Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Blood Moon: the Latest British Werewolf Western

During the early days of Hollywood, Poverty Row studios like Republic, Monogram, and PRC relied on western oaters to pay the bills. These days, horror films are the low budget staple genre, so you could consider this a case of something old and something new. The fact that yonder werewolf western is also a British production makes it all the more eccentric, but we appreciate that. The bodies will pile up when a skinwalker hunts its prey in Jeremy Wooding’s Blood Moon (trailer here), which launches today on DVD and VOD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Mud Flats was a stagecoach stopover already well on its way to being a ghost town, but the skinwalker hastened the process. Unfortunately, when the next stage pulls in for chow, they are taken hostage by the twitchy outlaw Norton Brothers (half-brothers technically). Amongst the passengers are Jake Norman, the new Marshal for the next town over, Sarah, his new wife with a checkered past, and Calhoun, the mysterious bad ass. There was also a priest, but the Nortons killed him almost immediately.

Even the profoundly unintuitive Nortons soon accept the idea something big and bad is prowling around outside, but they are still determined to have their fun inside. Meanwhile, the sheriff and Black Deer, his hard-drinking Native American frienemy and potential hook-up, follow the trail of the Nortons and the beast.

Like so many westerns before it, Blood Moon looks a little cheap, but it was filmed in Kent, so cut it some slack (after all, it is the first UK western since Carry On Cowboy). While the premise sounds like a dubious mash-up concept, it kind of works thanks to the strength of the characters. Frankly, Shaun Dooley is pretty darned awesome as the steely, super-together Calhoun. Yet, Anna Skellern is even more awesome as Marie, the franchise-minded, derringer-packing Miss Kitty. Wearing the black hat, American ringer Corey Johnson is charismatically loathsome and contemptuous as the more stable Norton. Eleanor Matsuura’s Black Deer also nicely provides the film’s required mysticism and defiance of authority.

Blood Moon is definitely a low budget wonder, but it deserves props for its energy and attitude. According to the laws of nature it should be a complete train wreck, but if you enjoy B-movies, this is the sort that will remind you why you developed such idiosyncratic tastes in the first place. Regardless, if you want to see a British werewolf western, Blood Moon is the only game in town, when it hits VOD platforms today (9/1), via Uncork’d Entertainment.