The Paramount years were the Golden Age of Full Moon. The budgets were a little higher, the production values nicer, the casts of a higher celebrity pedigree. This was the era (era) that produced titles like Puppet Master and Oblivion and The Pit and the Pendulum and Arcade and Meridian and Doctor Mordrid. Most -- though not all -- of my favorite Full Moon movies come from this period in the company's long history, in part, no doubt, because they were the ones that first grabbed me, speaking to me as they did from their shelves in the video store. I was in my formative years when Full Moon came along in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and I connected with the unique personalities of the studio's output from the jump. They were movies I tried, and usually failed, to turn my friends onto, perhaps wanting to share in what I saw as something special and perhaps to have my love for them validated by someone else. The latter doesn't matter to me at all as an adult. It's the former that compels me to continue writing Full Moon Fever.
Michael Bendetti plays Corey Thorton, a young man who comes to the Louisiana bayou because he has recently inherited the estate of his late father (Robert Sampson of Re-Animator fame). Once there, he catches the eye of virginal Diane (Holly Floria) but finds himself inexplicably drawn to Delores (Denise Gentile), a woman working in a brothel who is rumored to practice black magic. She happens to be a former lover of his father, and may or may not possess answers to what led to his death -- and could possibly lead to his being reborn.
Much of the film's success can be attributed to director David Schmoeller, a very good filmmaker who had previously collaborated with producer and Full Moon head Charles Band on films like Tourist Trap, Crawlspace, and the original Puppet Master. Originally intended as a project for Ted Nicolau (the Subspecies franchise), it instead was given to Schmoeller, who directs his own script, written under the excellent pseudonym "Billy Chicago." The story doesn't make a ton of sense, but there's enough of a structural skeleton in place that Schmoeller can get away with dressing it in all kinds of weirdness. The mystery of Corey's father's disappearance, told in part through journal entries left behind, is reasonably compelling, particularly as it descends deeper into the world of the supernatural. I mean, it's not Angel Heart, but that might not be a fair standard against which to compare a Full Moon movie. The score is surprisingly strong, too, coming from David Bryan (the keyboard player for Bon Jovi) and Edgar Winter, who even appears in the film to perform one of his compositions. Everything about Netherworld feels like it has a high pedigree: it's a movie made not just by professionals, but by talented craftspeople all bringing their A-game.