Monday, February 9, 2009

Head of the Family (1996, USA)

Now this is a crappy film. People should be shot for wasting celluloid on something as shitty as Head of the Family. Stealing stuff that was already cliché long before a dozen other movies used it, scriptwriter Benjamin Carr pads the story with the jokes that fall flatter than road kill... A shame, for the basic premise — that of murderous, brain-stealing mutant quadruplets — could lend itself to a decent trash film if handled correctly. Actually, most clichés lend themselves well to good trash movies if handled correctly, but neither the director "Robert Talbot" — as in: yet another pseudonym for Charles Band — nor the scriptwriters (Band and Benjamin Carr) handle anything correctly in this DVD aberration. Hell, the script doesn't even include a single likable character, thus leaving the viewer without anybody to identify with or root for.
Shot with the gleam and glow of a music video, Head of the Family reveals Band to be a believer of the unmoving camera, all scenes being crisply lit but staged with less life than dead lesbian being molested by Ron Jeremy. Primarily a series of long shots alternating between close-ups, the most creative camera angle in the whole film is when the film's nominal hero Lance (Blake Bailey) is getting laid by Ernestina (Alexandria Quinn* as “Dianne Colazzo”) and we get treated to salivating inducing view of Ernestina's deliciously pendulous melons from Lance's point of view. Seldom in the film is there any apparent understanding of anything cinematic, be it mood or lighting, fluidity, alternative angles or anything mildly creative that might have at least kept the film from being the visual corpse it is.
Oddly, the actors do well enough, especially when they have their clothes off, which is actually more often than normal for a modern low budget exploiter of the generations following the 80s. Aside from Quinn's hefty pendulums, we’re treated to a few pleasant scenes of Jacqueline Lovell's less exuberant but nonetheless pleasing physical charms, including the big scene close to the film's end in which she is tied naked to the stake to be burned alive. (Jacqueline Lovell is perhaps better known as "Sara St. James" from such X-rated video fodder as Nude Bowling Party (1995) and Cream On Jeannie (1995); one must say she does keep her muff nicely trimmed.) Head of the Family might have been slightly more interesting had the oddly repetitious sex scenes been hardcore; as it is, the scenes are filmed for laughs but aren't funny, lack either eroticism or carnality, and simply help make a short film that feels long seem even longer.
The plot is: homicidal couple film noir meets mad monster doing unnatural experiments in the basement. Lance, looking like a buff cross between Michael J. Fox & Eric Stolz, runs a cafe and is boning waitress Loretta (Jacqueline Lovell), the girlfriend of Wheeler (James Jones), a gun-toting motorcyclist who pushes his way into the position of Lance's partner. After witnessing how Otis (Bob Schott), Ernestina and Howard (Gordon Jennison Noice) – the three local sibling weirdoes – bump off an out-of-state driver, Lance finds out that they are controlled mentally by their even weirder brother Myron (J. W. Perra), a huge brain sitting in a wheelchair. Lance blackmails them into disposing Wheeler for him, but they get mad when Lance gets greedy and starts making monetary demands. Next thing Lance knows, he is their prisoner, Loretta is tied naked to a stake and, in a true case of Beauty and the Beast, the strong but idiotic Otis puts a wrench in his brother's plans...
The last scene sets the situation for the once-announced sequel, but although announced,
The Bride of the Head of the Family seems never to have been made. Not surprising, considering how bad Head of the Family.

*(Measurements: 36D-25-36) As did the more popular (but ex) skinflick starlet Trace Lords, Alexandria Quinn used a fake ID to began her career in the x-rated movie industry while underage (at 17). Like the early oeuvre of Lords, who was 15 when she started riding salami on film, the early films featuring Quinn were pulled from circulation and re-cut or dumped. Quinn returned to the adult-film business after she turned 18, where she is still busy exchanging body fluids on film.

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