To say that life could be boring in the 80s and early 90s is an understatement. Kids today have all of the movies, music, video games and comic books at their fingertips, effortlessly. Their problem is actually finding the time to pay attention to any of it in any meaningful way.
For us 80s kids, though? Without the choicest new video tapes, comics or Nintendo games, life could easily be reduced to walking around in your back yard throwing sticks around for sport. No joke.
So when Friday night hit and mom handed you a 5er and told you to go ride your bike down to the video store to rent some movies for you and your kid brother? Man, that meant something!
For me, that was oftentimes the highlight of my week. School sucked. Bullies were crawling through the halls and on the walk to and from the schoolyard. Girls paid 0 attention to me. I barely had any friends. I didn’t have cable TV at home. My nights could be dreadfully tedious without a new game or movie or comic.
So when I’d ditch my bike in the parking lot of the video store, I was usually jazzed up and ready to rent some crazy monster movies. Monsters were my life. I drew pictures of monsters in my notebooks, obsessed over all the different kinds of monsters in movies and books. Hell, I wished I WAS a monster.
Nobody and I mean NOBODY put out monster movies as cool or as frequently as Full Moon Pictures. In the late 80s/early 90s it seemed like there were multiple brand new Full Moon movies every single week!
And there were series. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of all kinds of crazy movie series. I didn’t even bother to read the backs of the VHS boxes most of the time when a new Full Moon movie hit. I’d just snatch em up and rent the shit out of them no questions asked.
My favorite part about Full Moon flicks though, was the creator/writer/director of these schlocky creature features. He was a young looking, vaguely hip sounding dude named Charles Band and he would do these after-the-movie featurettes called Video Zone after the credits of the tapes.
In these, he would show how the gore was done, how the puppets moved and show special sneak peaks at the next few Full Moon movies YEARS before DVD special features became a thing. I credit these behind the scenes videos as one of the driving forces behind my eventual entry into the B-Movie world as a writer/director. If there was never a Full Moon, there never would have been a Hack Movies. Believe that!
Full Moon was the greatest B-movie company for 80s monster-heads and these are my favorite Full Moon flicks.
7. Demonic Toys
Demonic Toys is probably little more than a Child’s Play ripoff banking on the popularity of the first Full Moon puppet movie franchise, Puppet Master. But with inspired creature designs like Jack Attack and Baby Oopsie Daisy along with some pretty graphic kills, Demonic Toys more than makes up for its seeming lack of originality.
I particularly enjoyed the otherworldly demonic angle in this little flick and was happy to see that Full Moon went on to explore these characters further in the Dollman Vs Demonic Toys crossover flick a few years later. Tim Thomerson vs Baby Oopsie? Fuck yeah!
6. Meridian: Kiss of the Beast
Meridian is a flick I first caught on late night Skinemax TV at my dad’s house. My dad had cable so when I’d stay over there some weekends as a young teenager in the early 90s, I’d turn the sound down real low and watch all of the hard R rated soft-core fuck flicks.
Usually these flicks were just excuses to get bleach-blonde, fake tittie bitches naked for as long as legally possible and still get the flick picked up by cable. Imagine my excitement and surprise as a wee monster kid when I stumbled across a titty movie with midgets and werewolves! Score!
This is just the first of many flicks on this list filmed in gorgeous eastern European castles. Charles Band was obsessed with them in the 80s and 90s and filmed a ton of movies there. So the plot of this one is pretty similar to most. American tourists visit spooky castle then insert the rest. In this case the rest is getting fucked by a werewolf. Nuf said.
Man I love this series. Subspecies and its lead baddie Radu absolutely set the bar for gothic, baroque vampire flicks that Bram Stoker’s Dracula would later go on to perfect.
Radu is just so fucking cool looking. He takes the old school Nosferatu long, pointy fingers and corpse-colored skin and combines it with the ugliness of a vampire bat, then stuffs it all into a goth/industrial outfit complete with long black hair and leather jacket.
He talks like an 87 year old cancer patient and constantly leaks blood from his mouth while he slinks around and touches shit with his crazy pointed fingers. That is, when he’s not chopping them off and turning them into little demons.
The Subspecies flicks are atmospheric, sexy and just plain awesome and the first one is, of course, the best.
4. Ginger Dead Man 2
The Gingerdead Man series is primarily remembered as cringe-inducing low budget nonsense utilizing Charles Band’s pet monster type, the puppet, as its villain. The first film is pretty much utter dreck save for the fact that batshit crazy Gary Busey plays the voice of the titular character.
What I didn’t expect was that the sequel to this altogether forgettable tax-write-off of a film would end up having the heart of indie filmmaking at its core. It’s no secret if you’ve hung out on this website for any amount of time that I myself am an indie filmmaker specializing in low-to-no budget horror/comedy fare. So when Gingerdead Man 2 turned out to be a meta-movie about a prolific low budget filmmaker who obsesses over making shitty puppet movie after shitty puppet movie, I was hooked.
There are some speeches in this film about movie making that rival Lloyd Kaufman’s speeches in his meta-movie about a meta-movie Terror Firmer. There are also some bizarre looking puppets in this flick and some pretty decent gore. The Gingerdead Man actually kind of takes a back seat to the whacked out plot about the wheelchair kid who gets flown in to watch the puppet movie be made only to turn out to be some kind of deranged terrorist.
If you make movies yourself or love movies about making low budget movies, you’ll be surprised just how cool Gingerdead Man 2 turns out to be.
3. Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys
It took until 2004 for Charles Band’s two most famous puppet franchises to cross over. And while this ain’t no Godfather Part 2, I found Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys to be one of the most endearing flicks in the entire Full Moon catalog thanks in part to an inspired performance by the one and only Feldmeister himself, Corey Feldman.
The plot is ridiculous and over-complicated for a movie that just needs to get evil toys to fight evil puppets as quickly as possible, but once the shit actually goes down, and Feldman’s acting along the way makes this epic crossover extremely satisfying.
Bonus point for blowing up the puppets early on and then tricking them out with cyborg body parts with which to fight the evil toy monsters. That was a nice touch. While Puppet Master VS Demonic Toys isn’t the best entry in either franchise, it’s a great send-up for life-long fans who have followed these characters since we were kids. You can definitely do worse.
When you think of Full Moon Pictures, well, you think of killer puppets. But the SECOND thing you think of when you think of Full Moon Pictures is Jack Deth himself, Tim Thomerson. Tim Thomerson was the square jawed, swaggering, scene-chewing, cartoonish leading man long before Bruce Campbell strapped on the chainsaw and boom stick.
Now, Spergs will point out that the first Trancers isn’t TECHNICALLY a Full Moon movie since Charles Band was still producing movies under his dad’s banner Empire Pictures back in 1984 when the first Trancers flick was produced. But Thomerson went on to star as Jack Deth in 4 Trancers sequels (and one long unreleased Trancers short film) as well as making appearances as the titular character in the Dollman movies as well as other Full Moon movies.
Trancers is definitely a Full Moon flick, even if the logo isn’t technically on the box. Just listen to the synopsis from Wikipedia:
“Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a police trooper in the year 2247 who has been hunting down Martin Whistler, a criminal mastermind who uses psychic powers to turn people into mindless “trancers” and carry out his orders. Deth can identify a tranced individual by scanning them with a special bracelet. All trancers appear as normal humans at first, but once triggered, they become savage killers with twisted features.”
If that ain’t Full Moon, I don’t know what is.
1.Puppet Master 3
Puppet Master 3 isn’t just awesome because it was the introduction of, Six Shooter the six armed puppet, one of the coolest of all of Andre Toulon’s puppets, it’s awesome because it’s genuinely a great movie.
Richard Lynch plays evil Nazi Major Kraus and is joined by a rock solid cast in what is unanimously regarded as the best movie in the puppet master series and arguably the best movie in the entire Full Moon Pictures catalog.
Puppet Master 3 is actually a prequel to parts 1 and 2 and not only introduces Six Shooter but also tells the origin story of Blade, revealing that the puppet was modeled after and contains the soul of Lynch’s Major Kraus.
If you’re in the mood for a Nazi flick with great acting and killer puppet madness, look no further than Puppet Master 3, the crème de la crème of Charles Band’s enormous B-Movie universe.