Friday, 18 January 2013

The ‘Dreadful’ of Cinema [Track of the Moon Beast (1976)]

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Dir. Richard Ashe
USA
Film #18 of The ‘Worst’ of Cinema

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When he is hit in the head by a small lunar meteor, a man is plagued by bed strickening headaches. At the same time, a series of gristly murders are taking place in the town, all of them connected to a strange bipedal reptile man. Track of the Moon Beast wants to be a serious drama; its tone is that of a low key, dialogue driven drama about a man crippled by fate. It is however a serious drama about a man who turns into a homicidal reptile man when the moon is out. It is fascinating on paper, seeing the film try it’s hardest to pull this off. But from its beginning its drama is not good at all, and when compounded with its B-movie premise, it becomes awful to sit through.

From http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-l3uxcnBK3Ro/TeXJEdaDYYI/AAAAAAAAGr8/kL_i2g_Rbzo/s1600/moon-beast.jpg

Track of the Moon Beast is an example of a film that tries to be unique but is let down by what it wants to be not correlating with what it should have been. Baring a few scenes of a titular moon beast attacking people, it is not a genre film at all. This could have worked, especially with the film’s unique take on how someone transforms into a beast man like in werewolf legends, but it is tedious viewing. Comparable to the other seventies film I’ve reviewed, Frozen Scream (1975), despite being a superior film from two bad ones, its large amount of dialogue sequences are not engaging, really lacking the compulsion a great actor or cast would give the viewer to hang on the dialogue even at its most threadbare. Even a charismatic actor is able to make something out of a film whether the dialogue is good or not, which I brought up with Alan Cummings in my review of Son of the Mask (2005). The other problem with this film, like Frozen Scream and a few films I’ve covered so far, is that the director merely places the camera in one spot and makes the film one dimensional in look. At least Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) had the weird, off quilter tone to prevent this from undermining its qualities, and for anyone whose read my review of the infamous Canadian film Things (1989) – [Link Here] – they know that that film had the advantage of being so low budget that its messy, shot-on-cheap-video look actually gave it a distinct appearance even if the results would horrify some viewing it. Track of the Moon Beast has nothing really in its favour in this area or anything particularly ridiculous or memorable to latch upon.

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The shortness of this review dictates that there is little to really write about the film. By covering this, and doing the whole season in general, I realise I have no excuse now to not review any film, no matter how bland it is, on the blog, but something like Track of the Moon Beast does show why being picky with your review choices does help for other bloggers and writers. In favour of this season though, a film like this does help me understand what a bad film actually is. It’s not a Turkish Star Wars (1985) which is entertaining and creatively in a misplaced way, but one of these long forgotten films that could have worked, like crossing a Lifetime medical drama with a monster film, but lacks the magic that could have made it spectacular even if it was still shonky viewing. 

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