Cult Cinema: Eric Red's Bad Moon (1996) - Reviewed

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Eric Red's Bad Moon is its unrelenting violence.  Towards the end of the 20th century, horror films began to gravitate away from extreme brutality in favor of high concept thrillers that inevitably sold more tickets with a PG-13 rating.  Iconoclast Red's career is filled with uniquely terrifying stories that continually break with tradition, and Bad Moon is no exception.  Blending a singular performance by Michael Pare with uncompromising kill sequences, this is an essential addition to the full moon pantheon.  

Ted is bitten by a werewolf in Nepal while attempting to save his girlfriend's life.  He returns to the Pacific Northwest a monster, battling with his lycanthropic curse.  His sister welcomes him into her home, unaware of the danger, however; Thor, the family's German shepherd instantly recognizes Ted for what he truly is.  Building off of Wayne Smith's novel, one of the most interesting narrative decisions is that the film's protagonist is Thor.  While Mariel Hemingway and Mason Gamble give excellent supporting turns, this is Ted and Thor's story and both Pare and Primo (Thor's canine actor) are excellent in their roles.  Pare in particular does an excellent job of straddling the divide between primal rage and civilized tranquility, ultimately falling victim to the former.  There's a particularly gripping scene between Pare and Hemingway during the third act in which the dam finally breaks and the darkness within Pare's Ted consumes him.  Pare's body language, aided by Steven Johnson's inhuman special makeup effects truly drive home the concept of violent surrender. 

The creature effects, particularly during multiple transformation sequences are astounding, considering the technology of the time.  However, it is the murders themselves that form the foundation for Moon's vicious legacy.  Limbs are torn asunder, claws rend flesh like paper, and blood flows over everything it touches.  It is in the excess of the macabre that Red's exploration of humanity and family is truly revealed.  With a slim runtime of 80 minutes, these themes aren't given a lot of time to develop, but in between the gruesome set pieces and the absolutely insane final confrontation between Ted and Thor, there are pockets of depth dappled throughout. 

Available now on Amazon Prime or on a special feature packed Blu-Ray from Shout Factory, Bad Moon is an unrelentingly violent romp that is an underrated horror gem.  Featuring thrilling special effects, gratuitous dismemberment, and Michael Pare naked with a shotgun, this a film destined for the late Friday night annals of cult cinema. 

--Kyle Jonathan