Friday, October 18, 2019

FULL MOON HIGH (1981) Blu-ray Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 16
Total First Time Views: 7
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,272.32

Full Moon High (1981) d. Larry Cohen (USA) (93 min) (1st viewing)

During the Cold War panic of the 1950s, superstar high school jock Tony (Adam Arkin) travels to Romania with his Commie-hating CIA father (Ed McMahon) where he is bitten by a werewolf, condemning him to a life of teen immortality and monthly shape-shifting. As the decades roll by, he decides to return to his alter mater in the present-day 1980s and re-enroll (posing as his own son) in the hopes of playing in the big championship football game and perhaps ridding himself of his booty-biting curse along the way.

This wildly scattershot lycanthrope flick attempts to adopt the Airplane!/Mel Brooks style of comedy of nonstop jokes (clever, lame, physical, forced) in the hopes that the viewer will a) find something to laugh at and/or b) stay infinitely distracted so as not to realize how desperate it all feels. Writer/director Cohen takes aim at any number of easy targets from politics to fashion and populates his cast with a shouty and energetic cast that often mistakes frantic for funny.

In his first leading role, Adam Arkin is terribly miscast as a hunky pigskin-throwing meathead, although he lands on the All-American Team for WHINING. Seriously, there isn’t a moment where he doesn’t seem dismayed by his lot in life, whether it be seeking sanctuary from his furry assailant or avoiding the sexual advances of his lustful wannabe girlfriend (Roz Kelly) or, well, pretty much anything. Kenneth Mars provides a number of bright spots as a leering, bitchy coach-turned-principal, as does McMahon in a robust and ridiculous right-wing turn.

Elizabeth Hartman (The Beguiled) and Joanne Nail (The Visitor) play a sexually frustrated teacher and a sexually liberated student, respectively, both of whom have their gorgeous mascara-rimmed eyes set on Tony. Future TV sitcom stars Jm J. Bullock (Too Close for Comfort) and Bob Saget (Full House) have memorable if brief appearances, while Demond Wilson (Sanford and Son) bugs his eyes obligingly. And then there’s Arkin’s real-life dad Alan, who shows up in the last 15-minutes to show these young punks how to turn sub-standard material into comedy gold through sheer force of will.

It’s hard to believe this came out the same year as the groundbreaking duo of The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, since it’s hardly ever mentioned in the same breath. (Hell, even Wolfen gets the token salute in most articles comparing the two.) Then again, the wolfman angle is almost an afterthought, included solely to prompt the onscreen newspaper headline of “Jack the Nipper Strikes Again.”

Reminiscent of watching your four-year-old nieces and nephews perform an improvised talent show, Full Moon High has a certain ramshackle charm that isn’t quite enough to carry the ball over the goal line.


NEW Audio commentary with writer/producer/director Larry Cohen, moderated by King Cohen documentary filmmaker Steve Mitchell

Theatrical Trailer

Full Moon High is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:


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