Bad Moon


Well, Mediocre Moon Is More Like It

Main Cast: Mariel Hemingway and Michael Pare

Director: Eric Red

After watching the trailer for the 1996 movie Bad Moon, I had hoped I could come into this review with the exclamation “THAT WAS SWEET!”. After watching the movie, not so much.

While the story–adapted very loosely from the novel THOR by Wayne Smith–focuses on Janet (Mariel Hemingway, Star 80) and her son Brett (Mason Gamble, Dennis the Menace), it opens with Uncle Ted (Michael Pare, Eddie and the Cruisers) and his girlfriend having sex in a tent in the middle of a jungle in Nepal where photojournalist Ted is working. They’re attacked by a werewolf, the girlfriend is killed, and Ted is scratched before blowing off the werewolf’s head with a shotgun.

Opening credits, and we move to Janet and Brett who have been invited by Ted to come visit him at his Airstream in the woods a few hours away. Janet invites Ted to come and stay with them for a while and Ted, who has a secret affliction he hopes can be staved off with love(!?!), agrees. He parks his Airstream in Janet’s back yard and they’re all a happy family. Until the family German Sheppard, Thor, marks his territory on the Airstream and refuses to let Ted out of the trailer at night.

But, see, Ted HAS to get out, because he has to chain himself to a tree so he doesn’t accidentally kill his sister or nephew. You know what I think might help? Not parking your house in their backyard. I’m just saying.

Naturally, the dog becomes a problem for Ted so he arranges for it to be sent away, leaving Janet and Brett unprotected for when the beast inside begins to dominate the photojournalist’s personality.

I like a good werewolf movie, although honestly I haven’t seen many. I mean, I’ve seen lots of werewolf movies, just not many good ones. There just aren’t that many original stories filmmakers even try to tell anymore. Bad Moon writer/director Eric Red (The Hitcher, 100 Feet) certainly isn’t pulling out all the stops to make this one shine.

The plot is by the numbers, the characters are clichés, and the climax was a waste of time. For all the story that was here, I feel like this 80-minute movie could easily have been 60 and there wouldn’t have been a thing lost in the editing. Nothing of value, anyway.

It’s not that Bad Moon was boring, necessarily. It just didn’t feel like there was really anything at stake here. Even when the werewolf is chasing Janet through the house–that’s not much of a spoiler; the movie pretty much writes itself and any viewer worth his salt is going to predict the plot beat for beat–it doesn’t feel like she’s in any real danger. Hell, when the werewolf has her on the floor and could easily take her out, instead of going in for the kill, he stalks slowly toward her, giving the dog PLENTY of time to finish running up the driveway, leap in through the broken window, climb the steps, and come into the room.

I’m sure a lot of hard work went into the making of the movie, I’m just not sure too much work went into making the story all it could be.

Hemingway and Pare give decent performances, considering the script they were working with. Hemingway displays a strength in Janet, especially in her intro scene against a con man, that quickly establishes she’s not a character to be messed with. Pare rides the line between hero and villain, and never quite plants a flag on either side. We know immediately he’s the danger, but he also seems to care a great deal for Janet and Brett. Which confuses us at first as to why, given his predicament, he’d come anywhere near them, until later when we learn that, all medical solutions having failed, he’s under the illusion LOVE will somehow cure him.

Special effects are of the utmost importance in a werewolf movie and in this case they’re alright. The finished werewolf feels animatronic, but the transformation scene–THE scene in any good werewolf movie–was pretty decent, in my opinion. I’ve seen better, but I’ve seen An American Werewolf in London and nearly 35 years later, it’s still a tough scene to beat.

Given how little real STORY there was to Bad Moon, I can’t necessarily recommend it. What I can say is, if you’re going to watch it anyway, know up front it’s going to be over before you know it, and not to expect too much. It is what it is, basically, and there’s a reason this movie is almost 20 years old and you’ve most likely never heard of it.

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