Let me clarify: I used to write a helluva lot more. In fact, I used to be one of Amazon.com’s Top 1000 Reviewers, back in the day when the mega-company actually maintained a consumer-friendly environment. I had reviewed books, products, films, videos, books, etc. for nearly two decades on their site and had been recruited by a huge, huge, huge number of merchants to screen all kinds of stuff in exchange for a kind word here and there. In case you missed it, a few years back the internet retailer unceremoniously dumped those of us who had worked very hard to make them what they were with no legitimate explanation other than to say we had broken the rules … the very rules that they had just changed a few days before … so how we were to go back in time and undo the vast array of work we had done weeks, months, and years before? It was, simply put, maddening.
That’s part and parcel of why I set up my own shop here, so that I could finally have a measure of control over my own content. Granted, it’s a narrower focus than I ever had at Amazon.com, but it’s one that keeps me happily plugging away with whatever time permits.
In any event …
I don’t review books regularly because I truly don’t read as much Science Fiction and Fantasy as I used to. I’m a bit older – and with age comes a bit more discriminating tastes – so I gravitate toward a different set of interests with my reading time. Occasionally, however, I will pick up something with its feelers set in the realm of the fantastical … and when I happened across Charles Band’s bio – “Confessions Of A Puppetmaster” – I couldn’t pass it up. Well, truth be told, I did pass it up the first time I had my hands on it, but that’s only because I knew I was getting a Barnes & Noble Gift Card in a few weeks, which would make the purchase a perfect choice. I hope Mr. Band would agree.
Still, for those of you who’ve never heard the name, let me educate you briefly: Band is definitely one of mankind’s truly original B-Movie makers. Folks who traffic this space within SciFiHistory.Net have no doubt happened across an incredible number of movie titles, actors, and citations related to his wares; but as I don’t tend to hawk too many producers in this space they may’ve missed his contributions to our beloved genre. If you peruse the man’s incredible IMDB.com profile, you’ll see he’s well on his way to a gob-smackingly-incredible four hundred different titles – easily one of the most prolific and profound in the business – and while his flicks might be household names his usually isn’t, unless you’re a true aficionado of some wonderfully inventive yet occasionally bizarre features.
Still not sure?
Let me drop some titles.
Laserblast (1978). Parasite (1982). Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn (1983). Trancers (1984). Zone Troopers (1985).
Still not sure?
Well, how about a few more titles?
Ghoulies (1985). Troll (1986). From Beyond (1986). Dolls (1986). Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity (1987).
Am I getting closer … or do you need a few more?
Creepozoids (1987). Assault Of The Killer Bimbos (1988). Puppet Master (1989). Robot Jox (1989). Subspecies (1991).
Now you’re getting it? Good.
Granted, Band’s particular narrative vision clearly hasn’t been to everyone’s delight, but nevertheless the man has put in his stripes in the film industry and knows more than a thing or two about crafting motion pictures that will entertain his fans throughout multiple viewings. His might not be a singular perspective, but I’ve read that his features continue to resonate with folks decades beyond most flicks’ typical shelf life. In a business that’s chewed up and spit out more souls than you or I can imagine, Band has proven he can withstand any storm and rise up tomorrow with the same unquenchable thirst to spin yarn with the best of them.
And that’s precisely what I learned from his biography.
“Confessions” really doesn’t contain any earth-shattering confessions. Band – who might argue otherwise – is still a humble salesman pushing his wares. These pictures – known in some parts as schlock – are trim and efficient … and his bio is much the same. It’s concise. It’s ‘to the point.’ It contains a bit of humor and a bit of pathos, but what it does so well is show a man with an irrepressible optimism who has withstood more than a single slap from Fate to the face, taken it in stride, and yet – like Thomas Edison advised – tried again tomorrow. Despite the mounting failures and setbacks, Band and his merry band of filmmakers merely kept plugging away when adversity reared its inevitable head; and their attitudes – while occasionally dampened – stayed robust, refreshed, and full of life.
Honestly, I can be a fairly negative guy. While I haven’t faced the measure of challenges Band has, I do tend to get wrapped up in dwelling on the particulars too much, so much so that I’ll lose focus for a time and have to re-focus. Each of us could learn a thing or two about how to approach life through the words of Band alone: while he doesn’t offer up what most folks would consider any profound wisdom, it’s his ‘can do’ and ‘little engine that could’ attitude which has put him in the position time-and-time-again to not so much start over but still pick up where he left off the day before and keep marching onward.
And … yeah … there are a few ‘confessions’ weaved into the story of his life. I definitely learned a thing or two about his experiences with Demi Moore, Jay Leno, and Bill Maher. But this is no typical Hollywood ‘tell-all,’ and that’s largely because most of Band’s worklife has kinda/sorta been on the fringes of Tinseltown. Thankfully, he’s escaped the oppression of the the studio system throughout most of his career, pairing up with them when the opportunities were rip but otherwise going the way of the true independent filmmaker. Like his films, his bio moves briskly, detailing the good, the bad, the ugly of capturing light and shadows in a way unique his own.
Plus … that lucky bastard owned a castle.
How many of you can claim that legacy?