31 Horror Movies in 31 Days – Bad Moon (1996)

I’m a sucker for lycanthropes and it’s been eons since the last noteworthy one. Eric Red, the writer behind the neo-noir cult classic Hitcher, adapts Wayne Smith’s novel Thor for his werewolf tale. Red doesn’t adhere to the mainstays of the lore. For instance, instead of an indigenous homeland attack, photographer Ted (Michael Pare) is gnashed on while on an exotic expedition in Nepal. It could be a keen metaphor for how foreign disease spreads within our borders.

Being savvy about audience expectations, Red briskly propels the film into T&A and a cartilaginous gore scene within five minutes. By the way, Marjorie’s mutilation is very graphic with the claw marks strewn across her entire body. The deathblow to the werewolf is a lethal shotgun blast to the neck which decapitates it. Along with being a filmmaker, Red is obviously a member of the midnight crowd.

The puppetry and animatronics within the costume are an atavistic joy to behold when counterbalanced against today’s F/X addiction. However, the body morphing and transformation are sadly subpar next to the growling finished product. Mariel Hemingway is a pillar of feminine, pettifogging fortitude as Ted’s sister Janet although her gun-toting shtick (“Get the fuck away from my son” is a meme-friendly catchphrase) at the finale is too redolent of Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise. She is also a bit incestuously flirtatious with her brother such as when she is batting her eyelashes at him about breakfast being served.

While it might be preposterous to view the entire film from Thor the German Shepherd’s vantage point, Red’s approach is estimable insofar as we adore Thor’s fidelity to his human owners. I love how Thor is instinctively skeptical of Ted which is an extrasensory ability of my animals but clearly he can’t articulate his suspicions to Janet or Brett (Mason Gamble).

After two decades of obscurity, Bad Moon is actually an underrated, succinctly crackerjack, edge-of-your-seat rollercoaster which was on the cusp of practical effects becoming obsolete. Plus, I always get tingling enjoyment from movies that decamp or dispel mythology within their own film (Ted expectorates on the full moon and silver bullet rules).

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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