BLOOD MOON (2014): This Horror/Western Hybrid is for the Dogs

Blood Moon is now available on DVD from Entertainment One.

Two beloved genres melded together should result in a movie twice as good, or so we wish. The amalgamation of horror and western seems to be a failed concept. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between and the new to DVD movie Blood Moon is not the exception. It joins the dubious ranks of such cinematic masterworks as Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (both 1966) without a hint of irony.

A cheap, sloppy, and worst of all dull excursion into genre melding, this is a werewolf tale crossed with a gunslinger story. Blood Moon is purely amateur hour and a half. The script by Alan Wrightman is tedious, with hideous dialogue. Toby Pitman’s country music score is a terrible cliché, and the acting is purely community theatre level. The fact that Blood Moon features some good cinematography, courtesy of Jono Smith, is almost bizarrely out of place in an otherwise uniformly bad production.

A stagecoach of five travelers find themselves held up in a deserted mining town where a pair of outlaw brothers (Raffaello Degruttola and Corey Johnson) take them hostage. One of the travelers happens to be Calhoun (Shaun Dooley), the silent gunslinger who plans to take down the brothers. Their problems, however, are just beginning as an unseen “monster” stalks them from the outside. While a local lawman (George Blagden) and an Indian tracker (Eleanor Matsuura) are on the trail of the outlaw brothers and maybe closer to the unseen enemy, a “skinwalker” from Native American myth.

Blood Moon is a British production, because the United States doesn’t produce many westerns any longer. But if you are hoping for a European sensibility to seep through, a la “spaghetti” western, you will be amongst those let down by this movie. It is purely a straight-to-DVD wanna-be “movie” that does it’s best to mimic American westerns, but fails at every turn.

The single setting reminds one of Howard Hawks’ classic western Rio Brravo (1959), and maybe to an extent the Hawks-produced horror movie The Thing From Another World (1951). If you are going to steal, borrow or homage, take from the best. True, but I’m not so sure that it is a wise idea to invoke a much better movie that you could never hope to match.

The cast, mostly British adopting bad American southern accents, doesn’t make things any easier to take, as they are just terrible, a fantastic story like this is already difficult enough to believe without a cast that is unable to sell it. The creature effects are alright, but nothing special, probably fairly good for such a low budget, non-professional endeavor. At least at 90 minutes the movie is short, but don’t mistake that for meaning fast paced.

Blood Moon is the worst sort of B-movie, one with little ambition beyond making a quick buck. And like any good outlaw, the goal is to get out of town before anyone notices. I truly hope that this is not indicative of low budget movies today, but I am afraid that it is. Regardless, it just seems some genres shouldn’t be touched by the amateur hand, and the western is one of them. I have seen a few low budget westerns that are made for DVD and can safely say that the B-western is a lost art form.

Horror fans are a loyal and enthusiastic bunch. The funny thing is western fans are too, they are just a bit more toned down and further incognito. The two groups of film fans love their movies, but they demand quality and creativity in their movies. So it is sad that so many movies in both genres let their fans down, and this pursuit of melding the two genres will almost certainly let both audiences down.

SPECIAL FEATURES

* 49 MINUTES OF BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEOS
* CAST & CREW INTERVIEWS
* AUDIO COMMENTARY

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the author

Shawn Gordon is an avid movie watcher since having his fragile little mind warped by seeing John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China" and "Highlander" as a drive-in double feature at the age of 6. He is critic and historian, formerly a staff writer for Movie Zone Magazine, a print and online bi-monthly publication. He also writes for expendablespremiere.com and has written for horror.com, best-horrormovies.com, midnightplace.com and the print magazines MULTITUDE OF MOVIES and WE BELONG DEAD. He deeply believes that "Once Upon a Time in the West" is the greatest movie ever made.