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BAD MOON - turkey - Mariel Hemingway, Michael Pare, Mason Gamble; written and directed by Eric Red; based on the novel "Thor" by Wayne Smith; R (violence, gore, nudity, sex, profanity, vulgarity); Carmike 12 and Plaza 5400 Theaters; Century 9 Theaters; Cinemark Sandy Movies 9; Cineplex Odeon Crossroads and Holladay Cinemas.

You can guess you're trouble when a film has the word "bad" in the title. But you know you're in trouble when a dog outacts his human co-stars in that movie.

The dog in question is Primo, a 105-pound German Shepherd, who's the only good thing about writer/director Eric Red's "Bad Moon," an unintentionally campy and splattery horror film that actually makes "Stephen King's Thinner" and "Tales From the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood" look scary by comparison.

Red, who tried to remake the horror classic "The Hands of Orlac" with "Body Parts" in 1991, attempts to remake the even more classic "The Wolfman" this time around. But he plays fast-and-loose with werewolf lore, and adds so much over-the-top blood and gore that the only nightmares this turkey inspires will come from movie studio executives.

Michael Pare stars as Ted Harrison, a photojournalist in Nepal, who is bitten by a lycanthrope while in the middle of lovemaking (an opening scene that contains quite a bit of graphic sex and sickeningly gruesome special effects). While the creature shreds his girlfriend, he does manage to kill it with a gunshot to the head. He is definitely a changed man for the experience, however.

Months later, he is welcomed home by his sister, Janet (Mariel Hemingway), and nephew, Brett (Mason Gamble of "Dennis the Menace"), neither of whom knows about the attack. But the family's faithful dog, Thor, is uneasy about the mysterious and unshaven Ted, who takes mysterious midnight jogs and doesn't return until morning.

It turns out that his suspicions are right, as Ted, who turns into an 8-foot-tall man-beast even at just the hint of moonlight, has been ripping apart hikers and loggers. He even manages to rid Janet of a pesky conman who's been threatening to sue her, and pins the crime on the dog, removing that menace to family harmony, but leaving Janet and Brett without protection.

Unfortunately for Red and for audiences, none of this is even remotely scary or suspenseful; it's just disgusting. Worse still, there's a decidedly serious approach to the proceedings.

That's not to say it would have been OK if it had been as blackly humorous as the similarly themed "An American Werewolf in London," though. When Red attempts a couple of "funny" one-liners (as animal-control officers take Thor away, Ted remarks, "There'll be other animals in your life"), they come off as forced.

For the most part, Red's direction is uninspired and lacking in imagination - such as the held-held "doggie-cam" viewpoint that makes the scenery go by in a blur. And two scenes in particular - an eye-to-eye confrontation between Thor and Ted, as well as a dinner scene after Thor is impounded - go on forever (if they weren't in the film, though, it would be an hour long).

Producers seemingly blew their entire budget on the special effects, which are decent. But how much of an impact can they have when the Nepal set looks more like it's located on "Gilligan's Island" than in the Himalayas?

As far as animal actors go, Primo is quite good. He's naturally expressive and hits all his lines. In comparison, Hemingway is ridiculously wooden - when she's not hysterical - while the always awful Pare delivers his lines in a mumbling monotone that would make Sylvester Stallone sound positively comprehensible.

"Bad Moon" is rated R for violence, gore, nudity (including a brief, full-frontal shot of Pare), graphic sex, profanity and vulgarity.