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TV Terror Guide: Moon of the Wolf (1972)


Air Date: Sept. 26, 1972 (ABC)

Production Companies: Filmways Television

Running Time: 75 min.

Available on: YouTube (Public Domain)

Written by: Alvin Sapinsley

Based on: the novel by Leslie H. Whitten

Directed by: Daniel Petrie

Cast: David Janssen, Barbara Rush, Brandord Dillman, John Beradino, Geoffrey Lewis, Royal Dano

In how many movies with a murder mystery do we complain that nobody really investigates? In Moon of the Wolf, that’s about all anyone does. As Sheriff Aaron Whitaker, David Janssen spends most of the movie looking for clues and interviewing suspects in the death of Ellie Burrifors. However, that’s not what you want to see in a werewolf movie. You want to see the werewolf.

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The story takes place in the bayou of Marsh Island, Louisiana, and this setting is one interesting thing about the movie. There’s a little flavor of the Hatfields and McCoys in rival families that accuse each other of various crimes, but they are both eclipsed by the Rodanthe founding family. However, siblings Andrew (Bradford Dillman) and Louise (Barbara Rush), who drink lemonade on their mansion porch, act more important than they really are.

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When Moon of the Wolf finally switches gears to the monster, things pick up a bit. There’s a hint that this might be a different kind of creature, one that’s suffering from a legitimate medical condition rather than a curse. To be honest, though, I’m not sure if the screenplay by Alvin Sapinsley, from a novel by Les Whitten, commits to the idea. If so, I doubt an old man on his deathbed would see a pentagram on the palm of the next victim.

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A couple of times, the movie could have taken chances. For example, instead of identifying the werewolf as the obvious choice, it could have gone with an alternative. Better yet, the way the climax unfolds, there could have been two of them. Or, the person with the medical condition could have been a red herring. It would be unique if he were killed and then a “real” werewolf appeared. With very few edits, that could have been what happened.

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Here I go, imagining “might have beens.” We have what we have with Moon of the Wolf, and what we have is about as average and lackluster as can be. I may have confused this one with Scream of the Wolf (1974), about which I’ll be writing one day in the future. It’s written by Richard Matheson and directed by Dan Curtis. I expect it to be neither average or lackluster.

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

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