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Film / Bad Moon

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Man's best friend pitted against man's worst nightmare...

Bad Moon is a 1996 horror film directed by Eric Red and adapted from the novel Thor by Wayne Smith, which tells the story from the point of view of the eponymous family dog.

The story starts off pretty simple; a man named Ted Harrison gets attacked by a werewolf, becomes a werewolf. But then things become a lot more interesting when he moves back home and his sister invites him to stay at her place, along with her son and dog, a German Shepherd named Thor. While there, Ted attempts to fight his curse, but it is a losing battle. Thor, learning about his dangerousness, becomes determined to protect its owners from him.

Bad Moon contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Pre-werewolf bite Ted. In the book, he made his girlfriend Marjorie abandon her career as a photojournalist after they got together, but in the film, they both maintain careers throughout their relationship.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the book, Ted only kills one person as a werewolf, while in the film, he amasses a much larger bodycount. He also provokes Thor to attack him in the film, while Thor does that without being provoked in the book due to realizing that Ted will threaten the family and that killing or badly injuring him is the only way to remove the threat.
    • The salesman never tries to kill Thor in the book.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The movie is based on the novel Thor (no, not that Thor).
  • Adapted Out: In Thor, the novel on which this film is based, Janet and Brett's family included the characters of Tom (Janet's husband and Brett's dad) and Brett's two siblings, all of whom were not included in the movie.
  • Asshole Victim: A con artist Slimeball Snake Oil Salesman named Jerry Mills tries to sue the family for Thor attacking him (after provoking him). Later, he tries to kill Thor for humiliating him, but he gets a visit from werewolf Ted.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed. Janet fires eight shots from a six-shot revolver.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Jerry tries his fall-down artist trick on Janet. . . who's a lawyer, used to be a prosecutor in Chicago where she ate guys like him for breakfast, and is on a first-name basis with the town Sheriff. Guy never stood a chance.
  • Cat Scare: A rare instance of another animal being subjected to this, Thor is investigating the environs of Ted's trailer, sniffing things out, when he (and the audience) are startled by a flock of birds breaking out of the bushes.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • The salesman who tries to fake being attacked by Thor and sue the family leaves in humiliation after his scam is exposed and documented (with a photograph of his unhurt leg and a statement he's forced to sign) in the book. In the film, he comes back for revenge and is killed by the werewolf.
    • Ted kills the werewolf that bites him and kills Marjorie, while the book implies that the beast escaped its encounter with him.
  • Destination Defenestration: The second fight between Thor and Ted ends up with both of them crashing through a window.
  • *Drool* Hello: Happens to the forest ranger before he is killed.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Subverted. At first, Thor is very friendly towards Ted, but then becomes increasingly more wary after he discovers what's left of one of Ted's victims, during one of his transformations, in the woods. He then makes guarding his family his highest priority, especially after watching a transformed Ted, who had handcuffed himself to a tree.
  • Evil Uncle: Ted towards his nephew Brett, especially after choosing the Then Let Me Be Evil route.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We don't see what Thor does to Ted at the end. There's no non-violent way for a dog to Mercy Kill someone, so that's probably for the best.
  • Ironic Echo: Near the beginning of the film, a con man provokes Thor into attacking him, threatening to sue Janet with the intent of scaring her into a payoff (unfortunately for him, Janet's a lawyer who's dealt with many a "flopsy" before). Near the end, Ted provokes Thor into attacking him (since Thor was already extremely wary of the werewolf near his family, it didn't take much). In between, Ted in werewolf form killed the con man when he returned at night to get revenge on Thor, making it look like the German Shepherd has moved from overprotective to dangerous.
  • Kick the Dog: In a literal sense with the dog Thor as well as a figurative sense, it's one thing for Ted to want to protect his secret, but provoking Thor to bite him so that he can get hauled off to the pound and very likely put to sleep and then deciding to urinate on his doghouse in retaliation for peeing on his trailer and to gloat on tying up his canine loose end was rather unnecessarily cruel. This shows how the werewolf curse is causing him to really Slowly Slipping Into Evil and how With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. This being under Ted's own will while not transformed and out of control makes it his true Moral Event Horizoninvoked.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Thor. Fighting a fully-transformed werewolf is a feat worthy of any badass, let alone a common family dog, especially as it's about twice his size.
  • Made of Iron: Thor takes punishment that would kill most humans, let alone a canine. He's injured and recovering by the end, but given he was beaten up by a werewolf, this is hardly that much.
  • Meaningful Name: Thor was a powerful warrior god and defender of humanity, who fought and slew mighty giants with his hammer. The dog Thor here is a loyal and determined defender of his family, and doesn't hesitate to throw himself against a werewolf easily twice his size to protect them, and ultimately wins.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ambiguously. Thor, knowing by now something is strange about Ted, sits outside his Airstream trailer. When Ted starts to leave to go chain himself up in the woods, Thor sitting there staring at him creeps him out. Thor delays Ted for an unspecified amount of time, but the sun is very low (and thus, the moon close to rising) when Ted finally heads out to the woods. When Thor gets out a bit later and tracks Ted, the handcuffs are on the ground along with Ted's clothes. It's implied that perhaps Thor delayed Ted too long, so he didn't have time to secure himself before he changed, but not confirmed. This leads to Thor attacking Ted in werewolf form and getting injured, Ted killed the con man who comes back at night for revenge on Thor, creating suspicion that Thor attacked and killed the man, making it all too easy for Ted to play the victim card when he subtly provokes Thor into attacking him.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Thor rummages in Ted's bag, uncovering a pair of handcuffs. Janet teases her little brother about having handcuffs, especially such heavy-duty ones, clearly thinking he's into some Casual Kink. Of course, that's not at all why he has them.
  • Off with His Head!: Ted kills the werewolf which killed Marjorie by blowing its head off with a shotgun.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: According to Ted, it doesn't require a full moon for a werewolf to transform and they'll do it every night when the moon is in the sky. They also don't require silver bullets to kill them and can be harmed by conventional means. When Thor attacks Ted in his werewolf form at the end, he manages to make him bleed. Previously too Ted killed the werewolf who infected him with a normal shotgun. He's also wounded by a revolver while a werewolf.
  • Out with a Bang: Ted's girlfriend Marjorie is taken out of their tent and torn apart while the two were in the middle of having sex.
  • Papa Wolf: You don't touch Thor's family. He will fight to the death to protect his humans, even if you are a giant werewolf.
  • Power of Love: Ted hoped that his love for his sister and her son would have helped him to control his lycanthropy. He was wrong, leading him to resort to Then Let Me Be Evil.
  • Precision F-Strike: "GET THE FUCK OFF MY SON!"
  • Redemption Equals Death: After attacking his family and his fight with Thor whom he tried to get sent to the pound, a badly injured Ted is discovered by Thor in the woods. Ted then begs for Thor to kill him. Which he does.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: A few shots are from Thor's perspective, and the film uses this along with a fisheye lens to convey the dog's perception.
  • Smug Super: After Ted decides to embrace his werewolf curse and even urinate on Thor's doghouse as petty payback for urinating on his trailer.
  • Super Window Jump: Ted crashing into Janet's house when she is reloading her revolver.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Realizing the last resort Power of Love for his family doesn't work, Ted gives in to being both a literal and figurative monster and embraces his curse.
  • They Know Too Much: Ted resorted to doing this to protect his secret by having Thor taken to the pound where he would likely be euthanized and then tried to kill his own family for realizing the truth.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Ted subtly provokes Thor into biting him, let him seem like a victim of the dog's brutal overprotectiveness and Thor like a crazed animal developing a taste for humans.