Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Band is at his best in 'Hideous!'

Hideous! (1997)
Starring: Michael Citriniti, Mel Johnson Jr., Jacqueline Lovell, Gerard O'Donnell, Tracie May and Rhonda Griffin
Director: Charles Band
Producers: Charles Band, Kirk Hansen and Vlad Paunescu
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

A pair of rival collectors of "medical oddities" (Citriniti and Johnson) are trapped inside a sealed house with their staff with a bizarre mutant who has re-animated a collection of deformed fetuses and turned them into tiny killing machines.

"Hideous!" is a another very strange horror comedy from Full Moon that's full of random weirdness--with the sewer-born mutant giving life and intellect to pickled fetuses actually being less strange than the bizarre character portrayed by Jacqueline Lovell. (And if you're going to cast a character who commits a robbery while topless and wearing a gorilla mask, giving the part to a softcore porn star is a very good choice. The choice is even better if that softcore porn star happens to be a fine actress with excellent comic timing.)

Benjamin Carr wrote over 20 films for Full Moon, and this is not only one of the strangest but also one of the most effectively structured. He recognized how weird the film and its characters are, so he inserted a surrogate for the viewer, a stereotypical hardboiled detective (played with great flair by Gerard O'Donnell) who voices what's going through the viewers mind as the film unfolds, such as 'Doesn't anyone think this is strange?". Although he has plenty of funny lines, O'Donnell's character is the closest thing to a straight man in this crazy movie. Everyone else is in comic and over-acting overdrive, chewing on the scenery and playing as if to the back row of a very large theater. But, in this movie, it works and it works brilliantly. Just when you think the film has reached it's weirdness quotient, it gets stranger.

Although Charles Band has helmed some so-so movies in recent years, both as a director and a producer--okay, so most of his recent films have sucked hard--but "Hideous!" dates from a time when you could count on him to deliver the goods when it came to insane horror comedies.

This is a movie that will be a big hit as part of any Bad Movie Night you care to host. (Just remember that Jacqueline Lovell appears topless--except for a gorilla mask--for an extended scene if you're going to have young kids present and/or you're sensitive to nudity.)

"Hideous!" is available on DVD for around $10. That's the price to see a movie in the theater these days, but this film is much funnier than most so-called comedies that are being released now.