Skull Heads (2009)

skullheads_8Starring Robin Sydney, Samantha Light, Steve Kramer, Rane Jameson, Kim Argetsinger, Lucia Stara, Antonio Covatta, Giacomo Gonnella

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: I don’t know, honestly. Not good.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Modern Full Moon films are always a dicey proposition because the budgets are rarely high enough to pull off the FX work necessary to realize their relatively high-concept premises. Skull Heads is no different in the budget department, but it does enough right that this doesn’t matter much. At least for me it didn’t. One look at other reviews for this movie reveals that I may be alone in my love for Skull Heads, but when a film from a fading company is such a return to form I have a hard time believing that I’m its only fan.

Skull Heads begins in a castle dungeon where an angry father is punishing his unruly daughter, Naomi (Robin Sydney), on the rack. Just right there you have two huge pieces of evidence in the return-to-form case: the film is set in a real castle (a hallmark of tons of Full Moon films), and the creepy, unsettling family dynamics. Creepy families are arguably more of a horror movie thing than an actual Full Moon trademark, but with something as unique and defining in the “creepy family” horror sub-genre as Head of the Family (and that’s just one of many creepy families in their catalog), you know they’ve done some serious work in the genre. And the Arkhoff family in Skull Heads is one of Full Moon’s most fucked up and interesting to watch families.

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Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong (2013)

gingerdeadvsevilbong_3Starring John Patrick Jordan, Robin Sydney, Sonny Carl Davis, The Don, Michelle Mais, Bob Ramos, Victoria Levine, Ryan Curry, Amy Paffrath, Masuimi Max, Mindy Robinson, Chanell Heart, Tian Wang, Jinhee Joung, Chance A. Rearden,  Joss Glennie-Smith, Orson Chaplin

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: I don’t even know, honestly. On the low end, for sure.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Despite what that poster to the right might make you think, Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong is not a movie for everyone. I’m inclined to go with the tired adage, “It’s for the fans,” but since I’m not the biggest fan of either series and I really enjoyed this one, I can’t say that it’s as exclusive as that. And liking this movie leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. I’ve lambasted some of Full Moon’s modern films for a few recurrent reasons: being excessively trashy, being questionably racist and for being shameless in their self-promotion of the company’s merch. The conundrum comes when Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong is all three and yet I still liked it. I guess what it boils down to is that when it’s not being horrible, Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong is a lot of stupid fun. I can’t fully explain it, but I definitely enjoyed Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong. Most of it, anyway.

As the fourth entry in both the Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong series, there’s definitely a bit of baggage going into this one. So thank God Full Moon decided to pair the heroes from the respective series with a new friend each, allowing them to regale their new acquaintances (and the audience) with stories of what happened in the previous films. But wait, this is a movie! Who wants to hear boring stories about what happened when you can just show a bunch of clips from said movies? Charles Band actually has the gumption to do this to summarize all three previous Evil Bong films, as well as the first Gingerdead Man movie. The other two Gingerdead films are apparently non-canon, which makes sense as they’re not about anything even remotely related to the tale of blood and dough told in the first film. Surprisingly though, I actually enjoyed the recaps as it had been a while since I’d seen the films so it got me back up to speed.

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The Haunted Casino (2007)

The Haunted Casino (2007)
AKA Dead Man’s Hand, Dead Man’s Hand: Casino of the Damned, Ghost Poker

Starring Scott Whyte, Robin Sydney, Wes Armstrong, Michael Berryman, Kristyn Green, Sid Haig, Jack Maturin, Jessica Morris, Lily Rains, Kavan Reece, Bob Rumnock, Rico Simonini

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. I have a feeling it won’t be pretty though.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

Modern day Full Moon movies can be lumped pretty easily into two categories. The first is the overtly exploitative: movies filled with nudity, inept writing and a general lack of horror. The second category is the overly talkative “Full Moon Soap Opera,” where a group of people find themselves stuck together and instead of anything meaningful happening, they just bicker and whittle away the film’s runtime. The Haunted Casino belongs to the second group, but unlike a lot of other films in the category, it actually delivers a lot of fun at its climax, and the talky parts are far more enjoyable than usual.

Matthew has inherited his uncle’s derelict casino, so he takes his girlfriend and four of their friends to check out the building. Unknown to them (but who wouldn’t see this coming), Matthew wants to stay the night in the casino and have all his friends help him clean it up. Matthew has dreams of renovation, but instead they all get a night they’ll never forget!

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Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong (2011)

Starring Peter Stickles, John Patrick Jordan, Mitch Eakins, Brian Lloyd, Sonny Carl Davis, Michelle Mais, Circus-Szalewski, Irwin Keyes, Jacob Witkin, Robin Sydney

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: High. Part 2 was great.

After the wonderful follow-up to the surprisingly enjoyable Evil Bong, I eagerly awaited the third film in the series. Perhaps the fact that I was disappointed is directly connected to these unrealistic expectations, or maybe it’s because I was unable to see the movie in the theater in glorious 3D and scratch-n-sniff aided Sniff-O-Rama! In any case, I was expecting some quality comedy and instead I got what amounts to a couple of good jokes and a lot of filler.

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Evil Bong 2: King Bong (2009)

Evil Bong 2: King Bong (2009)

Starring John Patrick Jordan, Amy Paffrath, Sonny Carl Davis, Brett Chukerman, Mitch Eakins, Brian Lloyd, Jacob Witkin, Robin Sydney, Michele Mais, Michael A. Shepard

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate, I enjoyed the first.

Evil Bong 2 starts off with a short recap of the entire first film for those that didn’t see it or have pot-induced selective memory. In a low-budget film, this is usually a bad sign that the rest of the film’s runtime will be padded out as much as possible with stock footage and a general lack of imagination. It is a sequel after all. Evil Bong 2 goes the complete opposite direction after this opening though, delivering more laughs, more fun and more awesome Evil Bong action that you can shake a shitty tribal spear at!

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Evil Bong (2006)

Evil Bong (2006)

Starring David Weidoff, John Patrick Jordan, Mitch Eakins, Brian Lloyd, Robin Sydney, Kristyn Green, Tommy Chong, Michelle Mais, Jacob Witkin, Kristen Caldwell, Phil Fondacaro, Tim Thomerson, Bill Moseley, Brandi Cunningham, Dana Danes, Gina-Raye Carter, Sonny Carl Davis

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low, subterranean even. I expect nothing.

Bro, just the fact that I can write anything positive about a movie called Evil Bong is something of a miracle. As much as I love Full Moon movies, what I’ve seen of their recent output hasn’t been their best by any means, so I went into Evil Bong with a distinct trepidation. I’m sure the lowered expectations helped me in the long run, but after watching Evil Bong, it seems like all the pile-of-shit movie dread wasn’t warranted. Against the odds, Evil Bong is actually pretty enjoyable.

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The Gingerdead Man (2005)

The Gingerdead Man (2005)

Starring Robin Sydney, Ryan Locke, Alexia Aleman, Jonathan Chase, Maggie Blye, Daniela Melgoza, Newell Alexander, James Snyder, Larry Cedar, Gary Busey

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. Killer cookie, sounds good enough.

Sorry Charlie, this movie sucks. I don’t even know where to begin, but when I started having flashbacks to Thankskilling, I knew I wasn’t in friendly waters. The Gingerdead Man isn’t quite as bad as that awful killer turkey movie, but it does share a lot of qualities. The Gingerdead Man himself is a puppet that’s killing people while unleashing mildly amusing profanity-laden quips, and while they’re better written than Thankskilling‘s, they are just as facepalm-inducing. You would think that the man who literally created the killer puppet genre could wrench out a better film than this, but I suppose when you’ve made about forty in the genre you’re allowed a dud once in a while.

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