Trophy Heads DVD Review
Directed by Charles Band
Written by Roger Barron
2014, Region A, 88 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on October 7th, 2014
Adam Noble Roberts as Max
Maria Olsen as Mom
Brinke Stevens as herself
Linnea Quigley as herself
Michelle Bauer as herself
Darcy DeMoss as herself
Denise Duff as herself
Jaqueline Lovell as herself
Irene Murphy as Julia
Jessica Morris as Jessica
Robin Sydney as Robin
Do you remember movies like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama or Nightmare Sisters or Slave Girls Beyond Infinity? Of course you do, because they're awesome! These films starred the likes of such beauties as Brinke Stevens (Slumber Party Massacre), Michelle Bauer (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) and Linnea Quigley (Graduation Day); women who made dozens of movies a year and reigned as Scream Queens when the VHS format was king. As the industry moved forward, the next wave of starlets pushed the previous queens aside and so the cycle continued through the time of DVD. Once the digital revolution opened the doors for anyone with a camera to make a movie, regardless of money or skill, a new wave of “talent” stepped forward and these self-appointed queens stood on the shoulders of those that came before and vied for a title they had in no way earned. Trophy Heads is a love letter to the fans of the earlier flicks and the high-concept premise is inspired.
Max loves the old-school screamers and worries that the classic Scream Queens have been forgotten. His obsession grows beyond the confines of his mother's basement and he hatches a plan to return his leading ladies to their former glory. With mom's help, Max sets out to recreate the best moments of his favorite films and converts his room into a makeshift prison. The three holding cells are soon filled with the likes of Stevens, Bauer and Quigley; and the ladies quickly learn they are in for a world of trouble. Footage from their old features is projected with new material spliced in and this contemporary content is strictly snuff film variety. The retro cast of prisoners rotates to include more recent names like Denise Duff (the Subspecies franchise), Darcy DeMoss (Friday the 13th Part VI) and Jaqueline Lovell (Head of the Family), but the punishment remains the same. Can these ladies work together to escape their predicament or will egos get in the way of survival?
Trophy Heads sounds fun on paper, but the fumbled execution will leave genre fans a bit disappointed. There are some strong moments, to be certain, as the ladies' lifelong cinematic chemistry cannot be denied, but their best lines are likely improvised. Roger Barron's screenplay takes its cues from the right source material, but his writing skills are still in development. It is a bit strange that Charles Band only directed the picture, since he can write this stuff in his sleep, although it does not appear he is giving 100% in the director's chair either. There is a charm to low-budget features and he knows how to milk a dollar, but this picture looks like it was shot on favors.
The bulk of the heavy lifting falls on newcomer Noble Roberts and he does a fine job as Max, the budding sociopath. Maria Olsen (Shellter) holds her own as Mom, but treads the line of parody a bit close on occasion. This is not exactly inappropriate for this film, but the villains should remain scary and any comedy should come from the actresses' interaction - which leads me to the awkward section of this review in which I point out that the fading beauties are now forced to rely on their acting skills. Trophy Heads does nothing to convince viewers that their favorite femmes rose to fame on anything more than their willingness to do nudity. Time has removed that sexy crutch and what's left are middle-aged women giving awkwardly wooden performances. I am also a fan of these classic movies and refuse to single anyone out as being particularly terrible, but it is safe to say that this question could have multiple answers. Despite the flaws, it is still nice to see the ladies acting again and fans will want to check it out no matter the shortcomings.
Video and Audio:
Presented here in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the transfer is as strong as standard def allows for a low-budget venture made within the last year. Colors and contrast levels are fine, but not spectacular, which lends itself to the tone of the picture and is not distracting.
The default Dolby Digital 5.1 track is not too fancy, but this is exactly as it should be. Music cues are effective without overpowering dialogue levels. Surrounds are not given the biggest workout, but do come in handy for auditory hallucinations.
Kicking things off is an audio commentary featuring Charles Band with a trio of talent, Brinke Stevens, Darcy DeMoss and Jacqueline Lovell. Band quickly explains that the film originally debuted online as a five-part series that has been edited together for this presentation. This is a rare case where it would have been better to have more participants, but sadly schedule conflicts block the full festivities and while there is an informative and entertaining vibe to the discussion, there is also the persistent habit of falling silent while simply watching the movie, which is kind of a drag.
The standard Full Moon Videozone (10 minutes) making-of featurette is a bit more rewarding this time since the participants have such an extended history together that it is nice to see this reunion of old friends. The running time is a bit misleading, as the first four minutes are a solo intro from Band, who remains enthusiastic and engaging.
Additional raw footage shows behind-the-scenes material (23 minutes) shot on set and is a nice addition here.
A trailer gallery includes previews for Trophy Heads, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama and Subspecies among others.
“Submit Your Head” photo gallery (3 minutes) offers fan photos tailored to appear as trophy heads.