We’ve collected the best easy-to-carve pumpkin designs for any movie fan: from a Halloween-themed jack-o’-lantern to some clever Kubrick references.
For some, Halloween is the best time of year to show off one’s impressive pumpkin carving skills; for others, handcrafting a decent decoration out of a vegetable (technically, fruit) is no easy feat. Thankfully, there are options for movie fans who want to embrace their love of popular culture through their pumpkins that don’t require a deft hand and specialty tools.
Instagram and social media in general (not to mention the Halloween shows on Food Network) have raised the bar considerably when it comes to pop culture jack-o’-lanterns. From hyper-realistic portraits of iconic actors to elaborate creepy scenes, one could get lost in the plethora of jaw-dropping, show-stopping custom carved pumpkins (as well as some hilarious fails, off course) found online. While looking at these various designs is fun, it can make doing one’s own custom pumpkin design feel a bit daunting.
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There are a number of how-to-guides for pumpkin carving, but the options are often limited and many of the popular culture options are extremely complicated. Thankfully, for those who lack the specialty training and tools required to recreate these aforementioned works of squash art are in luck: it’s still possible to get in on the Halloween fun. The trick with these jack-o’-lanterns is to pick simple icons that are strong references even in minimalist form. The following are the best east-to-carve movie-based jack-o’-lanterns designs.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Pumpkin
There’s a reason why The Nightmare Before Christmas is such a popular theme for jack-o’lanterns: The simplistic design of Jack Skellington’s skull-like face make him an easy character to carve into a pumpkin. It helps that Jack’s round head is somewhat pumpkin-shaped to begin with, and the fact that the Tim Burton story The Nightmare Before Christmas is so closely associated with Halloween. One could even go a step further and paint the pumpkin white — or even use a white variety, like aptly-named ghost pumpkin cultivar. The important thing to remember with this design is the eye shape and spacing of the features — otherwise the design will simply look like a skull. As a bonus, there are a number of free templates available online, and because the design itself is so simple, following the template is as well.
For a scary, yet simple jack-o’-lantern, a Halloween-themed pumpkin is an excellent choice. Even those who are passing fans of horror can instantly recognize Michael Myers’s weapon of choice, and the knife itself is not difficult to cut out (since most people carving will be holding a real one to use as reference). The original movie poster featured a hand holding the knife next to the glowing eyes of a jack-o’lantern; as a clever nod to the original poster design, one could also carve out a traditional Halloween pumpkin and place it adjacent and just behind the one featuring a knife.
Cheshire Cat Pumpkin (Alice In Wonderland)
The Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland is a more complicated option for a movie pumpkin carving, but is still fairly straight-forward and easy to accomplish. The important elements for this jack-o’lantern design are the large cat eyes and the unnaturally-wide grin. There are several templates available online, but at its most basic, the design really only requires half-circles for the eyes and a series of small triangles for the teeth. Like the Jack Skellington option, a Cheshire cat pumpkin would benefit from being painted the character’s distinctly-violet hue — and, coincidentally, purple pumpkins are a Halloween 2020 trend. Technically, the purple pumpkin is also a signal that one is giving out allergy-friendly Halloween treats — so anyone who puts this out on Halloween night should probably keep some plain bags of chips on hand for trick-or-treaters.
Inception Top Pumpkin
While making an Inception jack-o’-lantern seems intimidating, carving the iconic spinning top is a simple way to reference the 2010 film. One of the most haunting movie moments in the last decade was the ambiguous ending to Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which featured Cobb’s totem spinning endlessly, indicating that he could still be trapped in a dream. The basic shape of the top is probably enough (and is easy to cut out); however, those feeling ambitious can also cut out lines below and on either side, referencing the totem’s never-ending spinning in the movie’s final scene.
A Clockwork Orange Pumpkins
For fans of Stanley Kubrick movies, there are a number of various icons that can be used a the basis for a Halloween jack-o’-lantern, such as A Clockwork Orange. In fact, there are actually two viable options that even amateur carvers can pull off. The first is the pyramid shape in the classic poster: the original poster features main character Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell, peering through a pyramid-shaped opening and wielding a knife. The pyramid, of course, stands in for the “A” in the title.
Another, more recognizable, option is to carve the character’s bowler hat and eyelashes into a pumpkin. The hat is simple enough (basically three half circles), but the eye is what really identifies this look as being A Clockwork Orange. The simplest strategy would be to just cut out the lower lashes, and perhaps even poke out a small circle for the pupil. As an added bonus, there are various minimalist designs for A Clockwork Orange online that can be used as inspiration.
Full Metal Jacket Pumpkin
Another Kubrick option for a movie-themed Halloween pumpkin design is Full Metal Jacket. Kubrick’s war film is divisive — many feel that its second half drags — but it does have a strong cult following, even today. Many of Kubrick’s movies used very basic poster designs that have become iconic: for Full Metal Jacket, the army helmet on the original movie poster is instantly-associated with the title. For added effect, one could even write “Born to Kill” next to the helmet in glow-in-the-dark paint. There are other options for Full Metal Jacket as well, such as carving out the long bullets, or adding Mickey Mouse ears to the helmet (although admittedly, both would make the reference harder to spot).
There are countless other options for movie-theme Halloween pumpkins this year: from the biohazard symbol used for 28 Days Later, to Maleficent’s poison apple in the original Snow White. One could even carve out a simple ring in one pumpkin and set it next to another with a vhs tape carving, as a nod to 2002’s The Ring. The possibilities are virtually endless, depending on one’s creativity — and movie knowledge. Even if the end result is an unrecognizable mess, half the fun of pumpkin carving is just getting one’s hands dirty — the other half is watching the flickering glow add a spooky atmosphere to one’s Halloween decor.
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