Bad Moon (1996)
Director: Eric Red
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Paré & Mason Gamble
Released by: Scream Factory
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Shortly after suffering an attack during an exotic expedition, Bad Moon finds Ted Harrison (Michael Paré, Streets of Fire) attempting to conceal his curse of transforming into a savage werewolf from his older sister Janet (Mariel Hemingway, Manhattan) and young nephew Brett (Mason Gamble, Dennis the Menace). As local bodies being turning up around their isolated community, Ted strives to pass the blame onto his sister’s loyal German Shepherd who is acutely aware of the true monster at work.
Adapted from Wayne Smith’s novel Thor, Writer/Director Eric Red’s (Cohen and Tate) lycanthropic feature casts a full moon of shocks and bloodshed against a family driven tale centered around a boy and his dog. Opening in Nepal, photojournalist Ted Harrison is disrupted from a passionate lovemaking session in his tent when a towering, fanged wolf tears his lay to shreds, leaving him gashed and barely alive. Shortly after returning home, Ted is harboring a dark ailment he believes can only be cured by the company of his loved ones. Crashing with his older sister Janet and blonde-haired, blue-eyed nephew Brett proves hazardous as local hikers and drifters are found brutally murdered, reportedly believed to be the work of a wild animal. While his owners are startled yet never second guess the events, Janet and Brett’s protective German Shepherd Thor picks up a suspicious scent from Uncle Ted that can’t be shaken. Consumed by his curse and selfishly attempting to pawn his bloodthirsty deeds off on the K9, Thor is hauled off by Animal Control leaving his distraught owners to fend for themselves against the true terror waiting in their own wilderness.
With the exception of the fangtastic werewolf design courtesy of special effects wiz Steve Johnson (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Warriors) and a generous helping of throat-ripping and face-slashing gore, Bad Moon is fairly straightforward during its tightly-constructed 79 minute runtime while its performances never fully resonate. Signing off on a strong note with a suspenseful showdown between wolf and mutt plus, a last-minute jump scare for good measure, Bad Moon, although not overwhelmingly memorable, is a commendable inclusion into the beastly subgenre that was all but banished to hibernation by the time of its release.
Scream Factory presents Bad Moon with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Capturing strong skin tones that only occasionally favor a redder pigment, well-balanced black levels and a presentation free of discouraging scuffs or scratches, Bad Moon makes a striking debut on high-definition. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is perfectly audible while the shrieking howls of the wolf, gunshots and Thor’s bark make for a most effectively trembling listen. An optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been included. In addition to presenting Eric Red’s approved Director’s Cut (1:19:25) that merely exorcises the rather dated CG werewolf transformation and the Original Theatrical Cut (1:19:51), special features include, a newly recorded Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Eric Red on his preferred cut plus, an additional Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Eric Red & Actor Michael Paré on the latter version. Furthermore, the first-rate Nature of the Beast: Making Bad Moon (35:17) looks back on the development and impact of the film with new interviews from Writer/Director Eric Red, Actors Michael Paré and Mason Gamble plus, Special Effects Make-Up Artist Steve Johnson among others. Also included, the VHS sourced Unrated Opening Scene from the Director’s First Cut (6:07), the Original Theatrical Trailer (1:06) and Transformation Sequence Storyboards (6:30), Thor/Werewolf Fight Storyboards (9:40) and Thor Stares Down Uncle Ted Storyboards (4:15) wraps up the surprisingly loaded sum of supplements.
Hardly as memorable as its werewolf brethren from a decade earlier, Bad Moon supplies ample entertainment in the splatter department while Steve Johnson’s more grayed design work of the monster is call for applause. Arriving technically sharp-looking and fluid sounding, Scream Factory celebrates this mid-‘90s howlfest in style that although not credited under their illustrious Collector’s Edition banner, acts the part in the quality and quantity of its bonus features.