FEBRUARY 14 VHS HISTORY LEASON : FULL MOON FEATURES
Full Moon Features is a motion picture production and distribution company headed by B-movie veteran Charles Band. It is known for the direct-to-video series Puppet Master and Subspecies, as well as the innovative VideoZone featurette at the end of films through 1989 to 2000. After the collapse of Band's previous film studio, Empire Pictures, he relocated to the United States and opened Full Moon Productions. Band's goal with Full Moon was to create low budget horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films while retaining a somewhat big budget look. In the United States, Full Moon teamed with Paramount Pictures and Pioneer Home Entertainment for direct-to-video releasing on VHS and Laserdisc, and the first release was the feature film directed by David Schmoeller, Puppet Master in 1989. Puppet Master turned out to be a huge hit for Full Moon and following the film on VHS and Laserdisc was a featurette entitled No Strings Attached, which documents the making of Puppet Master. It featured interviews with cast and crew members, including actor Paul Le Mat and Charles Band himself. The next three releases - Shadowzone, Meridian: Kiss of the Beast, and Crash and Burn (changing to Full Moon Entertainment with the release of the latter) - all featured a making-of presentation after the film. Paramount, however, did not believe in the making-of concept, and forced Band to pay for all of the additional tape needed. Some controversy arose however many years after the release of Puppet Master. In an interview on the website, The Terror Trap, Puppet Master director, David Schmoeller, says that Charles Band owes him residuals, as well as stating that Charles Band does not give credit to directors. Schmoeller continues, saying that Band did not want him on the director's commentary on the DVD release of Puppet Master because "it would reveal that someone else shared in the creation of Full Moon's biggest and most successful franchise." With the fifth Full Moon release, Puppet Master II, in 1991, Full Moon introduced VideoZone, a behind-the-scenes video magazine. The average VideoZone featured an introduction by Charles Band, the making-of the "movie you just watched", an interview with someone involved in a future Full Moon release, merchandise (such as Full Moon t-shirts, posters, and other assorted goods), trailers, and contact information. VideoZone tied together the "comic book feel" that Band insisted with the Full Moon product.
Full Moon continued producing its releases throughout the early '90s (sometimes as many as twelve releases a year), and in 1993 founded two more labels: Torchlight Entertainment, specializing in soft-core pornographic sci-fi comedies, and Moonbeam Entertainment, specializing in family orientated sci-fi and fantasy films. Torchlight's first release was Beach Babes From Beyond; Moonbeam's was Prehysteria!, which actually became a high seller for distributor, Paramount, and was one of the first Full Moon films to be sold as an inexpensive sell-through product (as most Full Moon features were sold on VHS as rental items, with prices upwards of $100 for each tape). In 1995, due to the Direct to Video market losing interest and financial ground with the rental market, in addition to internal issues, Full Moon Entertainment separated from distributor Paramount. Full Moon's Halloween 1995 production, Castle Freak, was released on video unrated. After the releases of Castle Freak and Oblivion 2: Backlash, Band renamed Full Moon Entertainment Full Moon Studios for the feature Vampire Journals, and used the name Full Moon Pictures for the following film, Hideous!. Band continued to distribute all films on his own under then name of Amazing Fantasy Entertainment, until around 1999, when some of the films were distributed by Kushner-Locke Entertainment.
With the release of Shrieker in 1998, Band enlisted the help of Ohio-based filmmaker and Tempe Entertainment founder J.R. Bookwalter, who had recently relocated to California. Bookwalter was commissioned by Band to begin editing features, including Curse of the Puppet Master. Curse of the Puppet Master, created due to demand from video retailers for a new installment of the Puppet Master franchise, is not held in high regards with fans of the genre. To conserve costs (as most Full Moon features were being made for much less than the Paramount-distributed films), the film was put together using footage from the first five Puppet Master files, as well as some new footage. However, Bookwalter's work got Full Moon noticed on Apple.com, where a story was published about Bookwalter's editing of Curse of the Puppet Master on his iBook in a hotel room in Ohio.
Over the next several years, Full Moon continued its releases and even introduced more labels:
* Alchemy Entertainment/Big City Pictures - specializing in urban horror and science fiction films.
* Surrender Cinema - replacing Torchlight Entertainment, specializing in the same soft-core science fiction as Torchlight.
* Cult Video - mainly used to re-release old pre-Empire and Empire era Band films.
* Pulp Fantasy Productions - New films that don't fit the usual Full Moon mold.
* Pulsepounders - Replacing Moonbeam Entertainment, specializing in science fiction and fantasy films for families.
Bookwalter would eventually get the chance to direct a Full Moon film with the sequel to Witchouse, Witchouse 2: Blood Coven. It was Bookwalter's first film on 35mm, and with it, opened a new door for Bookwalter's Tempe Entertainment. Starting with Horror Vision, Tempe Entertainment was hired to produce several Full Moon films for Band. All of these films were shot on DV, a first for Full Moon, and were primarily made for under $60,000 (with Witchouse 3: Demon Fire completed for $26,000). The films were produced under very tight schedules, some being shot in as little as nine days. While the production drawbacks were high in each situation, this opportunity gave new exposure to Bookwalter and Tempe, who was used to producing films on shoestring budgets.
Once again, the industry changed, and Band decided to end the Full Moon label with the 2002 release of Jigsaw. During this era of Full Moon, Band secured a weekly television series on the Sci-Fi Channel called William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night. Veteran actor Shatner hosted Full Moon films with wraparounds, as well as interviews with many of sci-fi's most notable personalities, including Stan Lee and Jeffery Combs. Tempe also received exposure here as HorrorVision was included in this short-lived series.
With the release of 2000's The Dead Hate the Living!, Band dropped the VideoZone name and produced behind-the-scenes featurettes without a masthead.
Blockbuster Entertainment, a long time supporter of the Full Moon brand, requested the company produce a slasher film, due to the late '90s resurgence of this subgenre thanks to Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. With the help of an uncredited Tempe Entertainment, Band produced Bleed, and acquired Keith Walley's Scared, renaming it Cut Throat.
Band produced only two more films "officially" under the Shadow name: (Birthrite, Delta Delta Die!). Another Keith Walley film, Speck, was acquired. William Shatner's DV science-fiction movie, Groom Lake, produced by J.R. Bookwalter, became notorious as one of the most expensive films of the modern era of Full Moon.
Wizard Video Logo
Band also decided around this time to bring back an old label used in the Empire era named Wizard Video, which distributed cult-like films. This modern rendition saw the release of Tempe's Skinned Alive and Ozone (renamed Street Zombies for the Wizard release). However, due to low sales, another Tempe film, Bloodletting (which was also renamed: I've Killed Before), was dropped from the release schedule.
In 2003, Charles Band entered into a deal with 20th Century Fox to produce a low budget horror movie. Fox would distribute the movie, and Band would retain copyrights. The film was directed by J.R. Bookwalter, and named Deadly Stingers. In the tradition of the giant killer bug movies, Deadly Stingers was about giant scorpions taking over a town. However, after the film was completed, it was shelved due to a decline in the industry, and low sales of another similar project at Fox (excluding Full Moon) entitled Dark Wolf. The film was shown at the Frightvision Horror Festival in 2003, but has yet to see release on DVD, Blu-ray, or VOD. A teaser trailer for the film does exist on J.R. Bookwalter's Tempe Entertainment web site. In late 2003, Band began work on his first 35 mm film in years, Dr. Moreau's House of Pain. The film, released in January 2004, also marked the official return of the name Full Moon Pictures. However, the film's video releases all contain the name of Shadow Entertainment, but the film's trailer contains the Full Moon Pictures logo.
Quickly before the release of Dr. Moreau's House of Pain, Full Moon released Puppet Master: The Legacy, a "greatest hits" film that contained the best scenes from all (up to that point) seven Puppet Master films with about 20 minutes of a wrap around story and very bad puppet effects (string rods can be seen in almost every scene featuring the puppets). Once again, all video releases said Shadow Entertainment, but the trailer contained the Full Moon Pictures logo. On the heels of Puppet Master: The Legacy, Band quickly cut together Tomb of Terror, Horrific, and Urban Evil. These three films, edited by HorrorVision director Danny Draven, were clip shows that showed off the best in Full Moon's library. After the release of those films, Band re-christened the Full Moon name to Full Moon Features. Full Moon Features intends to take more time making films, with considerably higher budgets and on 35 mm film, and as of July 2006, has focused on that, with the exceptions of When Puppets and Dolls Attack!, Monsters Gone Wild!, and Aliens Gone Wild! (all clip shows).
In 2005, Charles Band embarked on the Full Moon Horror Roadshow: A traveling, live Full Moon-inspired show, featuring Band and actors/actresses from past Full Moon films. Some shows also featured his son, Alex Band. At all shows, Band offered a contest for a chance for a member of the audience to have a part in a future Full Moon feature. As of 2009, none of these winners have received their roles. However, on August 27, 2009 Band blogged that those who were chosen would have the opportunity to be cast in his next project. Band continued the roadshow in 2006, this time putting it in smaller venues. A similar contest, offering a part in a movie, was held at these events. It is not known if any of the winners were ever cast.
In 2009, Band hopes to expand Full Moon to a similar release schedule more like the mid-1990s, with a new release every month. Additionally, the company plans to add sequels to many franchises, including Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, and Head of the Family.