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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Bad Moon

October 10, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Bad Moon

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #573: Bad Moon

The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon: Week 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been in hot pursuit of a dangerous individual only to be told by someone that I won’t be able to catch that individual because that individual is now “in the wind,” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-three, the 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon continues with Bad Moon, which hit movie theaters in early November 1996.

Bad Moon


Bad Moon, written and directed by Eric Red, is a very odd werewolf horror flick, mostly because the real star of the movie is a German shepherd dog. Michael Pare and Mariel Hemingway, two fine actors, are the listed stars of the movie, but the actual main character is a dog named Thor (played mostly by a dog named Primo). I wasn’t expecting that. I also wasn’t expecting how, after the rip roaring, gory as hell opening sequence, the majority of the movie has an almost “Spielberg” glow to it, mostly due to the score by Daniel Licht. Director Red isn’t afraid to get nasty when the plot requires it, but, at the same time, a majority of Bad Moon feels like it could be a family movie.

Michael Pare stars as Ted, an adventurous professional photographer who, while banging his mega hot girlfriend (Marjorie, played by Johanna Marlowe Lebovitz) in a tent in the middle of a South American jungle, is attacked by a goddamn werewolf. Ted tries to fight the creature off Marjorie, but the werewolf flicks him away and then tears poor Marjorie apart. After watching Marjorie die (I can’t really tell but does she get her face ripped off?), Ted scrambles for a nearby shotgun and manages to kill the werewolf by blowing its fucking head off. The scene then shifts to the Pacific Northwest, where Ted’s lawyer sister and single Mom Janet (Mariel Hemingway) lives with her young son Brett (Mason Gamble) and Thor the dog. Ted contacts her to tell her that he’s in town and that they should have a visit. Janet is excited by this development and heads out to where Ted has his trailer (it’s near the woods, but then what isn’t near the woods in this movie?). The visit, in general, goes well, but Thor is a bit weirded out by Ted, and Ted is cautious around Thor, too. What the hell is going on here? And why is Ted telling Janet and Brett that they should leave before it gets dark?

It’s because Ted is a werewolf. That attack in the jungle? It made him a werewolf. And now, every night, Ted turns into a werewolf and does nasty things (we see him tear a guy apart in the woods). Now, it doesn’t need to be a full moon or any of that shit for Ted to turn into a werewolf. It just needs to be nighttime.

So Ted kills a guy, someone off screen finds the body, the cops show up, and suddenly Ted is worried. What if the cops or anyone else finds out that I killed that guy? Ted calls Janet and asks if he can come to her house and park his trailer in her backyard. Janet agrees and Ted plops his trailer in his big sister’s backyard.

Just like the earlier whole family encounter, Janet and Brett are excited by this development but Thor is concerned by it. Thor doesn’t know, exactly, what Ted’s deal is, but he knows he doesn’t like him. For a little whole life seems to go on quietly, with Ted coming and going as he pleases, occasionally visiting inside Janet’s house and eating dinner and whatnot. But then, one night, Thor starts barking like a mad dog because he wants to go outside and find out where Ted went (Ted leaves his trailer every night “to go for a run,” but he brings a pair of heavy duty handcuffs with him so he can essentially cuff himself to a tree and not kill anyone). Thor finds the transformed Ted but because he’s a dog he can’t tell Janet or Brett what’s going on. So Thor goes into full on “protect the pack” mode and keeps an even closer eye on Ted and Ted’s trailer.

Now, Ted realizes what Thor is doing and becomes anxious and pissed off. Why can’t this fucking dog figure out that I’m trying to protect the pack, too, by not become a werewolf and killing everyone? So there’s a bit of a standoff between the two, there’s an actual physical confrontation between Ted and Thor in Janet’s backyard, and it’s only a matter of time before Ted and Thor have a real deal canine brawl where one of them dies.

While all of that is going on, Janet decides to go snooping inside Ted’s trailer to find out what the hell is going on with him (and to tell him about the possibility of there being a killer wolf or bear in the woods). Janet finds a series of grisly photographs, one of them Marjorie’s mutilated body, and Ted’s journal where he documents his ongoing werewolf infection. As you would expect, this freaks Janet out, and she suspects that her brother is a crazy murderer (he thinks he’s a werewolf? And who else but a murderer would have pictures of a dead, bloody body in their possession?).

And while all of this is going on, Flopsy (Hrothgar Mathews), a petty criminal that likes to instigate dog bites so he can then sue the dog’s owner (Janet explains the legal theory behind all of this), shows up with a meat cleaver so he can kill Thor, but instead Flopsy meets Ted the werewolf and gets torn apart. When the sheriff finds Flopsy’s body he contacts Janet, assuming that Thor is the one that attacked Flopsy. Janet doesn’t believe it, and when the sheriff leaves she goes to talk to Ted. And as that conversation commences, Thor attacks Ted after Ted instigates the attack. Janet then has Thor picked up by animal control and sent to the pound. How is Thor going to protect the pack now? And what does Ted have in store for his sister and nephew? Is he going to allow his werewolf side to kill them, or is he going to try to keep doing “the responsible thing” and cuff himself to a tree in the woods until he can figure out how to stop being a werewolf?

The final segment of the movie involves Janet finding out the truth about Ted (she finds him in the woods and watches him transform into a werewolf) and Brett rescuing Thor from the pound. And the movie ends with one final confrontation between werewolf Ted and Thor. It’s brutal, but not quite as bloody as the beginning of the movie. Still very cool, though.

I’m amazed at how director Red was able to make Thor the dog the actual hero of the movie, and I’d suspect that is why the movie initially tanked at the box office. The marketing people had no idea how to market the movie as it isn’t a “traditional” werewolf movie. There’s no wolfsbane or silver bullet or full moon shit. Werewolves are monsters that exist, they kill people, and if you somehow manage to survive an attack you become one. The only way to stop being a werewolf is dying. That doesn’t sound like much of a werewolf movie, does it? And, again, the real hero of the movie is a dog. A dog! Shouldn’t this be a kid’s movie? What would audiences think if the movie was marketed as a “traditional” werewolf movie (a guy that’s a werewolf terrorizes a family in the woods) and they go into the theater and there’s all of this dog stuff going on. Who approved this script?

And that “family movie” feeling that you get throughout Bad Moon? Listen to the score. It doesn’t sound like a horror movie score at all. When Brett goes to rescue Thor and then Thor runs back to the house we are in the midst of a “classic” 1980’s family movie. It’s an interesting strategy for a horror movie, especially one that starts with a guy engaged in graphic sex with a woman and then blood and gore everywhere. Why doesn’t the movie keep that tone throughout? Again, it’s an interesting strategy to go in a completely different direction and do something no one is expecting. Of course, the problem with that is since the movie can’t be classified no one knows what to do with it.

So is all of this weirdness good? I think it is. If you actually watch the movie the strategy director Red engages in works. The family aspects of the story make you care deeply about Janet and Brett and they help make Ted’s inner turmoil scarier. Does Ted want to be a bastard to his sister and nephew? No. He’s scared of what he will do if he’s a werewolf around his family. You can tell that Ted is trying to hold that werewolf inside of him. Sometimes Ted wins and sometimes the werewolf wins. It’s a shitty place to be. The movie could have spent a few more minutes on Ted worrying about what would happen if he couldn’t do what he knew worked in keeping the werewolf at bay (the whole cuffing himself to a tree thing). That final confrontation between Ted and Janet, when Janet sees what Ted really is, is so heartbreaking. You can see Ted fighting even while he’s transforming. Easily one of Pare’s best performances.

The violence in the movie is overwhelming when it happens. The werewolf attacks are brutal as hell. When the werewolf kills a guy he fucking kills a guy. There’s a sequence where we see a victim’s dangling finger that may make you queasy simply because it comes off as so random and so damn gross. The wound in Ted’s chest from the werewolf is nasty to look at and will make you squirm a bit (and I’m talking about the scar aftermath, not the actually bloody wound). And the final battle between Thor and the werewolf is a true bloody brawl. The werewolf is obviously much, much bigger than Thor, but Thor can hold his own and isn’t an animal you want to mess with. The chunks fly here.

And that shotgun decapitation at the beginning of the movie? For my money that kind of thing doesn’t happen often enough in movies. It really doesn’t.

Pare is terrific as Ted. He knows how to balance the good and bad aspects of Ted’s internal issues. In one scene he’s the nicest guy in the world, and in the next he’s the biggest fucking prick you’ve ever seen and you can’t wait to see him get his throat ripped out. The movie could have used more of him trying to figure out what he can do to stop the werewolf inside of him. Again, easily one of Pare’s best performances.

Mariel Hemingway is also terrific as Janet. I like how she’s just a Mom and a lawyer and the movie doesn’t engage in any of that “she has a boyfriend on the side” stuff. All she cares about is her son, her dog, and her job. She also cares about Ted (I’m surprised that the studio didn’t want to alter the story and have Ted and Janet be lovers instead of siblings). She’s tough, she’s smart, and she can wield a gun if she has to (she has trouble loading one, but then who wouldn’t be flustered in the midst of being chased by a goddamn werewolf?).

Mason Gamble does a fine job as Brett, the resourceful son of Janet and nephew of Ted. He really doesn’t have much to do until the end of the movie, but it’s fun watching him climb out of his bedroom window, jump off the roof of his house, live from the jump, and then rescue Thor from the pound. It makes you wonder what sort of non-werewolf adventures Brett and Thor had before the movie started. That could have been a whole movie.

And Primo, the real star of the movie, as Thor. What a great movie dog. You will wish that you had a dog as loving and protective in real life.

I would have liked to have seen a more definitive ending. I think the movie could have ended with a sequence just as graphic as the beginning. I wonder why that didn’t happen. You know what’s also great about Bad Moon, though? It’s 80 minutes. It doesn’t waste time. I like it when that happens. Even if the movie could use a few more minutes to explore a character’s issues (Ted’s inner turmoil), it’s okay that it didn’t happen. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with just getting on with it.

I liked Bad Moon quite a bit. It’s weird, it’s not what I was expecting it to be, but it’s still pretty damn good. There’s nothing wrong with being different.

See Bad Moon. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 7

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: The jungle, tent sex, boobs, spooked horses, werewolf attack, chest scratching, face ripping, shotgun blast to the head with bloody decapitation, a serene overhead view of the pacific northwest, a shady looking due, dog attack, attempted lawsuit, tree measuring, another werewolf attack, top of the head crushing, trailer hooey, off screen grilling, snooping, multiple blood samples in vials, an insane bird jump scare, a mangled, chewed up dead body in a tree, dog stuff, a weird joke about handcuffs, a nighttime dog freak out, personal tree bondage, territory marking, breakfast, a big hint, off screen werewolf transformation, a big fight, more snooping, graphic personal photos, journal reading, attempted use of a meat cleaver, yet another werewolf attack, bloody finger removal, finger dangling, gut clawing, throat slashing, another dog attack, animal control hooey, more territory marking, a silent dinner, surveillance, the big reveal, on screen transformation with a little bit of CGI morphing, dog rescuing, a scary window breaking, a big hooha fight between a dog and a werewolf, throat ripping, light fixture smashing, attempted werewolf choke slam, window pushing, of screen killing, and a happy ending.

Kim Richards?: Almost.

Gratuitous: Michael Pare, Michael Pare having tent sex, a naked Michael Pare fighting a werewolf in the jungle, a kid playing fetch with a German Shepherd, Mariel Hemingway, “flopsy” explanation, Michael Pare living in a trailer, a werewolf book, a dog pissing on a trailer wheel, Werewolf of London on TV, a discussion of werewolf rules, graphic personal photos, a piece of shit evil wave, Michael Pare pissing into a dog house, Michael Pare with a toothpick in his mouth, the big reveal, a dog versus werewolf brawl, and a happy ending.

Best lines: “Where’s the ball?,” “It’s not a horse. It’s a German shepherd,” “Whoa! You ever hear of a leash law?,” “I’m suing,” “My advice to you is to turn around and walk away without saying another word and without looking back,” “Things haven’t been going good for me since I got back from the jungle,” “Thor! Don’t do that to me!,” “Say hello to your Uncle Ted, Thor,” “Here’s to family, sis,” “A good time, old boy. A good time,” “It’s not funny. He’s turning into the wolf man,” “Don’t you know anything about werewolves?,” “So, what’d he find?,” “Piss off,” “No man could tear a person apart the way the beast tore those people apart,” “Where were you last night?,” “It’s probably genetic,” “Come on! Oh, shit!,” “You’re going to come clean with me right now!,” “Handcuffs! I was going to use these on myself. Can you believe that?,” “You stupid bitch!,” “Get the fuck of my son!,” and “Do it!”

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


The Tax Collector: This low budget crime drama from writer/director David Ayer came out this past summer and, for the most part, it was pretty good (check out my full review here). Bobby Soto is the lead actor, but I’d imagine that most people will remember Shia LeBeouf’s super devoted henchman character Creeper the most (George Lopez is also pretty memorable in a role we’re not used to seeing him in). Well, that and the uncredited cameo at the end of the movie. A definite must see for mega fans of Ayer. If you aren’t an Ayer mega fan but are in the mood for a generally solid modern crime movie, you could do much worse than The Tax Collector. Anyone else out there like this movie?


The 2nd: This awesome low budget action flick came out this past September and kicked ass big time. The movie’s ending is a bit muddled and I’m not entirely sure if there’s an actual political message in the movie’s story, but the bulk of the movie is just top notch old school action sequences with real explosions and brutal hand-to-hand brawls. Ryan Phillippe rocks hard as the flick’s hero, and Casper Van Dien is quite the dastardly piece of shit villain (the great Richard Burgi also shows up and oozes sleaze like only he can). It will be interesting to see if this movie becomes a low budget franchise of some sort, or if we just get one sequel. There’s definitely more story to tell and more bad guys for Phillippe’s character, Vic Davis, to kill. Check out my full review of The 2nd here, and then watch it yourself. If you love real deal action flicks, you will no doubt like The 2nd.


Tales from the Hood 3: This is the second low budget sequel to the classic horror anthology from 1995 that featured Clarence Williams III as Mr. Simms, the demonic funeral director that “hosted” four terrific horror tales. I still haven’t seen the second one, which got, at best, mixed reviews (lots of people complained about the obvious low budget), but it’s still definitely on my radar. This new one features the Tony Todd as the “host” and several more horror tales. The same creative team behind the original and the sequel, Rusty Cundief, Spike Lee, and Darin Scott, are back, so that’s cool. I really have to see this one, the second one, and I need to revisit the original. The original is so damn good. Anyone see the second one yet?


Next Issue: The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon continues with Full Eclipse starring Mario Van Peebles!


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Bad Moon

Mariel Hemingway– Janet
Michael Pare– Ted
Mason Gamble– Brett
Ken Pogue– Sheriff Jenson
Hrothgar Mathews– Flopsy
Gavin Buhr– Forest Ranger
Primo– Thor

Directed by Eric Red
Screenplay by Eric Red, based on a novel by Wayne Smith

Distributed by Warner Bros., Warner Home Video, and Shout! Factory/Scream Factory

Rated R for graphic horror violence, language, nudity, and sexual situations.
Runtime– 80 minutes

Buy it here