Film: Bad Moon
Director: Eric Red
Writer: Eric Red
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Paré and Mason Gamble
This film that the first time I saw it, I had never actually heard of it. It was listed in a horror encyclopedia I’ve been working through to really round out viewings of the genre. I did enjoy this one the first I saw it, but I decided to give it another viewing for a top 10 series of the best horror films of the 1990’s and decided to give it a rewatch. The synopsis is one man’s struggle to contain the curse he hides within and his last-ditch attempt to free himself with the love of family.
We begins in the woods in South America. We have Ted (Michael Paré) who’s there on a scientific exploration with Marjorie (Johanna Marlowe). They made some kind of discovery and end up making love in his tent to celebrate. There are people around a campfire and something is stalking them. Marjorie is attacked during their activity and pulled out by a giant, walking upright werewolf. It also attacks Ted injuring his shoulder. He blows its head off with a shotgun.
We then shift to the United States. We have Brett (Mason Gamble) playing with his dog, Thor (Primo). A man approaches by the road on foot, who is known as Flopsy (Hrothgar Mathews). Thor does not trust him and Brett talks to the man. Hi mother, Janet (Mariel Hemingway) comes down to speak to this man. Thor is provoked and attacks him. He claims he’s going to sue and we learn that Janet is a lawyer and is not afraid of his threats. This causes him to leave.
We then learn that Janet and Ted are siblings. Janet is invited up along with Brett and they bring Thor go to visit with him. It turns out that Ted has been back for a couple of months and this upsets Janet. He hasn’t had any contact with his family and been living in a trailer by a lake. Janet picks that there’s something wrong here. She doesn’t like his isolating himself and asks him to stay with her. Thor goes off into the woods and we see what looks to be human remains and clothes in a tree.
That night a man in the woods who is measuring trees is attacked by something and killed. This sparks on the following day for Ted to calls and asks if he can come visit. Janet tells him that would be great and that he can park it in the backyard. We learn that whatever is wrong with him, he feels that being close to family will help him deal with it. It should be pointed out that Brett finds a book in Ted’s trailer about the Lore of Werewolves.
Janet finds handcuffs in Ted trailer while welcoming him to stay. She jokes with him, but we learn they are used for something else. He goes out into the woods that night and handcuffs himself to a tree. Thor gets out and sees him as a werewolf.
As things progress, Thor isn’t trusting of Ted. Janet becomes more concerned with Thor’s behavior. The next night, Ted doesn’t lock himself up and he comes toward the house to attack. Thor fights him off, but later Flopsy is murdered. Sheriff Jenson (Ken Pogue) is concerned that Thor has a taste for blood and suggests he be put down. Janet considers this when Thor attacks Ted and he seems to have given up on trying to control what he really is.
Coming into this as I’ve said, I didn’t know much about what I was getting into. I did find it interesting that this is actually based off of a novel called ‘Thor’. This is interesting as the dog really does seem to be the main character. We focus on a lot on what the dog is doing. It’s intriguing, since the dog obviously can’t talk. Seeing how fiercely loyal he is and even to detriment to himself.
This is actually a pretty solid werewolf film as well. Something that throws me off is that he is infected in the Amazon with this curse. To my knowledge, there aren’t any wolves down there, as they’re more of a cold climate animal. I can give this a pass as it doesn’t ruin the film. I do like the lore of the werewolf here. Ted changes every night; it has nothing to do with the moon. There is even a funny scene where Brett and Ted are talking about this while watching Werewolf of London. They also state that the werewolf here can be killed by anything, not just silver. It is interesting that he’s looking for a way to control it, as so far science hasn’t found him a cure. He does become quite the villain as the film progresses.
It is paced really well in my opinion also. It really jumps right in showing us that Ted is cursed with this. Even more though, we then are introduced to the other characters and through interactions do we learn more of the back-story for Ted. I thought this was a solid move, since at first we feel sorry for him. As the film progresses though, he really turns dark and I thought that was good. It is even more interesting that Janet’s thoughts on him coincide with the more she learns as well. I do like the ending and how everything plays out.
Acting for the film I thought was pretty solid as well. Hemingway is someone I don’t recall seeing in a lot, but her performance is good. We get the idea that her husband passed away. She is staying strong and giving her son the best life she can, which is good with her being alone. Paré’s performance is pretty solid as well. I like that he is sympathetic to start and then becomes darker the more that he realizes he can’t control it. It really works for how the film plays out for me. Gamble is fine as are the rest of the cast, they really rounded out the film for what was needed. Shout out to Primo, he is a good dog and was very well trained as well.
Now, I’ll admit from my first viewing to know, I really didn’t remember a lot about the effects. I heard some podcasters and other horror fans talking more about this film recently, so I was curious how they actually held up. The first thing is that I love the design of the werewolf. It is a giant wolf that is walking on its hind legs. I would say that this makes it more like The Howling. I thought the attacks and the aftermaths of the scenes were good. If anything, I wanted more there. The only thing that didn’t look good was the transformation scene. They decided to go CGI and it starts out fine, but does get a bit wonky for me. Doesn’t ruin the film, it just doesn’t help either. The film is shot well. I will admit, I wasn’t a fan of showing us some things early from the eyes of Thor, I just don’t think that added much for me.
Now with that said, this film was actually better than I remembered it. I like the idea we are working with here. I do enjoy werewolf films and I like that this one breaks some of the lore that we are used to. It is an interesting idea that Ted is using to control himself and having a dog as the main hero I can get behind. There is some emotions here that got to me. The pacing of the film is good. It doesn’t waste any time getting into it and never really hits a lull for me. It has a solid ending as well. The acting of the film was good, I had no issues there. The practical effects, especially the look of the werewolf, were really good to me. The CGI transformation I wasn’t a fan of. The soundtrack of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film. Overall I’d say that this is an above average film and a pretty solid werewolf film if you ask me.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10