Full Moon High Blu Ray Review (Scream Factory)
Full Moon High (aKa A Transylvanian Werewolf In America) is a 1981 horror comedy film written, produced, & directed by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive Tirlogy, Q, The Ambulance, God Told Me To, Black Caesar, & Original Gangstas). He’s also responsible for writing some of these films besides his directing duties which include: Maniac Cop Trilogy, Best Seller, Body Snatchers, Uncle Sam, & Phone Booth. It spoofs 1957’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf. It was the first major cinema film starring both father & son actors (Alan & Adam Arkin) in significant roles. Anthony Arkin was also in this. Other werewolf movies like Wolfen & The Howling were produced that same year. 80s? High School? Werewolf? Where have we seen this before? Believe it or not, Larry Cohen’s Full Moon High was made 4 years before the popular Teen Wolf! It just didn’t catch on like that movie did which spawned a sequel, a cartoon show, TV series, & various other things. Full Moon High NEVER even got a DVD release back in the day, the last home video release here was a VHS!!!!
It opens with a football game & Tony (played by: Adam Arkin from Halloween H20, Chicago Hope, & Sons of Anarchy) is getting praised for his performance. He has a funny & awkward conversation with his dad Col. William P. Walker (played by: Ed McMahon from The Tonight Show, Star Search, & Fun with Dick and Jane). He convinces him to take a trip with him to Romania to help him out with work. His dad is busy so he goes off on his own adventure to entertain himself. He gets lost in Transylvania & gets attacked by a werewolf! The plane gets hijacked on the way back to America. Tony uses his new power to protect & save everyone from the thugs. Jane (played by: Roz Kelly from New Year’s Evil & Happy Days) comes on to him but he’s paranoid about his new identity so he walks away. He can’t control when he turns into something else & the community notices this new creature. He gets on a bus & tries to leave everything behind. Tony registers to his old school Full Moon High years later to start over. He sees his old friends & how much they have aged since he’s been there. Everyone can’t believe how much he looks like the same Tony from the past. He’s back to his old ways & can’t control his transformation. He meets a new friend Ricky (played by: Joanne Nail from The Visitor, Switchblade Sisters, & The Gumball Rally) at school that he finally feels conformable with. Miss Montgomery (played by: Elizabeth Hartman from The Beguiled, Walking Tall, & The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) gets a visit from the monster. Tony shows the class the video of him turning into the beast everyone everyone feared. He is in jail now & they want him to sign his body over to science, Dr. Brand (played by: Alan Arkin from Wait Until Dark, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, & Gattaca) wants to study him. He escapes & plays in the final football game of the season. It finishes with a ridiculous silly over the top ending.
Obviously, Teen Wolf was influenced & heavily borrowed from Full Moon High. It’s honestly 99% comedy & maybe 1% horror so don’t go into this expecting anything dark or gruesome. I am actually surprised this isn’t a Shout Select title instead. This was one of rare comedies from Larry Cohen’s filmography, I’ve never seen him do anything like this before. I’ve been a big fan for a long time & I’ve seen most of his work. It was a parody & full of slapstick moments. It’s kinda what you would expect if the Zucker brothers did a werewolf movie. It’s lots of fun & something different from the legendary film maker. Lots of familiar faces show up in here including Pat Morita (The Karate Kid), Bob Saget (Full House), Laurene Landon (Maniac Cop 1/2), Louis Nye (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Demond Wilson (Sanford and Son), Kenneth Mars (The Producers), & Tom Aldredge (*batteries not included).
Considering it hasn’t had a home video release in the United States since the VHS days, this is pretty much a lost film that’s been rediscovered from Scream Factory for this new blu ray release. So it’s not a huge shocker that this is the best that Full Moon High has ever looked with this new high definition transfer but I am still telling you that because that’s what I do. The audio & sound is much improved from the old version that fans are familiar with. The major highlight on this blu ray release is the brand exclusive “Audio Commentary” with writer, producer, & director Larry Cohen moderated by King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen director Steve Mitchell. Generally, I don’t listen to that many commentaries unless it’s for review but Cohen has always been very informative & keeps you entertained while learning about the production of his work. That’s one audio track you shouldn’t pass up. It also includes a “Trailer” for Full Moon High. Personally, I’d like to see more releases like this from either Shout or Scream Factory in the future because stuff like this ends up forgotten because how it gets treated with it’s promotion. I appreciate Scream Factory resurrecting this rarity from MGM. This is available everywhere on April 10th! Please support these smaller titles so we can get more. Make sure you pick up other Larry Cohen titles from Scream Factory like The Ambulance, Q: The Winged Serpent, & the It’s Alive trilogy!!!!