Starring Adam Noble Roberts, Maria Olsen, Linnea Quigley, Jacqueline Lovell, Denice Duff, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer, Darcy DeMoss, Irena Murphy, Jessica Morris, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Amy Paffrath, Robin Sydney, Carel Struycken, Kristine DeBell, Gregory Niebel, Stuart Gordon, David DeCoteau, J. Scott
Directed by Charles Band
Expectations: As long as it’s fun I’ll be satisfied, and with this many classic scream queens I don’t see how it won’t be fun.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
For many years now, Full Moon has made movies that a mainstream viewer, or even an old fan from the glory days who missed Full Moon’s last 15 years of questionable movies, wouldn’t hesitate to call “strange” or “out there” or “shit.” For those that stumble upon the movies unaware of what they’re getting themselves into (like the Redbox patrons), I’m sure the general reaction is something close to, “Who would watch this?” Hardcore Full Moon fans, that’s who! Throughout changing video landscapes and formats, Full Moon continues to pump out films for their fans (and pretty much no one else). So it makes perfect sense that their latest venture, Trophy Heads (which debuted in June as a five-part web series exclusively on Full Moon Streaming), is not just a film for their fans, but a film about those very fans.
Well… perhaps that’s a little too broad, as I doubt most Full Moon aficionados would kidnap our favorite stars, murder them, and mount their heads on the wall, but you get the idea. Anyway, yes, Trophy Heads is about a fan who rounds up six of his favorite ’80s scream queens, keeps them in his home-built basement dungeon, and then murders them while making them recreate situations from one of the Full Moon movies they were in way back when. There’s not really any depth beyond that, but as this is something directly for Full Moon fans, I don’t think anyone really cares. I certainly didn’t.
What the fans do care about is seeing Linnea Quigley, Jacqueline Lovell, Denice Duff, Brinke Stevens, Michelle Bauer and Darcy DeMoss all together, playing themselves in one Full Moon film. As a novelty film, that’s a pretty good hook for anyone with nostalgia for these illustrious scream queens, and I honestly can’t believe it took Full Moon this long to make something like this! The queens are fun to watch interact with one another, especially Lovell and Duff. They have a hilarious high brow/low brow rivalry concerning their respective films and their improv skills, provided you’ve seen the Full Moon films they’re in and get the jokes. There’s also the inherent comedy of Lovell arguing about the artistic merits of Head of the Family while the horribly trashy third act of the film plays on a TV above the imprisoned girls.
In addition to the classic scream queens, there are also cameos from their modern Full Moon counterparts: Jessica Morris, Robin Sydney, Amy Paffrath, and Jean Louise O’Sullivan. They also play versions of themselves (auditioning for a shitty horror movie, naturally), and their interactions are another high point of the film. Without the oppressive nature of the traditional horror movie structure, the actresses are able to stretch their legs a little and show that they can do more than just run around and scream. This goes for the classic scream queens as well, and I have to applaud Full Moon for doing a different kind of film like this. Veteran Full Moon directors David DeCoteau and Stuart Gordon also make little cameos, adding to the film’s charm even more. You’d think Charles Band would’ve worked himself in somewhere!
But what is a trophy head without a hunter to mount it? That’s where Max (Adam Noble Roberts) and his mom (Maria Olsen) come in. Max is a serious fan of VHS and horror films, specifically Full Moon’s. He’s in a depressive funk as he’s realized that his favorite actresses from these cult classics are not being given the respect they deserve. Like the VHS medium itself, these scream queens will fade away with time and no one will remember them. Clearly other fans will remember them, but you can’t fault his logic because HE’S CRAZY. So is his mom who, between trips to the basement to deliver brownies and tuna fish sandwiches, agrees to help her son kidnap and murder his favorite actresses. If only all moms were this accommodating!
Max and his mom aren’t just crazy, though, they’re fun to watch. Their characters are definitely of the seen-it-before variety, but Roberts and Olsen bring them to life with wonderful dialogue delivery and tons of leering, creepy looks. They actually feel like mother and son, and without this well-acted relationship Trophy Heads would fall apart. I don’t watch Full Moon films for their acting, but Roberts and Olsen both do an excellent job. Olsen has worked for years in loads of fairly high-profile movies (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Lords of Salem, etc), but this is Roberts’ debut performance! Hopefully there is more to come from him, Full Moon or otherwise!
I liked Trophy Heads a lot, but as a Full Moon fan that was pretty much my only option with this one. Others would definitely find it hard to get through, if not impossible. But it’s not for them! By bringing back these fan-favorite actresses, Full Moon has created one of their funniest and most enjoyable movies in years. Like all modern Full Moon work, it’s also kinda shameless in plugging other Full Moon products, but at least this time it’s subtle and it’s a plug for their classic films instead of a new line of replicas or Evil Bong merch. But what really sets Trophy Heads apart is the star-studded cast! They are all a joy to watch, and hopefully the film is enough of a success to warrant Full Moon including more genre veterans in their future films.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking out Fred Olen Ray’s 2000 film Sideshow! See ya then!