Hideous! (1997)

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Long-term readers of our site may remember the time we tackled Full Moon. Charles Band and friends worked in conjunction with Paramount for many years, to give the big company a steady stream of low-budget but good-looking horror and sci-fi films for the home video market – then in the mid 90s, they branched out on their own, and have been independent since. They’re perhaps best known at the ISCFC for their rather cavalier attitude towards continuity, as well as many crossovers between their franchises.

“Hideous!” is being reviewed here due to that crossover tendency. Let’s see if I can remember it all…”Dollman vs. Demonic Toys” is the sequel to three different films, “Demonic Toys”, “Bad Channels” and “Dollman”. However, after the later “Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys”, Full Moon decided to ignore the continuity of those films and made a direct sequel to “Demonic Toys” called “Demonic Toys 2”. But, according to Wikipedia, that film features characters from “Hideous!” which is why we’re reviewing this before that. All make sense?

We get an extra layer of oddness, right off the bat too. Both IMDB and Wikipedia list a synopsis for this film which isn’t true.

“A group of rival collectors of severely deformed freakish human beings and the FBI agents that are investigating them must battle against some of their collections which aren’t as dead as they seem…”

Unless I completely wasn’t paying attention, there are no FBI agents in this movie. Given that IMDB has been going since before 1997, maybe the synopsis is based on pre-release publicity from Full Moon, that no-one bothered to change after the film was released? Anyway. The film starts with three sewage workers having a conversation about the weird things they’ve fished out of the filter, which starts off with money and jewellery but ends up with a discussion of foetuses and them fishing out something mysterious and mostly unseen that the head guy takes away with him.

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The film then meanders to the main section, which is the thing they fished out of the sewage reviving while in a collector’s room of biological oddities, reviving the other oddities and trapping a group of people in the castle they all congregated in. Fans of Full Moon and ponderers of Charles Band’s psyche will have already guessed that the creatures will be small, stop-motion animated, horrible-looking, and they also won’t be entirely evil; the main creature, what looks like a head with another head sort of poorly photocopied on top, is suitably grotesque though.

I believe I’ve raised this criticism of Full Moon before, but wow do their films take a long time to get to the point. It’s an hour into the 78 minutes of film before the humans and oddities meet up, and I’m really not sure that the conflict between collectors Napoleon Lazar (evil) and Dr Lorca (also evil) is enough to keep the film afloat. The sole bright spark of proceedings is Jacqueline Lovell, as Lorca’s assistant Sheila. Her outfit through most of the film is leather hot-pants and a leather waistcoat, nothing else, and in the film’s best scene she robs Lazar of his oddity wearing nothing but hot-pants and a gorilla mask. She’s both really beautiful and a decent actress, so it’s a shame she seems to have spent most of her career in soft-core pornography. Well, unless you like soft-core pornography, I suppose.

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This certainly feels like a “standard” Full Moon movie – the way it’s shot, the music (from Charles Band’s brother), the mini-creatures. And much like other Full Moon features, the problems come when you start thinking about it for more than a few seconds. The central conflict in this film comes from oddity-broker Belinda Yost selling to Lazar instead of Lorca, her normal regular customer, but the problem is the reason for this change is never explained. You’ve also not really got anyone to cheer on in this film – it’s evil collector 1, evil collector 2, and evil creatures, all fighting each other. You could certainly cheer on Sheila, I suppose.

There is fun to be had in this film, though. It plays knowingly with some of the mad scientist and haunted house tropes, and both collectors can chew scenery with the best of them. And Lovell’s performance means we’ll probably be reviewing more of her mainstream performances (she’s in a few other Full Moon films, I think, so two birds with one stone and all that). If only it had been a bit funnier or a bit faster-paced.

Rating: thumbs down

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