Monday, August 30, 2010
Moon Of The Wolf!
The movies on TV yesterday were slight indeed, so I dug out a box full of "Drive-In Classics" and found a little 1972 made-for-TV shocker titled The Moon of the Wolf.
This clearly was made with The Night Stalker in mind. It essentially is the same sort of set-up but with a werewolf rather than a vampire. It too attempts to ground the classic gothic horror elements into a more contemporary setting while keeping the sense of otherness.
Like the Dan Curtis production, this one offers up a grizzled veteran actor as the main focus, but instead of the voluble Darren McGavin we get the grumbly David Janssen. He's pretty good in the role, though his odd hair style and his persistantly unbuttoned shirt are odd bits of characterization. I get the sense they were trying to sell him as a sex object, but it wasn't working. If you take it that the character thinks he's more attractive than he is, then that's a neat kink in the story that adds layers.
The setting is not Las Vegas, but a small swamp town in Louisiana. We have a assorted white trash types played to the hilt by Royal Dano and Geoffrey Lewis, and some white Southern elites portrayed by Bardford Dillman and Barbara Rush. Aside from a one black lady who seems to know the score, there are a few other speaking roles but almost no extras in this one. That hurts the realism a bit, especially later in the story when they try to gather a mob, but only a handful of guys show up.
They recreate scenes from The Night Stalker even, such as when the creature breaks out of the hospital and crashes through the window. There are lots of point of view camera angles to show monster's perspective even. There's a rather lame attempt to make the transformation medical as opposed to magical, but it doesn't really develop enough for me to understand it really.
I liked the mood of this one, the acting is by and large pretty dang good. The settings have potential, but seem a bit slick in places, not gritty enough. Likely they shot this movie very quickly, so the small stuff suffered.
It's an entertaining movie, and one that's smart enough to keep its monster off screen most of the time. That's almost always more effective in these kinds of things.