Director: Daniel Petrie
Writer: Alvin Sapinsley
Music: Bernardo Segall
Starring: David Janssen, Barbara Rush, Bradford Dillman, Claudia McNiel, John Beradino, Geoffrey Lewis, and Royal Dano
Favorite Quote: “If he was born in the South maybe he’ll have more respect.”
Oh this is the joy of searching Netflix instant for a horror movie to review everyday. Finding a nugget of horror goodness that I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing before like the made for TV film Moon of the Wolf!
Moon of the Wolf first aired in 1972 on September 26th as the ABC Movie of the Week and it deals with the citizens of Marsh Island, a small Louisiana bayou town, and the mysterious and frightening deaths occurring to their community.
As the film begins we are introduced to Bayou residents Tom Sr.(Dano) and his son as the dogs on their property are going berserk, the two men let the pack of hounds lead them to a shocking discovery. Ellie Burrifors, a local girl from town is found dead, savagely attacked by what looks to be a wild dog or some other beast. The two men call in Sheriff Aaron Whitaker (Janssen) and though he didn’t request it they also inform her brother Lawrence (Lewis) who arrives shortly after the town’s physician, Dr. Druten (Beradino), begins his examination of the deceased. Dr. Druten demands that Ellie be taken to the hospital so he can administer a proper autopsy and after doing so we learn as does Sheriff Whitaker that while there was indeed bite marks upon her body it was a human that killed her, with a left-handed blow to the side of her head that might have killed her immediately.
Sheriff Whitaker pays a visit to those who knew the victim, most of them holding to the belief that it was a pack of wild dogs that are responsible. Whitaker checks in on Lawrence and his bedridden Father, Hugh, to see how they are holding up after such a terrible shock. Hugh mumbles in nonsensical French saying “Loug Garog” over and over. Lawrence is unable to tell Whitaker what it means but informs the lawman that he knows his sister was messing around with someone of “quality”, not someone from the bayou, he even admits that in anger he struck her the night before because she wouldn’t tell him who she was seeing and when Whitaker asks him to demonstrate how forcibly he hit her we learn that Lawrence is left handed.
Whitaker next calls on the Rodanthe plantation, ancestral home of the founders of Marsh Island as Ellie’s corpse was located on a part of their vast properties. As Whitaker drives up to the gatehouse he is greeted by Andrew Rodanthe on horseback, who admits he has already heard of the murder (Trust me, I live in a small town and this stuff happens). Whitaker has a theory that Ellie might have crossed across their property as a shortcut and if Andrew had possibly been outside in the evening and seen anything, and though he doesn’t say anything he harbors a suspicion that Rodanthe was Ellie’s lover. Andrew informs Whitaker that he would not have been able to see anything as during that time he was suffering from an attack of malaria, he was laid low by the shakes until the wee hours of the morning. As the two men are talking we are introduced to Andrew’s sister, Louise (Rush), who has just returned to the plantation after living in New York for many years. We also learn that Louise and Whitaker had crushes on each other during Junior High School but both were too timid and shy to admit their feelings for each other…this doesn’t seem to set Andrew at ease, in fact he seems quite offended at the idea. He tells Whitaker that Louise is back home because she is sick and must not be agitated or excited, she needs peace and quiet to get better.
To make matters worse, Sarah (McNeil), who helps the Burrifors family informs the Sheriff that she knows Lawrence is not only innocent but that Ellie was pregnant at the time of her death. Which confuses Whitaker as to why Dr. Druten hadn’t informed him as to why she was pregnant during the autopsy…to which the Dr. confesses that he was in fact Ellie’s lover and they were meeting that night to discuss what to do about the baby.
Here end the spoilers because anything more and I’ll start to ruin the mystery of the film. This was a treat to say the least, it’s a nicely plotted made for TV film with a strong showing from it’s entire cast. This is certainly the type of TV movie that I hope will be airing come Halloween night, a bit spooky and to be fair, a dash of cheese, but it has the quality of a Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode. So I’m bestowing our first five pumpkins out of five this season to Moon of the Wolf!