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Halloween pumpkins on screen: The best film appearances by the noble squash

Times a vegetable has stolen the show in Hollywood films

Owen Faulkner
Thursday 29 October 2015 10:13 GMT
(Getty Images)

There’s a star of supernatural cinema that often goes unrecognised. Appearing in more Halloween flicks than the likes of Johnny Depp (if that is even possible), and considerably cheaper to hire, it’s about time this humble face of Hollywood in all its orange glory takes centre stage. It is, of course, the pumpkin.

The noble squash has on many occasions played a more significant part in films than many are prepared to admit to. In fact, the pumpkin has often ventured on beyond the all-too-easily attributed horror genre into more unconventional roles. Here are just a few of its notable performances.

Fairuza Balk with a pumpkin in Return To Oz, 1985

Return to Oz (1985)

The unintentionally traumatising sequel to Disney’s 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz, this film was sure to taint any fond memories one may have had of the place. Children from the 80s are sure to still have nightmares about the scene with the Wheelers, the guards who watch over the ruins of Emerald City. Quite surprisingly, the appropriately named (or perhaps uninspired) companion of Dorothy, Jack Pumpkinhead, was among the friendlier of characters in this dystopian fantasy. His role in the film is to help Dorothy return Oz to its former self. And while his intentions are good, him calling her ‘mom’ has always been a little unsettling.

Cinderella, 1950, features a pumpkin which turns into a beautiful carriage to transport her to the ball

Cinderella (1950)

Forget the magic slippers; by far the most impressive of the Fairy Godmother’s spells is the transformation of a simple pumpkin into an elegant stagecoach, fit for a princess. This innovation in locomotive technology not only got Cinderella to her ball on time, but also proved just how versatile the pumpkin can be. No longer should you worry about the costs of petrol and diesel, all you need is a Fairy Godmother.

Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)

Featuring the unofficial mascot of many misunderstood teenagers’ backpacks, The Nightmare before Christmas is partially responsible for your child’s interest in black nail polish and Camden Market. And while the protagonist of this movie may not bear much resemblance to the festive squash plant, Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, perhaps the most prestigious title on our list. Growing bored of Halloween celebrations and looking to branch out, Jack becomes fascinated and eventually obsessed with Christmas, trying to claim it as his own.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

For those who grew up with the Harry Potter films, nothing was quite as spectacular as Hogwart’s Great Hall at Halloween. The floating candles had been replaced by carved pumpkins, suspended above the students’ feast. The festive mood of the hall suddenly changes as the horrified Professor Quirrell bursts in, proclaiming there’s a troll in the dungeon. The pumpkins soon become more menacing than merry, as the terror-stricken students start to panic.

The Green Goblin holds a pumpkin bomb in 2002 film Spider-Man

Spider-Man (2002)

Just as Spider-Man is well known for his web-slinging, his iconic adversary in this long-awaited superhero flick, The Green Goblin, is famous for his bat-shaped glider and pumpkin bombs. These incendiary devices aren’t the type you’d want sitting outside your front door and you almost certainly wouldn’t want to try to carve one open. Norman Osborn, under the alias of the Green Goblin, uses his pumpkin bombs in the movie to disintegrate the OsCorp Board of Directors, upon learning they plan to sell his company.

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