Head of the Family was made in 1996 by B-movie king Charles Band, but feels like it comes straight from the mid-‘80s at the height of the VHS boom instead of at the point when the format’s dominance had begun to decline along with most audiences’ tolerance for the shameless trash it produced.
Pretty much everyone in the film is a thoroughly unpleasant individual and as a result you feel no guilt in enjoying watching the reprobates thoroughly screw each other over when they’re not literally screwing each other. Far from being a hero, Lance is selfish, cowardly and only marginally smarter than the local morons he is contrasted against, but is still the closest thing available to a match for the eponymous Stackpoole patriarch Myron, a tiny man with a giant-sized head and corresponding enhanced intellect (all things being relative). The pair’s simplistic mind games form much of the plot, the back and forth power plays pushing things to ever greater extremes.
Rounding out the cast of misfits is the rest of the Stackpoole clan, the super-strong Otis, Wheeler with enhanced senses and giant eyeballs, and Ernestina, whose special powers we are informed hardly need told (hint: it’s not her brains). The least unlikable character is the delectable Loretta (played by softcore porn star Jacqueline Lovell in her first non-erotica role, actually proving herself to be a half-decent actress in the process) and the comparative affection you have for her gives any danger she is placed in an accompanying sense of peril.
The resultant chaos is almost reminiscent of Coen brothers movie, with an assortment of exaggerated characters stumbling through scheme and counter-scheme, each run with the erroneous assumption that their operator is more intelligent than they think they are, while events are periodically punctuated by overstated monologuing. The absurdity is augmented by some hilariously clunky expository dialogue, much of which takes place during fairly frequent sex scenes as though economising the film’s tight budget and reducing the amount of film requiring shot.
For a film whose entire premise is built around the word play of its title Head of the Family is not half bad, and when looking for 80 minutes of daft, perverse and unapologetic nonsense to provide some mindless entertainment, you could certainly a lot worse.
HEAD OF THE FAMILY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: CHARLES BAND / SCREENPLAY: CHARLES BAND, NEAL MARSHALL STEVENS / STARRING: BLAKE ADAMS, JACQUELINE LOVELL, J.W. PERRA, BOB SCHOTT, JAMES JONES, ALEXANDRIA QUINN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW