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TV Terror Guide: Deathmoon (1978)


For a simple werewolf movie, no more, no less, Deathmoon (1978) has a little going for it for classic horror fans, but very little for anyone else. Overall, it’s dull and uneventful. However, it features a good old-fashioned monster that transforms in front of our eyes, stumbles around slowly, and remains fully clothed at all times.

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When Jason Palmer (Robert Foxworth) is troubled by nightmares, his doctor writes him a prescription that literally reads, “Take a vacation.” Drawn to Hawaii for some reason, he arrives at the same time a series of brutal murders begins. Simultaneously, Rick Bladen (Joe Penny), who works for hotel security, investigates a string of guest robberies.

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Of course, Jason falls for travelling businesswoman Diane May (Barbara Trentha), placing her in danger when the murder victims are all pretty, young women. She’s so preoccupied by work that she barely notices every night when the full moon rises, and Jason gets twitchy. Yes, every night… that’s part of the suspension of disbelief in a horror movie.

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The two disparate plots cleverly converge when the first male murdered is the burglar, and the perpetrator didn’t take the jewels he was carrying. With evidence of “dog hair” and a visit to Tapulua (France Nuyen), Rick is a believer. However, the “real” detective, Lt. Cort (Dolph Sweet), literally laughs at his story about a werewolf and leaves the room.

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The conclusion is an extended chase scene into the cave where (SPOILER!) Jason’s ancestor originally inherited the werewolf curse. Werewolf runs, is followed by Rick, and is followed by Diane, who ignores Rick’s clear instructions to stay where she was safe. The ending is by the book; I was writing my notes about it before it happened. There is a nice twist; but, alas, no sequel.

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Foxwoth is low-key and befuddled most of the time; even his werewolf seems groggy. Penny steals the show with his charisma… and body. He runs on the beach in only his shorts and is gratuitously seen doing shirtless one-armed push-ups. Speaking of shorts, it’s the 70’s, and Speedos were common. Foxworth suffers most due to this unfortunate circumstance.

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Director Bruce Kessler gave us the 6-star classic, Cruise into Terror, a few months earlier. Writer George Schenck gave us the similar 1972 classic, Superbeast. It’s composer Paul Chihara (The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, Night Cries) who wins the most points, though, with his dramatically lurid score promising more than the movie delivers.

Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch Deathmoon as well as all the great movies from this series.

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