There was a point in the 1990s when you had pretty much no choice but to watch a film by Full Moon Productions if you wanted to see something vaguely resembling a horror film. The studio carried horror through the decade with some cheesy films that look like masterpieces compared to the stuff Full Moon “Features” turns out these days. There were at least some pretty damn good monsters thrown into the mix, plus notable horror directors and actors. So it’s time to cover the bulk of all the films I’ve not yet covered from that era!
Prolific director J.S. Cardone (The Slayer, The Forsaken, Wicked Little Things) started the 90s off with the type of movie that saw the downfall of 80s horror: the dreaded low budget other worldly portal horror. Ugh. Full Moon definitely had an obsession with attempting Lovecraftian horror—and butchering it.
Louise Fletcher, who thankfully became the queen of shitty horror after winning an Academy Award for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, plays a scientist fucking with humans in an underground facility.
A hottie from NASA comes to investigate the accidental death of a subject, but for a good part of the film all we get of horror aside from the nasty body he examines is a nightmare he has.
He connects with a blonde scientist, there’s a bratty monkey pet hanging around, and Miguel A. Núñez Jr. of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, The Return of the Living Dead, and Leprechaun 4: In Space firmly establishes the horror time period.
Finally, the scientists demonstrate their experiment for the NASA hottie, open a portal to another dimension, and let in something deformed at around the 55-minute mark. They go hunting for it, and “it” essentially turns out to be pulling a body snatcher pod game on them.
Unfortunately, only the initial scene revealing the situation delivers any good horror. The crew spends most of the time roaming around the boring sets, so you just have to sit around until the end of the film to see a genuine monster with its own identity…and the main girl conveniently naked. Ah…1990.
The intro scene is better than the rest of the film. A guy roams a whorehouse that looks more like a fun house, and despite freaky deformed freaks popping out from around corners, he enters a room with a pretty whore and forces himself on her.
A cement hand flies off a wall and through the halls, eventually attaching to his face with gory results. Awesome.
Next, a pretty boy inherits his dad’s mansion, fully staffed, complete with a hot chick, and finds his dad’s book on the occult. He reads it, learns all about his dad’s efforts to resurrect himself, and is sexually harassed by some big weird dude at a bar.
Following leads to a woman who knows all about how to resurrect the dead, he visits the whorehouse, where a different pretty boy with a great ass gets his eyes gouged out by that damn flying stone hand.
Meanwhile, our main guy spies on sex that turns pretty freaky with masks. Just when you think it can’t get any weirder, daddy returns as a talking zombie, and shows a really inappropriate appreciation for his son.
Don’t even ask me how birds play into all this supernatural sex.
BAD CHANNELS (1992)
Bad Channels didn’t deserve to be released in 1992. At the latest, it should have been a 1989 film. 1987 would have been ideal.
This is not a 1990s film.
Director Ted Nicolaou, the man behind Subspecies, Full Moon’s most successful 1990s franchise, charmed us with the new wave sc-fi/horror comedy TerrorVision in 1986, which is why this heavy metal sci-fi horror comedy would have been a perfect follow-up a year or two later.
Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn stars as a reporter covering a story about a shock jock when an alien invades the radio station.
While a group is trapped inside, an alien fungus is also taking over, using the airwaves and the blaring of heavy metal music to abduct women, shrink them, and put them into little test tubes.
Bizarre music videos, heavy metal hair bands, a soundtrack and score by Blue Oyster Cult, fungus monsters that look like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, a giant alien, Martha Quinn…
Can I rewrite history and pretend Bad Channels came out in 1987 and not the year MTV became “The Real World Channel”?
In a small town, These nasty pods in the woods start bursting and shooting goo all over people, forming pods around them. Furry creatures pop out of the pods, and while they may bring to mind all the critters of those low budget 80s movies that followed Gremlins, they’re bigger, and have none of the personality.
These are mean bastard. But they do look absolutely hilarious when they roll into a ball and knock people over like bowling pins.
It’s stupid fun for sure with some quirky characters, but by the end of the film it begins to feel like dialogue has been lifted directly from Invasion of the Body Snatchers as all the locals become blank, emotionless pod pushers. I prefer the Seedpeople bowling parts.
LURKING FEAR (1994)
Full Moon gives us one of its coolest creatures (that looks kind of like a full-sized Crypt Keeper)…but it doesn’t show up until 51 minutes into the movie and barely gets any starring time!
Supposedly based on an actual Lovecraft story, Lurking Fear opens strong, as a new mother is dragged into a vent by an unseen creature as her sister protects the baby.
Next, we meet a whole bunch of greedy people after riches supposedly buried with the father of a hot guy just released from prison. They all end up in a church, fighting and pointing guns at each other, until eventually the creature breaks through a window and takes a bite out of a guy.
Good news is, there are even more of the creatures underground, so at least there’s finally some horror payoff.
Plus, it stars Jeffrey Combs, Ashley Laurence of Hellraiser, and Vincent Schiavelli, the psycho subway spirit from Ghost.
SHRUNKEN HEADS (1994)
Richard Elfman, brother of Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo and director of 1980 cult film Forbidden Zone, brings us another pretty dang bizarre movie. He even gets his brother to supply the main title music.
Shrunken Heads is almost like a charming family-friendly horror movie…only it’s not. There are these three boys who regularly hang out at the corner newsstand with the old guy who runs the place (veteran actor Julius Harris). But they’re constantly bullied by the local street gang.
One night, three boys make the mistake of getting in the way of some gang/crime related business…and are killed! Conveniently, the old newsstand man is into voodoo.
He tosses them into a cauldron, resurrects them as flying shrunken heads, and sends them off into the night to exact revenge on the bullies.
Yep. It’s a charming movie about shrunk head boys that go and kill their bullies.
Even better, the dead bullies turn into zombies that then go help kill the other bullies.
Even better than that, one of the kid’s has a little love interest, and her virginity becomes a crucial part of all the voodoo magic.
Toss in an appearance by 80s horror/sci-fi icon Meg Foster as—a drag king?—and Oingo Boingo’s “No One Lives Forever” from 1985 on the soundtrack, and this is pretty much another Full Moon flick that probably should have been made in the 80s.
CASTLE FREAK (1995)
Castle Freak is in a totally different realm than any other Full Moon film, clearly because it comes to us from director Stuart Gordon of Re-Animator fame, and stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator. Oh, and it has a kick ass monster, nasty gore, and a gothic setting.
Combs and Crampton inherit an old castle complete with a staff, thunder and lighting…and a grotesque monster locked away in a dungeon somewhere. When their blind daughter begins exploring, she has a pretty damn creepy near-encounter with the creature, which causes it to break free from its chains and start terrorizing the family.
Castle Freak is unforgettable for its absolutely nasty scene of the freak’s encounter with a prostitute.
The creature also takes a nice bite of a cop’s eye, takes an amazing leap from a castle window, and has a great fight to the death with Combs in the rain. Castle Freak is a classic.
Man in charge Charles Band directs Hideous!, and the title says it all. This is pretty much the point where Full Moon decided that some bad humor, tits, and flirtations with lesbianism should be enough to keep young straight boys interested. Don’t ask me if it works.
There’s this group of rich people that buys and collects deformed freaks. One guy’s latest purchase is stolen by a shirtless woman wearing a gorilla mask, so he goes to the FBI for help.
The investigation leads them to the mansion of another collector. Yet another quirky Full Moon cast ends up at a mansion, where this guy keeps his deformed freaks in tanks.
Turns out, the little freaks are missing from their tanks. And they’re missing from the majority of this movie. Man, it’s bad. This Puppet Master cookie cutter is no Puppet Master.
The cast just talks and fights and runs around trying to get out of the mansion. Eventually, they accidentally unlock a door that reveals the freaks, and decide they’re going to capture the critters. So…they run around some more.
Finally, a monster makes an appearance, sucking on the tit of a sleeping chick—a Full Moon go-to—and then the cast runs around the set some more.
This shit is BORING. It’s not even about the hideous monsters. It’s about the hideous people so obsessed with collecting them.