Starring Shiloh Creveling, Evan Henderson, Maria Olsen, Michael Citriniti, George Appleby, Sonny King, Jesse Egan, Rosemary Brownlow, Arthur Roberts, Robert Cooper, Nihilist Gelo, William Paul Burns, Tarashai Lee
Directed by Charles Band
Expectations: Not much. Perhaps a variation on the Evil Bong store format.
On the general scale:
On the B-movie scale:
Usually I try to keep up with the latest offerings from Full Moon, but Ravenwolf Towers slipped through the cracks. It originally debuted as an episodic series in December 2016, with new episodes to be released every subsequent full moon. My intentions were to review the complete series, like I did with Trophy Heads, their previous episodic release, but Full Moon stopped releasing new episodes after the third came out in February 2017. For a while I assumed they were just behind schedule — it happens to the best of us — so I continued to wait, and in November 2017 they released a feature-length version combining the three released episodes. My intentions were to review it ASAP, but then I got behind schedule myself and now here we are in the latter half of June 2018 and I’m finally reviewing Ravenwolf Towers. Why do I relate this long-winded history of putting off Ravenwolf Towers? Well… because Ravenwolf Towers is fantastic, a real achievement for Full Moon, and I’m sorry I ever waited to watch it. I imagine there are others who were similarly waiting to watch it, and I hope by relating my story I might get people off the fence and onto their favorite Full Moon streaming platform to watch it!
Ravenwolf Towers takes place in the titular building, a rundown hotel in Hollywood that’s been around since at least the 1920s. Jake (Evan Henderson) is hired on as an assistant manager, and things get weird before he even has a chance to settle in. The entire top floor is leased by a single family, access to this floor is only available via a special key to the elevator, and the family is not to be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Ivan Ivanoff (George Appleby) — a character from the Decadent Evil movies and, most recently, Puppet Master: Axis Termination — rents a room and pays cash to avoid the standard forms and questions. His presence suggests a supernatural evil is afoot, but perhaps a better clue is the deformed monstrosity of a man who hides in a wardrobe and rips off a man’s arm during the film’s intro! 🙂
What sets Ravenwolf Towers apart from just about every modern Full Moon feature is that it’s the closest they’ve come in many, many years to capturing the feel of their well-loved early work. That’s right, I’m talking about the classic Full Moon era of the early ’90s, that precious time that hooked so many fans on Full Moon’s unique, addictive brand of filmmaking. It’s not just a return of the feel, though, but also a return to more traditional storytelling and writing. Unique, interesting characters serve and build the story instead of simply existing without depth. There is also more than enough story to support a feature-length runtime, something that hasn’t been true of many Full Moon films since the 2000s. Ravenwolf Towers truly feels like a labor of love, with an expressed effort to make something more than fluff to keep the studio alive. Not only was I not expecting this, while I was watching I kept waiting for the turn towards cheap schlock. It never came, and it was a beautiful thing.
I was convinced this sort of filmmaking no longer resided in Charles Band’s capacity, but Ravenwolf Towers proves without a shadow of a doubt that he clearly still has the chops if the material demands it. The movie is shot in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio (something quite rare in the Full Moon catalog), and this also lends a level of professionalism and gravitas to the film. It isn’t the most beautiful cinematography, but it looks great for what it is and I think it immediately tells the viewers that this one is something different from what has become the standard Full Moon film. Band also seasons the film with some well-used instances of slow motion, another rarity in modern Full Moon. These little artistic touches really go a long way to make Ravenwolf Towers feel cinematic and akin to the early Full Moon work. It’s really nice to see, and I hope this isn’t the last time we see something like this from Full Moon.
Ravenwolf Towers also brings together a number of characters from previous Full Moon movies. This might bring something like Gingerdead Man vs. Evil Bong to mind, but it’s actually pulled off quite well. Screenwriter Roger Barron, who also wrote Trophy Heads and Puppet Master: Axis Termination, does a great job integrating the different characters into a single story naturally. Like the rest of the movie, everything is handled with a level of class and skill I just don’t expect from Full Moon at this point. I’m probably overselling it a bit because I was so surprised by it, but I think any fan who has kept up with Full Moon over the years would feel at least some of what I’m expressing here. The story itself isn’t anything new or especially fresh, but the way everything is put together makes for a wonderful, entertaining experience.
If you’ve ever wish Full Moon would go back to their old style of filmmaking, then Ravenwolf Towers is the one to watch. Charles Band delivers his best direction in years, aided and augmented by the best Richard Band score in recent memory; Ravenwolf Towers is composed with love and thick layers of the classic Full Moon feel. The acting is probably the weakest element of the production, holding the movie back from a full home run, but this is rarely a dealbreaker for me. Coming this close to the treasured Full Moon style that wormed its way into the hearts and minds of ’90s horror fans the world over is a real achievement from where I’m sitting, and I hope you like it as much as I did.
Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie, I’ll be checking in with a movie related to the Full Moon series: David DeCoteau’s The Brotherhood V: Alumni! See ya then!