A creepy and unique small-screen ’70s Southern Gothic murder mystery
After Dan Curtis changed launched an American pop culture phenomenon with his dark, Gothic daytime TV series and quasi soap opera DARK SHADOWS in 1966, there was a sudden spike in interest for small screen horror that rolled on strong for over a decade. And while it was Curtis who made the most potent post-Shadows mark with his terrifying and visionary TV terror films like DRACULA, THE NIGHT STALKER, THE NORLISS TAPES and TRILOGY OF TERROR, many other savvy producers also jumped on the spooky bandwagon, delivering gritty, star-studded and serious-in-tone movie-of-the-week shockers that oozed atmosphere, mystery and menace. And while never intended to be high art, seen from the distance of time, the ’70s TV horror movie is a genre entertainment like no other, one that used the same post-code Hollywood approach of showing and exploring darker themes in creative ways without revealing too much and upsetting the sponsors, to elegant effect.
Among those incredible TV-tailored horror gems sits director Daniel Petrie’s MOON OF THE WOLF, a tight and eerie Southern Gothic creeper with an ace cast, a fun and engaging central mystery and compact, crackerjack storytelling. Originally broadcast on ABC on September 26, 1972, the film was repeated ad nauseum on prime time and then, eventually, late night, post-11pm news screenings, the latter which has made it a fan favorite. Long lapsed into the public domain, MOON OF THE WOLF is an easy picture to find and watch (tip: it’s on YouTube and every other free streaming service) and because of its easy accessibility, it’s rarely remembered as a good film, if it’s remembered at all. It certainly needs more love.