Bad Moon

Year: 1996
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Eric Red
Writer: Eric Red
Cast: Michael Pare, Mariel Hemingway, Mason Gamble

And the search for a decent werewolf movie continues. Not for nothing does the title of this rancid, overwrought, badly acted and lamely scripted tosh sound like it's going to be called 'bad movie'.

It started off great, as hero Ted (Pare), seemingly a botanist or anthropologist with his hot girlfriend, is camping in the jungle with a group of South American guides on some research trip. They go to bed to get it on and when the werewolf attacks it claws the tent open behind her, rips her out of his arms and starts tearing and biting her to shreds in a sequence that genuinely borders on disturbing and upsetting. Ted is bitten in the attack before he blows the creature's head off.

Cut to lawyer Janet (Hemingway), who lives in a huge house out in the middle of nowhere and never seems to go to work, has a young son named Brett who never seems to go to school and a loving German Shepherd called Thor. We meet Janet through a protracted and totally unnecessary episode of a conman coming to her house and trying to bait the dog into biting him so he can sue her which goes nowhere except to set up a victim later on.

When Ted (whom we learn is her brother) gets in touch from the remote trailer he's been living in and asks if they can visit him, he's shifty from the moment they show up, especially when the dog takes a disliking to him. But Janet asks him to come and stay with them anyway, and he agrees to take the heat off himself after all the murders he's committed now he's a werewolf himself.

But Ted's secretive, and every night when he goes for a run in the nearby woods, he's really chaining himself to a tree so he can't kill anybody when he changes into his other self.

As Thor starts to follow him and get hysterical when he's around, only the kid starts to suspect, so Ted engineers to have to have the dog shipped off to a pound before it gives him away, setting the scene for the climactic/anticlimactic battle in the yard and bedroom of the house.

It's not like Michael Pare or Mariel Hemingway are newcomers with no screen experience, but here they can barely get their mouths around such atrocious dialogue without falling over themselves.

And if that doesn't trip them up, a million other problems will. Ted's not just a werewolf, he's evil – for no apparent reason. When Janet comes across him in the woods, mid-transformation, he's about to chain himself up but instead he leaves himself free and taunts her for no reason than to have the opportunity to chase her back to the house.

Then there are the so-ridiculous-they're-painful motifs. When the heroic dog is hauled away to the pound (are you watching a 90s horror movie or Old Yeller, you'll wonder), Ted stands on the balcony of the house and lifts his hand to give the dog an unsmiling, nasty wave goodbye – apparently seriously.

And if that isn't enough for you, you could have a drinking game around the continuity errors. After explaining to the kid how werewolves don't need a full moon (thought we're given no clue how he knows this), there's a full moon every time Ted turns into a werewolf. Not only that, it happens for about a week and a half running. To paraphrase Jules Winnfield, that ain't no moon I ever heard of (or Ben Kenobi... 'that's no moon').

It seems like someone had a cool-looking animatronic werewolf and no money, so they asked some hack friend to spew out a script and started shooting. Even the high point of any werewolf movie – the transformation sequence – is unforgivably cheap, done with the lowest-rent film splicing technology they could possibly come up with.

It borders on so bad it's good territory, especially because the director and actors take it all-so seriously, but it's just not exciting, bloody or scary enough. The dog makes you think you're watching a Disney TV movie and then when the werewolf appears it looks like a make-up effects student showreel. There have been some bad werewolf movies, but this is the Plan 9 From Outer Space of them.

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