Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moon of the Wolf (1972)

Who's in it?: David Janssen (The Fugitive, The Green Berets), Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide, It Came from Outer Space), Bradford Dillman (Piranha, Sudden Impact), and Geoffrey Lewis (Every Darn Thing You've Ever Seen)

What's it about?: A Louisiana bayou sheriff (Janssen) investigates a series of vicious attacks and begins to suspect they may be supernatural.

How is it?: Moon of the Wolf was an ABC Movie of the Week in Fall 1972, so the budget and production quality reflect that. That said, it's not a bad piece of work and exactly the kind of thing I would've loved finding randomly on TV as a kid.

Janssen's great as the no-nonsense, but vulnerable Sheriff Whitaker and the story gives him plenty of suspects as potential werewolves. It plays out for a long while as a straight murder mystery with Whitaker's investigating the brutal death of a young woman. At first it looks like an animal attack, but Whitaker uncovers evidence that it may have been foul play and starts to work that angle. Lots of people had motives for wanting the woman dead, from the victim's brother (Lewis) to the local doctor, who just so happens to be Whitaker's best friend.

When the victim's Cajun father suggests a supernatural predator that may not be responsible for its own actions, the suspect list opens wide to include everyone in the town of Marsh Island, but particularly the wealthy Rodanthe siblings. Andrew Rodanthe (Dillman) has been a member of the community for a while, but his sister Louise (Rush) is just back after a scandalous relationship in New York turned sour.

For a while, the werewolf kills unseen. I suspected at first that that was for budget reasons and fully expected the monster to be played by a large dog when it was finally revealed. Fortunately, Moon of the Wolf did have some makeup money though and when the werewolf appears it's very much in the style of Jack Pierce's work on The Wolf Man.

I wouldn't dare compare Moon of the Wolf too favorably to The Wolf Man, but as family-friendly monster movies go, there are a lot worse.

Grade: B-

[Screen grabs from A Haunting on the Screen]
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