In a time well before DVD was the standardized format for film lovers, there was the almighty VHS tape. Looked back upon with a fondness similar to that of a mother for her first born, especially for genre fans, VHS was where home cinema would truly come to fruition. It was a revolution, a major evolutionary leap that continuously grows with each day that passes. Looking back at the format now is a nostalgic romp, bringing many of us back to a time in our youth when hours were spent in front of a television, eyes fixated, with no more than the glow of the screen illuminating the room. This is a time when there was an innocence to watching movies and, in many ways, was the best time cinematically in our lives.
As much as I still love the nostalgic aspects of the format, and even though I still buy cheap VHS tapes and pop ’em from time-to-time, can you imagine a world where special features didn’t exist? With the advent of DVD and now Blu-ray, cinema nerds have been filled to the gullet with multiple commentaries, trailers, behind the scenes, and anything and everything else you can think of. I doubt any one of us could fathom living without these “extras,” and it wasn’t so long ago where we settled for no more than a handful of trailers before our feature presentation (if we were lucky) after we pushed those beastly black beauties into our VCRs.
Nevertheless, before there was ever a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, or even a Laserdisc, there was Full Moon’s VideoZone. A bounce back production company that came after the fall of Empire Pictures, Full Moon Productions was, and still is, the brainchild of Charles Band. Band had a clear vision for this new company, which was to produce low-budget genre cinema with a polished look that the audience would associate with big budget productions. In keeping with the Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy elements found within the films that Full Moon produced, Band apparently wanted the company to have the overall feel of a comic book, which would tie into the birth of VideoZone.
Inspired by the positive response to the making-of segments that Full Moon had attached to some of their earlier films, VideoZone made its official splash in 1991 at the conclusion of Puppet Master II, which, as most people know, would be one of the studio’s most popular flagship franchises. Sometimes introduced by Charles Band himself, each video magazine styled VideoZone featurette would average somewhere around 10 minutes and focused on the making of the whichever film you had just watched. Filled with insightful and ambitious interviews with the cast and crew, a look at how certain makeup effects were done, and a chance to watch the film from the creative side of the lens, VideoZone was as groundbreaking as it was entertaining.
Growing up at this time, I simply loved the films that Full Moon put out, and still, to this very day, I will always appreciate the style of movie that the company has brought, and still brings, to the table. However, as much as I enjoyed the features themselves (despite the sometimes questionable quality), I can honestly say that the best part of any Full Moon production was the VideoZone segment. Being a kid that loved horror movies, it was quite incredible to be able to go behind-the-scenes with these featurettes and it was also something that worked as a learning tool for what would become a lifelong passion, which would be movies and the every intricate detail that goes into making them.
VideoZone played at the end of every Full Moon VHS release from ’91 to 2000, opening the door wide enough for fans to sneak a peek at how the films were brought to life. It also served as a great marketing tool for Band to hock Full Moon products and share the latest movie news, which was a brilliant way to keep Full Moon fans in the loop. Even though the innovative VideoZone is no more, the always market savvy Band still keeps the interactive dream alive in the modern age with video blogs pimping classy cinema such as Evil Bong 3D and Gingerdead Man 3. And personally, I would have it no other way.
*The first video has the actual introduction by Charles Band, but not the entire VideoZone Segment as it gets cut off about five minutes short of the entire run-time. The second video has the entire behind the scenes portion of Puppet Master 2’s VideoZone, without the Band intro*