Bad Moon

Year 1996

Mariel Hemingway   as  Janet
Michael Paré as Ted
Primo as Thor
Director - Eric Red
Screenwriter - Eric Red  

"There's the bathroom on the right." Sorry, I couldn't resist. The real words are "there's a bad moon on the rise" but, with this movie "bathroom" is more appropriate than "Bad Moon". If the paw print fits, go hose off.

Guess what this movie's about? Right! A werewolf, or rather a mean looking muppet that's supposed to be a werewolf. I wouldn't want to meet this shaggy pelt on a stick in a dark alley, but it's still a muppet.

The plot? It actually has one...sort of. A werewolf terrorizes his sister and nephew until a dog saves the day. I'm not giving anything away by this. The credits include a based on the book "Thor" reference at least once. Ten minutes into the movie, you find out that "Thor" is "Thor the Wonderdog!" So, putting two and two twogether, you get twenty-two or Thor saves the day.

Without even watching the film, let's guess what happens. I'd bet that Thor is smarter than his keepers, Thor is blamed for something he didn't do, Thor is punished and about to die, Thor escapes in time to save his keepers, and Thor finally dies in a last minute act of heroism. Well, the actual movie is almost like that.

Fortunately, Thor (Primo), a German Shepherd, is a better actor than the humans whom he has to carry. In one scene, I mused, "There's Rinny. Where're Rusty and Rip?" (For those of you too young to remember, there used to be a show about the old west cavalry and their mascot named Rin-Tin-Tin. Rinny was a German Shepherd version of Lassie, Rusty was the young man he protected, and Rip was the troop's top kick.)

How silly is this movie? A guy is down in the Amazon and watches while his girlfriend is neck bobbed by a glassy-eyed critter. The thing takes a swipe at our dull as a dirt clod leading man and as a result a new costumed killer is created. (Like the alliteration?)

Flash forward a few months and he's back in the States, living in a trailer in the middle of nowhere in Washington or Oregon or somewhere in the Northwest. When pieces of people are found, his sister worries for his safety and tells him to move his trailer to her backyard, which he does. The dog smells danger, sometimes. And that's where the movie really, really falls apart. First, there's the continuity.

Then there's the "acting". Michael Paré cannot act. He may be a good-looking brick, but David Caruso is manic in comparison.

The sleep-walking acting chops of Paré do fit the part, I guess. Paré joins the group of some of the dumbest individuals to walk on two legs since... (Pinch fingers! Do not refer to elected officials! Must resist! Must resist!) Where was I? Oh, yes. Calling all clueless! Your plane has arrived!

The werewolf's nephew finds a book on werewolf lore in the trailer. No light bulb goes on. Uncle Wolfy, who's really acting like a jerk, tells everyone he's a werewolf. No one believes him. His sister reads his diary where his homicidal condition is specified in no uncertain terms. (Is a werewolf, when posing as a flea magnet, a homicidal killer or just a hunter? Riddle me that one, Batman!)

Anyway, his sister Janet blows past this particularly telling "I am a werewolf" fact. Instead, in an effort to be clever, she decides to slyly question him about what really happened to his girlfriend. In a deftly layered attempt to subtly probe the truth behind the missing girlfriend without alerting her brother to her suspicions, she asks, "What really happened to your girlfriend?" Janet is a lawyer. This explains a lot about the judicial system, I guess.

Ted's evasive answer, "She's in Seattle," does not satisfy the wiley Janet. In fact her feelings are hurt because the diary stated that she was dead, so her brother is lying to her. He's a freakin' werewolf. He's killing people. She's next. Like any good lawyer, her response is to feel snubbed by the lie.

The special effects involve a crucial blunder. Who ever thought that a muppet werewolf would be convincing appearing in a scene with a real dog? Real animals in scenes with slip covers only call attention to the fact that the slip covers have clinging lint glued on.

Believe it or not, though, the movie wasn't a complete loss. The director, Eric Red (is that a real name?) is a good director. The problem is that he's also credited as the screenwriter, something which he is not.

Back to my theory that when the screenwriter is also the director, a movie brings to life the screenwriter's vision. Let me add the condition that the vision needs to be clear and more mature than a pre-pubescent's horror collage. Maybe this was the vehicle by which Eric the Red broke into big time cinema. Hrm... Eric Red and Thor? Nope, ain't buyin' Eric Red's a real name.

I'm left with two closing thoughts. One, how come Thor survived his encounter with the werewolf and didn't become a weredog in the process? Two, The Shaggy Dog is a werewolf story for children. I never made the connection until I saw Bad Moon.

Thanks to some nudity at the beginning and some bloody scenes, this one's not for children despite its toddler sense of continuity and dialogue.

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