JULY 15, 2008
Last night I went to Best Buy to buy The Ruins, which I really liked and wanted to see on Blu-Ray, as it was incredibly well shot and beautiful to look at. From there I drove to Blockbuster, and as I did, I questioned whether or not I should have bought it or simply rented it when I actually had time to watch it again (doing HMAD leaves little time for rewatching stuff I’ve already reviewed). I own too many DVDs as it is, so buying a horror movie that I probably won’t have time to watch again for months isn’t the best investment, especially when you consider I already own a lot I haven’t seen at all. Anyway, at Blockbuster, I rented Bad Moon, the 1996 werewolf movie that HMAD reader Kristian recommended some time ago. When the girl* asked if I wanted the receipt, I said yes. Not because I need to prove I rented Bad Moon, but because I like Eric Red a lot, and figured if it was good, I’d have the receipt to let me know how much it was to keep.
So when I got to my car and looked at the receipt, I was amazed to see it was $9.99 to own. Most horror movies more than a few years old (particularly ones that aren’t exactly big sellers) are like 4-6 bucks tops. “10 bucks?” I said to myself. “It’s probably not that much to buy it new!” And then, suddenly, a rush of memories flooded my brain. Like the one concerning the time a few months back when I bought a 4 movie pack of Warner horror movies... like Bad Moon.
Yes, moments after pondering whether I had just bought something I should have just rented, I rented a movie I had already fucking bought. Now, in my (small) defense, it’s not like I went out of my way to specifically buy Bad Moon, I had bought a cheap horror multipack and that film was on it. At least I was right though – I paid 7.99 for it brand new and got 3 other movies to boot.
And of course, as I watched the film I realized it WAS only worth a rental. It’s not horrible, but it’s incredibly lacking in suspense or scares. A big problem is the limited cast – we have the werewolf, the mom, her little kid, and Thor, the dog who is actually the main character. And that’s it. So it’s kind of hard to really fear for their safety, because a mom, the little kid, and the dog are the safest movie characters in movie history (unless the dog is the villain, see Cujo). And there are almost no other secondary characters, only a sheriff (who has one scene) and a con man that is obvious fodder. Maybe having a few “at risk” characters (a friend of the mother, a neighbor, a love interest... maybe a few bullies for the kid) would help things in this department. If we only really know two people, and they’re not in any danger – how are we supposed to really fear the werewolf?
Another issue is Michael Paré’s inconsistent character. In human form, he is sort of sympathetic – he is looking for a cure and he chains himself to a tree at night so he doesn’t hurt anyone. But at times he’s just the typical evil human who is seemingly embracing his lycanthropy. At one point he instigates the dog, resulting in it being taken off to the pound. He sneers as the dog is dragged off, and then urinates on the doghouse (this is payback for the dog peeing on his trailer – possibly the first urination-based cinematic payoff in history). But then later, when his sister discovers his secret, he acts like she should never have let the dog get taken away, and even sticks up for it (“he was trying to protect you!”). Huh? Also, at one point the dog is seemingly trying to prevent Paré from chaining himself up. Which makes the dog kind of an asshole.
Luckily it’s short enough (75 minutes or so) and doesn’t have any mystics or scientists rambling about cures and curses to slow things down or drown the film in exposition. It hurts the suspense factor, but it’s actually kind of nice to see such a straight forward werewolf film. There isn’t too much in the way of rewriting the rules (supposedly he turns every night, not just during the full moon, but then they show the moon and it’s full anyway, so I dunno), and the gore is surprisingly, well, gory. The transformation kind of sucks (thanks, morphing CG heavy 90s!) but that wasn’t really a surprise. The wolf itself looks cool (all man in suit stuff; the guy in the suit was actually the dude who stole Jason away from Kane Hodder) and the dog is awesome, so at least the action scenes have that going for them.
Nowadays the film would almost certainly go direct to video. But the completely horror-starved mid 90s allowed such things to hit theaters, which is nice. A stark contrast from today, where the market was glutted to the point of total burnout from the fans, resulting in great movies like The Ruins totally tanking. Hey, the review came full circle!
What say you?
*More depressing about the whole thing – I forgot my card, but the girl was like “Oh its OK, you’re in here a lot.” Since I belong to TWO online rental places, it’s sort of defeating the purpose if I am considered a regular at the actual store.