“Bad Moon” really highlights the beauty of the PNW, and a strong performance along with Steve Johnson’s makeup FX make this a hidden treat.
After getting bitten by a Werewolf while on vacation, a man is holed up on his sister’s property in the pacific northwest, but he’s brought terror with him as a mysterious beast begins eating the locals. Let’s dig into 1996’s “Bad Moon”, directed by Eric Red!
As I See It
Based on the novel by Wayne Smith, the opening scene is epic and absolutely brutal. It tricks you into believing you’re in for a sex-filled, blood-soaked ride.
However, while there are a few scenes that spill some 3M following, the horror of the beginning is never matched. It’s a shame because the direction is really impressive, and the shots of the idyllic setting are gorgeous.
Tossing much of the accepted lore out the window, our creatures are not immune to all projectiles not made of silver, and they are not relegated to full moon trysts, alone.
Steve Johnson’s work on the wolf is really impressive. And although the creature was derided in several old reviews I read, it’s his attention to realism (snout length, etc.) that makes this beast stand out.
Unfortunately, the straight-on static shots of the monster erase the fear and mystery.
A good score (Daniel Licht) helps the film, but not enough, as the character arc of Ted is never mean enough for us to hate, nor redeeming enough for us to cheer. The little food we get to see the beast eat never lives up to the opening massacre. In the end, it’s not interesting enough.
All that said, I like the film. Eric Red should be doing more with more. Underrated director.
Woody Allen’s former muse and the granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, Mariel Hemingway is not as bad as has been posterized in the years since the release of this film, but she’s also not good. Her skill may translate to an Allen film but the passion and emotion required to elevate a role in this genre are not in everyone’s toolbox.
Mason Gamble (Brett) played the live-action version of Mister Wilson’s bane of existence: Dennis Mitchell, in the nostalgic nineties adaptation of the comic strip, Dennis the Menace.
Of Gratuitous Nature
It opens with a sex scene in a tent. Just like the gore, the tone is set but never followed up on. Both nudity and butchery are dialed down from eleven quickly.
Michael Pare was in fantastic shape for his role, which required some post-transformation nudity (and mid-coital). His performance exuded a level of masculinity that not many actors can pull off as effortlessly. Lance Henriksen is another name that comes to mind with that innate trait.
Ripe for a Remake
It’s a straightforward film. Man bitten by wolf, man becomes wolf, wolf causes chaos. The unique part of the film, and an element that becomes a character itself, is the PNW and its beauty. If you can find a new way to make a cheese sandwich, don’t use white bread.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Shout Factory released a new Director’s Cut Blu-ray in 2016. You can also stream from Shudder, Tubi, or Vudu.