The Video Store Days #2: Full Moon Entertainment (aka Full Moon Features)

As a kid who came into his own in the 90's, Full Moon Entertainment was a Godsend. Come with me as I recount some of my memories of Full Moon and their films.

Let’s talk Full Moon Entertainment!

For those who don’t know: Full Moon Entertainment (or Full Moon Features as they are known now) is a straight-to-video company founded by Charles Band in the late 80’s after his previous company, Empire Pictures, went under. Full Moon focuses mostly on horror and sci-fi, but Band has also created two other companies, MoonBeam Entertainment and Torchlight Entertainment to cater to kids and adults who want erotic films).

Charles Band struck a deal with various video stores around the country that if they created a section specifically for Full Moon product that they would get a deal on said product. Now, we had a bunch of video stores around town, but there was only one that created the Full Moon section. I remember walking into the video store and seeing this section on the New Release wall. It was decked out with shelf paper and a header that really sold you on Full Moon films even before you even rented a single one. Walking up to this section, I had no idea what Full Moon was, but then I saw the titles of the films. PUPPET MASTER, DOLLMAN, and DEMONIC TOYS. These were all pretty simple titles that told you the basics of the film and made you want to rent the films right away. I was able to talk my mother into renting me DOLLMAN and I was on my way to loving Full Moon.

Dollman was about a hard-boiled cop who is transported from his world to ours. The only problem lies in the fact that in our world he is the size of a doll. Pretty easy to follow along and get into. The film is filled with action, gore, and sweet, sweet one-liners. Dollman did not care about being an asshole to the people he was supposed to be protecting. He calls an overweight kid “fat boy” after the kid admires Dollman’s gun. Dollman (or Brick as he is known in the film) takes no shit but gives a ton of it to everyone he comes into contact with. Dollman was the perfect film for a kid who is finding his place in the film world. It had everything a teenager could ever want in a film and it did it with style.

The thing about Full Moon is that they were shameless promoters. At the beginning of every VHS, they released were about 6-8 trailers for upcoming Full Moon films mixed in with some films that have already been released. For me and a lot of my friends, this was a HUGE selling point. Back then there was something about seeing trailers for upcoming films in front of a film you rented from the video store. I never fast-forwarded through these trailers as I was always on the lookout for something new. Well, Full Moon’s trailers were always the best. Band knew how to sell his films to the right audience and I just happened to be that audience. I can not tell you how many films I saw just because I saw the trailer in front of another film.

Full Moon also did a thing that the studios weren't doing: they added a making-of featurette after the film called "Video Zone". These things would show up after the credits had finished rolling (don't worry, they told you about the "Video Zone" at the beginning of the tape.) and it would go into how that film was made. The cast and the crew were interviewed and they were also a highlight of a Full Moon VHS. The blu-rays that Full Moon releases of their heyday films include these "Video Zones" as a bonus feature.

After taking in the sights and sounds of DOLLMAN, I started in on Full Moon hard. I watched the Puppet Master films as they came out, I sat through MERIDIAN even though I really did not like it, and I fell in love with films like BAD CHANNELS, ARCADE, and SHRUNKEN HEADS. Every Full Moon release got an instant rental out of me, so much so that the video store clerks would hold the newest titles for me because they knew I was going to be there the day they came out. These films meant a lot to me and to my growth in film appreciation. Yeah, I said it. You can appreciate anything when it comes to film and I appreciated what Charles Band was doing for me and all the other Full Moon fans.

By the time the 90’s were exiting stage left, Full Moon films started to become less and less approachable. You see, in the 90’s a Full Moon film could be anyone’s favorite thing. There was a ton of variety and there was something for everyone. But they started to grow a bit staler as time went on. At first, they felt like films made by people who love film and love what they are making. By the end of the 90’s, they felt more like “we have to make these things to keep going”. The spark was lessened. Band was relying more and more on puppets and other small things. I mean, have you seen OOGA BOOGA? Or GINGERDEAD MAN? Or EVIL BONG? The quality just isn’t there anymore. I still watch the films that Full Moon releases because I want to support the company, but I also want to be able to find another “diamond in the rough”. Full Moon helped me in the 90's. Now, it is time for me to help them.

I recommend the book IT CAME FROM THE VIDEO AISLE as it covers everything Full Moon. This is a highly detailed book that tells not only the story of the company, but also the films on which the company is built. There is also a book about Empire Pictures that covers the company and films that Charles Band had before Full Moon.

If you are reading this and want to find some films that Full Moon has released that are worth your time, I have made the following list to help out (click on each film poster to find out more about the film.):

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  1. I don't get the love for Full Moon. When Band did Empire they had movies of a good variety and quality, but Full Moon was always cheap and lamer.

    1. I grew up with both Empire and Full Moon and I prefer Full Moon. They came into existence right as I was getting into film, so they hit at the right time. Sure, the films that Empire put out were better in a technical way, but they are both pretty even in the "good film" department., Sure, they're cheaper but some of the best films out there were cheap. It's what they do with what they and Full Moon was pretty good.