Track of the Moon Beast (1976)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2008-04-23 13:33

Directed by: Richard Ashe
Written by: Bill Finger and Charles Sinclair
Starring: Chase Cordell, Donna Leigh Drake and Gregorio Salsa

Reviewed by: Josh G.

Thereís just something about a good cheesy movie thatís so lovable, you canít turn the other cheek even if you tried your hardest. Then thereís the bad cheesy movies, which turn out even funnier and more of a guilty pleasure than anything else out there in the movie industry. But how far is too far when it comes to badness in movie madness? The 70s brought a heap of exploitation cheapies to the big screens across the many countries. Dirty grindhouses and double feature drive-ins were packed with people looking to be shocked and amused. With Track of the Moon Beast, a film similar to many before and after it, audiences were sure to get their Friday night frights.

Paul (Chase Cordell) and his girlfriend Kathy (Donna Leigh Drake) are watching a meteor shower, when all of a sudden, one of the fragments scratch Paul in the head, and lodge deep into his brain. The couple do not think anything of it though. In the middle of the night, an unseen creature attacks and kills a man. The police notice large footprints, which presumably belong to a giant lizard-like thing. Three more victims are claimed the next day, when middle-aged campers are dispatched: torn to pieces. Kathy finds Paul the following morning out by the pool, and Paul is not sure why he is there. Professor Johnny Longbow starts to make connections between the moon rock and the disappearances, and the situation turns to 400 year old Indian legends. A light supposedly turned a man into a dinosaur creature, and it ended in the creature bursting into flames, destroying itself. Is Paul turning into a dangerous lizard beast, and will the bloody destruction ever be extinguished?

From the beginning, I knew we had something special here. A burning meteor falling from space, looking more like a flaming marshmallow, takes its merry time in traveling closer to the screen. Johnny Longbow tells about how a lizard gave people their five fingers, and how coyotes made us humans mortal. Delivery of lines are terribly awkward and the writing is atrocious. ďMoon Rock! Oh wow.Ē Kathy and Paulís connection to each other is about the only believable acting going on, and that has more to do with chemistry, Iím betting. Janet (Francine Kessler) and Budd (Tim Butler), two students of Longbowís, are the best actors in the movie, and they are average at best, only appearing in a few scenes. There is not a lot of camera work involved, unless youíre talking about the jumpy shots. For the most part, the camera has one angle, and it feels completely cheap. I reckon that is its charm.

Luckily, we do see a moon beast. It has a weird squeaky sound intertwined with a ferocious (?) hiss. Personally, I think that it looks more like a black brontosaurus with teeth, but apparently it is supposed to represent a tyrannosaurus. Speaking of the T-Rex, the cops and Johnny Longbow actually theorize that the killings going on around the area are being committed by a dinosaur! They believe that there is a chance that some archosaur reptile is biding its time in the mountains. I do not think that I have ever come across any authorities that were so open-minded as these. The way that they speak reminds me of those scenes in science fiction films of the 50s. Itís so drawn out and information that is really not necessary just pours out. Almost everyone underacts, but they have mini spurts of overacting that make the whole film look laughable. The country song ďCountry LadyĒ being played over a collage of pointless shots doesnít help Trackís integrity either.

It seems that the director, or whoever it was in charge of this failure, tried to force Paul into wearing his pajamas and shorts (while shirtless) every chance that he or she got. Not that Iím complaining, but give the man a break. Heís probably freezing! The violence isnít anything to rave about. Arms are ripped off and faces are shredded, but there is such a quick cut between that you barely see anything. It seems to have been trimmed, so hopefully an uncut version exists somewhere out in that world. The ending is ridiculous, but it is by far the most entertaining and refreshing part of the presentation. The filmís climax involves bows, arrows, and flashing red lights. Itís a pretty weak tie up of the events though. Itís one of those happy endings that arenít happy at all, once you think about it. Itís funny, itís cheesy, but itís downright embarrassing. The Internet Movie Database have actually had this listed on their Bottom 100 list. Thatís funny, because I also have two other words to associate Track of the Moon Beast with, Ė Trash it!

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