FULL MOON HIGH (1981) Reviews and overview

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‘A howling good time!’

Full Moon High is a 1981 American comedy horror feature film written, produced and directed by Larry Cohen (The Stuff; Q: The Winged Serpent; It’s Alive franchise; et al). It stars Adam Arkin, Roz Kelly, Ed McMahon, and Alan Arkin.

Teenager Tony Walker (Adam Arkin) goes on a trip to Transylvania with his father Colonel William P. Walker (Ed McMahon) and gets bitten by a werewolf.

Made ageless, Tony attempts to put his life back together a couple of decades later by enrolling in high school. He tries to keep his secret from the school and his girlfriend. He also tries to ignore his girlfriend’s sexual advances because it is his “time of the month.”

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” …Full Moon High is one of the weaker entries in the Larry Cohen canon […] There’s a smattering of laughs, some vaguely engaging inter-generational commentary, bit parts by Bob Saget and Pat Morita, and I really like the low-rent map used for travel montages…” Junta Juleil’s Culture Shock

“It is generally dark and sexually charged, and fairly biting with satiric elements. At the same time, it is also very traditionally goofy, which makes for a weird combination. It also doesn’t help that it has a few awkward moments of jokes that don’t land…” Gordon Maples, Misan[trope]y

“The special effects are bad in a comically obvious way – a hand comes down and squashes the lead model of a plane as it crosses a map of Europe; and during the transformation sequence, the camera lens is ‘accidentally’ shot, which proves the opportunity for an off-screen voice to describe what great effects the audience are missing.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“It’s all very silly but in good fun, and when Adam Arkin’s father Alan Arkin comes in as Doctor Brand, the sarcastic psychiatrist who “shames people down” from ledges and mocks the depressed in an attempt to enliven them, Full Moon High hits its high notes again.” The Moon is a Dead World

“Critical opinion, even among genre aficionados, remains divided on the merits of Full Moon High but Larry Cohen fans will find much to chew on as he reworks some of his pet themes in a loosely comic, borderline improvisational fashion.” Richard Harland Smith, Turner Classic Movies

Choice dialogue:

“I don’t believe in vampires, werewolves and virgins – I’ve never seen any of those things.”

“Oh, no, I’ve never killed anyone. I just kinda nibble. I’m a nosher. A little bit goes a long way you know. But I’m worried one day my eyes will get bigger than my stomach…”

Cast and characters:

  • Adam Arkin as Tony Walker – Halloween H20
  • Ed McMahon as Colonel William P. Walker
  • Roz Kelly as Jane – New Year’s Evil
  • Joanne Nail as Ricky
  • Bill Kirchenbauer as Detective Jack Flynn
  • Kenneth Mars as Coach / Principal Cleveland – Young Frankenstein
  • Elizabeth Hartman as Miss Montgomery
  • Alan Arkin as Doctor Brand – Wait Until Dark
  • Louis Nye as Reverend
  • Demond Wilson as Cabbie / Bus driver
  • Cheryl Lockett Alexander as Pregnant Teenager
  • Jim J. Bullock as Eddie
  • Tom Aldredge as The Jailer
  • Tom Clancy as Priest
  • Laurene Landon as Blondie
  • John Blyth Barrymore as Student
  • Bob Saget as Sportscaster
  • Pat Morita as Silversmith
  • Armando G. Fernandez as School Dance Dancer
  • Julius Harris as Hijacker

Filming locations:

Filmed partially at John Burroughs Senior High School, Burbank, California, in the summer of 1979. Also filmed on location in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, on the football field in Bergen County Park.


Larry Cohen said of the film, “It has some interesting ideas about how life in America has changed sexually and politically since the early sixties. All of Arkin’s friends have changed but he hasn’t. And whereas he changes into a werewolf all of the time, his friends change into middle-aged people while he is gone, with different values and different ideas. They change as much as he does, actually.”

Offline reading:

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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