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Familiarity is nice. Only more increasingly so as we all collectively plunge deeper into a live-tweeted, ever evolving madness as a species. Charles Band's films can, for the most part, be enjoyed in the same sense you trust your favorite chair or how you know a NOFX album will be a NOFX album no matter the year. Not to say that this is boring but instead more comfortable, reliable. Along with being a big part of the straight to video industry during the 80s/90s VHS golden era, Band is known for an interest in certain tropes. Most notably the inclusion of some kind of miniature or small element, most commonly a living toy of some kind but can be a range of things (including an alien cop), brought to life with practical effects. He is a man tied to his interest, like many of us, and Charles Band’s films wander into the realm of the small creepy things genre often. With well over 200 films to his name and a eventful history on the business side, he has touched on several genres and concepts in his impressive career but will for forever be recognized by some, if not most, for the Puppet Master franchise. The 1989 film would cement a few other tropes that would become his staples including the House on Haunted Hill style plot device that has the human characters somehow being trapped in a location for an extended period of time. Band would apply these calling cards and his special brand of horror comedy to various settings with mixed results but always in a way that was comfortable, familiar and his. From the VHS to the Bluray when i pick up one of his films I know what I'm getting, fun, Gothic influenced horror-fantasy most likely with some fun-sized something popping out at some point. Of the films he has directed, one of my favorites would have to be the medical waste flavored version of the tried and true film formula,  Hideous! (1997).
The rivalry of two pompous collectors comes to a head when a rare form of mutant washes up at a sewage treatment facility.  Elvina Shaw, shrill business type and the two rival’s shared medical rarity dealer sells off the valuable creature to the eager Napoleon Lazar(Mel "Screw you Benny!" Johnson Jr.) for a large sum, breaking a first dibs agreement she has with Dr. Lorca (Michael Citriniti). This prompts the doctor strange look alike to send his tough shirtless right hand woman, Sheila, to hold Napoleon at gun point and leave him cuffed to a tree , all while she is cleverly disguised as a sexy gorilla with a pack a day smoking habit. The robbery is brought to the attention of the semi-broiled Detective Leonard Kantor who takes the whole cast, including Ms. Shaw's dimwitted secretary, to Dr. Lorca's castle-like mansion to investigate. After the two rich assholes share some back and forth they decide that the feud will be decided by the "challenge" of  Dr. Lorca giving Lazar a tour, which oddly proves to be fruitful because Lazar is then brought to tears by the sheer glory of the collection he possesses. But when some specimens go missing and circumstances strand and isolate the party in the good doctor’s home, it becomes apparent that some of the mutant-fetus things may not be as dead as previously thought and possibly want more out of life than being some loaded douchebag’s trophy.

The camerawork and editing are on par with other Band directed works from that time. So somewhere between pre-Halloween(1979) era horror films and a 90’s Disney channel original movie quality accompanied by a bouncing score by Richard Band . Story is coherent and lovingly goofy with stupid but fun dialogue and situations made only just in the realm of the believable, due to the fact that collecting the unfortunate seems like something really rich folks would do. The creatures themselves are classic Full Moon brand practical effects, their gross factor increased by the steady flow of slime that clings to the emotive rubber flipper babies. One of my favorite gang of Band's kids, the designs are fun, and like the Puppet Master films you are bound to pick a favorite (mine’s the big head baby-thing with all the eyes).
A loose follow up to the fan favorite Head of the Family the film carries over a chunk of the 1996 film’s cast. Jacqueline Lovell is easily my favorite of the cast and not just because she spends the bulk of the film with only what looks like a dollar store cowboy vest. Her character serves as the movie’s bad-ass and, for the most part, is really the only likable person among the bunch. The gorilla-mask robbery, while dumb as shit, serves as one of the more comedic and memorable moments in the flick and her disguised voice makes it. It’s gratuitous and immature but I have no shame in saying it’s been a beloved movie moment for me for many years. Our two collectors (,) play off each other well and seem to be having fun. Michael Citriniti's Dr. Lorca makes a scarred return in the later Demonic Toys sequel from 2010, although his temperament has changed.
Hideous! hits all the checkboxes for a Full Moon Picture as well as exceeds some of the label’s other classics in way of coherent plot. I like a good gross mini monster pack I can relate too. Nobody likes being treated like an object. Let those little motherfuckers go! At least in my own ever changing hell I know that I can always go back to the pad, pop in a flick like this and take in all the familiar little-creepy-puppet-monster feels like a warm embrace for my battered soul. Never change Charles Band, never.
 1h 22min | 1997
 Director: Charles Band
Writer: Neal Marshall Stevens (as Benjamin Carr) 

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