Bad Moon (1996)
Half man. Half wolf. Total terror.
This movie may not be the first of it's kind - heck, werewolf flicks are all over the place in terms or release and quality - but there something this movie has that brings it a charm no others have: Thor, the loveable canine hero of the flick. I had fully intended to watch this with a friend, but had to make sure that there was no doggy harm (as lets face it, body count means nothing in a movie to ninety percent of the human race, but as soon as any animal gets tagged that ninety percent starts burning DvDs in protest). Well, before you go any further, let me just say (to much spoilers) that Thor survives the movie.
While Uncle Ted (Michael Paré) is out on safari in a jungle somewhere, he has the dreaded misfortune of being attacked by a werewolf, during which attack his wife dies and he is bitten. Too late to save his loved one, Ted still manages to finish the foul beast off by (literally) shooting its head off - a bit of a departure from the only being killed by silver myth, but something you should get used to for this movie. Months later, he returns stateside and ends up reuniting with his sister Janet (Mariel Hemingway). In high hopes that the love of family will cure him from his lycanthrope curse, and realizing it's getting out of hand, he calls Janet and she ends up inviting him to park his trailer behind her house and stay with them for a while (all the while keeping his furry little secret from her).
Thor (Primo), Janet and her son's dog, senses something is up and during the earlier parts of the film his roll plays out very much like a detective, as he sniffs things out and puts two and two together to realize his beloved friend Uncle Ted is in fact a large unfriendly beast. Things progress step by step until things get completely out of hand, with Janet discovering Ted's secret, and our final ultimate climax (and dog-fight) taking center stage at the end.
Now, it's a horror movie, so I never expect much plot, and the one in here is pretty simple at that. It has nice elements to it's simplicity, such as how there are many parts that focus on Thor as not only a character but storytelling focal point (such as when Thor discovers Ted's secret). Beyond that, the depth given to Ted's motives - facts like how he's gone to all sorts of medical and science practitioners to try and find a cure for his disease - really help to flesh him out as more than just the monster of the movie. There isn't a whole lot of elements during the course of this movie that aren't used or wrapped up later to effect the actual course of the movie - even if it's as silly as the dog(s) marking their territory by peeing on things. So don't be too surprised when I tell you I was colored impressed at how the overall movie flowed.
Acting, on the other hand, didn't always fare so well. Although the actors did a decent job of portraying their characters (such as a scene later on that demonstrates just how much he loves his pet Thor), the existing feel between them seems skewed. What I mean to say is, in essence, that if I started to act that suspiciously all the time , my sister would probably start to think that there was something wrong with me - maybe not that I was a werewolf or serial killer, but definitely something. That being said, Primo did an amazing job for a pooch in a movie, even though there are some discrepancies between the dog growling and on screen we see Primo doing nothing more than a very Stallone-esque scowl.
Effect-wise, nothing here is mega-blockbuster budget quality, but it's certainly better than some of the other movies I have watched - a comparison that might help some is that it's at least as good as the SyFy original movie Dog Soldiers (if that helps at all). Although some of the gore can be spotty at best (there are some obviously fake gore bits in here) , the werewolf itself looks wonderful. The snout and layout of the head particularly colors me pink, and it gives the impression of a giant wolf who learn to walk more like a person than it does olden-day Wolf-man or modern competition for sparkly vampires. It helps add some character to it that really just lets you be let down a bit when the transformation scene hits (on of the worse effects in the movie if you ask me).
Audio doesn't fare much better - actors and their lines can be heard audibly and clearly, with music being largely forgettable (I don't actually remember if it even had any). The dog sounds fine in it's various forms of vocalizing, yet the werewolf itself sounds a bit... airy might be the word I'm looking for here. I'm not entirely sure if it's something they did to make it more distinguishable from Thor when they both started to cross into the movie at the same time, or if it was just something that didn't come out as fun in my mind as it did in theirs.
When it comes down to it, the movie should successfully create a mix of separate emotions through the watcher - in my case, one scene actually had my eyes fighting back some tears, while another had me yelling at the characters in my head for being so stupid. Of course, this will change depending on who watches, some might scream, some might yawn, some might get giddy over the werewolf costume - it's something I can't predict because everyone is so different. What it comes down to really though, is if you want to watch a different kind of werewolf movie, or a movie where the hero character is actually a dog , all the while meeting the requirements of watching a R-rated movie with a brief nude scene and plenty of gore - this could be what you are waiting to watch. Go forth, enjoy it (if you can manage to find it), and think to yourself "why is it exactly that I don't have a dog like that?