Retro-review: New on BluRay from The Shout Factory; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!
FULL MOON HIGH (1981)
aka A TRANSYLVANIAN WEREWOLF IN AMERICA, MOON HIGH, TEENWOLF
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by Larry Cohen
Starring Adam Arkin, Roz Kelly, Ed McMahon, Joanne Nail, Bill Kirchenbauer, Elizabeth Hartman, Louis Nye, Demond Wilson, Jim J. Bullock, James Dixon, Kenneth Mars, Alan Arkin, Tom Aldredge, Pat Morita, Tom Clancy, Laurene Landon, Bob Saget
Four years before TEEN WOLF, low fi cinema master Larry Cohen crafted a teenage lycanthrope movie starring Adam Arkin and Ed freakin’ McMahon. Now, I’d say that is reason alone to check this film out, but after seeing this “lost film,” one can understand why the film was lost in the first place. A bunch of cobbled together skits with low laugh payoffs, FULL MOON HIGH tries but ultimately fails to be anything but mildly entertaining.
Arkin plays a hunky quarterback named Tony who goes to Transylvania with his dad on a business trip and ends up being bitten by a werewolf and is scarred with the mark of the beast. Returning home, Tony tries to acclimate back into school, but when the moon is full, he tends to wolf out and go on a nibbling spree, biting (not killing) anyone in his path. Tony leaves town in hopes to save them, never getting to play in the big game. Twenty years later, Tony returns home, still looking like a teenager, and reenlists in school hoping to achieve his goal of winning the big game. Will Tony do it or will his curse prevent him from winning all over again?
Now, if a little thought was put into the story and if they really wanted a good punch line, Tony would have returned to his hometown to find them all werewolves since he went on a biting spree and should, according to legend, pass on the curse to others that way. This didn’t happen. Cohen is more interesting in pressing the point that girls have become a bit more aggressive through the years and the furry beast that was a monster in the sixties is looked at as a hunky stud in the early eighties. The film wants to be a raunchy comedy, but lacks the teeth to really be one. There’s no nudity. One scene where Tony is tied up that turns into a sort of sex scene, but that’s about it. So FULL MOON HIGH doesn’t deliver as either a monster film or a raunchy comedy.
The only fun I had with this film is trying to spot the stars in the background who later became someone like Bob Sagat, Bill Kirchenbauer, Jim J. Bullock, and Pat Morita. Even then, that just serves to remind you of better roles they played. With some decent werewolf costuming, I was more put aback by how much young Adam Arkin looked like George Clooney back then. In short, my mind wandered a lot in FULL MOON HIGH and that’s never a good quality for a film to have.
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