After his most gratuitous display of on-camera food devouring I’ve ever witnessed, David “The Rock” Nelson provides a disclaimer: “I don’t really eat like that, it’s just for comedy.” Well, that’s a relief.
A return to form of sorts for the Rock, The Pumpkinman Saga features five Pumpkinman-themed shorts: “Pumpkinman,” “Pumpkinman 2,” “Son Of Pumpkinman,” “Janet vs. Pumpkinman,” and “Night of the Pumpkinmen,” all interspersed with random, caffeine-fueled weirdo antics and trailers. This tape harkens back to Nelson’s earlier Video Shorts compilations, only with less variety and more insanity. Yes, you read that right. The intensity of strangeness appearing herein was so high that I needed to press “stop” a few times just to gain my bearings.
“Pumpkinman” and its sequel (both shot in 1993 and edited in 2004) are indistinguishable from each other. Basically, there’s a trash can with a white sheet and a jack o’ lantern perched on top. The Nelson and his brother Phil take turns attacking the “monster” over and over…and over (“The guns have no effect! Stinkin’ monster! Do it for the Marines! Hoo-ah!”). These two shorts follow the tried and true formula for early Nelson films, but there’s also a catch. This time around, the threat is an inanimate object (garbage can) instead of a human being with a rubber monster mask. Classic. So far, the tape was pretty much what I expected (save for a monologue regarding the “stupid” intentions of these films).
And then we hit a tangent. Scenes of the Rock’s obsessive eating take center stage in “Son of Pumpkinman,” easily out-grossing John Waters’ chicken scene in Serial Mom by a longshot.
See! David Nelson submit to a crusty hamburger, straight from the grimy stove top. See! Detective Rock pummel a plate of eggs and other stuff in excruciating close-ups. See! More coffee ingested than you could ever dream possible. Still haven’t had enough? Stand by while Detective Rock tosses a foam brick at the Eddie Deezen-sounding “Son of Pumpkinman” for FIFTEEN MINUTES. This includes shout-outs to Jerry Warren, Ed Wood, Roger Corman, Fred Olen Ray, and dozens of others. Soon after, the short morphs into Nelson speaking directly into the camera for minutes on end, relating all sorts of good stuff about life and monster movies. Where am I?!
After that descent into madness, we’re back on track with “Janet vs. Pumpkinman” (1995) and “Night of the Pumpkinman” (2004). Both shorts are quintessential Rocky Nelson: spooky cemeteries; exciting Des Plaines, IL locations; and food consumption. “Night” may very well be the Rock’s defining moment and his most enjoyable “film” yet. You’ll be stunned by an actual soundtrack comprised of a spookily cool organ, some semblance of a plot (the Pumpkinmen rise on Halloween eve to wreak twenty-four hours of mayhem), a large cast, the presence of Rocksella (Nelson in drag, à la Ed Wood!), and the most ludicrous ending yet concocted. But I won’t give it away. Just be prepared for some eating.