Tuesday, October 05, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 5 - Movie 2

Apparently Track of the Moon Beast (1976) was actually made in 1972 but took four years to see release because of problems finding a distributor. I find this not hard to believe at all. I find it amazing that a distributor for this gem was ever found.

Paul Carlson (Chase Cordell) is an extremely bland geologist who spends the entire first half of the movie with his shirt off, or taking it off. While watching a meteor shower with vapid, leggy blonde photographer Kathy Nolan (Leigh Drake who is completely devoid of acting ability yet would go on to play the dispatcher in Return of the Living Dead) he is struck in the head by a fragment of meteorite. Part of it winds up lodged in his brain causing him intense headaches during the day and turning him into a very unimpressive looking lizard man when the moon comes out and activates the fragment in his head. Eventually Paul's friend the anthropology professor John Salinas (Gregorio Sala) who is often referred to by his tribal name of Johnny Longbow destroys the creature using an arrow with a tip made from a fragment of the same meteorite. the combined energies from the two fragments in Paul's body cause him to glow using polarization effects until he is reduced to a handful of ashes.

This movie was a pure exercise in tedium. It gets kudos for having a Native American character as its lead and for making him a scientist, who only says one stereotypical Hollywood Indian line (and in jest). Of course he does resort to using traditional weapons which he made himself, but otherwise he's completely modern and the most interesting character, which in this case doesn't say much. He's also the most decent actor in the cast, which again, does not say much.

The biggest flaws come from the script and the direction. This movie has more clunky exposition scenes and terrible scene transitions than I recall seeing in any other movie. Track of the Moon Beast was directed by Richard Ashe who never directed another motion picture and it's easy to understand why after watching this. The screenplay was by Bill Finger and Charles Sinclair, writing partners who also brought us The Green Slime among other things. Bill Finger, however had more to do with making Batman (and his supporting characters) what they became than Batman creator Bob Kane, including Batman's origin story and the fact that he's Batman and not Birdman (which was Kane's original idea). The script is bland, talky, and just plain terrible. Like today's other movie  experts are brought in to help Paul, but make no contribution to the story except that Paul overhears them say they can't help him until they know more driving Paul to run away. Paul has a pet monitor lizard that he's allegedly fond of which is suddenly missing with it's cage torn apart, and he's neither concerned, nor is an explanation forthcoming as to what became of it. I'm guessing it was meant to sow doubt as to whether or not Paul was truly the Moon Beast, or if it was his lizard, but the way the movie plays out in its heavy handedness, there's never any doubt.

This is a bad movie and should be avoided at all cost. However, if you're feeling masochistic, or think that watching this with a  few drunk friends might make for a fun evening, here's a link to obtain it for yourself...


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