For over 30 years, Charles Band has helmed Full Moon Features, a quasi-legendary production company that’s produced the likes of PUPPET MASTER, EVIL BONG, and THE GINGERDEAD MAN. We got a chance to ask him about his impressive horror pedigree, creepy puppets, and whether DEEP RED is a better movie than JAWS.
What is your earliest horror movie memory? What got you hooked on the genre?
I was quite literally raised in the business. My father Albert was John Huston’s right hand man and had a long career in Hollywood and then in Europe making spaghetti westerns and other genre movies. And he of course directed 1957’s horror classic I BURY THE LIVING. But for me, I was really into comic books and monster movies, stop-motion stuff like the work of Ray Harryhausen, SINBAD movies and KING KONG etc. Later, of course, I would work with David Allen making these kind of stop-motion monster movies like LASERBLAST, DOLLS, PUPPET MASTER and more. In fact, we’re in the process of finally finishing David’s dream film, a movie I developed with him for years called THE PRIMEVALS with live action scenes shot in Romania in the 90s with a wide window to finish the intricate stop-motion effects. But then David passed away and I put the project on the shelf. So it’s very exciting to be able to get this epic done and remind the world how awesome old-school authentic stop-motion animation is.
The Puppet Master puppets have become fixtures of the genre. What’s the key to good movie monster design?
You have to create something iconic. Of course, you never know how people will respond to what you create, but in the case of the PUPPET MASTER characters, each one is different, each one has their own personality and story and abilities. Monsters have to be unique and that’s why people have loved these characters and movies consistently for decades.
The horror VHS collector circle has had a resurgence in the past few years. What is it that makes your tapes such prized pieces of people’s collections? Would you have ever guessed these tapes would earn so much on the secondary market?
I never would have guessed it! Again, you’re never sure what sort of legacy anything you do today will have tomorrow. Back then, we were just trying to stay one step ahead of an industry that eveolved very quickly and was constantly changing. The Wizard Video big boxes and their beautiful art that I comissioned primarily from super talented Italian artists, was our way of standing out from the other stuff on the shelf. Each one stood on its own, but collectors and completists would see the design thread in them and start renting or buying them based on the fact that they were Wizard releases, as opposed to what the movie was. We just re-released one of my most popular movies and one of the most beloved Wizard Video releases, PARASITE, in an exact clone of its original VHS release. We have 300 signed and numbered ones now on sale at our store and each one comes with a copy of the special PARASITE issue of our DELIRIUM magazine. It’s great to revisit our history and drag it into the present day.
Is there a “project that got away”? Some director or screenplay you never got to work with that you want to?
Wow, too many to mention! We’ve generally finished every film we start, but certainly there have been times when you set up a project and everyone is excited and then something happens – usually the money falls through – and you have to move on. But THE PRIMEVALS is probably our most talked about unreleaesed movie and as I mentioned, we’re correcting that as we speak!
What’s a better movie: Jaws or Deep Red? Why?
Apples and oranges! JAWS is a perfect adventure movie. DEEP RED is a gory giallo. Both are awesome!
Thank you to Charles for talking with us. For access to every Full Moon Features release ever, go to fullmoondirect.com.