Thursday, September 18, 2014

Track of the Moon Beast (1976)

While the low-budget creature feature Track of the Moon Beast is so idiotic that it was pilloried by the gang at Mystery Science Theater 3000, I must confess that I’m a sucker for pictures that rip off the tragic storyline of The Wolf Man (1941). Furthermore, because Track of the Moon Beast is so shamelessly derivative, it almost makes sense, and coherence is more than one can usually expect from grade-Z ’70s horror. That said, the list of unintentionally hilarious things in Track of the Moon Beast is lengthy. First and foremost, there’s the origin story of the titular monster. While sitting under the night sky in the Southwest one evening with his new girlfriend, mineral specialist Paul Carlson (Chase Cordell) gets hit in the head by a falling meteorite. Part of the object gets stuck in his head and starts to deteriorate. This makes him radioactive (or something), so his DNA fuses with that of his giant pet lizard, and whenever the moon comes out, Paul turns into what another character repeatedly calls a “demon lizard monster.” And since the story is set in the Southwest, there’s a Native American angle—replacing the gypsy angle in The Wolf Man—so Paul’s Navajo buddy conveniently explains an ancient Indian myth that predicted the appearance of the “demon lizard monster.” Amid this silliness, Paul creates bloody mayhem while in his critter guise, slashing people to death and ripping limbs off unsuspecting victims. Director Richard Ashe demonstrates basic competence at designing shots, but he’s hopeless with actors, so the performances in Track of the Moon Beast range from embarrassing to nonexistent. Cordell and his leading lady, Leigh Drake, are completely wooden, while Gregorio Sala, as the Navajo sidekick, delivers lines with cartoonish intensity. Speaking of cartoons, Track of the Moon Beast was cowritten by comic-book legend Bill Finger, who co-created Batman with writer Bob Kane.

Track of the Moon Beast: LAME


Unknown said...

Finger also co-wrote the supreme hoot that is "The Green Slime" -- but that had already come out in 1968.

Unknown said...

This was a staple of local TV WWOR channel 9 here in NYC back in the 70s

Unknown said...

Bad film, but ya gotta love the song "California Lady."