Head of the Family & Hideous!: Full Moon Double Feature
Dir. Charles Band (1996, 1997)
First on the list is a couple of movies produced and directed by Charles Band for his Full Moon studio. Now, I love Full Moon, and I tend to think of them as a very successful B-movie powerhouse, a la Troma Pictures. Band seems to know that his movies are crap, but instead of viewing them as pretentious pieces of art, he has fun. That's awesome, and I think that if more people (with more talent and money) could just have fun with what they're doing, we'd have a lot more entertaining movies to watch. You just know that when you pop one of his movies into your player, you are in for a fun ride. These two were no exception.
First up, Hideous!, a movie about some dam workers who fish a weird deformed creature (WDC) out of the water, one of whom sells it to a broker for WDCs that sells to freaky rich people who collect WDCs. She sells it first to a man named Napoleon Lazar, who is then robbed by a topless woman named Sheila in a gorilla mask, who then delivers it to her boss, Dr. Lorca, another collector of WDCs. Lazar gets a private investigator involved to track the WDC, and he, the PI, and the broker show up at Dr. Lorca's castle where all hell breaks loose, as Lorca's collection of "dead" WDCs come to life and wreak havoc.
Fuck, wrong movie, go back
Holy shit, that's ridiculous. And that's the best part. Mel Johnson Jr. (Lazar) awesomely overacts as a man who cares more about his collection than anything else in the world, and, as much as I love Jacqueline Lovell (Sheila), he was by far the best part of the movie. His is quite possibly the campiest-acted character I have seen in any movie, and Johnson Jr. completely nails it. It's the type of part that you just can't get in a Hollywood production, and it is the perfect representation of what B-movie lovers watch these movies to see. Michael Citriniti (Lorca) acts in much the same way, and their dueling craziness makes this movie spectacular. The WDCs, who are essentially these tragic creatures caught between their their insane "owners" and their desire to be free, create an excellent subplot of the morality of owning living creatures and whether you can own some"thing" and still want the best for it. And by God, Lovell is awesome. She's got such... attitude. And it really doesn't make any sense in the context of the movie, but it totally works, and it's totally purposeful. The movie is weird, legitimately funny, sexy, tragic, and... man, just so weird. But awesome. More weird than awesome, but definitely awesome, and so much fun. This is, however, one of those movies that you really really really won't enjoy if you're not a huge fan of either B-movies or Full Moon, so take that under advisement before checking it out. If you're into that sort of thing, definitely give it a go.
Next up is Head of the Family. Another Lovell movie, HotF is, at its base, about a love affair between a man named Lance who runs a cafe and a woman named Loretta who happens to be married to an abusive biker thug. In order to get rid of her husband, the couple conspire with the Stackpoole family, a group of freaks run telepathically by a giant head with a tiny body, to have him murdered. The Stackpoole's are not your ordinary family (obviously), and the couple soon discover that they are keeping lost travelers in their basement to perform experiments on them. Instead of cutting their losses and running the hell away, Lance decides that its a better idea to blackmail the Stackpoole's with that knowledge to extort money. The head then has Loretta kidnapped and forces her to perform a live-action reenactment of the story of Joan of Arc. History buffs in the crowd might already know that this doesn't turn out so well for Miss of Arc.
I fucking love this movie. HotF is a lot of fun, and where she was a bit overshadowed by some of the rest of the cast in Hideous!, she is 100% the star of this show for me. Her southern accent, while obviously ridiculous, is incredibly sexy, and her attitude comes in very handy when face-to-face with monsters who want to burn her alive. This movie was acted much better than Hideous!, with J. W. Perra's Myron (the Head) and Blake Adams' Lance coming in a very close second and third to Lovell's Loretta. Perra was entertaining and funny, creepy and tragic, while Adams is a lovable sleazeball who cares more about money and power than Loretta. But Lovell hands-down wins. This movie, to me, is the best representation of what Full Moon is all about. It's fun, creepy, sexy, and legitimately funny. Those are really hard to pull off in a B-movie. 90% of them try WAY to hard to be funny, and never pull it off. Most of them have laughably bad acting, but its not intentional. Charles Band is a master at making it all work together to be interesting art, whether he means it to be or not.
And that's exactly the way it should be. After watching these two, I was left itching to watch more Full Moon movies, and that's exactly the point. A good B-movie leaves you wanting more, not less. And with Band's prolific directing and writing, there's plenty more where that came from. I've got the full collection of Puppet Master movies sitting on the shelf, and I'm gonna have to check them out if they're anything like these.
Bottom Line: So much fun. Worth a watch, worth a rewatch. Funny, endearing, and lovingly put together, you can tell that these folks had fun. And you will too. Check it out if you're into stupid as hell B-movies, funny horror, and Jacqueline Lovell. I can't plug her enough, she's awesome. Seriously. Lower your expectations and give it a go.