Bad Moon (1996)
Reviewed for TheBluFile.com by Dustin Putman(Release Date: July 19, 2016)
Dumped into theaters in 1996 on the worst date possible for a horror filmNovember 1"Bad Moon" largely came and went in a matter of a week. While the few critical notices it received predominately wrote it off for having opened cold with next to no studio support from Warner Bros. and Morgan Creek, the intervening years have been kinder. As far as werewolf thrillers go, this one's practical effects work and creature design were as impressive and disconcerting as the subgenre had seen since the 1981 one-two punch of "An American Werewolf in London" and "The Howling." Alas, in true mid-'90s fashion, the picture kind of blew it in the third act with tacky computer-generated morphing effects that didn't look good then and now are outright laughable (as a welcome surprise, this Blu-ray includes a superior Director's Cut that excises most of the godawful CG forced on its makers by the studio).
Single lawyer mom Janet (Mariel Hemingway) and 10-year-old son Brett (Mason Gamble) have carved out a peaceful life for themselves in the Pacific Northwest. When Janet's younger brother Ted (Michael Paré) returns from a photojournalism assignment in South America, they are happy to have him back in their lives. Family dog Thor is quicker, however, in noticing something different about Ted. Staying in a trailer behind their house, he is running into the woods at nightfall and only returning at daybreak. Furthermore, Ted is cagey about what when on when he was traveling internationallyan experience the viewer is made privy to in an opening scene that culminates in a werewolf attack and the brutal slaying of girlfriend Marjorie (Johanna Marlowe Lebovitz). Bitten by the animal, Ted is desperately trying to manage his new lycanthropic ways. When the bad moon rises, he doesn't trust himself around the people he cares for the most.
Written and directed by Eric Red (adapted from the Marvel-unrelated 1992 novel "Thor" by Wayne Smith), "Bad Moon" is a curious hybrid of a gruesome horror movie and a boy-and-his-dog family drama. When Brett and German Shepherd Thor are front and center, the movie plays like a PG-rated story fit for audiences of all ages. This notion is mighty deceiving, though, surrounded from both sides by R-rated material (including a sex scene in the opening minutes and some startlingly violent werewolf-inflicted carnage). If one is never quite sure what angle "Bad Moon" is taking or who its target audience is, this unusual tone becomes a core part of its charm. Slight though the narrative isthe film runs only 79 minutes, including opening and ending creditsRed remains attentive to his characters and brings a taut, spooky style to his stalk-and-attack scenes. As an intelligent, self-sufficient woman ready and willing to protect her son at any cost, Mariel Hemingway is especially likable. "Bad Moon" isn't a great film, but it is a competent one with enough inspiration and individuality to impress. It is easy to see why it has built up an affectionate little following over the last few decades.
"Bad Moon" tears up Blu-ray with a nice-looking 1080p transfer. Occasional age-related specks pop up now and again and some shots aren't as crisply defined as others, but these are decidedly minor observations. For the most part, this is a clean presentation with the appreciable added detail and clarity high-definition provides. Grain levels are solid, black levels are strong, and the beauty of the rustic British Columbia wilderness is highlighted with attractive aplomb. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio gets most of its back-channel oomph from growls, screams and sounds of ripping flesh. Otherwise, this is a fairly standard audio track that gets the job done but doesn't really stand out. Music and dialogue are well-delineated within the mix and never step on each other's proverbial toes. A 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio track is also included.
- NEW Director's Cut supervised and approved by writer-director Eric Red (1:19:25); Theatrical Cut also included (1:19:51)
- NEW Audio Commentary with writer-director Eric Red (Director's Cut)
- Audio Commentary with writer-director Eric Red and actor Michael Paré (Theatrical Cut)
- NEW "Nature of the Beast: Making Bad Moon" Featurette (35:17, HD) – includes interviews with writer-director Eric Red, actors Michael Paré and Mason Gamble, special effects make-up artist Steve Johnson, and stunt coordinator Ken Kirzinger
- Unrated Opening Sequence (6:07, SD)
- Transformation Sequence Storyboards (6:30, HD)
- Thor/Werewolf Fight Storyboards (9:40, HD)
- Thor Stares Down Uncle Ted Storyboards (4:15, HD)
- Theatrical Trailer (1:06, HD)
"Bad Moon" is an underappreciated werewolf picture that, save for its unseemly morphing effects in the Theatrical Cut, still feels contemporary twenty years removed from its theatrical release. Scream Factory has given this film the prime treatment it deserves, offering a slew of great bonus content (including a new audio commentary and interviews) and the preferable Director's Cut to sweeten the pot. Fans will be very happy with this Blu-ray release, while those who have never seen it will be in for a nice surprise. Highly recommended.