AICN HORROR: Is RED RIDING HOOD putting you in the mood for some GOOD werewolf films? Then Bug's got a quartet of wolfy goodies for you with CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, WEREWOLF SHADOW, THE HOWLING, & DOG SOLDIERS!
Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Why ZOMBIES & SHARKS? Well, those are the two things that I’ve had the most nightmares about. It’s the reason I rarely swim in the ocean. It’s the reason I have an escape plan from my apartment just in case of a zombie apocalypse. Now if you’ve ever had those fears or fears like them, inspired mainly by nights upon nights of watching films of the frightening kind, this is the place for you. So look for AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS every Friday for the foreseeable future, horror hounds, where we’ll be covering horror in all forms; retro, indie, mainstream, old and new.
Well, Hollywood’s churning out another tween-targeted horror film with RED RIDING HOOD this weekend and while my pants tighten for Amanda Seyfried and I always like to watch Gary Oldman gnaw on the scenery, my expectations that RED RIDING HOOD will be anything special are pretty low. Though there have been many, many werewolf flicks through the years, finding a good one is sometimes tough. Werewolves just aren’t held in the same regard as zombies or vampires these days and that’s a damn shame. Seems the 80’s were the hotbed for quality wolfy films with WOLFEN, AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, SILVER BULLET, & A COMPANY OF WOLVES leading the pack of werewolf films made well. I’m sure I’ll be covering those in upcoming columns and more recent films like GINGER SNAPS deserve a shout out too, but I chose a handful of lycan films through the ages worth howling about that I’d seen or revisited recently for you to sink your canines into.
But before we do, I reviewed THE KILLING OF JACOB MARR last week in this column and it turned out to be one hell of a fun slasher film. The makers of the film contacted me to have me tell my readers that they will be at the Monster Mania Horror Convention in Cherry Hill, NJ this weekend and they’ll be selling signed copies of the film there. So if you read the review, were curious about the film, and either live in the Jersey area or want to plan a road trip this weekend, be sure to check it out.
And now lets howl at the moon with some werewolf films! Enjoy!
(Click title to go directly to the feature)
CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)
WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971)
THE HOWLING (1981)
DOG SOLDIERS (2002)
And finally…CLAP FOR THE WOLFMAN!
CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)Directed by Terence Fisher
Written by Anthony Hinds (screenplay), based on the novel THE WEREWOLF OF PARIS by Guy Endore
Starring Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romaine, Clifford Evans, & Katherine Feller
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Sure, Lon Chaney Jr. is known as the king of movie werewolves, but in my dojo, there’s only room for one performance, that of Oliver Reed’s barrel-chested howling beast in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. I love this film above mostly all others because a) it’s Hammer, so you know it’s awesome, b) it tells the werewolf tale in a different story than just having some lonely traveler being bitten by a werewolf, and most importantly c) Oliver Reed’s ferocious performance as the cursed Leon. The combination of these three elements make this the perfect storm when it comes to werewolf movies.
Front and center the standout in this film is Oliver Reed’s Leon. Reed has a ferocity in his stare that few actors have. He looks like he has a monster inside of him waiting to come out and does so in damn near every performance he ever played. Here he literally is allowed to let that beast out to play and it’s one of his best roles. Though he doesn’t show up in this film until later (I’d say the 30 or 40 minute mark), his time on screen is the standout of CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF.
But there are other performances that shine here as well. Yvonne Romaine is one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the House of Hammer and here she plays a peasant girl forced to share a prison cell with a raving lunatic. After being savagely beaten and raped, she is with child. The child grows up to by Reed’s character and the curse of the werewolf is passed down through genetics rather than a bite here. I know rape had been addressed in earlier horror films, but I don’t remember it being handled in such an overt manner as it was in CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. Nevertheless, it is an original take on how the curse is passed from one person to another (one even the recent WOLF MAN with Benicio Del Toro swiped for that remake).
Being Hammer and wanting to distance themselves from Universal monsters, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF’s design for the hairy star is quite different than Chaney’s bulbous wigged version. This werewolf is an imposing bulky beast, not the lithe and gangly animal from Universal’s yarn. Reed’s size and stature makes this werewolf look more like the beast from BEAUTY & THE BEAST crossed with Quasimodo (backed up later in scenes of the monster fleeing from townsfolk to a bell tower). Though they were debatably less successful with their Frankenstein’s Monster redesign, I definitely prefer CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF’s creature over Universal’s WOLF MAN. It’s just more imposing and powerful.
Hammer always does it best for me. I’ve always been a sucker, but this film is tops in my book. I know there were many werewolf films before it, but the savagery of Reed’s performance as Leon, the amazing make-up, the presence of gorgeous Yvonne Romaine, the tweak to the werewolf story, and the full on gothic beauty that accompanies most Hammer films make CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF a tough film to beat. It was the first werewolf film I ever saw and still ranks as one of the best.
WEREWOLF SHADOW (1971)AKA BLOOD MOON, NACHT DER VAMPIRE, SHADOW OF THE WEREWOLF, LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS, WEREWOLF VS VAMPIRE WOMEN, THE WEREWOLF’S SHADOW
Directed by Leon Klimofsky
Written by Paul Naschy & Hans Munkel
Starring Paul Naschy, Gaby Fuchs, Barbara Capell, & Paty Shepard
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though I’ve been reading about him and hearing about him since I was a little kid, it wasn’t until recently that I started to appreciate the coolness that is Paul Naschy. Naschy may not be a huge name to Johnny Movie-goer, but he is looked at as a big deal in the halls of horror and in his home in Spain. Think of him as the Lee Marvin or Charles Bronson of Spanish horror and you might understand the presence Naschy has on camera. He’s a man’s man. The kind of guy who grabs a woman and plants a smooch on them and they don’t seek the authorities. The kind of guy who knocks someone out with a karate chop or a single punch. The kind of guy who can sport a mock turtle neck and still not garner guffaws. Naschy was a sizable presence on film. Muscular and broad, who better to embody the horror of man taken to its most primal corners? I’ve seen two of his Hombre Lobo films so far (FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1972) and WERWOLF SHADOW), but I can’t wait to see more. Naschy made 12 “Waldemar Daninsky” films which featured a man of action cursed by a beast that fights all sorts of monster hunters, occultists, vampires, zombies, and other things that go bump in the night. Sometimes Naschy played the cursed victim; other times he played the snarling villain, and sometimes the noble savage.
I plan on returning to the deep werewolf well of Naschy, but for this column, I’ll focus on one of his earliest and most lauded performances, WEREWOLF SHADOW. With his body cooling in the morgue after his run in with a silver bullet from his previous film, Waldemar Daninsky continues his ferocious killing spree when a mortician removes the silver bullets from the pentagram over his heart, which everyone knows is the mark of the beast. Daninsky soon makes a run for it after carnaging his way through the hospital morgue and two morticians. Daninsky exiles himself to a secluded castle where most of WEREWOLF SHADOW’s action takes place.
The castle Daninsky is residing in has a history with black magic and vampirism. Shrewd horror hounds will notice similarities to Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY as a vampire is resurrected after a cross of silver is taken from her corpse and as it always happens, a virginal cutie cuts her hand on the cross and drips blood into the decayed corpse’s mouth. This awakens a she-vampire who stalks and seduces a pair of women who Daninsky has brought to his home (told you Naschy had a way with the ladies) in true vampire fashion. With the local authorities closing in on Daninsky in hiding and the she-vamp seducing his women, it doesn’t seem like the hairy guy can get a break.
In this film, Naschy definitely plays the cursed soul. His Daninsky is trying to connect with others, but wary of doing so in fear of wolfing out on them. The highlights of this film (and FURY OF THE WOLFMAN, which in my opinion is not as good, but it does feature Naschy lashing out much more savagely as a more central figure to the story) are the scenes of Naschy as the werewolf. Naschy goes all out as the nimble footed, bug eyed, stringy haired beast. Though crude compared to the computer generated morphs of today, with some slow fades and creative cuts by director Leon Klimofsky, between hair applications they prove to be pretty effective. Seeing Naschy lash out toward the camera is indeed a fearful sight with the whites of his teeth and eyes surrounded by black shadows and fur.
The scenes with the vampiress are very haunting as well. She wears this dark veil and with the combination of the dramatic music and some well done slo mo, the scenes of the toothy temptress prove to be scarier than the camp I was expecting. This film wasn’t afraid to dole out the blood and boobage either, making this a somewhat more erotic and visceral feeling film than FURY OF THE WOLFMAN. WEREWOLF SHADOW seems to fall smack dab in between the bright red bloody horror of Hammer in the sixties/seventies and the more visceral tone of Italian horror films of the seventies.
Both Naschy’s 5th Hombre Lobo film (FURY OF THE WOLFMAN) and the focus of this review (which falls into the 4th spot) are products of their age with a lot of choppy editing, mismatched music, and somewhat amateur camerawork, but the appeal lies in Naschy’s conviction as the werewolf. Even without the makeup Naschy is a powerful presence. Here, mixed with a pair of nubile ladies, a zombie monk, a loony housekeeper, and a vampire seductress, Naschy shines as one of the best werewolves ever to howl on the silver screen. I can’t wait to check out more of Naschy’s horror outings in future columns.
THE HOWLING (1981)Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Gary Brandner (based on his novel), John Sayles (screenplay), Terence H. Winkless (screenplay)
Starring Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Belaski, John Carradine, Dick Miller, Slim Pickens, & Elisabeth Brooks
Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
It’s debatable, but THE HOWLING is probably the best werewolf film ever made. I say this, knowing that there will be others who will tout WOLFEN or SILVER BULLET or AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON as such. And on some days, I agree that all of those are damn fine werewolf films. But THE HOLWING almost gets it all right, in my book.
I say this after rewatching THE HOWLING for this column and realizing that director Joe Dante seems to be taking this deadly serious one minute, then switching gears and winking to the camera the next. How he can follow an ending so powerful as Dee Wallace wolfs out on camera for the world to see and then follow with an actor winking to the camera and saying a bad pun is beyond me. It’s one of those last moments in a film that almost ruins the entire experience. There are quite a few of these moments in THE HOWLING where some moment of ultra heft is torn asunder by a quirky coincidence that Universal’s WOLF MAN or Loony Toons’ THREE LITTLE PIGS is playing on the television as a real werewolf is attacking someone. It’s almost as if Dante didn’t have the courage to make a serious examination of man’s more primal side, so every time there’s a moment of real fear or depth involving this fascinating theme, he guffaws and reminds the audience that this is just a movie. To me, that proved to be the sole frustrating aspect of this otherwise awesome werewolf film.
I mean, John freakin’ Sayles wrote the screenplay of this one. I’m sure the dingy themes of animalistic sex and violence and man’s psychologically darker side come from his input. Having this film start out as a reporter (Karen White played to perfection by Dee Wallace) confronts her stalker in one of the worst stakeouts ever performed by an inept policeman is some pretty heavy stuff. She meets this heavy breathing stalker in a porn shop back room with a rape movie playing on the screen. This is a grimy scene of absolute abandonment of everything that makes us human played out to perfection. Dante’s camera doesn’t blink as the stalker forces the stalkee to watch this deplorable act on screen, then loses control himself and begins to turn into something monstrous. Upon watching this scene again, I realized that had Dante wanted to go there, he could have really made a film dissecting the animalistic side of humanity and how it’s in all of us.
And for the most part, he does that. There’s a psychologist spouting psychobabble: “repression is the father of neurosis…self hatred.” are the first words of THE HOWLING, followed by the psychologist’s suggestion that Karen take in some nature and go to a retreat called “The Colony.” There they meet quirky and wholesome characters alike, but things start to dog-eared pretty quickly and soon Karen’s husband is scrogging a nymphomaniac she-wolf (played by Elisabeth Brooks) by the fire and the supposedly deceased stalker who she confronts in the beginning shows up for round two.
Though I was disappointed that the heft was lightened most of the time, this is a fantastic film nevertheless. There are a lot of fun little cameos in this film, too. Slim Pickens plays the backwoods sheriff who spits tobaccy, eats beans from a can, and sings out heeds and warnins’ and no-never-minds to the city-folk. John Carradine is a suicidal local old timer. Dick Miller shows up as an occult shop owner who serves as Mr. Exposition and explains the rules of lycanthropy--but it’s Miller delivering his usual gruff charm, so despite the heavy handed way of explaining these rules, it’s still fun to watch.
The effects in THE HOWLING are wholly unique. One of the old werewolf film standbys is the transformation sequence. It’s the point of the film where everything narrative skids to a halt and everyone (screaming woman witness included) stops everything to wonder at the special effects the FX wizard came up with to make this transformation unique from all others. I have to say, the transformation scene in THE HOWLING is impressive. Rob Bottin did a fantastic job of making the central transformation piece unique with clothes ripping, craniums de-and reforming, muscles quivering and expanding. As a spectacle and an example of what your FX team can do, it is a marvel to behold. But as a point in the narrative, it’s excessive and does get a bit ridiculous as Dee Wallace stares and stares and screams and quivers and stares and screams and stares as this vivid and detailed transformation happens over the span of two or three minutes. Not until the very end of the transformation does she act by tossing a jar of acid into the werewolf’s face. I would have beat feet at convulsion one. Later, everyone begins this transformation as the hero easily picks them off with a rifle. Apparently, aside from and allergy to silver bullets, werewolves tend to have these epileptic spasms prior to transformation which puts them in a ridiculously vulnerable spot, and allows the intended pray to a) run off, b) blow you away with a gun, or c) stand and stare like a deer in the headlights. In most werewolf films, c is the most popular option which to me is beyond annoying.
Dee Wallace really deserves credit for shooting for the moon with this role as the lead. She has a wholesomeness that mixes strength with vulnerability that stays consistent throughout the film. Though after everyone knows werewolves exist, it sort of turns into an INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS/FREAKS ”one of us” typical scenario where everyone seems to be a werewolf, Wallace is the constant that brings a quality of acting to the role that I don’t think many others could have done.
I know I spent a lot of time talking about what annoys me with THE HOWLING, but I guess you’re hardest on the ones you love. There are moments where THE HOWLING teeters on the brink of awesome and debates whether or not it wants to dive in to the well of poignancy regarding a dissection of what separates man from beast, but just at the last minute, it decides to wink at the camera and say “It’s only a moobie” instead. Because of that, THE HOWLING is a classic that I love with all my heart, but frustrates me at the same time.
DOG SOLDIERS (2002)Directed by Neil Marshall
Written by Neil Marshall
Starring Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham, Emma Cleasby, Retro-reviewed by Ambush Bug
I’d heard good things about DOG SOLDIERS, but had never seen the film until recently. These days, a good werewolf film is hard to find. Either Hollywood is too busy giving zombies and vampires the spotlight to share it with werewolves or folks just aren’t interested in making films about man’s bestial side (the most common theme of these lycanthropy films). The standbys of werewolf films such as the mark of Satan (always a popular theme those Middle Americans eat up), the transformation spectacle (something, as I said before in THE HOWLING review, that skids the narrative to a halt), and the fear of telling a different take on the werewolf story other than the tried and true WOLF MAN tale may have led folks to believe that the genre of horror was stale and stuck in a rut in recent years. Then again, all it takes is a director with real talent to breathe new life into the genre.
Having seen and really liked both DOOMSDAY and especially THE DESCENT, Neil Marshall is a director that raises my antennae when I hear his name. Had I realized he directed DOG SOLDIERS, I may have sought it out sooner. But it did make for a fun surprise. Marshall mixes true military grit with a horrific menace. DOG SOLDIERS is most like ALIENS in that it is a military film that happens to wander into the horror genre midway. I think too many horror films try to be something else, but I think that’s going at it backwards. Marshall sets out to make a war film, then injects werewolves onto the battlefield. By doing this, the audience is thrown for a loop because aside from a little teaser of a monster in a tent at the beginning of this one, for the first half hour or so, this is a straight up army movie. Soon you are so caught up in the badass war games this squad of cool soldiers are playing that you forget that this is a horror film. When the werewolves do arrive, you as the viewer are as surprised as they are.
DOG SOLDIERS is filled with English actors who you’ve seen a million times in a million different movies. They may not be huge names, but you will recognize them by their faces. Sean Pertwee who has shown up in such films as SOLDIER, EVENT HORIZON, and DOOMSDAY stars as Sgt. Harry G. Wells (the leader of the troop) and does a great job as the gruff commander of the unit. Kevin McKidd, who is best known by me as Lucius Vorenus on ROME, but others may recognize him from TV’s JOURNEYMAN and GREY’S ANATOMY, plays Pvt. Cooper, a moralistic soldier who functions as our hero. Liam Cunningham plays Captain Ryan (a heartless special forces operative worthy of booing for his snivelly performance), but you might recognize him from CLASH OF THE TITANS or THE ESCAPIST or maybe even A LITTLE PRINCESS. All of these actors and the ones I didn’t mention are talented and up the film up a notch or two with their presence.
The werewolves here are pretty unconventional. They look like lighter furred or maybe even bald versions of THE HOWLING lycans with long snouts and even longer stilted legs. Marshall doesn’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on them and preferred to make quick cuts and shadowy frames when they were on camera for most of the film. This suggests that the FX didn’t really look too good, but then again Marshall’s quick cuts to amp up the tension and when the camera does linger, they don’t look half bad. Maybe the faces are a bit robotic and stiff and the stilts the werewolves walk on are a bit awkward, but they do make them imposing giant beasts and credit should be given to Marshall and Image FX for going the conventional route rather than CGI. Seeing shadows and forms speed past the camera is definitely more jarring and there’s a lot of it here. The budget of DOG SOLDIERS probably wasn’t immense, so this is a director creatively using his limitations to his benefit. Filmmakers could learn from this: the less we see of the werewolves, the scarier and more threatening they become. Making the cast interesting makes the scenes without the werewolves digestible too.
All in all, if you’re looking for a modern werewolf movie worth seeing that wasn’t made in the eighties, DOG SOLDIERS leads the pack. With fine acting, the debut of a talented director, ballsy to the wallsy action, and fresh twists on an old genre, DOG SOLDIERS proves that there’s still promise for an oft neglected subgenre. I’m hoping to be surprised with RED RIDING HOOD because it means more filmmakers will be tempted to make werewolf films. I’ll be seeing it this weekend probably. But if I’m disappointed, I’ll always have DOG SOLDIERS and the other films in this column to remind me how these films can be done right.
And finally, you can’t have a werewolf column without mentioning the Wolfman…Wolfman Jack that is. Enjoy!
See ya, next week, folks!
Find more AICN HORROR including an archive of previous columns on AICN Horror’s Facebook page!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics (click on the names to purchase)!
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Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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March 11, 2011, 10:57 a.m. CST
Anyone else miss how cool 80's horror movie posters were?
March 11, 2011, 11:06 a.m. CST
I still have to work on my werewolf movie review book. Werewolves FTW!
March 11, 2011, 11:25 a.m. CST
In 6th grade, my best friend and I (both horror fanatics) caught "Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf" on HBO. It's my earliest recollection of laughing uncontrollably at at something so "bad" it was "great." All these years later, having watched just about every werewolf film I could get my hands on (most of them complete shit), I have a renewed appreciation for this bizarro gem from director/alien-aficionado/weirdo Philippe Mora. I highly recommend it and keep the DVD in my office at work. Oh, and great column as usual.
March 11, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST
i love Dog Soldiers, The Howling, American Werewolf, and especially Ginger Snaps. I would also highly recommend the British series Being Human (NOT the American remake). It's a really solid character drama with fantastic Rick Baker-esque transformation scenes.
March 11, 2011, 11:45 a.m. CST
by The Reluctant Austinite
I love your collum and agree with everything you said. The werewolf subgenre is a favorite of mine. While toiling away at Wild & Woolly Video in Louisville, I started the infamous Werewolf Section. I've been a big Paul Naschy fan for years. I've got copies of even one of his most obscure films, "The Beast and the Magic Sword," which PAUL SENT ME HIMSELF FROM HIS OWN VHS COPY burnt to DVD. After "Werewolf Shadow", his best Waldemar Daninsky film is certainly "The Night of the Werewolf" (title on the great BCI DVD) also known as "The Return of the Werewolf" in Spain and "The Craving" on VHS. The story is pretty much a copy of "Werewolf Shadow" but the glossy production is the best looking film he ever worked on and the gothic atmosphere is as thick as pea soup. I'd love to see a good copy of "Werewolf VS the Yeti"! Some other under rated werewolf films are "Bad Moon" with a fantastic Steve Johnson werewolf,Full Eclipse" which combines John Woo style action and an X-Men type of concept about a pack of werewolf cops and the fun FOX "Werewolf" TV series from the late 1980s.
March 11, 2011, 11:47 a.m. CST
by Bully Boy
Not English, Scottish.
March 11, 2011, 11:49 a.m. CST
by Bully Boy
Not English, Irish.
March 11, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST
by Quake II
Dog Soldiers is probably 4th on my list. Werewolf films are MUCH harder to pull off than zombie or vampire movies. I think they require more suspension of disbelief as you're dealing with a full physical transformation as opposed to fangs or rotting skin. I'm hoping the greatest werewolf film has yet to be made.
March 11, 2011, 11:58 a.m. CST
by Quake II
The "changes" made on AICN are still baffling me. Let me try to symbol again.... >
March 11, 2011, 12:01 p.m. CST
by Johnny Wishbone
... is the only reason American Werewolf In London makes the top of my Werewolf movie list.
March 11, 2011, 12:01 p.m. CST
Saw it the other night, what a waste of money and the actor's time.
March 11, 2011, 12:48 p.m. CST
It's a Yorkshire Terrier!
March 11, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST
Mark, LOVE THIS COLUMN! I feel like the best werewolf film has yet to be made. A Werewolf is a fun monster, but the story just hasn't been cracked yet. I liked almost all of these films mentioned, but even my favorites pale in comparison to my favorite vampire and zombie films. Here's hoping Simon Beaufoy can write a great script off the Sharp Teeth book and then convince Danny Boyle to direct it. Thanks for not mentioning Cursed or Big Bad Wolf. Ryan
March 11, 2011, 1:44 p.m. CST
Mark, I think we're ready for a killer croc column whenever you are.
March 11, 2011, 2:07 p.m. CST
But I actually liked the second one too.
March 11, 2011, 2:14 p.m. CST
...and it may be the first film that really involves splatter. Don't really know, but(SPOILER) at the end, when Reed is shot, the blood splatters out of his chest, really pretty graphic for the time. I have a werewolf script that I've been trying to market forver, it's more of a werewolf epic, takes cliches and turns them on their ear. Don't know if it will ever get made, but after working it over through several versions, I finally got it where I want it and am pretty proud of it. At least the movie exists in my mind(and on page). If I have really any problem with werewolf films, it's that too often, we get the whiney hero/lycanthrope victim. Especially Chaney's sequels where all he wants is too die. I love those old movies, but he really didn't seem to try too damn hard to kill himself. He would moan about it and then go kill someone else. His moaning about it was what really irritated me about the otherwise pretty cool book, Return of the Wolfman. He whines about the curse for pages, then he is killed, only to be brought back to life years later where the first thing he does is whine once again for pages about wanting to die. Really, the author spent far too much time on his and much less on the Frankenstein monster who makes more of a cameo appearance in the book(much as he did in House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula).
March 11, 2011, 2:32 p.m. CST
That one was both unwatchable bad and completely bizarre and set in Australia just because Australia was "in" for a brief moment in the late '80's thanks to the success of Crocodile Dundee. The redhaired chick was kind of cute, though.
March 11, 2011, 2:39 p.m. CST
Its the best werewolf movie ever. Rob Bottin! Wooooooo!!!
March 11, 2011, 2:42 p.m. CST
That is all.
March 11, 2011, 2:44 p.m. CST
I lied - there's more!
March 11, 2011, 2:44 p.m. CST
and a bad attitude, I expect you to CHIN the bitch.
March 11, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST
March 11, 2011, 3:08 p.m. CST
I saw The Howling when it came out, and I am a huge fan of werewolf flicks-more than zombies and vampires. The look of the werewolves in THE HOWLING was a direct nod to artist Bernie Wrightson and his illustration of the werewolf for one of the first SWAMP THING comics. This was the first time we ever saw what now know as the standard werewolf with the wolf head, wolf legs, etc. I LOVED the effects work a ton, liked the story, but the 'wink at the camera' crap wrecked it from being the best. The Best werewolf movie ever, and the first to feature the werewolf as a four legged animal/monster, is -American Werewolf- a true classic, from the script, to the locations, to the acting, and to the best transformation scene by a country mile. The order of wolf film greatness goes like this: 1. American Werewolf in London 2. Curse of the Werewolf 3. The Howling 4. The Werewolf of London 5. The Wolf-Man (original)
March 11, 2011, 4:05 p.m. CST
First, well done on the column, as usual, Bug. Yeah, Curse of the Werewolf is one of my all-time favorite Hammer Horror films, in addition to being one of the very best werewolf pics EVER. I remember watching this as a kid on TV and having the living shit scared out of me -- even while watching it in the middle of the day. Reed was absolutely unhinged. And Yvonne Romaine was one of the most insanely hot Hammer babes ever to grace the screen. Bar none... You mention it in your review, but really -- think about it -- how fucked up is it that the werewolf curse is a result of her getting brutally raped by a drooling lunatic, after she was thrown in the dungeon for resisting the advances of a lecherous, syphyllitic, depraved noble man?! Definitely one of the more pessimistic, dark movies in the entire Hammer catalogue. I mean, NO good deed goes unpunished in this flick. Saw it a few years ago on the big screen at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood -- awesome. Also agree with you, for the most part, about the Howling, but I think stuff like the cartoons playing in the background is more a matter of juxtaposition [the horrific alongside the banal]on Dante's part, rather than any refusal to fully commit to the material. Finally, I'll have to give Werewolf vs Vampire Woman another day in court, I guess. Tried watching it a while back, but found it so badly/cheaply done that I couldn't stick with it till the end. But if it comes around again on cable, I'll give it another chance, based on your review. Again, well done, sir! Best ongoing column on this site! Keep 'em flyin', Capt. Cosmos
March 11, 2011, 5:52 p.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
First, I agree, blacklightning, a croc column is long overdue. Second, where I like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, I feel that Landis is doing the same thing in that film that Dante did in HOWLING, which was not committing full on with what could have been an insightful look at man's bestial side. AMERICAN WEREWOLF is much more tongue and cheek and doesn't ever try to get heady, whereas HOLWLING tries to have it both ways and I don't think it works on that level. Uberman, no WOLFEN on your list? For shame. I have to see it again, but from what I remember, that film will always kick ass. Cap. Cosmos, I'm jealous you got to see CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF on the big screen. A true classic film if there ever was one. jazzdownunder - You forgot "There is no spoon!" Just another gem from DOG SOLDIERS. Seems Marshall has a nice tendency to plop in easter eggs like that and by naming his characters HG Wells and Bruce Campbell. I liked GINGER SNAPS and the third prequel. Like I said in the intro, there are so many werewolf films out there to choose from. Maybe the next one. I believe HOWLING THE MARSUPIALS was part III, which indeed was bad and ridiculous, but kind of fun, harryknowlesnonexistantinceptionreview. redegiraahgnal and johnny wishbone, you're both wrong, Dee Wallace turns into an Ewok at the end of THE HOWLING, which is another strike against it. bully boy, I am notorious for getting the nationalities of writers, actors, artists, and pretty much any human wrong. My apologies. fustfick, you forgot to mention the two main reasons to watch HOWLING II, Sybil Danning's chesticles. The film is centered around that single scene where she rips off her shirt and repeats it about twelve times in the credits. returning the non-gay love, reluctant austinite, thanks for reading. I also agree that the perfect werewolf film has yet to be made. Not to say I have it in me to write the perfect werewolf story, but I've been shopping my own werewolf comic around to publishers to no avail. Seems folks think that since WOLF MAN tanked, there's no market for it, but the interest in this column alone proves otherwise. eustisclay, keep telling yourself what I tell myself, one of these days, the story will be told.
March 11, 2011, 6:12 p.m. CST
by The Reluctant Austinite
"The Amazing Wolfman" is an indie werewolf comic that's been around for a couple of years. I have no idea what its sales numbers are like. Marvel briefly attempted to bring back "Werewolf by Night" a couple of years ago in an updated format, but I don't think it was particularly successful. A proposed feature film fell appart. It may be a tough sale. Most werewolf tales recently have been more of the young adult/Twilight variety. The Underworld films did fairly well. Kids today are certainly exposed to werewolf stories. I think the tough aspect in treating a werewolf as a main character is how to handle the wolf. The tradional werewolf is neither hero nor villain, but sad and cursed killer. The Hulk has been all over the map as to how much of Bruce Banner's mind and personality control the beast. Ghost Rider had dealt with the same problems.
March 11, 2011, 8:56 p.m. CST
by frank cotton
would go well with BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, for a double-feature
March 11, 2011, 9:34 p.m. CST
and I think that is what makes it so difficult to make another werewolf picture. it seems that scene either makes or breaks the film. I would like to see them take a different route for a change. Take the 80's version of The Fly for example. That transformation was made slowly thoughout the film and allowed Goldblum to add acting to the special fx. As much as I love American Werewolf's transformation scene, it didn't require much acting from David Naughton other than screaming in pain. The Fly, on the other hand, allowed Goldblum to add his own take on how a person would react if he was changing into another creature. I think if you could come up with a way for an actor to slowly change into the wolf, then you might have an original werewolf picture.
March 11, 2011, 10:53 p.m. CST
by King Conan
but is a REALLY good werewolf flick with decent pratical effects. It starred Michael Paré from Greatest American Hero fame...check it out sometime.
March 12, 2011, 1:33 a.m. CST
WOLFEN, had i remembered, would have been #3 on my list. Great flick, but skimps on the source material (human-like faces on the wolves) by using real wolves and just giving them blowing eyes. They still were very seriously deadly, though. Just a great movie.GINGER SNAPS was a great werewolf flick as well-one of the top 10 easily. I grew up with the original FAMOUS MONSTERS of FILMLAND, and even before that had the OLD MAID cards with the great classic monsters on them and also played with the classic MARX plastic monsters, owned all the original AURORA monster models. I lived and breathed this stuff and am still a major fan. Love your forum.
March 12, 2011, 4:29 a.m. CST
I loved the pacing... the reveal... of the werewolf transformation scene of "Trick r' Treat."
March 12, 2011, 4:54 a.m. CST
by Ambush Bug
It's from Archaia comics and plays with the coyote vibe of border patrol stories. It's a spooky tale of folks trying to get over the American/Mexican border with werewolves thrown into the mix. Haven't read the last issue, but so far, it's been fantastic.
March 12, 2011, 5:52 a.m. CST
Anybody know if theres an uncut dvd available?Ive only ever seen this great movie on TV,and a few scenes have been badly edited by the censors.Or the TV company,more like.Also,were there any deleted scenes that never made the final cut?Another thing-anybody remember the Werewolf TV series circa 1990?Chuck Connors as the badassed top wolf-superb!!A pity it was hampered with a TV budget-and a limit on the gore quota too.
March 12, 2011, 7:26 a.m. CST
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March 12, 2011, 11:08 a.m. CST
That'll be because 'Wolfen' isn't a werewolf film. It has a species of intelligent wolves in it rather than people who transform into ravening beasts at the sight of a full moon.
March 12, 2011, 12:49 p.m. CST
by The Reluctant Austinite
There's a complete, great print of "Curse of the Werewolf" on the Universal DVD set called "The Hammer Horror Series". Oliver Reed's werewolf is on the cover so you can't miss it. It includes 8 Hammer films like "Brides of Dracula" and "Evil of Frankenstein" as well as some more obscure gems. "Werewolf", the FOX TV series, was going to be released on DVD by Shout Factory a couple of years ago, but unfortunately was blocked by some music rights to music in the background that could not be easily removed. DVD cover artwork was done and the series made it up to the very last minute before being cancelled. The mastering was already complete and I'm pretty sure a number of sets were pressed and are probably sitting in boxes in a warehouse somewhere with the Ark of the Covenant.
March 12, 2011, 10:20 p.m. CST
Come on now the movie was a 100 % serious. That's what make it a truer horror flick compared to American Werewolf. I don't understand how can you be thrown off just because someone is watching a cartoon of Little Riding Hood. If anything it was a genius move. It's all context, the director is saying this thing, this tale existed as long as we can imagine from old stories. As for the ending, again the rest of the movie is all serious, nothing wrong with having one humour scene, if anything Dante is saying "I'm making something real and if people would see a werewolf transformation on tv, they would think it's all fx too". His "joking" all made sense and if anything reinforced the serious bits.
March 14, 2011, 8:11 a.m. CST
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March 14, 2011, 9:29 a.m. CST
Ambush Bug, love your stuff...truly. Great write up on some of the best films out there. But...did you describe Lon Chaney's Wolf Man as "Lithe and Gangly"?? I don't think ANYONE has described the well-fed, 6'2" Chaney as gangly and lithe. Chaney's Wolf Man was all power and ferocity and in films like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and House of Frankenstein, the beast was very present in Talbot's mannerisms and facial expressions. Not taking anything away from Reed (Curse is truly one of my favorites) but your dismissing of the greatest werewolf in cinema had to be addressed. Nothing but the best my friend, keep up the great work. Prof. Griffin Fangoria TV
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