Notes on the origin and biology of Pumpkinhead

Applied demonology

In the widely accepted New Hierarchical Classification of Demons and Evil Spirits (NHCDES), the demons, summoned on several occasions in the United States during the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century are named [Novae Terrae] Daemonium luminare vindicta cucurbitaeformi. Literally, this means New World Lesser Demon of Revenge in the Form of Pumpkin. These demons originated from popular beliefs in the colonies of North America and are not related to the original fallen angels in Christianity, or any of the older religions.

The current agreement is that Pumpkinhead originated as a pre-Columbian indigenous evil spirit, reincarnated by the newly formed regional beliefs of the colonists in the New World and should be regarded as a spirit, materialized by the strong desire for vengeance and deep mental suffering on deceased relatives.  As such, the wandering ectoplasm obsesses and reshapes a random human (and possibly animal) corpse. Neither the addition of human blood from the client[1] nor the spell, cast by a witch is demanded per se to invoke the demon. The so-called magical words are needed for the mental belief to shape the ectoplasm (as in many other cases), while the blood is added to establish a link between the demon and the client. The blood aims to increase the belief of the client, while the link is bidirectional “soul-to-soul” (ectoplasm-to-ectoplasm). This link is supposed to serve several purposes, including better control of the summoned spirit and ensuring the completion of a particular task, driven by the desires of the client.

Anatomy of Pumpkinhead

Figure 1. Anatomical features of Pumpkinhead in his original form.
A – Blind eyes without pupils, as well as the lack of nostrils and ears, suggest that he has alternative senses;
B – Comparatively small mouth, although equipped with sharp teeth is not particularly good for biting;
C – Two large swellings on both sides of the head, covered with membrane are most probably the sensing organ, responsible also for transmission of information with the client;
D – Rudimentary wings;
E – Elongated phalanges and nails are hampering precise movements. For an unexplained reason he has four fingers instead of five;
F – Long massive tail is used both as a weapon and for balance;
G – Elongated feet, allowing much faster running.

The popular name, Pumpkinhead, however, might cause some discrepancy. It originated from the fact, that the demon was first summoned in a corpse, buried beneath growing pumpkins. It is unclear whether this is a strict requirement for the successful invocation of Pumpkinhead. The two most reliable theories claim that pumpkins were required either because of the Halloween tradition to carve pumpkins, or, more probably, because of the ancient Wyandot myth of the world creation. In it, the first pumpkin vine grew from the head of the first woman, after she died while giving birth to her second, evil son. Similarly, the ectoplasm of Pumpkinhead may have been released by the soul of a deceased evil person somewhere in the Wyandot territories around the Great Lakes and resided in his burial ground, where pumpkins had grown out of his grave. Later, the indigenous beliefs were adopted by the incoming colonists and passed through the centuries until the first summoning of Pumpkinhead in this particular area. Once summoned, however, Pumpkinhead did not remain bound to its original burial place.

Being a reshaped human corpse, Pumpkinhead appeared as a humanoid, much taller than an ordinary man, with long limbs and a tail. The head is disproportionally big and deformed. He is stronger than any ordinary human being. Similar to other demons, its form was defined by the imagination of the first clients, while trying to produce the most terrifying and ugly device for their vengeance. Later on, the continuously invoked ectoplasm became less susceptible to reshaping and Pumpkinhead materialized with only minor differences from the original first-summoned demon. Being a humanoid and apparently of the male gender, he is also able to produce viable, still deformed offspring with human mates.

What is most important is that the ectoplasm of Pumpkinhead is not of particularly high power class. He originated as a ghost rather than a true demon. Later, the increasing local belief in him raised the energy level of the ectoplasm, but still, Pumpkinhead is a comparatively weak demon.

The ectoplasmic link between him and his client leads to co-experience of pain and if the client is killed then the demon will also die because of the broken link between the ectoplasm and the body. This would not be possible if much more people believed in him.


  1. Stan Winston. 1988. Pumpkinhead. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  2. Jeff Burr. 1994. Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings. Motion Picture Corporation of America
  3. Jake West. 2006. Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes. Sony Picture Home Entertainment
  4. Michael Hurst. 2007. Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud. Sony Picture Home Entertainment.

[1] In applied demonology a “client” is the person, who ordered the summoning of the demon, but does not possess the power or knowledge to do it on his own.

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