(1951- ) US film producer, director and entrepreneur, his ambitions often undone by underbudgeting, but responsible for a vigorous burst of sf/fantasy/horror exploitation movies in the mid-1980s. His best works indicate a lively mind and a bizarre B-movie sensibility that has led to comparison with Roger Corman of the 1950s. He is the son of the exploitation film-maker Albert Band, whose productions include I Bury the Living (1956), and brother of the prolific film composer Richard Band. Charles Band produced his first film, Mansion of the Doomed (1976) – a mad-Scientist picture modelled on Georges Franju's Les Yeux sans Visage (1959) – at the age of 21, and directed his first, Crash! (1977), a year later. With the healthy profits from a pair of derivative 3-D sf efforts that he produced and directed – Parasite (1982), a Monster Movie, and Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983) – Band set up Empire International, a prolific grindhouse outfit that flourished 1983-1988, many of its films shot in Italy 1984-1988. When Empire had financial problems, Band sold out to Irwin Yablans, who had produced for the company, and established a less ambitious production house, Full Moon International, which after a time shot a number of films in Romania.
Other sf films, many of them marginal sf/horror, with which Band was involved as a producer (sometimes simply because Empire provided funding, sometimes with fuller creative participation) include – the list may be incomplete – End of the World (1977), Tourist Trap (1978), Laserblast (1978), The Day Time Ended (1980; vt Earth's Final Fury; vt Time Warp; vt Vortex), Swordkill (1984; vt Ghost Warrior), The Dungeonmaster (1984; vt RageWar; vt Digital Knights), Re-Animator (1985; Band uncredited funded but did not produce), Zone Troopers (1985), Eliminators (1986), Terrorvision (1986), Mutant Hunt (1986), Breeders (1986), From Beyond (1986) – loosely based on H P Lovecraft's short "From Beyond" (June 1934 The Fantasy Fan) – Robot Holocaust (1987), The Caller (1987), Arena (1988) – based on the short story "Arena" (June 1944 Astounding) by Fredric Brown – Transformations (1988), ShadowZone (1989), Robot Jox (1990), Crash and Burn (1990) directed by Band, Dollman (1990), Doctor Mordrid (1992), co-directed with his father, Bad Channels (1993), Seed People (1993), Trancers 3: Deth Lives (1993; vt Future Cop 3), Mandroid (1993), Robot Wars (1993) directed Albert Band, Prehysteria (1993) directed Charles Band and his father, Beach Babes from Beyond Infinity (1993), Arcade (1994), Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994; vt Future Cop 4), Test Tube Teens from the Year 2000 (1994), Trancers 5: Sudden Death (1995; vt Future Cop 5), Oblivion (1995) and Prehysteria 2 (1995).
Supernatural Horror films in which Charles Band was involved, nearly always just as producer except where noted, include – the list is not fully complete – Dracula's Dog (1978; vt Zoltan: Hound of Dracula) directed Albert Band, Ghoulies (1984), Troll (1986), Dreamaniac (1986), Necropolis (1987), Dolls (1987), Ghoulies II (1987) directed Albert Band, Prison (1988), Ghost Town (1988), Puppetmaster (1989), Catacombs (1990; vt Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice), Meridian (1990; vt Kiss of the Beast) directed Charles Band, Puppetmaster II (1990), Demonic Toys (1990), Netherworld (1990), Puppetmaster III (1990), Subspecies (1990), The Pit and the Pendulum (1991), Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys (1993) directed Charles Band, Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993), Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994), Puppetmaster IV (1994), Dragonworld (1994) fantasy rather than horror, Lurking Fear (1994), I Come in Peace (1994), Puppetmaster 5: The Final Chapter (1995), Shrunken Heads (1995).
While Charles Band has certainly unleashed a torrent of middling-to-terrible product – often featuring cheap Robots or small puppet demons – he deserves credit for fostering such talent as director Stuart Gordon, producer Brian Yuzna, special-effects-men-turned-directors David Allen and John Carl Buechler, and writers Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. Trancers (1984; vt Future Cop), directed by Charles Band from a snappy script by Bilson and DeMeo, is one of the best sf films of the decade, an imaginative Time-Travel adventure that beat The Terminator to several punches and features as many ideas in its brief running time as an Alfred Bester novel. Charles Band also directed the disappointing sequel, Trancers 2 (1991; vt Future Cop 2).
More and more from 1987 on, Band has concentrated on direct-to-video production, which can be profitable if budgets and shooting schedules are minimized. In the 1990s very few of his films have had theatrical release, but in the direct-to-video castle he is probably king. Full Moon built its staff up from eight to 200 in the 1990s. In 1993 he launched a new label, Moonbeam, specializing in children's products. With the success of Prehysteria and Dragonworld in this label, it looks as if this is where Charles Band's future may lie. However in 1994, Band, never one to overlook a marketing opportunity, also launched the Torchlight label, which makes "adult" (i.e. pornographic) films. [KN/PN]
Charles Robert Band
born Los Angeles, California: 27 December 1951
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