Charles Band and his production company Full Moon Features is hailed as one of the most prolific filmmakers in the arguably narrow genre niche of comedy horror films (his previous production company was the more eponymously named Charles Band Productions). For good or ill, Band is famous for producing and directing such bizarre genre movies as Laserblast, Coronazombies, and Femalien: Cosmic Crush.
Recently, correspondent Gareth Von Kallenbach spoke with filmmaker Charles Band about his career and his new film Barbie and Kendra save The Tiger King.
What exactly inspired the idea\premise of ‘Barbie and Kendra save The Tiger King’?
After the unprecedented success – and notoriety – of our first “coronasploitation” film, Coronazombines, we knew we had to keep going. Making these films quickly and under the insane parameters of self-isolation is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that forces the Full Moon team to really push their creativity.
These are silly, crazy movies that are designed to satirize the most omnipresent pop culture and media trends, but there’s also an ingenuity here, from licensing the old movie footage to cutting it up and scripting a new story, to designing the framing to working by proxy with actors. There’s an experimental nature to these movies that doesn’t really have a precedent. Because we’re living through something that doesn’t really have a precedent.
Full Moon Features is legendary for its low-budget scary/horror films with some films containing comedic aspects here and there. Was this latest project, obviously more of a comedic venture, a direction that you were planning on going in or did the pandemic influence that decision? Had the current state of things been different, would it have been more of a horror/scary film?
Again, these two movies were designed in and around the restrictions and media mania of the world we’re in. They’re satires and spoofs and were always intended as such. Full Moon always shifts genre gears as there are many, many offshoots of exploitation cinema. As far as straight horror cinema, we just released the surreal NECROPOLIS: LEGION and are about to release the insane BLADE: THE IRON CROSS, the 12th PUPPET MASTER movies.
Both features are part of our DEADLY TEN series that sees us making movies in 6 days and live-streaming the productions for fans, again, something that has never been done before. Seeing as productions will be shut down, our upcoming production schedule has shifted a bit but hopefully this summer we will be going to camera on SUBSPECIES V, a straight up horror movie.
In producing this film, do you think that for those involved in it inadvertently was a means to alleviate the stress one might be experiencing during these times?
Well, we employed over 30 creatives to bring this bit of lunacy to life. And employment alleviates some stress to be sure! But, I’m not going to pretend our crazy comedy has a social agenda or anything but I do know that comedy’s role in the world is to distract us from the very real pains of living. Comedy is indeed the best medicine and I think BARBIE AND KENDRA SAVE THE TIGER KING can absolutely function as a prescription for what’s ailing people.
Were there and technical or logistical challenges involved in the making of the film due to ‘social distancing’ and ‘stay-at-home’ directives?
Absolutely and that was part of the challenge and fun of making this. We have staff in Toronto, LA, Vegas, Minnesota…all over! And we all worked together to make this movie happen with skype, phone, zoom, file sharing…again, I really think what we did has no precedent.
Was the use of voice over work combined with older films inspired by ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’?
Not at all. Mystery Science Theater sees people sitting back and commenting on existing movies. Those guys have done that to one of my early classics, LASERBLAST. The original idea for these movies comes from the Woody Allen comedy WHAT’S UP TIGER LILY? which was an hilarious re-dub of a Hong Kong spy movie framed with new footage. Also, I don’t think we’re disrespecting the movies themselves. Mystery Science Theater can do that sometimes. Instead, we are simply using the footage from these movies as ingredients in a weird sort of cinematic DJ remix. I think of them as bizarre companion films to the original source movies.
What was it like to cast actors/actresses and extras for this film as well as a crew and how was it carried out?
One of our writers, William Butler, brought Leslie Jordan on board for this and we were incredibly lucky to get him. John Reinke from the TIGER KING show took a bit of sleuthing to find, but we did and we hit it off immediately. Cody and Robin are part of the Full Moon family and they have awesome chemistry. And the voice actors we used are well known comedians and actors and all friends of the team. It was a real collaborative effort and everyone had a great time bringing it to life.
Will this film become sort of template for how ‘Full Moon Features’ will make films during the pandemic?
We hope so, on one hand! None of us know what the future holds during these times for the film industry. But we have proved we can create clever, ingenious escapism in record time under extreme conditions.
So for sure, we will keep going and -probably – improving the formula. And as our Full Moon Features channel and app continues to grow, with classic movies in the library and original content from us, we will keep producing films whatever way we can. Providing good, weird escapism is our mission statement!
Without giving too much away, will there actually be a sequel to ‘Barbie and Kendra save The Tiger King’?
At the end of the film, we set it up for the third film. And this time, the ladies get sucked into the out of this world madness of Trump’s SPACE FORCE! Stay tuned!
What is the best way people can support ‘Full Moon’ at the moment?
We have a fully functional store selling our awesome Blu-rays and DVDs and tons of toys and merch and you can go there and shop till you drop at www.FullMoonDirect.com while our channel and app FullMoonFeatures.com was voted one of the best alternative-to-Netflix movie channels around by the UK’s THE GUARDIAN. And we are growing every day! Subscribing is easy and reasonable and we always give away free merch to new subscribers. You can’t lose!
Is there anything ‘Full Moon Features’ would like to say to the fans?
Keep watching weird movies!