Head of the Family, 1996 – ★★½

Another film widely to be considered one of ‘Full Moons’ better offerings ‘Head of the Family’ has two things going for it. It’s practical effects, and our core casts performances. Other than that this is, in my opinion I might add, one of the most mysoginistic movies i’ve sat through in a LONG time.

The basic plot seems to revolve around diner owner ‘Lance’, and his ‘bit on the side’, ‘Loretta’. Loretta is married to a big scary biker feller, but has been having a longstanding affair with Lance for a while. When big scary biker man decides he wants to get into racketeering and basically starts trying to threaten the diner for protection money. Lance realises that by getting rid of said biker, he could not only be free of intimidation, but he could also finally go ‘official’ with Loretta.

Fortune smiles on Lance when, one night while out driving with Loretta, the pair happen upon members of the ‘Stackpool’ family. a reclusive and eccentric family who’re known for their shady dealings in the town. The pair see the stackpools usher an unsuspecting pickup into their swamp based aboad, but think nothing of it…that is until the owner of said pickup turns up missing.

It turns out the Stackpools have been experimenting on random townsfolk and the literak ‘Head’ of the family, a chap byt he name of Myron, is about to recieve a visit from Lance with a blackmail laced offer that the Stackpools literally wont be able to refuse.

‘Throwback’ movies have been popular now for a very long time, the idea of trying to recapture the vibe of 70’s or 80’s exploitation cinema is nothing new. But I figured we’d left the kind of writing thats featured here back in the 1960s honestly.

NON of the female characters in this film are written with a shred of dignity. Literally every single one of them is only there seemingly to get naked, have sex, be ridiculed or put on and tormented/tortured, and thats it. Loretta as a character gets a couple of moments to act smarter than the guys in this film, but she always comes unstuck and always winds up worse off for it.

I dont think 10 minutes goes by in this movie without a scene of Loretta or Ernestina Stackpool getting fully naked or having sex. by the time of the end credits I was pretty convinced that i’d seen some backroom 70’s grimey porn flicks with more dignitiy and respect for women than this film shows across it’s entire runtime.

I mean, non of the guys exactly get off lightly either, but at least there are allusions to them getting the upper hand of a situation, of having respect to lose. The women in this film feel almost commodified and it’s deeply upsetting, awkward and just plain weird to sit through. The fact this came out in 1996 blows my mind quite honestly.

Other than that the scripts adrift. We have a basic plot about a love triangle where one of the parties tries to get rid of the other via nefarious means. Honestly though; that all takes a back seat to the softcore sex scenes, random nudity and abuse of women. it comes to something when you could actually chop the main plot of this movie OUT of this movie, and it would still more or less make sense as a work, theres that little ACTUAL plot in this thing.

Pacing is a little slow going, it’s incredibly repetitious and while a 3 act structure is obeyed in principle, you do have to squint to really see it. The dialogue, for what its *trying* to do, isnt half bad. but I feel a bit like the equivilent would be praising a klansman for his creative use of racism. Like, yeh…I guess you CAN be elequent in hate, but thats nothing to be proud of.

The direction, for Full Moon at this time is about the norm. in broad terms its nothing to write home about, a technically competent work that just about does the job, in Full Moon terms. it’s in the upper middle levels of quality, Not quite as good as their peaks (Puppet Master 1-3, Trancers) but by no means a poor offering.

Cine is much the same. We have a very styalised production that uses the cine effectively to really push the practical effects. composition is solid, this is arguably the “peak” of Full Moons creative ability on the cinematography front, the point where the feeling of care within the company was still very much there, right before CGI really became a prominant force and basically drowned the art of cine from the company entirely.

The performances are literally the films only other redeeming quality Blake Adams as Lance plays a quick talking, snake oil salesman southern type fantastically and really sells the sleaziness effectively. I feel bad for Jaqueline Lovell as Loretta here for giving her absolute best to a performance for a character that was written with only disdane in mind. She honestly deserved better because the one or two times she got to shine on the dialogue front, she REALLY knocked it out of the park. and I’d love to see her have a more meatier role in future.

Credit also has to go to J.W Perra as Myron. The big brained mutant with malicious intent is classically devious and helps pull the film up quality wise by quite a bit. He ooozes gross across the runtime, and easily has some of the most memorable parts within this thing. I’d be more than interested in seeing the character pop up again or at least to see J.W try this style of acting again under different circumstances.

The musics by Richard Band…yadda yadda yadda…seen one full moon features movie, you’ve heard his entire repetoir, yadda yadda yadda. Im not a fan.

I’ve been meaning to get around to this film for a good long while and I can only say that I was left with the feeling that while I out and out didnt hate this thing, I sure as hell didnt love it. it does have some elements going for it, and at least this full moon film actually HAS action happening in it (i’ve sat through WAY too many of these that amount to 90 minutes of 2 people in a room talking intercut with 10 minutes of violence at the beginning and end). Not one I’ll be back to in a hurry. I cant recommend this one in good faith.

source https://letterboxd.com/tytdreviews/film/head-of-the-family/

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