Head of the Family (1996)
By: Sam Bowron on March 21, 2011  | 
Big Sky Video | All Regions, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 77 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Robert Talbot
Starring: Blake Bailey, Jacqueline Lovell, Bob Schott, James Jones
Screenplay: Robert Talbot
Country: USA
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B-movie king Charles Band and his mighty Empire Pictures and Full Moon Entertainment production and distribution companies have enjoyed a more than mighty success from 1983 to 2000, cranking out some of the horror genre's most beloved shlock and cheese epics without fear of criticism or condemnation. To most fans the famed writer/director/producer's name is synonymous with The Puppet Master, Trancers (aka Future Cop) and Subspecies series' as well as singular hits like Demonic Toys, Dollman and Castle Freak among others. Regrettably, however, some of the madman's more offbeat, quirkier titles have gone underappreciated and remain VHS obscurities to this day.

Taking the idiosyncratic family values and goofball humor of The Beverly Hillbillies and The Munsters (albeit with more mutants), Head of the Family, like the majority of Band's efforts, exploits its knowing absurdity with a level of vigor and tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm that is hard to ignore, never once taking itself seriously for risk of complete denunciation. After all, when's the last time you saw a movie construct its entire story around a single pun?

In a small town somewhere in Florida, Lance Bogan (Blake Adams), the proprietor of a local diner/grocery store, is deeply conflicted. One day whilst at work he is reluctantly talked into a business deal by tough-guy biker and local drug peddler Howard Oates (Gordon Jennison Noice) who decides to make himself a partner in Lance's business by helping himself to fifty percent of all profits. However, little does he know that Lance has been having an affair with Howard's wife, attractive blonde bumpkin Loretta (Jacqueline Lovell) and has been doing so for some time. Fearful of being sprung and losing his business to the biker's self-proclaimed superiority, Lance and Loretta make a pact to take the bastard out via the help of local "retard" family The Stackhouses; a reclusive group of telepathic, abnormally developed siblings who possess a range of bizarre abilities, all of whom are lead by large-craniumed brother Myron (aka the 'head of the family'). But will everything go to plan for this idyllic couple, especially considering the nature of those assisting them in their murderous escapades?

With a setup like this the average viewer would probably run for the hills in complete avoidance or at the very least resort to a more assured genre title. However, to those more inclined and familiar with the Full Moon oeuvre the above synopsis should prove more than enticing as the first thing you're bound to notice about Head of the Family is its whimsical disposition and propensity for eccentricity toward every aspect of it's storytelling. From the get-go the films' cast intentionally embellishes upon the already inherent ridiculousness of the screenplay, becoming obvious when several times they can be seen hiding a laugh or two mid-sentence. Ultimately the movie is a black comedy peppered with the occasional surreal special effect and should not be mistaken for a horror movie at any point, unless of course you consider super-smart midgets a cause for alarm.

Another plus is that all the characters in the film are surprisingly well realized, due in no small part to the hefty amount of dialogue running throughout, most of which is plot-driven with the occasional intro to a sight gag here and there. J.W. Perra's aristocratic embodiment of the big-headed Myron also works a treat, so much so that the applied makeup is at times transparent by comparison and almost an afterthought in light of his terrific performance. With this in mind it is perhaps worth noting the movie could prove too talky for some fans, however for those willing to go with the flow and enjoy the southern drawl it's unlikely you'll be cursing at the screen as the result of a few lengthy conversations.

From a technical point of view the movie is perfectly adept if somewhat unremarkable for a low budget outing. The only real point of note is the amusingly effective character design work of the figure in question - a simple marrying of the real actor hidden behind the façade of a large wheelchair with prosthetic patches around his head to create the impression of displaced proportion and size. One scene involving the little man's tumble down a flight of stairs marks the only point of puppetry used in the film (and it still looks convincing).

In the end, Head of the Family is a light, entertainingly oddball comedy with enough mild dashes of horror to satisfy those in need of some degree of the macabre. Sure, it's no classic or even a certified cult item but the story is fun, the script is solid and it contains more than enough surprises to sustain its brisk 77 minute running time. Yep, it's a short one alright, so why not give it a whirl?
As with the majority of Full Moon's direct-to-video titles, Head of the Family appears here in a strictly standard 4:3 transfer, however no significant grain or picture degradation is visible at any point and the image is consistently sharp if unexceptional.
One English track is provided, presented in Dolby 2.0. It's basic stuff and typical for a release of this kind.
Extra Features
The only supplement included is a behind the scenes promo (2 mins) for the still unmade Bride of the Head of the Family. They may as well not have bothered.
The Verdict
If you're a fan of Full Moon and Charlie Band's brand of cinema insanity, Head of the Family is definitely worth a rental if not a buy from the ten-dollar bargain bin. Just don't expect the next Adam's Family.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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