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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: High Moon

November 14, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
High Moon

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #576: High Moon

The 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon: Week 5

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been given a job, a purpose, or special powers by an interdimensional ninja (and I’ve never met anyone who has. Am I hanging out with the wrong people?), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seventy-six, the 2020 October Werewolf Movie Marathon concludes (in November!) with High Moon, which debuted in May 2019.

High Moon


High Moon, originally known as Howlers and written and directed by Josh Ridgway, is a terrific low budget werewolf action horror flick with western overtones. Featuring top notch performances from a great cast, some excellent blood and gore, a nifty story, and werewolves that, for the most part, look like goddamn werewolves, High Moon is exactly the kind of B-movie that should, and hopefully will, be a franchise of some sort. It has all of the necessary elements to be a big hit and something B-movie nerds can get behind.

High Moon stars Chad Michael Collins as Colt, a bad ass cowboy and werewolf hunter who, after killing a team of werewolves during the time of the Civil War, finds himself alive in modern times, going after the same group of werewolves that has also come alive in modern times. Colt killed the group led by the dastardly Willie Price (Tom Zembrod) and buried them, figuring that his job was complete. Nope. Colt wakes up in modern times to find that the coffins of Price and his gang have surfaced and that all hell is about to break loose if he doesn’t stop them again. Of course, being suddenly alive after 150 years is a bit disorienting, so Colt has to first figure out where he is, when he is, and come up with a plan after that. Colt does meet a woman named Lucy (Chelsea Edmundson) who sort of nurses him back to health and tries to help him figure things out. She doesn’t believe a word he tells her, and she thinks he’s a goddamn nutjob. Lucy does take Colt to a bar so he can “learn things” (that’s how you learned stuff back in Colt’s day. You went to the saloon). It doesn’t end well for Colt, as he’s arrested at the bar by the sheriff, Ethan Hardy (Matthew Tompkins), because there’s some weird shit going on in the town and Ethan thinks it’s possible Colt is responsible for all of it.

Now, the sheriff isn’t really up to dealing with Colt and whatever else is going on in town (he hasn’t learned yet about the whole “Price and his gang slaughtering a biker gang and stealing their motorcycles and whatnot” thing just yet), as Ethan would much rather be dealing with a bevy of personal issues. Ethan’s wife Karen (April Hartman) is cheating on him, screwing around with the town’s mayor, a real scumbag named Bob Barlow (Sean Patrick Flanery), and Ethan would like to handle all of that shit before anything else. Ethan’s daughter Emily (Grace Montie) is also back in town, and he would like to spend some time with her.

So Colt tries to explain to Ethan what’s really going on, Ethan finds out about the slaughtered biker gang, Ethan decides that Colt is full of shit and there has to be a more reasonable explanation for what’s going on in town, Ethan puts together a posse to deal with a gang of criminals (Price’s team), and all hell really does break loose. More people die as they’re killed by werewolves, Ethan still doesn’t really believe what’s happening, and Colt is finally put into custody and jailed.

So then some stuff happens, there’s another werewolf attack, and Ethan comes around to the reality facing him: his town is under siege by a gang of fucking werewolves. Ethan enlists Colt’s help, he puts a curfew on the town, and he comes up with a scheme to take on Price’s gang and kill them (or arrest them or whatever). Ethan figures that the best place to do this confrontation is at Mayor Barlow’s mansion, and so he tries to get Barlow involved in the big fight. At first, Mayor Barlow is like Ethan when he first heard about the werewolves; the whole thing has to be bullshit. But when bad stuff starts to happen right in front of Barlow’s face he gets onboard, too.

So how does one kill these werewolves? Silver bullets will kill the sort of henchmen werewolves (regular bullets and knives and whatnot will momentarily harm them/slow them down, but you need silver to kill them), but the main werewolf, in this case Price, will have to be killed with a special silver scepter that, at the moment, seems to have disappeared. Will Colt be able to find that scepter? The howlers are also able to transform during the day and don’t really need the moon to help them become werewolves, so no one has to wait to find the werewolves. The werewolves are all out there, waiting to attack and kill.

The final confrontation between Colt and Ethan and their assembled posse and Price’s werewolf gang is nasty and fun. The ending also has a nice twist that I didn’t see coming (the twist also helps set up a sequel, if and when that happens and it absolutely should). I will admit that some of the action moments aren’t as hard hitting as they perhaps could be but the kind of violence that we see in the movie is consistent throughout. The fight sequences are very well done, especially the dueling axe sequences featuring Colt killing werewolves. The gun shots could be louder/more distinct, but it’s not like they’re weird or anything. And the look of the period sequences is believable.

And then there’s the gore. High Moon doesn’t shy away from being bloody. Could the movie be bloodier? Absolutely. But the gore and nastiness that we do get to see is all good stuff and just ads to the craziness of the story. Watching a werewolf rip out a guy’s guts has never been nicer to look at.


The performances are all great. Chad Michael Collins does an amazing job as Colt. Collins plays Colt as a quiet badass who, when activated, is the deadliest guy in the world, at least when it comes to fighting werewolves. Collins handles the action bits and fight sequences he has to do like a pro, and you totally buy him as a cowboy from the Civil War time who has come back to life to fight werewolves in present time. It’s also cool how Collins underplays the “fish out of water” aspects of the situation Colt finds himself in. Colt clearly has no real, practical understanding the modern world he finds himself in, but he doesn’t let that stop him from moving forward. Lucy teaches him how to drive a car and he catches on pretty quickly. With a different kind of character that scene might not work/seem ridiculous. It totally works here.

Matthew Tompkins is brilliant as Sheriff Ethan Hardy. He always seems like a reasonable guy, even when confronted with very unreasonable things (like a werewolf gang attack in his town). He also does a fine job dealing with his personal issues with his wife. The scenes where you can tell he wants to flip the fuck out on Karen but he holds back are chock full of tension because you just don’t know if he will, eventually, explode. And Tompkins going face to face with Sean Patrick Flanery’s Mayor Barlow are hilarious as they have a real “this guy is a fucking asshole but we’re kind of friends in a way” sort of relationship. I think a non-werewolf gang movie would be interesting to see with Tompkins and Flanery playing the same parts, dealing with their own personal shit.

Sean Patrick Flanery is such a scumbag as Mayor Barlow. He just oozes sleaze every second he’s on screen. The weird thing is, though, that you don’t hate Barlow at all. You wouldn’t mind seeing him get his face ripped off by a werewolf, sure, but when he is on screen you have fun watching him. Awesome stuff.

Chelsea Edmundson does a great job as Lucy Andrews. You think, at first, that she’s just going to be Colt’s guide through the modern world, but as the story progresses you realize that she has more to offer than just being a guide. I think you’ll like how her story turns out.


And Tom Zembrod is hilarious as Willie Price, the lead werewolf. He just chews the goddamn scenery every time he shows up and the movie could have used more of him. And Ted Ferguson is just as funny as Doctor Reed. Well, maybe not as funny in totality, but Doctor Reed will make you chuckle. He’s like an old west crazy doctor in modern times.

High Moon is such a great movie watching experience. It has everything that a top notch B-movie needs. Hopefully we get a sequel because I would love to spend more time in the world of High Moon. And I bet you will, too.

See High Moon. See it, see it, goddamn see it!

And tell me I’m wrong in saying that this movie should have its own action figure line. Colt, Price, werewolves on motorcycles, all sorts of accessories. Think a higher end G.I. Joe line. That would rock so fucking hard. It really would.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A voice over, crossbow hooey, a severed head, a werewolf transformation, head crushing, throat chewing, dueling silver axes, bloody hand removal, scepter hooey, ninja hooey, a nice opening titles sequence, bagged groceries, an argument, destroyed coffins, a human body that’s all chewed up, a biker gang, motorcycle sniffing, bloody heart removal, heart eating, attempted recuperation, beer bottle shooting, bewilderment, a lopsided barroom brawl, bloody skulls on sticks, a pile of bloody human body parts, of screen motorcycle stealing, getting a posse together, gut removal, werewolf body slam, axe slicing, bullshit about the Civil War, bloody eye gouging, shotgun hooey, mace to the eyes, scratching, major family issues, car driving lessons, barfing, face punching, lots of talk about betrayal, stripper attack, axe to the neck, head shot, werewolves on motorcycles, a shootout, serious howling, bullet to the neck, another shootout, more dueling axes, a dueling double axe vs. sword and knife brawl, a big twist, a news alert, car stealing and the promise of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Chad Michael Collins, motorcycle sniffing, use of the word “sissies,” use of the phrase “horseless carriages,” a serious “fish out of water” situation, Sean Patrick Flanery, talk about guns, people laughing about the death of Burt Thompson, talk of having a hunch, whiskey ordering, getting a posse together, a muscle car, werewolves on motorcycles, and “Colt will return…” at the end of the end credits.

Best lines: “Senor, they’re coming!,” “Whatever happens, don’t come outside,” “I never argue with a man of the law,” “Are you scared, slick? Because you should be!,” “Well, good morning, sunshine,” “It’s okay, darling, he’s the sheriff,” “Hey, you want to tell your boy to get his paws of my Caroline?,” “I’m gonna need some steel and iron,” “You got silver bullets? Yes, I do. Why, you hunting werewolves?,” “It kicks like an ex-wife!,” “I’d appreciate it if you started calling me sheriff,” “Where did you learn to do that? A Chinese warlord from the Ming dynasty,” “Walter! Do not sneak up on me like that!,” “We are going hunting,” “Shut up, Walter,” “Did you really just say that? Say what?,” “Damn, that woman is a firecracker,” “Hold your horses, Chuck Norris, we have to go find the sheriff,” “Where you going? I’m putting an APB on werewolves, apparently,” “You’re just joshing me, aren’t ya?,” “Now this is a good looking truck. This is a car,” “This a bad time, Bob?,” “Jesus Christ, you’ve finally lost it,” “Fucking werewolves!,” “Ray loves that gun,” “Shoot her, Bob!,” “How’s it feel knowing you’re going to die tonight? Don’t know. Night’s still young,” “Damn, Lucy! You scared the holy hell out of me!,” “First light’s coming up, Willie. What are we gonna do?,” and “What are you looking at, freak?”

Rating: 10.0 /10.0




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Things to Watch Out For


Hard Kill: I reviewed this low budget, direct-to-video Bruce Willis movie not that long ago (check out my review here, just in case you missed it). It was my first low budget, direct-to-video Bruce Willis movie experience, and I have to say that, in general, I was entertained. Hard Kill isn’t a great movie at all, but it has some interesting performances and the story is okay. And when you consider how quickly the movie was made (check out my interview with the director Matt Eskandari in the interviews section below), it’s amazing that the movie ever got made and is as good as it is. I will say that, in the future, I plan on checking out more of these low budget, direct-to-video Bruce Willis movies, both the newer ones (it doesn’t look like Willis is going to stop making these things any time soon) and the older ones. Any low budget, direct-to-video Bruce Willis movie fans out there?


Lake Michigan Monster: I saw this weird as hell fantasy comedy not that long ago and loved it (check out my review of the movie here). It’s easily one of the best new movies I’ve seen this year. It’s just so bizarre that you have to see it to believe it and understand it. If you’re an adventurous movie lover, you should definitely check out Lake Michigan Monster. If you’re a fan of indie movie festivals, you will definitely love Lake Michigan Monster. The fine folks at Arrow Video are putting it out. See this movie. You will laugh.


Haven’s End: I saw this terrific post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie on the big screen, when it was part of the 2019 Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival (check out my full review of the movie here). It features plenty of great performances, ideas, and is definitely worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic cinema and indie movies in general. I can’t recommend this movie enough. Again, check out my review of the movie at the link, and then get a copy of it.


They Reach: This is some sort of low budget horror flick about a kid that unleashes a monster into her small town after the kid accidentally plays a “possessed tape player.” The trailer and the plot description give off a kind of Stranger Things meets The Gate vibe, which could be cool. Definitely worth a rental, just to see if it lives up to its potential. Hopefully I will get a chance to see this at some point soon.


Blade: The Iron Cross: The fine folks at Full Moon Features are behind this latest Puppet Master movie, although I’m not entirely sure how this fits into any of the previous movies that have been made (I really need to get caught up on the whole Puppet Master franchise as a whole because I’m confused). Blade is the apparent focus of the story, and I’m shocked that it’s taken this long for him to get a solo movie (is Blade the most iconic of the killer puppets?). It’s also apparently only 70 minutes long, which sounds like the perfect running time for this kind of movie. Anyone out there see this yet?


Next Issue: The badass all-star action horror flick VFW!


Check out my Widow’s Point set visit!

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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.

High Moon

Chad Michael Collins– Colt
Matthew Tompkins– Sheriff Ethan Hardy
Sean Patrick Flanery– Bob Barlow
Chelsea Edmundson– Lucy Andrews
Tom Zembrod– Willie Price
April Hartman– Karen Hardy
Ted Ferguson– Doctor Reed
Kamryn Poole– Deputy Martin
James Wicek– Deputy Grant
Grace Montie– Emily Hardy

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Josh Ridgway
Screenplay by Josh Ridgway

Distributed by Archstone Distribution

Not Rated
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here