Prehysteria (Full Moon) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots
Studio: Full Moon Features
Release Date: June 30th, 1993 (video premiere) / October 23rd, 2018 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 84 mins
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.78:1 Aspect Ratio)
Sound: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring: Austin O'Brien, Brett Cullen, Colleen Morris, Samantha Mills
Written by Greg Suddeth & Mark Goldstein
Directed by Charles Band & Albert Band
Rating: PG (mild action and language)
Rico, a sleazy museum curator, steals a tribe's sacred dinosaur eggs in the rainforest. Frank is an archeologist and single parent and eeks out a living by selling fossils from his farm to the museum. In a mixup, his kids bring home the eggs and hatch the miniature dinosaurs. Frank is falling in love with Vicki, who works for Rico, and finds his life complicated when the dinosaurs begin trashing his house, and Rico attempts to regain his treasure.
The 90’s were a magical time for straight-to-video films. Companies were popping up left and right in order to cash in on this growing empire. Full Moon was one of those companies. Headed by Charles Band, whose company, Empire Pictures, had just gone bankrupt, Full Moon was meant to make films for cheap, but not too cheap, and release them on VHS. Full Moon quickly made a name for themselves and there were few video stores that didn’t have a section dedicated to Full Moon.
In 1992, Band decided to form sub companies within Full Moon, companies that would have different target audiences than the regular Full Moon crowd. Among these sub-companies was one that would aim towards the family/kids market. Families and kids were big in the rental market and Band wanted in on the action. He formed Moonbeam Entertainment and the first film to be released under this new company was Prehysteria.
I remember renting everything Full Moon released, even if some of it was over my head. When they announced Prehysteria, I was a few years older than the kids in the film, but I still rented it because it was part of the overall Full Moon library. What I thought was going to be a shitty kids film turned out to be something more than a shitty kids film.
The film had a lot going for it. The acting was hammy, but it totally fits the film the filmmakers were going for. During the 90’s there were a lot of pet films were a family would adopt an animal, usually a dog, and there would be some antics that would separate the family from the pet and by the end, the bad guys would be defeated and the animal would be returned to the family. Beethoven, Bingo, and Homeward Bound were just a few of the many films of this sub-genre.
The dinosaurs, which are the main attraction of the film, are pretty cool. Kids nowadays will probably find the dinosaurs to be fake, but back then this was how these things were done. For the most part, the dinos are done with animatronics with limited movement. For some shots, stop motion animation, done by the brilliant David Allen. Allen had done the stop-motion effects for Full Moon before, on films like Puppet Master and Robot Wars. He would do the stop-motion effects for ten more films before dying in 1999. His work here is nicely done, but for some reason, some of the effects were done on VHS and the quality stands out. Thankfully, those shots are few and far between, but it stills hampers the film a bit
The film is not without its faults, though. The bad guy isn’t very memorable and his cronies are even less memorable. The direction from Charles Band and his father Albert is a bit bland. This is a minor quibble though as the film was shot on a very low budget in a very short amount of time. The film looks good, though. The pacing could have been a bit better with a slightly tighter edit, but that probably would have brought the film below the contractual run time agreed upon before making the film.
Prehysteria is a solid family flick. The film doesn’t do anything to offend anyone, at least back then, and there is plenty of dinosaurs to entertain the youngsters. Watching the film all these years later, I was struck with how well the film held up. It is still just as enjoyable as it was 25 years ago. Not many films can say that about themselves.
THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND
Prehysteria was made during a time when Full Moon had a distribution deal with Paramount and the film’s rights have been held by them since 1993. Full Moon only got the rights back to the film in early 2018. This is why the film hasn’t seen a release, until now, on DVD or blu-ray. Band did a fresh scan of the film for this release and the results are very pleasing. The first thing you will notice is the detail. Close-ups reveal all sorts of pores and imperfections on the actor's faces, while individual strands of hairs of fibers can be seen on clothing. This also brings out the effects work in the wrong way, with wires being seen often. Colors are vibrant and colorful, especially on the dinosaurs, and skin tones look accurate for the most part. These tones do look a bit red at times, but everything else looks good. There is also a thin layer of grain throughout the film. It gets heavier at times, but it is good to see it here.
The sound is a bit worse as it is not lossless. A Dolby digital 5.1 track is what we here and it is extremely front-loaded. In fact, the surrounds are hardly used, save for some gunshots and other effects. Dialogue is clear, but it would have been so much better in a lossless format.
Prehysteria comes to us courtesy of Full Moon Features.
The front art on both the slip and the blu-ray case are the VHS cover art. Since the film never got a theatrical release, the VHS cover art is the original cover art. It is simple but very nice.
This is the first Full Moon blu-ray, that I know of, to come with a slipcover. The slip is nice, but it is the same as the blu-ray case artwork, so there is nothing special about the slip. Still, it is nice to have.
This release is a two-disc affair, with a DVD and a blu-ray. Both discs features the same content.
The discs are REGION FREE
Commentary with Charles Band and Austin O’Brien. This is a very fun track with lots of information about the film and the lives of the two men, as well as stories about shooting the film and other, more famous films.
Videozone (21m 18s, SD, 1.33:1) Videozones were one of my favorite things back in the day. These behind the scenes featurettes would appear after the credits of just about every film that Full Moon released in 90’s. These were special features before they became popular with no credit given to Band for making them a mainstay. Band introduces the Videozone before jumping into behind the scenes video of the making of the film. We see the actors acting and having a blast and we also see how the special effects were done. These things are so commonplace now that no one is all that excited about them, but back in the day these were like cocaine for budding filmmakers. Definitely worth the watch.
Prehysteria (1m 46s, HD)
Castle Freak (2m 14s, HD)
Robot Wars (1m 23s, HD)
Trancers 2 (2m 41s, HD)
Puppet Master 2 (2m 7s, HD)
Puppet Master 3 (2m 16s, HD)
Specters (1m 30s, HD)
Leave it to Full Moon and Charles Band to advertise some really heavy R-rated films on the blu-ray for a family film.
Prehysteria is a good, old-fashioned kids film that holds up today. The film has a lot of heart and charm which is something the kids' films of today don’t have. If this film were to be released today, there would be no guns and the dinosaurs would be entirely CGI. The blu-ray is better than I expected. The video is really good while the sound leaves something to be desired. The features are nice with the Videozone bringing back fond memories. I recommend this to fans of Full Moon and to families looking for something a bit different.