C. Dennis Moore
- Published on Amazon.com
Eighteen year old Naomi Arkoff just wants to be like other teenagers. She wants to see the world, go to college, talk on a cell phone and listen to music on an iPod. But her father has made his feelings about things like cell phones and iPods very clear. When he catches her with a cell phone, it’s down to the dungeon where he puts her on the rack. Next time, he warns her, her punishment won’t be so light.
And as for college, her mother tells her, there’s nothing out there in the world worth seeing. If Naomi wants an education, her family will hire tutors.
Then one day a movie crew comes knocking on the door. They’re scouting locations for the director’s first feature and think the Italian castle where the Arkoffs live would be perfect. No can do, Mr. Arkoff says, we don’t want outsiders here. But Naomi goes upstairs to ask her bedridden grandfather to at least think about letting the crew film there; she thinks the director, Jenson, is really nice.
The three-person crew, Jenson, producer Kimi, and Italian producer LJ come for dinner where Mrs. Arkoff tells them the legend of the Skull Heads, guardians of the castle born from magic, with the power to either take life or bring the dead back to life. After dinner, Naomi shows the crew around the castle.
Little does she know, they’re not making a movie, they’re casing the joint with the intention of coming back tomorrow after the Arkoffs have gone to bed. Maybe they should have paid more attention to the legend of the castle’s protectors.
SKULL HEADS is another in a long line of Charles Band’s Full Moon Features that has a decent premise--this one’s even got an adequate set-up--but then falls completely apart in the home stretch. Maybe it’s me. But when I see a movie called SKULL HEADS and then learn that the skull heads are protectors of a castle, then learn that the castle and its inhabitants are in danger, I’m kind of expecting the protectors of that castle, after whom the movie is named, to take a bigger part in the climax of the film.
Granted, they do what they do and things happen, but this is a Charles Band movie. I’m used to seeing a movie stuffed full of miniature effects, killer dolls, puppets, gingerbread men, etc. But this time around, in a 78-minute movie, the skull heads probably get a collective 8 minutes of screen time. That’s not what I signed on for; I was expecting to see the skull heads slicing and dicing their way through the cast.
Instead, we get some family secret twist that, while it makes sense in terms of the plot so far and actually answered several questions I had, it also took things in a much more off-center direction. Maybe that was Band’s plan, but if so, then name the movie something else, name it THE ARKOFF SECRET or something. If you’re gonna name the movie something so specific as SKULL HEADS, I’d expect the skull heads to take center stage in act three.
The acting wasn’t too terrible, although Steve Kramer (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Samantha Light (THE NEIGHBORLY THING) as Naomi’s parents were a bit over the top. Robyn Sydney (THE GINGERDEAD MAN) as Naomi was fun to watch, playing an eighteen year old with the mentality of a ten year old. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Naomi, necessarily, but she’s lived her whole life in the castle, never been to the nearby village or interacted with the outside world, so in many ways she is still very much a small child. And Sydney works that angle really well.
In fact, her performance is one of the few bright spots of the entire movie. For the most part I found SKULL HEADS to be slow and uninteresting as a movie. The story lacked any real excitement until maybe the last ten minutes, and then everything happens so fast, there’s no time to play on it and build any suspense. So once again, Charles Band has come up with a story that’s not all that bad, and could be made into something pretty good, if it had been made by someone with a little more patience, someone actually interested in the idea of “story” in general, someone willing to take that kernel and development it into something audiences can really get behind.
Personally I think Band’s attention span and willingness to spend any real time or effort into telling the best, most exciting and suspenseful story he can is only working against him. It’s certainly not resulting in impressive movies. I understand he’s filling a niche, but half the time it feels like he’s not even trying.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
When I was reading that this movie is made by the same people who made the Puppetmaster series, I thought this may be a cool little movie to check out. How wrong and mislead I was.
The film is about a family that live in a castle somewhere in Italy. They are somewhat a family something like the Addams Family but not as bizarre as more just insane. The father of the family does not take kindly to strangers, and wants his free spirit daughter to be kept isolated from the outside world. However the castle is visited by 3 people who claim they want to inspect the castle for a Hollwood film, the father says no, but the daughter ends up inviting them over for dinner, and there real agenda begins to unfold. A story that is told by the mother to the three is that the castle is protected by these guardian angels known as The Skull Heads. And they have the ability to bring back the dead if necessary, but will not harm anyone unless they are evil.
Now if that plot sounds stupid, it's because it is. These Skull Head puppets they use in the film almost have no purpose at all in the entire film; they look silly, and if they decided to cut there scenes out, and just call the movie something else, it might make a little more sense then why the whole movie is supposed to be based around these things that have probably a total of 5 to 10 mins in the whole movie.
Fans of the Puppetmaster series, like myself, will be really disappointed in this movie. It wont surprise me if anyone who watches this movie will see the end credits start rolling, leaving you sitting there thinking, "Is that it?" it's like someone pulled the plug on making the rest of the movie and printed what they had done so far for a release. I highly doubt it will get a sequel as this one is not going to make very much from sales and will not generate much interest from anyone who doesn't know it's relation to the Puppetmasters. However, even the puppetry in this movie from 2009 is a really poor effort compared to even the original Puppetmaster movie... I think even Howdy Doody looked more appealing then the things in this movie.
The acting of the film is also off. The father seemed to be trying to act like Robert England, but not doing a good job of making his character believable enough, you hate him one minute, then not the next, and it really felt out of balance for a horror movie. The mother was also the same, she does things that makes her seem sweet and kind, then other things that make no sense why she is so snobby. The daughter is just weird going from normal to a little girl to a nut case and round and round. The uncle is something you expect to go a different way by the end, but doesn't, the chefs of the house do a decent job for there role, and the 3 hollyweeders who come to check out the place seemed ok for a while, then got too goofy by the end... tho the end of it was really goofy anyway so i don't expect any other actor would have taken these roles seriously either.
Overall, it might sound good to try and take a family like The Addams and incorporate PuppetMaster into it, but this movie will show you exactly how not to do it. The plot is weird, things don't make sense, things where not needed, like the Skull Heads themselves and the daughters time wasting nude scene, the acting goes from decent to bad, too many things left unanswered, or just should not have been there in the first place if it doesn't play out later, I could go on, but just take my word, if you are going to check this film out, don't have high expectations, it is a real let down.
What they should do, is cut out the highly unneeded and useless nude scene, give it a PG rating and let.... no, hang on, even kids would find this movie stupid.