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Plenilunio (1993)

Directed by Ricardo Islas
Salt City Home Video VHS

“Plenilunio” means “full moon” in Spanish.

Plenilunio also means a shot-on-video (SOV) werewolf movie that was made in Uruguay.

The first forty minutes of this movie are spent setting up a practical joke that involves a condom being baked in a birthday cake.

The good news is that we get to see the joke in action.

The bad news is that the condom receives more screen time than the werewolf. And once you find out what the werewolf looks like, this news goes from “bad” to “hopeless devastation.” Because the werewolf in Plenilunio resembles a mutated shih tzu that is wearing a suit made out of cotton candy while riding a skateboard.

And that’s all we want to see.

A man in a food truck is mutilated by an unseen force on Friday the 13th. The cops are baffled and everyone is sad. This is probably because the food truck had really good tacos. And now, no one can eat them. Regardless, a group of kids and a cameraman named Roberto discuss the crime at a local cable TV station. One of the kids randomly says, “What if it was a werewolf?!” It should be noted that there is no evidence to suggest that a lycanthrope — or anything supernatural — was behind the murder.

On a side note, I can’t stop thinking about what might have happened if the kid said “Al Roker” or “Gene Simmons” instead of “werewolf.”

For the next forty minutes, we watch people wander through a forest, dance to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” read Fangoria, and discuss the plausibility of a werewolf. One of the girls at the TV station is particularly upset about the murder. So after Isaac, the birthday boy, takes the condom out of his mouth, Roberto sits down with the girl and tries to calm her nerves. He tells her a story about his grandfather, who was viciously attacked by a werewolf and decapitated. At the end of the story, he says: “But as for our werewolf? I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Twenty minutes later, things finally start to happen. The werewolf attacks a group of actors who are rehearsing for a play. We see a middle-aged woman sit on a toilet and pee, but we still don’t see the werewolf. Then the kids discover a vagrant living in the forest. Roberto starts a fist fight with him. After Roberto gets his ass kicked, he finds a stash of VHS tapes in the hobo’s shack. He watches a tape. It contains transformation scenes of the vagrant turning into a werewolf. It also contains instantaneous motion sickness for viewers of Plenilunio.

This movie is Uruguay’s SOV answer to Silver Bullet, but with zero Haim-dawg, no Buse getting loose, and a tedious pace. The only thing that matters in Plenilunio is the werewolf. Because there has never been — and will never be — a homemade beastie that looks as unbelievable as this one. That’s what makes it so frustrating. We’re teased with spilt-second glimpses that promise lysergic bliss, but the drugs never kick in. Director Ricardo Islas is clearly powered by love and passion. And he had grown as a filmmaker since making Crowley and Crowley’s Ashes, his teenage gutter-goth opuses. But all of the thoughtful compositions, spazzoid jump cuts, and juicy gore in the world can’t make up for the fact that WE DON’T GET TO SEE THE WEREWOLF. That’s the only thing we want to do! Constantly! Even when it’s not appropriate, we want that werewolf hanging out, removing people’s lower intestines, eating doughnuts – whatever. It doesn’t matter. As long as we can be in its presence for as long as humanly possible.

Since that’s not an option, we have to be content with seeing a credit that reads “Musica by Beatriz Rossi and Ricadro Islas” while George Harrison’s “Cheer Down” plays in the background.