Film (1976). Brandon Films/Cinema Shares International Distributors. Produced by Ralph T Desiderio. Directed by Richard Ashe (credited as Dick Ashe). Written by Bill Finger (credited as William Finger), and Charles Sinclair. Makeup by Rick Baker and Joe Blasco. Cast includes Joe Blasco, Chase Cordell (Paul Carlson), Leigh Drake (credited as Donna Leigh Drake), Gregorio Sala and Patrick Wright. 90 minutes, cut to 81 minutes for home video. Colour.
An Asteroid strikes the Moon and sends fragments of the lunar surface hurling into space, some reaching the Earth as meteor. Falling over the southwestern areas of the US, one explodes near a mountaintop where mineralogist Paul Carlson (Cordell), and his newly-introduced girlfriend, photographer Kathy Nolan (Drake) are watching the meteor shower. An impact on the mountain sends a tiny fragment into Paul's skull, lodging in his left frontal lobe; though seemingly having only a slight cut, he soon begins to feel strange. They depart with the meteorite, which Paul plans to keep. Several vicious murders then occur, seemingly committed by a wild beast which leaves behind strange footprints and handprints. Paul's former college Professor John "Johnny Longbow" Salinas (Sala), an anthropologist, has seen similar tracks among fossil examples. He agrees to help the Police Captain McCabe (Wright) with the murder investigation, and realizes during it that a Native American legend along with ancient rock art, tells of a reptilian creature which appeared after a meteorite impact. This creature is shown eventually burning up from some sort of energy release. After Paul grows increasingly ill, Salinas and Kathy take him to the hospital where the tiny fragment is revealed to be imbedded in his brain. Held that night in a cell designed for violent patients that night, Paul Shapeshifts again into reptilian form as the Moon Beast (Blasco). He is – unrealistically, given the creature's huge strength – unable to break free. There is a plan to remove the fragment, but by the time brain surgeons arrive it is too late: the fragment has dissolved into Paul's bloodstream. The radiation from it will eventually cause Paul to burn up like the creature in the legend. Running away from the hospital, Paul first contemplates suicide & trying to buy a shotgun – but flees when a radio news report describes him as a fugitive. Returning to the mountainside where the meteorite struck him, Paul intends to leap to his death before the moon rises again, but is delayed by Kathy's arrival. Desperate to save him, she becomes stuck on the rocky mountainside herself as night falls, attempting to climb after Paul. Transforming again, the Moon Beast is able to force itself to spare her, but kills two policemen as Salinas and Captain McCabe arrive. The Monster is unaffected by gunfire, but Salinas has made an arrowhead from the lunar meteorite Paul allowed him to take for tests, and uses it to shoot the creature. This provides enough energy to make it burn itself to ashes within roughly one minute at the conclusion.
This minor Horror in SF film, an attempt at a scientific twist on the Werewolf legend, is of some interest as an early credit for makeup master Rick Baker, and may be the first feature film to discuss collision fragments from the Moon reaching Earth – something not confirmed until the 1980s. Finger had previously contributed to the original story for the sf film The Green Slime (1968), turning to screenwriting after years scripting Comics. This was his last film: he died in 1974. [GFi]
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