Some might think the bottom rung of tricking consumers would be the mockbusters (releasing a film under a similar title as a big theatrical production), but I beg to differ. See, those low-budget tie-ins still deliver something the audience expects (i.e., Jungle Run involves the jungle, animal attacks, and a monster to run away from) and, therefore, can still be charming in a goofy way. But, no, the bottom of the barrel is exploiting real places that are famous. Case in point: the plethora of movies set in or sport the name Amityville.
Stuart Rosenberg’s 1979 Academy Award-nominated The Amityville Horror was such a colossal success upon release that it is still one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time. Since Amityville is a real town in New York, filmmakers will slap its name across a product that has no bearing on the well-known franchise, nor is it based on the same 1977 book or the (allegedly) true story of the Lutz family. And this brings us to Thomas J. Churchill’s cop procedural/werewolf tale The Amityville Moon, which is based in the famous locale solely to get eyes on it. As exploitative as that is, does that mean there’s no merit to the drama-horror hybrid whatsoever?
Alyssa (Alex Rinehart) and her best friend are escaping the St. Matthias House of Rehabilitation, as they saw something too horrifying to describe. As they try to get out of the back window, an unseen entity grabs and kills the friend. The next day, Detective Kimball (Trey McCurley) is assigned the case of tracking down the escaped girls, who are still wards of the state until their time at the halfway home has ended. Unfortunately, talking to Father Peter (David B. Meadows) and Sister Ruth (Tuesday Knight) yields very little information. However, a resident, Mandy (Augie Duke), offers a few clues as to their whereabouts.
“…something scared her enough to run away and illegally buy a gun.”
Kimball catches up with Alyssa, who informs the officer that her friend died at St. Matthias during the escape. While he does not believe her claims of a creature roaming its halls, she does convince the cop that something scared her enough to run away and illegally buy a gun. So what, if anything, are the priests and nuns at St. Matthias hiding? Well, the title is The Amityville Moon, so it’s a werewolf, no mystery there.
While the film ultimately works, there are a number of elements that do not. The movie opens with a black-and-white prologue wherein an unnamed man runs away and shoots at a werewolf. Of course, it is a werewolf, so this man is died and just doesn’t know it yet. This prologue is absolutely unnecessary and needlessly pads out the runtime. It gives the werewolf game away from the jump when it would be much more enjoyable if that reveal happened simultaneously for the audience as it does for one of the resident women at St. Matthias.
Also, by getting rid of the pointless prologue, the next issue would be resolved as well. Mind you, this is a minor problem, but it is laugh-out-loud dumb, so… The title sequence follows the opening, and once the true narrative begins, we are treated to both a “10 Years Later” and “Present Day” location-establishing text. Why? Who the hell knows? One or the other would have sufficed entirely. Both is just awkward and dumb, but also hysterical in all the wrong ways.
"…low-budget tie-ins still deliver something the audience expects..."