin is a pumpkin pie beer with some oomph to it. Your interest may depend on your preference of brown liquor. I’m not a huge fan of rum, but it adds an interesting complexity to the beer. Besides, bourbon barrel aging can get boring. For me, it hit a sweet spot. There were just enough pumpkin notes without going overboard, it wasn’t super sweet (the molasses was the just the right amount), and is definitely not boring (thanks, rum). This beer could go for some more aging, the bottle I picked up was from August, but it was still enjoyable. I might have to get another bottle for when the weather really gets cold.

Pumpkinhead wasn’t a huge hit at the theaters in 1988 like Child’s Play. The film didn’t take off until it reached VHS and developed a cult following. This following helped spawn three more sequels (two being made for television). The film is full of jump scares that are telegraphed, wonky editing and shot selection, and acting that’s par for the course for this type of movie. Lance Henriksen is as intense as ever and gives it his all. I understand the cult following, but it doesn’t work for me. There is a lack of scares and rather mundane killings. There’s an interesting story and potential buried in there. In fact, there are rumors that it is in the remake mill. Maybe it’ll find success like IT did.

Adam M. Bruns

About Adam M. Bruns

Adam M. Bruns is an award-winning filmmaker (it was a short about a puppet who wants to get a sex change) with an MFA in Motion Pictures and Television from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Besides craft beer, his hobbies include film, TV, comic books, writing, drawing, cooking, and feeling the constant, crushing sense of disappointment from watching his favorite sports teams (the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse University Basketball). Some have called him a modern-day Renaissance Man…ok, that was just his mother.

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