Saturday, September 4, 2010

I'm with the Band! (Part 1 of 2)

How I discovered I was a different kind of Band nerd...

A recent promo photo of the man surrounded by some of his movie minions.

    My interest in producer/director Charles Band's movies started while reading an article on his then-upcoming movie Laserblast in my pal Terry's copy of Starlog magazine #12 sometime in early 1978. I didn't manage to see Laserblast in the theaters - a fact that would come back to haunt me, as will eventually be seen - but I thought it looked amazing from the article. I finally did catch up with the movie a couple of years later, when it became one of the very first movies I ever rented. On BETA.

This isn't the copy I watched. Or maybe it is. How many could there have been?
    (Making up the first three movies I ever rented: Halloween, Xanadu, and Laserblast. I don't know how long it was before I rented a movie with two words in the title.) I enjoyed the flick, returned it to the stereo/TV repair store (!) where I rented it, and that was that. As the 80's kicked into gear, I started renting more and more movies, even moving over to VHS at some point, and I started to notice the name Charles Band was on a lot of them. Parasite, Tourist Trap, Ghoulies and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn were some of the titles. I was sorry I'd missed Parasite and Metalstorm in the theaters, as they were Band's contributions to the short-lived 3-D revival in the early 80's.

    By the time I watched the last credit to Trancers roll up my TV screen, I was hooked and from that point actively sought out any movie that had the name Charles Band or his Empire Pictures logo on it. And there were a lot of them. Band said at the time of Empire's heyday in the mid 80's that he wanted to make 1000 films by 2000. He didn't quite get there, but he did make a lot. They weren't all gems, but enough of them were at least diamonds in the rough that I never gave up being a fan. Band and his Empire company faded from view as the 80's ended, but as the 90's began he sprang back up like a phoenix with his new company, Full Moon Productions.

The word under Full Moon changed a lot, but the logo stayed gloriously the same.

    Full Moon picked up and then some where Empire Pictures left off, and at their peak in the early 90's Full Moon was putting out a movie a month (!) direct to video and released through Paramount Studios video distribution. At their best, these movies are fast paced low budget nonsense, and both Charles Band and I share a love of sequels. His Puppet Master series is now around 10 movies or so (depending on if you refute the existence of any of the later, lesser sequels) - they just added Puppet Master: Axis of Evil to the series this month - haven't checked it out yet, but initial reports are good; Trancers got to five flicks before rebooting with number six; Subspecies made it to four entries before stalling out. Eventually as 2000 came and went (and presumably when the profits lessened) the deal with Paramount ended and Full Moon was left adrift briefly. Band hadn't made it to 1000 pictures, but he had a couple of hundred under his belt, which is nothing to sneeze at. Full Moon has come back in slightly different iterations about three times now. (Quick, can you tell the differences between Full Moon Productions, Full Moon Entertainment, and Full Moon Features? Yeah, me neither!)

Charles Band's biggest little stars. How many can you name without peeking?

    Band branched out in two directions from his normally R rated horror and science fiction flicks in the video boom of the 90's: he launched a family friendly video line and a harder edged line of erotic videos. (More than R, less than X.)

Band's kiddie label
Band's grown up label

I skipped most of the kid flicks and don't like my filth so clean, so in the late 90's and into the first five years of the 21st century, I drifted away from Band and his movies. He put out a couple of clip jobs (When Puppets and Dolls Attack! and Monsters Gone Wild!) that to me seemed to be taking advantage of the goodwill of his fans.

Worse, his productions were starting to be extremely low budgeted (no budgeted?), making the movies of old look Avatar-esque by comparison. All of his films started to revolve around tiny creatures as well (the better to merchandise with) and they all took place in small areas with just a few characters, so there were no bigger scale movies like Dr. Mordred or Robot Jox showing up anymore, and I went from actively seeking out to actively avoiding movies with his name on them for a couple of years. I dipped back in occasionally, but found nothing to light the fires again.
    Then in 2006, Band started his Full Moon Roadshow, a travelling exhibition of the man and his movies. They didn't get closer than Charlotte NC the first three years which is a four hour drive from Wilmington. Then I heard that the 2009 Charles Band Full Moon Roadshow would be throwing down in Raleigh NC, just a couple of hours away. Having no real idea what to expect, but thinking it sounded fun, I got a couple of tickets from his website (getting a great deal - Buy One Get One - and then they threw in a couple more tickets - so 4 admissions for $10 - sadly, no one else was available to take those extra two tickets. *sigh*) and settled in to wait for the show. (I filled the time in the two weeks previous by writing a horror movie screenplay - what they hey, kept me off the streets!)

I didn't find this in a Wonka bar, but it was still kind of a Golden Ticket for me.

I'm going to wrap this one up, and give the lowdown on the Roadshow in a separate blog entry so that this one doesn't grow so long it scares anyone away from reading it. (Stupid wordy blogmaster!)


See you there, and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I could have sworn that we saw Metalstorm at the theatre together, but on further reflection, I guess it was Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone...

    Love me some Subspecies movies. Wish I could have used one of those extra roadshow tix!

  2. That is so funny, because my first thought while writing this was that we'd seen Metalstorm together too - but then I too realized it was Spacehunter ("I lied!"). We did see the trailer for Metalstorm in the theater several times though. Subspecies is a very cool series - managed to pick up the DVD box set from the Full Moon site during a big sale - and wow, yeah, you, me, our ladies and Charlie Band & his Roadshow would have = Big Time Fun!