Amazon Prime Review – High Moon (AKA Howlers): Mystical Martial Arts Cowboy vs. Werewolf Bikers

I take a look at this strange genre mashup film.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Colt (Chad Michael Collins) is a cowboy from the 1800s who was trained in mystical martial arts… because reasons. He fights werewolves who have taken over an Old West town and successfully beats them, but can’t actually kill the last of them without a mystical weapon that he doesn’t have. So instead, he buries them all and himself, in case the “lycans” get revived. 150 years later or so, that’s exactly what happens. Now, Colt has to try and put them down for good with help from local girl Lucy Andrews (Chelsea Edmundson) and Sheriff Ethan Hardy (Matthew Tompkins), while dealing with corrupt local mayor Bob Barlow (Sean Patrick Flannery). Unfortunately, the wolves now have motorcycles, because why not?

HighMoon - 1Colt
These are the real guns of the Old West!

END SUMMARY

I’m going to have to give this movie a legitimate pro-con evaluation, because that’s just the kind of thing that happens when you have a multi-million dollar budget, two decent actors, and a premise that involves werewolves and a cowboy who wears a tactical vest without sleeves to fight a species whose scratch infects. If you don’t know what that is dumb, please tell me where you keep your supplies so I can claim them after you get zombified.

HighMoon - 2ColtAgain
A duster is actually practical for a werewolf fight.

The Pros: 

Chad Michael Collins and Sean Patrick Flannery are both able to actually hold a scene, even when it’s absolutely ridiculous. Chad Michael Collins has been doing the Sniper movies since Tom Berenger dropped out and, even though they’re direct-to-video, that reflects the fact that he does have the charisma to be the lead in a movie like this. Sean Patrick Flannery’s scenes are, as far as I can remember, in two locations, which suggests to me that he filmed them in a few days. Despite that, he is a very memorable part of the film, playing a complete piece of crap who is still somehow charming.

HighMoon - 3Mayor
I feel like he doesn’t get enough work.

The premise is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds and the movie plays it pretty straight. It’s kind of fun to watch such a weird genre mash-up, as a Western-Horror-Action film, particularly since there are a lot more fight sequences than I would have expected and they’re all… okay. Not great, but only one of them was actually noticeably bad. For this kind of film, that’s above-average.

Also, I appreciate that the movie gets to the point within about 2 minutes. There’s not a ton of exposition or anything at the beginning, just some good old-fashioned werewolf fighting. 

The Cons: 

Most of the acting is bad. I’m saying this as a guy who has watched an absurd number of B-movies and direct-to-DVD films, and this is on a low tier for a film with a budget over five million dollars. Not that the lines they’re given are particularly great, either. Several points of the movie involved me writing the line “English am not good here.” Even for a script with this many absurd scenarios, the dialogue frequently feels forced and awkward.

HighMoon - 4Bikers
These American werewolves are not in London. Or even Paris. 

The movie takes itself a little too seriously. Yes, sometimes it plays around a little bit with the premise, but it usually plays it straight. When you have a movie that tries to make a goofy idea work, like The Shape of Water, you really need a tight script and strong direction, like The Shape of Water. Unfortunately, since it’s taking itself seriously, two things become really obvious: The werewolves are idiots (to the point that another person coined the term “Derpwolves”). At one point a werewolf stands in place for about 3 seconds so that Colt can decapitate them with an axe. It doesn’t help that their special effects are often lacking. One of the werewolves even has a plastic Halloween mask on in some scenes.

HighMoon - 5Wolf
Well, when you only budget for 3 wolves, life can be hard.

Overall, not a great movie, which is sad because the premise could have played out great. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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