REVIEW: High Moon

STARRING: Chad Michael Collins, Chelsea Edmundson, Matthew Tompkins, Tom Zembrod, James Wlcek and Sean Patrick Flanery

DIRECTED BY: Josh Ridgway

Official Synopsis: Colt (Chad Michael Collins)—a gunslinging werewolf slayer from the old west—mysteriously rises from the grave, only to find that the band of werewolves that brutally murdered his wife are still running rampant generations later. Aided by a beautiful widow (Chelsea Edmundson), a skeptical town sheriff (Matthew Thompkins) and a corrupt Mayor (Sean Patrick Flanery), Colt must face off with the bloodthirsty creatures once again to save a sleepy southern town from destruction.

THE REVIEW: I have been making a lot of noise about the recent crop of action films that have been ringing that old school throwback vibe and have been praising the filmmakers for bringing the things that we love about older films back into the fray nowadays. In keeping wit that theme, I give you the bloody and campy action-horror hybrid High Moon from director Josh Ridgway who also helmed the post apacolyptic film The Sector. During the film’s initial marketing campaign, it was made vocal that this film, which wass formerly called Howlers, was made in the mold of the great John nCarpenter films of the 80’s. This couldn’t be any more true and viewers get that sense as soon as the film opens with the great music also generating that nostalgic buzz.

Chad Michael Collins, who has been great as Brandon Beckett in the Sniper franchise, takes on a new and different role here as James Franklin Colt, Jr. Colt is a Old West gunslinger with a twist…he is also a werewolf slayer and he’s hot on the trail of a pack of outlaws who are more deadly than usual and who is responsible for the death of his wife. They are led by the ruthless Willie Prince (Zembrod) and during a full moon lit showdown in the dusty streets of 1863 Canyon Creek, he finishes his mission of vengeance and slaughters all of the pack in a hail of bullets, crossbows and axes.

It tuns out that a mysterious Asian warrior from another dimension had given Colt the skills and tools that he would need to complete his mission and when he was done, the warrior put him to rest. Unfortunately for Colt. he wakes up 100 years later and finds out that things are really differnt like the town now being called Temple Wells and the same outlaws are back too to wreak havoc on the same town which is now known as Temple Wells. Together with Lucy Andrews (Edmndson), the woman who found him and a small town sheriff named Ethan Hardy (Tompkins), Colt is going to finish what he started all those years ago and that’s send this pack of demoic killers back to the hell they deserve.

As soon as you start watching this film, you know what you’re getting and that is a blood soaked and body mnangled love letter to all those wonderful and violent movies of the past. High Moon starts off with a bang and with a brisk running time of 90 or so minutes, it’s never dull with Colt dispensing some sort of retribution every so often, Collins is perfect for this role which is a cross between Chuck Norris and Clint Eastwood and he plays the part with a slightly serious nod to those great actors while at the same time leaving tongue firmly in cheek. Collins, who mowed down dozens after dozens of bad guys in the Sniper films with a lot being from far distances, now gets to fight the enemy head on and gets to brandish some very lethal close quarters combt skills too.Fans are used to seeing the star with a large caliber sniper rifle but here, he gets to use a variety of weapoms including his hands, feet, crossbows, six shooters and above all axes. If Collins isn’t careful, he might just have another franchise character here just like Beckett.

The rest of the cast is great as well with Matthew Tompkins playing the role of Sheriff Ethan Hardy. Tompkins who has also been in Sicario has actually starred in a host of Walker: Texas Ranger episodes as well so it is nice to see him in a film that pays homage to those types of shows and movies. Chelsea Edmundson is stellar as the grieving widow Lucy who turns out to be way more than just your usual damsel in distress as she gets in on the fun along with the rest. Tom Zembrod is just menacing and slimy enough as the film’s main baddie Willie Prince and audiences will have no problem seeing him get what’s coming to him. On a side note, it was awesome to to see James Wlcek co-star as Deputy Grant. Wlcek is a favorite of mine and I loved his performance as Tent Malloy in Walker and Sons Of Thunder back in the 90’s. My only complaint is that he didn’t get to dish out some of the moves that he did on those shows but it still was wonderful to see him again. It was great when one of his co-stars referenced Chuck Norris to him though and fans who know his history with Norris and Walker will smile. I know I did.

Sean Patrick Flanery also co-stars in the film and even though he isn’t in the film a lot, he still makes the best of the scenes he is in and even though his character of Mayor Bob Barlow is really, and I mean REALLY, unlikable, he still knocks it out of the park and brings his usual flair and gravitas to the role. He brings any movie he is in up a notch every time.

I loved the whole fish out of water aspect to the movie as well, with Colt waking up in the present day. We get the usual jokes about real horses now being replaced by steel horses and Colt not knowing certain things about the new time that he is in like what the hell is a truck. It gives his character a little bit of a sympathetic side to him and it shows the audience that he isn’t just all macho werewlf slayer.

What makes High Moon great is that this is a small, independent picture and with that, it was made by people who love these types of films so you know they poured their heart and souls into it. Director Josh Ridgway keeps things moving and always makes sure you know what kind of picture you’re watching. Ridgway doesn’t bog things down too much with side plot but instead just lets Collins do what he does best and that’s take out the werewolf trash. He also gives Tompking a chance to take center stage as well and I loved iot that he had as much screen time as Collins. It gave the movie more layers.

The action is sprinkled all throughout the film and like I said, Collins gets to show off his unarmed fighting skills a lot. The climax is not a disappointment either as Colt makes his final stand against the remaining werewolves as he attacks with guns blazing. It’s the type of scene where everyone is standing in the open and getting shot because the only thing they care about is gunning down the enemy in front of them. It then culminates into a climatic confrontation with Prince where he gets to use his trademark axes once again. It truly is an Action-Flix Approved moment.

The ending does leave a lot open and I surely hope that we get to see more of Colt just like Beckett in the future. Both these characters sare the same heroic attributes but they also dish out the pain in different ways soi they are a perfect contast to each other at the same time.

To sum it all up, both Josh Ridgway and Chad Michael Collins set out to make a great homage to the films that we love and they succeeded while making their own unique thing at the same time. It certainly has that John Carpenter sheen on it and genre fans, who know what to look for, will definitely enjoy the hell out of it as I did. It’s the perfect blend of action, horror, and campiness and it never makes apologies for what it is. This is the type of film that is perfect viewing for a Saturday night with some ice cold beer and a hot pizza. Chad Michael Collins again delivers a new breed of hero in Colt and we can only hope that we will get to see the Old West gunslinging werewolf slayer again down the road. Job well done boys. Job well done.

VERDICT: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

ACTION-FLIX APPROVED!

HIGH MOON is now available today on DVD and Digital!

OFFICIAL TRAILER

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