Film Review: HEAD OF THE FAMILY (1996)

Despite a one-sheet and plot that seems reminiscent of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, Charles Band’s, although credited as Robert Talbot, 1996 horror film is more of a twisted comedy a la Nothing But Trouble than any b-movie spin on an H.P. Lovecraft classic. A true oddity of the 90s, Head of the Family replaces guts and gore and high production value with a surprisingly hilarious script. Presented for the first time in HD, this is the latest release in Full Moon Pictures recent slate of high definition transfers and blu-ray releases. If you’ve never seen this before, you are in for quite a surprise.

From the opening single shot on a house, credits roll as Richard Band’s quirky score plays, the viewer just knows they are in for something a bit offbeat, even for Full Moon’s catalog. Lance (Blake Adams, Lurking Fear) and Loretta (Jacqueline Lovell, Femalien) are having a torrid affair behind her husband Howard’s (Gordon Jennison Noice, Virtuosity) back. The problem is that Howard is a brutal thug who is bound to catch the cheating pair sooner or later. To solve this problem, the lovers hatch a plan involving the Stackpoole family: a collection of misshapen freaks who waylay unsuspecting travelers and dissect them in gruesome experiments. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan.

Have I mentioned how much nudity there is in this film? It’s quite jarring actually as Charles Band finds every way imaginable to strip down his softcore pornstar turned actress Jacqueline Lovell. It almost seems as though there is a cue in the script for naked women at every 15-minute mark. Luckily, Lovell is far more than just a piece of meat to dangle and distract. Despite the aggressive nature of the nudity policy, Band and fellow co-writer Neal Marshall Stevens (Hellraiser: Deader) wrote her as the most intelligent character in the film, despite the posturing of Lance and Myron Stackpoole (J. W. Perra, The Creeps). In fact, the wit and precision of the dialogue between the leads is a sight to behold and will certainly grab you as the film breaks through its relatively short runtime.

So far, Full Moon Pictures has done an amazing job on re-scanning the negatives of their roster and presenting them in glorious high definition. Pops and scratches appear occasionally, but the film grain is retained and appears to be free of any DNR enhancement. This is a fantastic transfer boosted with a clean audio track. If you’ve never seen Head of the Family before, now is the perfect time to see it. This is a hilarious entry in 90s bizarro horror and needs to be seen.