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“TROPHY HEADS”: Charles Band Meets Streaming Present with Scream Queens Past

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It’s no stretch to declare that the most exciting horror entertainment is nowadays transpiring on small screens, be they television or computer. As Hollywood’s top creative talents continue to retreat from the theatrical battlefield and sign on to long-form storytelling, brands like Netflix have capitalized by funding their own exclusive serialized content. Now a company looking to follow that business model with a genre twist has followed suit.

Charles Band’s Full Moon Streaming service is a platform loaded with grubby grindhouse flicks and off-color offerings from the Full Moon and Blue Underground catalogues—the  sort of movies that  “you won’t find on Netflix,” according to Band. “With the success [Netflix] had early on,” Band continues, “they went more towards family and, of course, original series. As Full Moon Streaming grows, and we’re just seven or eight months old, I thought that apart from what we’ve done so far, the typical thing that people have enjoyed, we really needed to create and release our first series—sort of our HOUSE OF CARDS.”

Thus was born TROPHY HEADS. It’s a five-episode series that brings together Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, Denice Duff (pictured, above) and more, playing versions of themselves set against an obsessed stalker pursuing the ladies with unseemly intent.  While the ‘meta’ aspect of HEADS’ storytelling is a fresh wrinkle for Band and Full Moon, he feels that producing episodic content is not exactly new territory for him. “In a weird way, it’s like some of the franchises I’ve made, whether it’s SUBSPECIES or TRANCERS or PUPPET MASTER. If a movie was successful, we’d make sequels. That world is gone; there are no rental video stores anymore, so one of the challenges for me is to find or reconnect with people who used to discover my movies at the local video store, and are now a little detached because there is no local video store.”

10347482_712345818821509_3431155174983785700_n“This is other than all the hardcore fans who know how to find us or go to horror conventions. For every one of those fans, there are probably a hundred who are involved with their life and have other things to worry about. Even though they may have grown up with [Full Moon] films and loved them, that was fifteen, twenty years ago. The challenge is, ‘How do you reconnect with them?’ Those people that, if they knew Full Moon Streaming was there and available for five or six dollars a month, and they’re already likely a subscriber to Netflix, they would come on board to Full Moon and rediscover all the films that freaked them out. That’s the challenge, but for the people who are subscribing and to hopefully bring in more people, I said, ‘Let me create something really different and original, something really unique to the channel.’ So when TROPHY HEADS premieres (with episode one launching June 4th), the channel will be the only place in the universe that you can see it.”

Band is certain that HEADS, not to mention its cast stacked with favorite fright film femmes, will appeal to his core audience. “I’m sure people will dig it, because it’s definitely pretty bizarre,” laughs Band. “It trades on a number of well-known Scream Queens, and the theme is close to the heart of a lot of fans who follow these films. And hopefully (HEADS) will engender a lot of good will and good word of mouth, and more people will come on board, and the word will be, ‘Hey. You’ve got to come and check this out. It’s awesome.’ It’s five episodes over five weeks, and if it works and we get good responses, it’s definitely set up as a series that could continue. So it’s all of that, but it’s also a way of putting our creative minds and abilities into doing something cool for people who subscribe to this channel.”

Well-known for his credits as a producer, Band is also directing TROPHY HEADS. So what was it about the project that tempted Band to take on the HEADS helm himself? “My original dream a million years ago was that I was going to invent these movies and direct them all,” he says. “Of course, practically speaking, that’s impossible. I mean, there were some years we were making twenty movies, back in the early days of Full Moon.” As to what gets passed on to another director, Band says, “It’s the material, and since I invent most of these, it’s all stuff that I’m intrigued by. There are a few movies that I’ve been responsible for that I wouldn’t have enjoyed directing, but in many, many, many cases, I didn’t have the time. I was trying to run the company and Empire [Pictures] prior. Having said that, once in a while you just have to say, ‘This thing is so cool, and I’m just so into this particular project or theme, I’d feel terrible not being able to step in there behind the camera.’ And [HEADS] is one of those, because it crosses over and goes back to twenty or thirty years of movies that I’ve made. I like the fact that I’ve reached back to relationships that I still have, in this case with the girls who were young and screaming and doing whatever we did in the nineties—to bring those people and that theme forward into a series, one that doesn’t just remind people how cool [the girls] were and how cool they are, but ties it all together with a theme that I think the fans will really enjoy.”

“It’s easy to talk about it and explain it,” Band continues, “and people already kind of know what it’s about, but I’d like them to discover it as these episodes unfold. It is about a mad fan who is so passionate about these girls that he grew up watching, and he feels so bad that they’re being forgotten because of the fact that it’s been twenty, thirty years and the world is moving on, other than a handful of hardcore fans. He’s bummed for himself too, because that’s his whole life—following these Scream Queens who were prolific and super-hot back in the late eighties and early nineties. So he comes up with a way to preserve their fame—and to some degree his fame—forever.”

As for his leading ladies, all of whose careers Band either launched or furthered, HEADS served as a sort of Full Moon class reunion. “I run into them from time to time,” he says.  “Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of touring at conventions, so I can’t think of one of the girls that I haven’t seen kind of recently anyway, before this idea popped in my head. And working with them is great, because I think with one exception, Linnea, I never directed any of the movies that they were actually in. Other directors in the company at that time, they were making movies like CREEPAZOIDS and SLAVE GIRLS with them. I did work with Jackie Lovell; I directed her in HEAD OF THE FAMILY, which is one of my personal favorite weird movies, and also on another movie called HIDEOUS. And so even though they were in my movies, I had never worked with Brinke Stevens or Michelle Bauer or Darcy DeMoss. It was fun, because the material is terrific. It all begins with a good script, not just a good idea. You can’t make something not well-written good. I don’t care who you are, it just doesn’t hold together. HEADS happened to be beautifully written material. I developed the story, but the ghost-writer and I really spent time talking about who these people are. And the inspiration of how to treat the girls came from the movie THIS IS THE END. I loved that film and I loved the spin that they took with the actors playing themselves. It was also a lot of fun in knowing the girls pretty well and working with the writer on reinventing sort of a faux-background for each girl. HEADS isn’t literal; we didn’t want to go in their houses and meet their kids, so we had a little extra fun creating what the girls are doing today as they’re older. None of it’s true, of course—they’re working actors, Linnea travels all the time… we put a fun spin on who they are for our story, but Linnea Quigley is Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer is Michelle Bauer.”

Linnea Quigley in "TROPHY HEADS"

Linnea Quigley in “TROPHY HEADS”

Taking more inspiration from the popular THIS IS THE END, the tone HEADS assumes is also one of warped, uneasy comedy. It’s a streak Band likes to encourage in his productions: “The show, like most of the films that I’ve done that I’ve enjoyed making and have somehow stood the test of time, there’s a good old bunch of dark humor in it. It is horror; it’s grisly and got all that stuff that I enjoy in these films, but I’ve never been a fan of slashers. There have been a few that have been okay, but most of them are just not fun to watch. I’ve never made one. So [HEADS] is more along the lines of what people would know my work as. There’s definitely some humor wrapped through it.”

While admittedly sailing the lane mapped first by Netflix, the enabling of binge-watchers by slapping entire seasons of content online at once is one trend which Band intends to pass up. “I toyed with the idea,” he says, “but in a few short weeks the [episodes] will all be sitting there. We’ll continue promoting HEADS over the five weeks, because we want it to continue. It’s such a wonderful premise; I could see a hundred episodes of this thing. So do we take our five episodes that were so hard to make and just plop them all onscreen day one, or do we follow the more traditional television model and have a new episode every week? I thought it would be fun to do every week. Full Moon Streaming is very new, so I think we have a chance over the five weeks, with word of mouth and all of the fun promotions we’re doing, to get more people on board.”

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About the author
Trevor Parker http://www.trevorwriter.com
Trevor Parker is a Toronto-based writer and editorial assistant whose work has appeared in numerous international periodicals and websites. He also contributes the 'Dump Bin Diaries' column to Fangoria magazine. He can be reached at trevor@fangoria.com or via his website at www.trevorwriter.com.
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