Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

31 Days of Halloween: Moon of the Wolf

Every year around Halloween, Dollar Tree stocks DVDs of public domain horror movies, and I have a small stack of discs whose cases are emblazoned with the words "Wow! Only $1!", printed much larger than the name of the movie. Moon of the Wolf is one of these, and I thought tonight would be a good time to finally sit through it. And "sit through" is the right way to describe the experience.

I thought Moon of the Wolf looked like a made-for-TV production, and the Internet tells me that it is. TV movies have never had a good reputation, but they're usually better than this. It's the worst kind of low-budget horror movie, in that the story is sub par, and they didn't bother to compensate with special effects. If you blow it on those two aspects of a horror movie, what else have you got?

The answer is not much. The story opens in a town called Marsh Island, which, as far as I can tell, is located deep in creole country. A woman's been murdered, and everybody has a theory. It might be wild dogs, or the father of the baby she was carrying, or it might be her brother. The local sheriff starts playing detective, while all the other men in town decide to start shooting stray dogs. Meanwhile, the victim's bed-ridden elderly father is warning everyone to watch out for the "look-a-rook".

At some point in the past, I picked up that the French equivalent of werewolf is loup-garou, and when you're watching a movie about a murder with the word "wolf" in its title, it doesn't take much work to figure out that look-a-rook is a mispronunciation of loup-garou. Once you've made that connection, it's not hard to see where the story is going. Where it goes is that the wealthy plantation owner, whose alibi seemed thin to begin with, is a hereditary werewolf, and he ends up being shot to death by his sister.

The last sentence of the description on the back of the case is "[t]he film's ending is quite unusual," but I can't figure out what that means. There are no surprises in this film. I don't know why I feel so comfortable spoiling this one, and hiding the details of, say, Angel Heart, but once you know that it's a werewolf movie, it just plods straight forward without taking any chances. And people like this movie... I dunno. Am I missing something? Have I seen too many good horror movies? Beats me. There are (as I said) no special effects to speak of, and the performances, direction, and photography are conspicuously unremarkable. Come to think of it, everything good about this movie is pretty blatantly stolen from Lon Chaney Jr.'s Wolf-Man movies, which I would much rather watch.

I'm grasping at straws to say something positive about this movie, and I think I've found one: Royal Dano plays one of the Random Townspeople. Now, you might not know Mr. Dano by name, but you've seen him. He's dead now, but he acted between 1950 and his death in 1994, by which time he'd developed the perfect Old Cowboy Face -- you can find a portrait under the definition of "cantankerous" in the dictionary. He did plenty of westerns, but his sensibilities were such that he turns up in the strangest movies, usually playing tiny but memorable roles. You could say that Royal Dano spotting is a hobby of mine. Don't though, because it's not.

The movie is in the public domain, so here's a token link to it, which no one will want to click. Enjoy!
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