When I saw the 2001 film Blood Moon on a list of great werewolf movies you’ve never seen, the “TV movie” part threw me, but the fact that the cast included names like Tim Curry, Lesley Ann Warren, and Grace Jones sold me. A Clue reunion and a post-Vamp horror flick for Grace!
When the movie opens with a freak show rolling into a small town on a fall day, I said to my hubby, “I already love the feel of this movie.” He totally spoke my thoughts when he replied, “It’s so Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
But just in atmosphere. This isn’t about an evil freak show. It’s about Tim Curry’s struggling freak show. Tim is so perfectly cast. I was expecting a Jonathan Price act (Price was amazing in Something Wicked) but Tim isn’t a villainous man. He’s a good guy who cares deeply about the freaks in his show.
And that’s because Blood Moon isn’t about a “monster” in the traditional horror film sense. It’s more like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The “normal” people are the heartless freaks while the people you grow to love are those in the freak show. There’s the big woman from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape as the fat lady. There’s Grace Jones as the half-man/half-woman. And there’s the wolf girl.
A group of teens, led by one of the adorable Ashmore twins (half-naked below), sets its sights on tormenting her. But she finds a friend in the local geek they usually abuse. The geek offers to inject her with a hair removal treatment his scientist mother (Lesley Ann Warren) is creating. Little does he know there are going to be violent side effects….
But this isn’t about a wolf girl gone wild. The focus is not on her tearing people apart. Blood Moon is a character driven film. It’s about body image and about what’s on the inside not always matching what’s on the outside. It’s about sexual awakening, sexual orientation, sexual insecurities, and even gender identity. Blood Moon may have been made for Canadian television (perhaps cable?), but there are plenty of major genital shots.
I didn’t see any of this coming, but it’s so fluidly and brilliantly presented in a story that goes beyond being a tale of horror. You get drawn into this emotional film because you care about the characters and are braced for something tragic to happen. But even then, you’ll be totally surprised by the turns that are taken as the wolf girl becomes more and more affected by the injections.
As strong as the film is dramatically, it has a sense of humor as well, most notably in the songs performed during the freak show. Indeed, there are some musical numbers! Who better than Tim Curry to sing a song called “Pluck Her” to the bearded lady? Grace Jones sings two songs relating to gender identity, including one number that comes with a couple of surprise packages!
And a little person stud sings “Just the Right Height for Delight” while doing a strip tease. He was my favorite because it just so happens I have a character very much like him in my novel Rise of the Thing Down Below!
Aside from the musical numbers, the other hints of humor actually come from the group of bullying teens. One of my favorite lines is, “You’re such a feet-in-the-air squealing bottom.” Even when some awful things happen to these baddies, some humorous lines manage to slip their way into the dialogue.
Blood Moon really is a perfectly crafted film if you’re looking for something a little more heartfelt than your standard hairy beast horror. The film was originally titled Wolf Girl and that’s really a much more appropriate name, because the movie is about the female character, not a bloodthirsty werewolf.