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You guys don’t give ol’ Chuck Band enough credit. Just because the guy produces about three to five films a year involving evil endowed puppets, dolls, bongs, or cookies doesn’t mean the guy is just fixated on diminutive monsters. Sometimes makes a movie about gigantic things - Kraa!, Zarkorr! The Invader, and Killer Eye all rub elbows in the small corner of Full Moon’s studio reserved for oversize, larger-than-life monsters. This little B-movie nook has the distinguished privilege of holding one of the strangest films in Full Moon’s library: Head of the Family (1996).
Head of the Family veers away from Band’s normal filmmaking, style beyond the size of its antagonist’s noggin. The film is a Southern Gothic in the vein of Tennessee Williams or Flannery O’Connor, but, you know, centering on a murderous mutant genius with an abnormally large head and psychic powers.
Said head, Myron, also known to his friends and family as Myron Stockpoole (J.W. Perra), is caught by con man/restaurateur Lance (Blake Adams) while orchestrating the disappearance of a drifter. Lance and his would-be girlfriend Lorretta (Jacqueline Lovell) decide to blackmail Myron and his family into murdering Lorretta’s abusive criminal boyfriend Otis (Bob Schott). What starts as a one-off deal leads the two deceitful lovers to take further action against the Stockpooles, a clan of murderers not to be trifled with.
You know, late 1990s Full Moon joints don’t get nearly enough credit. Sure, the Paramount and Empire days are looked back upon with a justified haze of nostalgia, but Band took some pretty interesting chances with the company during the last part of the 20th century – chances that stand out within Full Moon’s filmography. Films like Hideous, Blood Dolls, and certainly Head of the Family traded straight horror fare for more blackly comedic plot lines, resulting in some very unique, grossly underrated B-movies.
Band (using the pseudonym Robert Talbot) and frequent collaborator Benjamin Carr (aka, Th13teen Ghosts screenwriter Neal Marshall Stevens) rein back on gooey gore and creature effects, instead opting to spin a quirky, film noir story about a petty crook whose blackmailing of the town’s local old money family gets him way, way over his head.
The script plays out a bit like a Coen Brothers film in a lot of ways – characters talk with a Southern-fried flavor and fast speed, balancing overwrought mad scientist monologues with screwball comedy back-and-forths. Our protagonists aren’t heroes; they’re low level crooks and, as such, must scheme themselves out of dangerous scenarios devised by Myron – to varying degrees of success, of course.
Continue reading the Head Of The Family review on the jump…
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