Tony accompanies his communist-fearing father on a trip to Romania in order to get "behind the iron curtain" - and behind the dresses of a few local prositutes, too. While he is there, Tony is bitten by an overly-friendly werewolf. When he returns to his home town he finds that he has been struck by a curse, which indirectly results in the death of his father. Distraught from this event, Tony flees his home town on the next bus, which means he misses the big football game and a chance to end the lack of success that has haunted the team for years. Twenty years pass and Tony hasn't aged a day, until he finally decides to return to Full Moon High and fulfill his destiny ...
I had been looking forward to this one for a number of reasons. Firstly, I tend to love movies of this era, and secondly, it was the first werewolf movie to be released after "The Howling" and "An American Werewolf in London" (although it was actually shot in 1979, according to Wikipedia). My excitement increased once I read the DVD case and realised that this did, in fact, appear to be a spiritual sequel to the 1957 flick "I Was A Teenage Werewolf." The main character is called 'Tony', after Tony Rivers, and it is mentioned that he was infected with lycanthropy about twenty years ago - roughly the time frame between those two movies. The cover even features Tony wearing an "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" t-shirt. Exciting stuff!
Though there are quite a number of great horror-comedies in the history of Werewolf Movies, pure comedies are quite rare. "Full Moon High" is certainly a pure comedy, of the Groucho Marx school - tell a joke every five seconds and some of them are bound to work. Of course, this also means that a lot of them fall flat. Comedy is a difficult thing to get right, and while it does have a few laugh-out-loud moments, this movie stumbles more often than not.
The most obvious comparison is with "Teen Wolf", since the premise is very similar. However, this movie also foreshadows "Back to the Future", but in reverse - Tony returns to his own high school twenty years after leaving and hasn't aged a day. We get to see what has become of all of his old high school friends, and the fact that he hasn't aged causes its fair share of confusion and awkward situations.
This movie was made by veteran Hollywood writer/director Larry Cohen, who has been working in television and movies since the early sixties and created such classic shows as "Branded" and "The Invaders." More recently, his screenplay entitled "Phone Booth" was adapted into a critically-acclaimed movie. By the time he made "Full Moon High" he was already very experienced as a writer and a director, which makes it strange that the editing and pacing of the movie feels a little off at times. There are also lots of familiar faces involved - this was a first starring role in a movie for Adam Arkin who has gone on to become an acclaimed actor on television and in movies. His Oscar-winning father Alan Arkin also appears in the movie, though not playing the character of his father.
This may seem a bit like damning with faint praise, but "Full Moon High" is certainly better and funnier than Teen Wolf. Though it is far from perfect, if you're in the mood for a very silly werewolf comedy I'm not aware of a better one. It's a shame that it has faded into such obscurity.
Our teenage werewolf in this movie looks significantly less like a fuzzy ape than Michael J Fox's version, which is a plus right from the start. I'm afraid he doesn't do any throat-ripping, though - this particular wolf man seems to enjoy nipping girl's bottoms a lot more.
The immortality theme in this werewolf tale is interesting, since that's something that tends to be associated with vampires in the movies. By the end of "Full Moon High", we have also learned that due to inflation it takes more than one silver bullet to kill a werewolf, and that lycanthropy can of course be transmitted by a quick roll in the bushes.