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RETROCRUSH INTERVIEWS THE DIRECTOR OF
LASERBLAST, METALSTORM, AND PARASITE

Charles Band is the director of the the explosions galore sci-fi movie Laserblast which I fell in love with at the Drive-In as a 7 year old kid. He made a 3D movie Metalstorm that every friend I knew had gone to see based on the action packed trailer. Later he cast a young 20 year old Demi Moore in her first leading role dodging a 3D monster in Parasite.

In the late 1980's he founded Full Moon Pictures and became the Executive Producer for hundreds of direct to video/DVD movies including the popular Puppet Master franchise. On the eve of his 21 cities in 30 days Full Moon Roadshow Charles took some time to speak with us.

Is horror and sci-fi one of your favorite genres?

All of my movies are probably 70Ė80% horror and about 20% Sci-Fi fantasy. Iíve never actually made a movie outside of the genre. Now so many people are making horror films, but theyíre generally gritty, slasher movies which Iíve never made. Mine are still a little more fantasy oriented whether theyíre about puppets or dolls. They have a certain amount of black comedy potion in there. As a kid I loved those movies. I was a big marvel comics fan and before that the monster comics.

Your dad was a director and worked with Steve Reeves?

Early on my dad put me in front of the camera which I learned quickly is not where I wanted to be. I played the son of Steve Reeves in one of the two movies my father made with him. I think it was called The Last Glory of Troy. It was essentially a Hercules sequel. He was the Schwarzenegger of his time.

My dad made a lot of movies in Italy in the 1960ís. I grew up on a movie set whether they were epics with Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott who played Tarzan at the time or a lot of the Spaghetti Westerns: A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die, and the Hellbenders with Joseph Cotton.

Your father made an interesting horror movie called I bury the Living.

He made a few horror films. Stephen King wrote a book called Dance Macabre and lists I bury the Living as one of his top favorite horror films. It was a very cool film that took place in a graveyard. The premise was that a guy had this huge map and black pins represented where bodies were buried and white pins where for open or available gravesites. He started mixing up the pins and people started dying. It was a clever film for the time.

I remember watching one of your first movies Laserblast when I was 7 at the Drive-In.

Wow. Thatís actually one of the movies weíre taking on the Full Moon Roadshow. Weíre taking special DVD editions. There are so many movies. I had to select like 35 movies that had some meaning and relevance to today and the show. I got a smattering of pictures Iíve made over 30 years including the two I made more or less back to back of Laserblast and a year later I made a movie called Tourist Trap with Chuck Connors. Those are both movies Iíll have at the show and weíll be talking about.

Laserblast was a revenge story. I thought it would be fun for the audience. There were a lot of revenge stories out at the time: Death Wish and all sorts of films. The thought was why canít some kid that has been pushed around a bit and hasnít been treated very well at school find some crazy alien weapon and blow the crap out of everything and every person who tormented him. The premise is pretty simple.

 

Thatís probably why I loved it as a kid. Thereís so many explosions in that movie itís insane.

That was back in the day where there was no DVD, no video, and no internet. No nothing. You only got to see one of these movies in your Drive-In or it was a B movie. It was the second half of a double bill. Thatís why theyíre called B films.

I donít remember the other movie, but I remember Laserblast. That guy shot everything to death.

The edict at the time from the exhibitors who decided whether or not youíd see any money from the movie was "the more stuff you blow up the better Charlie". I made another movie during that same timeline called Crash! which was about a possessed car that went around blowing other cars up. That was also fun and kind of silly when I look back.

In Laserblast I hooked up with this wonderful stop motion animation fellow David Allen who I did a lot of work with. He passed on a few years ago. Youíve got the Alien guys who are bummed out they left their gun on the desert floor. Theyíre very careless aliens. So before theyíre able to go back to retrieve it this kid who was pushed around finds it and finds out how to use it and starts going on a little revenge romp.

The guy develops creepy green eyes.

The more he uses the gun of course the more it sort of took over his soul. We had everything. We had guns, amulets, possession, little alien guys, a hundred explosions, Roddy McDowell, and Keenan Wynn.

How did you get into making 3D movies?

I was a fan of the genre. I made a film called Parasite which was Demi Mooreís first film back in 1980. That was a good one. I made a film shortly thereafter called Metalstorm which was a Universal release.

I saw Metalstorm in the theater when I was about 11.

Itís a fun genre. Itís still not a genre that will work until technically theyíre able to deliver it well, crisp, and working correctly on a TV. Itís very hard to equip movie theaters with that technology. Back in the day we did it and it was a lot of work. You had to have a silver screen, you had to have special lenses, and you had to wear the glasses. The effort that involved especially today would be impossible because no oneís into doing that. Theater owners are not into scrambling around all their stuff.

Didnít you film with big special cameras?

You have to have a lot of light. Itís like 5 times as much light as shooting a normal movie. We were blasting light into everyoneís face just to get another exposure to make sure the 3D effect would work. Itís a hard technology and very primitive in a way. One day theyíll be some 3D technology that will work well and Iíll be back making those movies. I love the 3D genre.

Itís just not practical or even close to being profitable today. The market now is 98% DVD, Video, and the internet. Thereís no way of delivering that kind of content simply and successfully. You can make a 3D movie, but so what thereís no theatrical life anymore in these films. The market is through the TV and thereís no 3D.

Do you remember much about directing Demi Moore in Parasite?

I totally knew that sheíd be a star. Itís easy for me to say that, but it was absolutely true at the time. There was no surprise that she became very successful very quickly. She and I stayed close for years. Her big breakthrough film was Ghost. She was a 20 year old chick who was one of a few hundred people who auditioned for that part, she was terrific, and it was her first leading role.

There was a renaissance of 3D movies in the early 1980ís. I saw Metalstorm in the theater, but I missed Parasite.

Itís out on DVD, but it loses its whole charm by looking at it flat. It was such a cool movie in 3D. Even Metalstorm which plays okay as a flat film, but if youíd seen it in the theater like you did whether you liked it or not it was a fun experience because of the 3D. Thatís what the effort went into, the 3D. How do we make these shots really cool?

 

You had a great poster & the spiked ball that came at you. For a kid that is amazing stuff.

Especially back then kids were not so jaded. They had not seen everything under the sun. Even the videogames are technically amazing. The graphics are so in your face. Thereís nothing left. Weíre sort of amused to death right now.

Is there another movie youíre particularly proud of?

Tourist Trap has Chuck Connors in it. Itís one of my favorite top 10 films that Iíve ever made. Heís about as demented as they get. A lot of films ripped off the visuals. Itís about mannequins coming to life. Itís equally good in a different way to Laserblast. Itís a bit of a trendsetter back a million years ago when I made it.

How did you come up with the ideas for all the different puppets in Puppetmaster?

Much like whether itís Demonic Dolls or Evil Bong I dream this stuff up. I canít remember how it exactly all came to me. I had these characters in mind for years. I didnít know how to put them all together in a movie. I had the idea of a character called six shooter who was a western guy with six arms and six guns.

I had the idea for a Pinhead character. A big hulking dude with the head the size of a dime proportionally. Then one day I was thinking a high concept video film that involves this character/master who controls these puppets. I had made a movie years before called Dungeonmaster which had done very well so putting master at the end of the right word wasnít new.

Then I designed the whole thing around a World War II era story. I worked with a writer, I worked with an effects guy, and we started designing the characters. More ideas started coming to mind like Blade, Tunneler, and the Leech woman. It just sort of happened. Weíve been making them every year ever since.

What projects are you working on now?

Iím back directing again full time. Iíve made six movies in the last fourteen months. Itís nice to have a fresh idea in an overcrowded genre. I did a stoner comedy thatís coming out for Halloween called The Evil Bong starring Tommy Chong. Weíll have advance copies of it on the Roadshow weíre doing. Weíll have bong replicas and I stress the word replica. I just finished shooting a film called Deadmanís Hand which is new spin on a tired genre. It has Sid Haig, Michael Barryman, and a really wonderful cast.

Tell us about the Full Moon Roadshow.

Since the world is not a world for independents anymore as far as big studios and advertising budgets I go on the road much like a rock band does. Thatís why Iíve done the Full Moon Roadshow. It has proven not just successful, but a lot of fun to get out there and talk to 10,000 Ė 15,000 fans.

Iíve become sort of an entertainer. Itís nothing like a seminar. Thereís no preaching here. Its anecdotes and some fun stuff on stage. We cut heads off on stage. We do re-enactments. Sometimes people are so inspired they take their tops off and run around the stage. Itís a demented Ozfest.

Nudity rocks and the price is right at $12.

My very first stop of the 21 cities is in San Francisco. It will be 7:30 PM on Thursday, September 14th at a place called the Rikshaw Stop. Itís a cool, edgy bar in downtown San Francisco. Itís well priced so no one can get hurt at 12 dollars, but itís real interactive. People in Hollywood now are so insulated. They make their movies and they may go on a little press tour. Rarely do they come into any contact especially one to one with the fans of the movies. It just doesnít happen.

In the old days in the 1930ís and 40ís the filmmakers and stars really went out on the road. They went on a road tour. All the premiere theaters across the country not only showed movies, but they did a burlesque. There was live entertainment before the feature. A lot of these stars were routed around. They sat and met the fans and got out there. No oneís doing that today.

You sell Monster Bras.

Well, theyíre perfectly timed for Halloween. I came up with this idea of why not come up with a bra and look at womenís breast as something different. Itís a bit of slight of hand because each bra is very different. One of them is the eye bra so essentially the breasts become big bloodshot eyeballs. The woman wears the bra and on each cup are these prosthetic eyeballs.

We have the lip bras which are two big Rocky Horror pursed lips. We have the skull bra which is perfect for any Goth. Forget an earring or a piercing. You go into a club wearing two skulls on your breasts thatís a statement. Last, but not least we have one in the first series which is the bigger bra which will save $10,000 plus in boob enlargement if you want to just put a bra on that makes your breasts look huge.

We have all the Evil Bong merchandise. Weíve got our mainstays which are the puppets and dolls from Puppet Master and Demonic Toys. Weíre bringing some of the original doll and puppet effects which weíre auctioning off at the show. We have DVD box sets. Thereís no lack of cool things if youíre into these movies and into the genre.

You also created a product for up and coming new filmmakers called Cinemaker?

Cinemaker is an answer to thousands of questions and inquiries over the years from people who want to make films or want to figure out how to market films. There are so many questions I put it all together. Itís not just me talking about it, but really interesting interviews with people like Roger Corman, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby. People involved in the genre. Thatís another program that will also be available at the Roadshow.

Growing up who would you say you had a retroCRUSH on?

On a hot babe I would say there was a gal named Kay Lenz that was in a movie called Breezy. I think Breezy was directed by Clint Eastwood. I think she went on to do TV work and sort of faded. When she was first in that movie she wasnít the most well known actress ever. I was hot and had a big crush on her.

-Randy Waage
randy@retrocrush.com

 


Make sure to check out the Full Moon Entertainment Website
To purchase tickets to the show or merchandise check out the: Full Moon Direct Website
Feel free to read Charles' Blog too.
To get an idea of what the Full Moon Roadshow is like click here to view the trailer.
I'll be at the San Francisco show so be sure to say hello if you see me.

 
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