Eric Red’s ‘Bad Moon’ (1996) Still Has Bite – Retro Review

Werewolf movies have quite simply become one of the most overpopulated sub-genres in horror. From the teen dramas to the gruesome slashers, you can find a werewolf movie in any style these days. But one of the more overlooked efforts is 1996’s Bad Moon. Released on November 1, the film with solid tension and gripping family connection dipped in ’90s nostalgia, Bad Moon is finding a deeper audience as it celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Let’s take a look at what makes this one worth watching during a full moon.

Bad Moon is written and directed by Eric Red (100 Feet 2008) based on the novel, Thor, written by Wayne Smith (his only writing credit). The film stars Primo (Two 1996) as Thor the dog, Mariel Hemingway (Rise of the Zombies 2012), Michael Pare (Gone 2012), and Mason Gamble (Dennis The Menace 1993). The plot showcases a family of a mother, child, and dog as they reunite with their uncle who may suffer from lycanthropy. You see the family bond right away, and the audience can empathize with their loner situation and their closeness with each other.

The first reason that Bad Moon separates itself from others of its type is that it features an actual animal in the lead protagonist role. Whereas Silver Bullet (read our retro review here) shined a light on the child, this one is all about the puppy. It gives the werewolf an animal counterpart to battle against instead of just praying on humans without killer instinct. Primo (who has three total film credits) did a wonderful job as the novel’s eponymous character, protecting his family and lending heart to a pretty gory setting. The acting is solid all around, but they made sure to give the top story arc to Thor, which would warm the spirit of even the most cynical gore-hound.  The cinematography reflects this choice as well, as Thor gets POV shots, tracking shots, and long close-ups.

Thor can sense that the Michael Pare’s character, Uncle Ted, is a werewolf, but he’s unable to properly alert the family of their impending danger. So instead he distracts, signals, and even stalks Pare to defend his owners. The two canum play a game of cat and mouse, trying to expose each other. Thor’s lack of verbal communication creates a tension as the audience doesn’t want to see the protector harmed. Uncle Ted eventually frames Thor and causes him to be sent to the pound. Ted also has an arc,\ as he starts off being ashamed of his state (like The Wolfman in 1941), but once he fears he’ll be arrested for the murders, he uses his powers to protect his own future over his family’s.

Thor eventually gets set free and returns to his home just in time for the final showdown, but not before a barrage of great special effects, gore, and awesome transformations. Thor takes out Uncle Ted in his human form to save his family, and we’re reminded again of the battle-tested love that the protagonists share for one another. Bad Moon manages to tell the story of empathetic and relatable characters without sacrificing any of the things that make for a good horror movie. For that, we can only hope that more people stumble upon this underrated gem and sink their teeth into it.

About Jason Burke

Hey there, I'm Jason. I'm a lifelong writer and lover of all things that go bump in the night. Under my production company name, Nostalgic Nightmare Productions, I write and produce films, novels, and photoshoots. I'm also an actor, activist, poet, and stand-up comic. I believe in deep, character-driven stories that engage the audience.

Check Also


‘WILLOW’ (1988): What Makes it Great…and Did Disney Drop the Ball?

Willow is a fantasy film directed by Ron Howard originally released on May 20, 1988. …