‘The rising moon creates a monster’
Track of the Moon Beast is a 1972 American science fiction horror film, directed by Richard Ashe from a screenplay by Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman in 1939) and Charles Sinclair (The Green Slime). It remained unreleased until 1976 and is now in the public domain.
The film stars Chase Cordell, Leigh Drake, Gregorio Sala, Patrick Wright, Francine Kessler, Timothy Wayne Brown, Crawford MacCallum and Jeanne Swain. Makeup artist Joe Blasco (Shivers) played the titular Moon Beast.
It is one of the few horror movies filmed in New Mexico.
Mineralogist Paul Carlson (Chase Cordell) is struck by a lunar meteorite while observing a meteor shower. Lodged in his brain, the meteorite causes him to transform into a strong and vicious lizard demon whenever the moon comes out.
In his lizard form, Paul loses all traces of his human self and goes about killing people at random. While human, Paul is subject to spells of dizziness and nausea, causing his girlfriend Kathy Nolan (Donna Leigh Drake) and friend and former teacher Johnny Longbow (Gregorio Sala) to become concerned.
Eventually it is shown that Paul is the monster, and deduced that the meteorite fragment in his brain is the cause of his transformations. Plans are made to remove it from his skull, but the NASA brain surgeons realize, after another X-ray and Johnny remembering some Native American legends documenting similar phenomena, that the meteorite has disintegrated and will eventually cause Paul to self-combust…
“The acting is universally wooden, the dialogue atrociously written, and the camerawork and other production values are barely competent. In some cases they aren’t even that, such as during the painfully bad time-lapse photography sequence of Paul transforming into the Moon Beast. Or maybe when one changes from a human to a giant, humanoid reptile, an extra set of eyes and a nose appear and disappear as part of the process.” Steve Miller, 150 Movies You Should Die Before You See
“Incredibly, having your hero be a geologist wasn’t boring enough… they had to add a few supporting radiologists to move the story further along. Approximately 15 minutes or so of Track of the Moon Beast’s runtime is spent in an X-ray exam room… […] If you are able to make it through those parts, you’ll be rewarded with terrific action sequences such as digging up ancient pottery…. and engaging dialogue like “His name is Ty. Which is short for Tyrannosaurus.”…. and spectacular scenery such as Albuquerque, N.M.” Cinema Bandits
“Like its contemporaries Octaman, The Milpitas Monster, and Slithis, the New Mexico-lensed Track rehashes monster movie tropes from the 1950s against a backdrop of the eco-conscious but fashion-challenged 1970s. Only, unlike its contemporaries, Track of the Moon Beast sports an excellent musical interlude and a really long scene about making soup.” Brian Albright, The Dead Next Door
“It is not very good and as a horror film, it fails completely for the rubber suit is not all that great, but Track of the Moon Beast still ends up being worth a watch. It is a forgettable one to be sure, but there are films far worse than this and this one is not as bad as many make it out to be.” The Telltale Mind