It is the weekend and I find myself watching a terrible movie. That’s not just my opinion, as the title of the box set that this movie is in is called “The Best Of The Worst”. Now I remember watching this movie years ago on an episode of MST3K and thinking it was absolutely hysterical. And if the jokes and riffs are that good, then you know that the movie itself could be a train wreck. Now, let’s see just how good, or bad, the original movie is as I watch Track Of The Moon Beast.
The plot: A news report talks about an asteroid, which scientist and astronomers are observing, that is on a collision course with the moon. The next day, mineralogist Paul Carlson heads out to the New Mexico desert to search for some samples when he is surprised by his old teacher Professor Johnny Longbow. Longbow introduces Paul to Budd Keeler and Janet Price, two of his students that are with him on his summer trip, as well as Kathy Nolan, a photojournalist who is doing a study on Native American religious customs. Kathy explains that she saw Paul as they were leaving and it was her idea to play the joke on him so she could photograph his reactions but promises not to publish them and asks his forgiveness. As the group eat lunch, they watch a news report discussing the asteroid’s collision and how the moon debris will enter the Earth’s atmosphere as a meteor shower that night. When Kathy mentions that she would like to get some night shots of the shower, Paul offers to take her out into the desert for a better view and she agrees. As night falls, Paul and Kathy are talking before the meteor shower starts when a meteorite suddenly falls right towards them. Paul quickly throws himself on top of Kathy to shield her as the meteorite grazes his head as it falls. When they stand up, Kathy tends to Paul’s wound for a minute until he notices the meteorite. Paul checks to see if it is cool enough to touch when Kathy remembers she is supposed to cover a N.A.S.A. exhibit in the morning and Paul offers to join her and then take her out to dinner later and she accepts. They next day, they head to the exhibit and Paul is looking at some of the moon rocks when he suddenly feels a sharp pain in his head and falls to his knees, causing Kathy to go check on him. Paul says he is fine and just needs some air but as they go out to a concert after dinner, Paul still seems to be feeling bad and so Kathy and Longbow, who was at the concert with them, take Paul home. Kathy doesn’t like the idea of leaving Paul home by himself but Longbow says that he is used to doing things on his own and if Paul calls him, he will call her to go check on him. That night, Paul starts thrashing about in his bed before he gets up and heads to the window to stare out at the moon. Elsewhere, Sid Harris has stumbled home drunk from the bowling alley only to find himself locked out of the house, with his wife Caroline telling him he can sleep outside. Suddenly, Sid is attacked by something and when Caroline goes to see what is happening, she screams and drops dead to the ground. The next day, Police Captain McCabe has Longbow brought out to the Harris house to help him try and figure out what happened. After showing Longbow Sid’s body, McCabe shows him a massive hand print on the wall and a strange footprint on the ground close by. Longbow says he saw prints like that in the paleontology department and suggests they go there for answers and the department head says that the cast looks reptilian but closer to a Tyrannosaurus than any other species of known lizard. Meanwhile, Kathy goes to Paul’s house to check on him and fix him some breakfast and is shocked to find Ty, Paul’s monitor lizard, is missing and the cage appears to be busted open. Later, Paul and Kathy are at the reservation so Kathy can take some pictures of some kids doing archery practice when Longbow shows up. Paul convinces Longbow to show Kathy how good he is, explaining Longbow is a champion archer that makes his own authentic bow and arrows, but as Paul holds up the targets, he suddenly gets dizzy and passes out. Kathy takes Paul home and refuses to leave him unattended, sleeping on the sofa in case he needs anything, but as during the night, Paul gets restless and ends up walking out of the house while Kathy is asleep. That night, a group of me are camping in the woods when a strange lizard-man attacks them, brutally killing two of them while seriously injuring a third. The next morning, Kathy finds Paul asleep on a chair outside and asks what he is doing and Paul explains that it was too warm in his room for him to sleep. Meanwhile, McCabe talks with Longbow about the attack in the woods and says that the sole survivor is in shock but did mention a lizard-man, leading him to believe the paleontologist might have been right. Longbow heads over to Paul’s house, where Kathy is talking with Budd and Janet outside. Kathy is showing them the pictures she took of the exhibit and Longbow notices a weird light flash in one of them and Kathy says it is in the negatives as well but she can’t explain it. Longbow offers to take the photos to the lab near the hospital to have them checked out as he drops off Paul to get his head x-rayed, thinking he something might have happened when he was injured that is causing his dizzy spells. Longbow heads inside to see Paul and as they are talking, he sees the moon rock and asks Paul if he can borrow it for a few days. At the photo lab, the developer says that he had checked the film himself when he noticed it but the problem wasn’t the camera or the film so he couldn’t explain what happened with the picture. Back at the hospital, Paul and Longbow speak with Dr. Sutton, who shows them Paul’s x-ray and reveals some material has gotten lodged in Paul’s skull and if it doesn’t clear up on it’s own, they will have to remove it surgically. Later, Longbow is speaking with McCabe and shows him slides of some cave drawings, depicting a Native American getting stuck by something from the sky that turns him into a lizard demon, which was impervious to arrows but ended up self combusting on it’s own. Wanting to test his theory, Longbow takes the moon rock he borrowed from Paul to the exhibit and as he approaches the moon rock in the exhibit, a strange tone is heard and Longbow says the rocks are reacting to each other. Longbow and McCabe go to the hospital and talk with Paul and explain their theory and have him placed in an isolated room in case they are correct. That night, the keep tabs on Paul and witness him transforming into the lizard-man and the next morning, when Paul discovers he is strapped to the bed, he realizes that they were correct and he killed all those people. McCabe tells him it wasn’t his fault and Longbow tells him that they are flying specialists in to remove the fragment from his head, which should cure him and return him to normal. As the specialists arrive, another X-Ray is made of Paul’s skull and they learn that the fragment in his head has started to disintegrate, making it impossible to operate on him. When he learns what has happened, Paul asks Kathy to help him escape from the hospital and, after stealing a dirt bike, heads to a nearby gun shop to buy a shotgun but when he hears a police report on him, he leaves instead. Back at the hospital, McCabe gets the news about Paul in the gun shop and tells Longbow and Kathy that he doesn’t think Paul is trying to hurt anyone, but rather kill himself so he doesn’t pose any further threat. As McCabe and Longbow try to figure out where Paul might go, Kathy figures he will go to his special spot, where he took her to watch the meteor shower, and she heads up there alone. Meanwhile, Paul makes his way up the mountain and ends up wrecking and as he recovers, he plans to make his way to the sky lift and throw himself off it as it makes it’s way up the mountain. Kathy finds him and tries to help him but as night falls, he ends up transforming into the lizard man. The police show up and start shooting at him. As McCabe and Longbow arrive, Paul kills two police officers and disappears into the mountains. Kathy pleads with Longbow not to kill Paul but Longbow says he is no longer Paul and pulls out his bow and arrow, with the meteorite fashioned into arrowheads. Kathy goes to leave but as she starts her car, Paul is illuminated in her headlights and as she screams, Longbow shoots him in the chest with an arrow. The arrow reacts with the fragments inside Paul and cause him to combust and as Longbow, Kathy, and McCabe watch, his body is reduced to ash and blows away in the wind.
Wow, this was as bad as I thought it would be. The acting was terrible, with most of the actors just seeming to be overly stiff but Leigh Drake (Kathy) was the worst, as she outwardly displayed almost no emotion during the entire movie, even when the scenes dictated more emotion to be shown. The story was actually interesting and I liked the aspect of the cave drawings showing that this had happened before, kind of giving an explanation for lunar transformations such as Lycanthropy. The special effects and costume design were about as bad as you could expect and really laughable at times. So yes, this movie is fitting to be in this collection and something that deserves to be watched in order to laugh at it.
Rating: 2 out of 5