Saturday, June 25, 2016

BAD MOON (1996) (Blu-ray Review)

BAD MOON (1996) 
Label: Scream Factory 
release Date: July 19th 2016
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration" 79 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Cast: Hrothgar Mathews, Johanna Marlowe, Ken Pogue, Mariel Hemingway, Mason Gamble, Michael Paré
Director: Eric Red
Synopsis: Full, crescent, quarter... each is a Bad Moon for Ted Harrison. By day, he's a photojournalist visiting family in the Pacific Northwest. By night, he transfigures into a horrific half-human – a werewolf. Dead men tell no tales, so Ted's sure he alone knows about his vile double life. The secret, however, may be out. The family dog Thor, devoted to defending the household, has his suspicions.

Writer/director Eric Red (Cohen and Tate, Body Parts) delivers a new infusion of thrills with this red-blooded shocker. Michael Paré (Streets of Fire) portrays Ted, hiding his accursed condition from his sister (Mariel Hemmingway, Lipstick, Star 80) and nephew (Mason Gamble). What better way to hide it than to create suspicion that the local killings are the work of another – especially if that other is the family's all-too-wise German shepherd!

The nineties are not a decade fondly remembered by horror fans, after they heyday of '80s horror the '90s seemed pretty dame tame and lacklustre, even a bright spot like Wes Craven's Scream spawned a generation of watered down horror cinema, but if you dig down a bit beneath the surface of slick mediocrity there are a few gems to be found. The decade was not as awful as you may have been lead to believe, and if you are willing to expand your definition of horror you will find great movies like Guillermo del Toro's Cronos, Event Horizon, Jacob's Ladder and Richard Stanley's Hardware and Dust Devil tucked away among the folds of the decade. 

Which brings up to Bad Moon, a movie I didn't catch at the cinema but I did watch on the numerous cable airings it was afforded in the '90s. It made for decent background fodder, it wasn't something I was overly fond of as I remembered but not having watched it for a decade or so I was sort of keen to check out this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory. 

The movie is very straightforward, we open with American photo-journalists  named Ted Harrison (Michael Paré) in the rain forest of Nepal on some sort of ambiguous assignment with his girlfriend Marjorie (Johanna Lebovitz). Apparently the assignment has gone well and the two go back to their tent for some vigorous celebration sex, that is until they're rudely  interrupted by a werewolf which tears open the tent and rips Marjorie to shreds, wounding Ted in the process, who manages to grab a shotgun and blow the werewolf's head off. It is a fantastic opening scene, full of gore, sex and loads of energy, way better than I remembered from my last viewing years ago. 

In the aftermath Ted moves back to the Northwest US to be near his sister Janet Harrison (Mariel Hemingway) and her young son Brett (Mason Gamble), who may remember as the kid from the Dennis the Menace movie. It seems that Ted has been looking for a cure to the lycanthropy which he is now afflicted with after the attack, moving from spot to spot in his airstream camper leaving a trail of mutilated corpses in his wake. Having no luck with a cure he decides that pulling his camper up in his sister's back yard might be a good idea, that perhaps re establishing a bond with family will somehow prove curative ...bad idea. 

Janet and Brett live with their loyal and protective German Shepherd named Thor, who immediately takes a disliking to Uncle Ted, he can sense that something is wrong with Uncle Ted and that he will prove to be a threat to the family. After the rather good first few scenes of the movie which offered some sweet gore and hot sex the movie cools down for a long period of time, and this is where the movie lags for me. Unfortunately Pare and Hemmingway are not so good, Hemmingway is flat and has no depth. Pare comes off like a budget version of Michael Biehn without the depth or charisma, his character is conflicted, a seemingly nice guy who turns more menacing as the lycanthropy consumes him, but the material seems beyond Pare's range, the portrayal is inconsistent and unconvincing. Mason Gamble is okay as the kid, but comes off annoying and doesn't have a whole lot to do except play with his dog. Suffice it to say that the best actor in the movie is Primo, one of the dogs that played Thor, he has more depth in his eyes than anyone esle in the cast, everyone else just seems to be sleepwalking through this one. 

The cast is the main problem with the movie no one seems to be into the material or have any interest in creating depth for their characters which made it hard to care about te fate of anyone. All is not lost though, this movie offfers up one of the more awesome onscreen werewolves in my opinion, the design and look of this fearsome beast is a top five werewolf for me. The werwold was created with a man in a suit with an animatronic head which was created by special effects creator Steve Johnson and his crew, the man in the suit is stuntman Ken Kersinger (Freddy vs Jason), the design and hair work is pretty awesome, the snarling visage is one for the ages, this is really good stuff. 

As for the gore we have a few good scenes, beginning with the initial attack in Nepal as a mostly nude woman is eviscerated, it makes for a great opening scene that ends with a nice head explosion. There's a con man who shows up to harass Janet and the kid who becomes fodder for the werewolf, he's come to the home to kill the family dog with a machete but ends up in pieces, clawed savagely by the beast, torn up from the gut and his hand mangled, more good stuff. Overall I would say that this movie is over lit, these are some of the brightest Northwest woods at night I have ever seen, which takes away a lot of the potential atmosphere and suspense, but thankfully the design of the creature is so goodf that it holds up even when overlit during the finale. There is an infamous transformation scenes which is awful in an early 90s sort of way, they took some great practical effects by Steve Johnson and ruined it with digital morphing, which is probably what a lot of folks remember about this movie, the bad stuff. 

Bad Moon is not some lost classic of 90s horror but it is a fun watch with a fantastic werewolf, one that is so cool that you can sort of forgive the shortcoming that surround it. Director Eric Red also directed Body Parts (1991), another 90s entry I need to revisit, he also wrote The Hitcher (1986) and Near Dark (1987), the guy has talent and a keen grip on horror, but this one falls short in ways that have kept it any sort of cult-staus, but that werewolf is awesome. 

Audio/Video: Bad Moon debuts on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in the original 2.40:1 widescreen scope aspect ratio with a new HD transfer of two versions of the movie, the original theatrical cut and a shorter by seconds director's version of the movie which was supervised by Eric Red. The movie looks great, colors are vibrant and robust with some nice shadow detail and a crisp image that will surely please fans of the movie, a solid upgrade iover revious DVD version I own. Audio is capably handled by an english DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround option with optional English subtitles, the dialogue, effects and score from composer Daniel Licht have a nice presence. . 

Scream Factory have included a nice array of new bonus content, beginning with the director's version of the movie which adds back in some of the softcore sex from the opening and trims away a few seconds of the awful digital-morphing they did during the transformation scene, which if you watch the theatrical version should give you a laugh, that they somewhat ruined the good work done by Steve Johnson is sacrilegious. 

There's also a new audio commentary by Eric Red recorded for this release for the director's cut of the movie and a commentary with writer/director Eric Red and actor Michael Pare for the theatrical cut. Theres also a thirty-five minute making of doc with new interviews with Eric Red, Steve Johnson, Michael Pare, Mason Gamble and Ken Kerzinger who offer some nice honest opinions of the movie in retrospect, what t was like working with Primo the dog, creating the creature effects and Reed even makes a few disparaging remarks about Hemmingways range as an actress and what he had to resort to to get a decent performance out of her during the more harries scenes. 

Additionally there's a selection of storyboards sequences for a few scenes, the theatrical trailer for the movie, plus the longer unrated opening scene from the Director’s first cut of the movie which has been sourced from VHS source which goes on for about six minutes, showcasing the more erotic nature of the opening scene, which I think was trimmed down for good reason, but as a red-blooded male I did appreciate it that it was included, haha. 

Special Features:

- High-definition theatrical cut of the film plus a NEW Director’s version supervised and approved by Eric Red.
- NEW Nature of the Beast: Making Bad Moon featuring interviews with writer/director Eric Red, actors Michael Pare and Mason Gamble, Special Effects Make-up artist Steve Johnson and stunt coordinator Ken Kirzinger (35 Mins) HD 
- NEW Audio Commentary with writer/director Eric Red (Director’s version only)
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Eric Red and actor Michael Pare (Theatrical Cut)
- Unrated opening scene from the Director’s first cut (Sourced from VHS) (6 Mins) 
- Transformation Sequence Storyboards (7 Mins) HD
- Thor/Werewolf Fight Stoyboards (10 Mins) HD
- Thor Stares Down Uncle Ted Storyboards (4Mins) HD 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (1 Mins) HD 

Bad Moon is an over-looked 90s werwolf horror entry that I won't say is a lost classic but I will say that it is overly neglected and has a killer werewold creature. I just wish the movie lived up to the promise of the werewolf design in the movie, it deserved way better than the vehicle it was delivered in. Scream Factory's Blu-ray is top-notch, it looks and sounds great and has some great bonus content, and if you're a fan this is an easy recommend, if you're not familiar with it give it a chance, it deserves a watch.