6. Looking back on your early output, which movie would you say still holds up as the best example of Full Moon’s moviemaking philosophy?Laserblast is a great example. I’m not the only one who does this, but a strong title, of course, has always been important and the idea of combining two words or really putting a lot of thought into the title before a picture is even written. Corman did it too, so I can’t claim that was my idea, but I certainly focussed on that a lot. Most of the films that I made, that I conceived, that I was very involved with, and in some cases directed, definitely started with the title and usually a piece of artwork that made sense. Then I would work back to the script and the story and make the movie. So that little formula has worked for me. There are so many films that get finished and people are still scratching their heads as to how to market them, what to call them, looking for a title. They make the movie with a tentative title. That’s not to say you can find that the inspiration doesn’t come after the fact, but it’s really hard when you’re approaching a release date to be trying to still figure out how to market and sell your movie. Puppet Master is in a class of its own because it has such a following and even the sequels are popular. A lot of people said: if you were just into trying to be more successful and make more money, what you should have done is just stay in the Puppet Master business. Make one every year, develop more merchandise, do a game, basically build that franchise up. But I never did that, I made the ones I made and maybe that’s enough. Anyway Puppet Master was something of a phenomenon as a direct-to-video success. The first one was made in 1990. The other ones were definitely diminishing returns. The other series that really has its fans, and I chose not to make any more just because of my loyalty to Ted Nicolau who is a friend and a wonderful , and I would hate to cheapen in any way the quality of is the Subspecies series. There are a lot of fans and yes, I could make the next Subspecies here cheap in L.A., but it really doesn’t deserve that. There may be a time when exchange rates are better, because they’re really depressed right now, when we can go out and make another Subspecies movie and do it properly. There are a lot of fans out there and that may take a year or two, but when that happens I’ll be looking forward to that.
7. Full Moon was famous for casting young up-and-coming stars and handing out work to excellent but underappreciated established actors, future Oscar-winner Helen Hunt and Tim Thomerson stand out as examples of both. Are you still in contact with some of Full Moon’s stars? Like Jeffrey Coombs or, say, the ever-so lovely Charlie Spradling, maybe
Definitely! It’s great catching up with them at conventions and events. As for Charlie Spradling, she recently made an appearance at the Full Moon Road Show! She was interveiwed on stage during the theatrical screening events of Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong! Barbara Crampton as well!
I was certainly excited and aware of the people I was working with – but I was in my early 20s and I could have done things a little differently. But just the fact that I worked with them. I worked with a lot of wonderful people. I worked with people who, at the time, were just young actors or actresses who went on to become very famous. I guess I could make that point 20 different times. But to have worked with Christopher Lee and John Carradine and Richard Basehart was also a thrill. I loved his work and he was another fantastic actor. But when it comes to the genre ofmovies, working with Carradine and Christopher Lee was really amazing. It was a thrill, absolutely, because I grew up watching all of their famous movies. It’s funny: you wish you could go back with a little more maturity and enjoy the moment.
8. You are, of course, as prolific a director as you are a producer. In fact, many of the best Full Moon movies were a result of your sitting in the director’s chair, Trancers and Doctor Mordrid to name a few. Which of the movies you directed yourself do you have the fondest memories of? And which hat do you prefer to wear: director or producer?
Definitely director. Some of my favorites were Trancers, Blood Dolls, and a bizarre movie called Head of the Family, which few people have seen, but is up there as one of the weirdest and most favored films. There’s probably a few more I’m forgetting, but those are some I see, looking back, that have stood the test of time.
9. Full Moon Features is heavy on serialization and crossover, was this inspired by comics or Universal Studios-type of films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man? Is that something that you set as a creative goal for Full Moon or did it evolve from the commercial success of certain franchises?Part of my idea, that I’ve never really been able to do, just because of the changing climate and companies that are here and then suddenly I’m with another company, but my idea with Full Moon — and we almost got there — was to create franchises with creatures and characters and dolls where we could eventually start teaming them up, much like comics do.
That’s why I did Dollman vs. Demonic Toys which was fun, for what it was. It was a fun blend of two genres. That was a picture shot in six days. You always tell people: keep in mind the meager means we had to make this. But it still had a certain magic and fun to it. Had the original Full Moon been able to stay on course, I had a variety of these ideas of “team up” and “versus” films. I was creating all of these characters and I looked at what I was doing as kind of like a Marvel comics thing, only on video. I did get to do one, at least. And now with the new Full Moon, we’re headed for that, for sure. These ideas of “versus” movies and franchises and such. All these characters teaming up and having an adventure together will be a lot of fun.
10. Full Moon movies ran the gamut from pure horror to science fiction to more comic-booky flicks. Later on, you even diversified into children’s movies and then into more raunchy fare with the Torchlight brand. Which genre do you prefer working in and why?
I love lacing dark humor into horror films. I think that’s what makes them clever. Whether it’s movies I’ve made like From Beyond or Re-Animator in the ’80s or later pictures like Ghoulies and Troll and Subspecies, they all kind of feel like they’re cut from the same cloth. Horror and fantasy go hand in hand with sci-fi.
11. One of Full Moon’s greatest strengths was its ability to market itself. The brand was also big on producing collectibles and other assorted items that fans could purchase. Why was this important to you and why do you think nobody else followed suit in quite the same way?The actual puppets and dolls in our films — anything that’s anywhere from 8″ to 16″ inches in the movie — really lend themselves well to action figures and models and replicas. That can be turned into action figures because I love that through-line and I think the fans dig it too. We’re doing very limited edition replicas. These aren’t mass produced; we’re averaging about 200 or 500 toys per character. Considering there’s a worldwide audience out there, that’s not a lot. So I like that, I like the scarcity, I like the fact that a lot of the early puppets that were released as Full Moon toys you can find on eBay for hundreds of dollars. These were toys that were originally sold at 10, 15 dollars. So there’s something about that that I like. There may be some other adventures when it comes to merchandising, things that can be tied into movies and either built into the film or discovered. But I do like that part of it.
12. Your family name is synonymous with entertainment. Is there something in the blood that makes the Band family so intertwined with moviemaking? And is there a future generation of Band moviemakers waiting in the gene pool?
There’s my brother Richard Band, who is more successful in the film world than myself! He’s a composer who has done great works for Empire and Full Moon films as well as huge films outside of our little world. As for the next generation, my son Alex Band is a musician. He’s venturing out as a solo artist after massive worldwide success as the founder and singer of The Calling. My daughter has found her way in the fashion industry. And my two younger sons are just getting their start in life and finding their way.
13. Do you have any advice for the newest generation of moviemakers that you think they could benefit from?
We’re in a world where so much is so serious. You’ve got the big studio tent-pole movies, which usually have a tremendous amount of sizzle and special effects and action, but not so much story and not so much character — we’re in a different realm here trying to make low-budget films. We’re trying to be a little bit different, a little out of the box.