Friday, October 12, 2012

HALLOWEEN LIST 2012: Werewolves

Artwork: William Lycan
The are werewolf people and there are vampire people.
The vampire people tend to lean towards aristocracy and the lurking monster in the darkness. The werewolf people tend to lean towards the wild side. The rough. The hidden nature of the beast in us. That's all based on information and research that I just made up. 
I'm a werewolf person. I love 'em. The beast lurking below the surface. The knowledge that there's something dark and bestial under the skin. Just waiting. Ah...good stuff! Here are some fave werewolf movies of mine. Leave a comment if there's something YOU think I should check out! 

The Howling
My top werewolf movie, THE HOWLING has everything. Creepy, deep dark woods moments. Crazies. The sexy beast animal moments we all know. Fun transformations. Half man, half wolf werewolves. And, the in-joke fun of director Joe Dante.  Dee Wallace is a news anchor that's doing a story on a serial killer and she gets a scoop she can't resist - an interview with the man himself.
Trauma ensues, of course, and she survives an attack, but is having strange visions of the man that seem more beast-like than killer. She needs to go work things out with Patrick Macnee at his peaceful, seaside therapy center.  What could possibly go wrong there?
The Howling has some of my favorite werewolf designs and the practical effects work by Rob Bottin still old up well today.  Dante has a lot of fun with the subject matter and it shows. It's playful and scary and works well - putting some recent movie efforts to shame. Just stay away from everything Howling related after it - they never got the magic back.

Dog Soldiers
The fun UK effort has a group of soldier doing training games out in the woods, but the game is really on when they are hunted by a group of deliciously awesome looking werewolves. Will they be able to last the night?
This film is a sneaker hit with me. It resonates in the dialog and action and has a lot of great wolf shots within it. I love a film that's not afraid to show the whole monster and this has some nice shots going for sure. Check it.

It's been a while since I've seen this one, but I remember liking it a lot. The Native American shape shifter stylings of this one really got me. It's a great little eco-horror message film, too. Albert Finney turns in another great Albert Finney performance and the wolves are beauties. No, we're not talking a tradition werewolf film, but I'm tossing it into the mix anyway. So there. :)

Two words: Jack Nicholson.  :) The great Mike "The Graduate" Nichols directs this drama about business, mid-life crisis struggles and love with a werewolf twist. The film moves along at a lovely clip and a love triangle between Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and James Spader is something that just needs to be seen. Not your run-of-the-mill horror effort and one that a wider audience (aka Non-horror lovers) can enjoy as well.

You either love Cursedor hate it. That seems to be it. I loved it. It's a "popcorn movie" for sure, but it does entertain and manage to get a good mix of comedic elements and horror elements working well together. Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg play a brother and sister who are attacked by something. (Spoiler: A werewolf ::grin::) and they need to figure out who the werewolf is so they can break the curse. Something along those lines.
The ratings are low on this one, but the entertainment and fun was well worth not only a watch for me, but got me to actually pick it up on DVD - albeit used - for repeat viewing.

The Company of Wolves (1984)
Fairytale meets nightmare in this strange little film about coming of age, men and women and the dreamlike twisted nature of children's stories and the fairytale in general. I won't do the film justice if I try to sum it up. Let's just say that it manages to take us on a journey through a beautiful landscape and tells us tales of wolves and werewolves in an anthology storybook style.
Neil Jordan of THE CRYING GAME and INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE directs and Angela Lansbury and David Warner star. It's a beautiful film that's packed with stunning visuals.

Ginger Snaps
Another twist on coming of age, high school life and being an outsider comes at us hot and heavy in GINGER SNAPS. Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle play sisters with a taste for the dark and disturbing. (The film opens with a fantastic movie they have put together with unique visions of death) When one of the sisters is attacked by a werewolf, the close nit relationship them have is put to the test as the beast takes over.
I was expecting a B list teen horror, but SNAPS delivers a fun and fresh werewolf story that I enjoy.  Sure, it has it's moments of teen drama horrors worked out through wicked horrors, but it works well and doesn't come off as silly. I look at it's 70/100 metascore as a horror film win and it's well worth a viddy!

An American Werewolf in London
Do I REALLY need to mention this one? Yeah....
John Landis in his pre-exile days managed to kick so much ass with this film that I think he still walks with a limp. It's a shame that "the incident" that happened on the set of THE TWILIGHT ZONE movie took Mr. Landis out of the light for many many years. His direction is amazing. The effects work by Rick Baker - again, PRACTICAL effects, not computer effects - are still held up as the ones to beat to this day. The story, pace and acting are spot on and the wolf is grand. 

This film is just brilliant on so many levels that you've probably already seen it and love it or like it a lot. Leave me a comment if you don't - I'd love to hear the reasons why.

The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
This HAMMER STUDIOS entry into the werewolf realm is one to make note of for sure. Oliver Reed turns in a great performance and the "wolfman" style werewolf is a lot of fun. Heavy on story and character development. Good stuff.

The Wolf Man (1941)
Another über classic, THE WOLF MAN is one you have to watch. You just have to. Lon Chaney Jr.'s performance is spectacular. The classic Hollywood feel is fun and brings back warm memories for me. This is fun for the whole family. It holds a special place in my heart.
For what it's worth, I actually enjoyed the remake WOLFMAN in 2010. It was a stylized and visually interesting film. It did have it's weak spots, but it was well worth a watch. Just remember to breathe when the CGI unleashes it's fury. :)

Bad Moon (1996)
A sister opens her home to her troubled brother. That turns out to be a massive mistake. You see, her brother is more troubled than she knows. A simple movie, but one that packs a punch still. It has some good and sloppy parts for sure.   Whoof!

Silver Bullet
Another adaptation of a King work, Silver Bullet holds up rather well unlike some of Kings writing. The screenplay is strong and the story worked well. In a nutshell, there are attacks being made during the full moon and a wheelchair bound boy figures out what might be shredding his town one townie at a time. It has all the classic kid v. evil elements and some great set pieces.  Oh, and did I mention that Busey is in this as well? Oh yeah, Gary Busey.

Honorable Mention: Waxwork 
Waxwork has some awesome monster scenes in it including a cool little werewolf section. A small group gets invited to a new Waxworks place that seemed to spring up over night. David Warner runs it and invites them in to see the sites. Well, it turns out the waxwork scenes are portals into the real scene they are portraying. When the victim enters, they face the horror that is shown in that scene and when they parish, their soul helps to open the gates of Hell or something to that effect. In short - awesome. This 80s goodness was watched over and over again and it never failed to please. So, check it out.



  1. Malcolm, this is a great list! I certainly don't give werewolves enough credit. But with zombies taking over the television and vampires taking over cinema, I think I may sit down and enjoy a werewolf movie very soon.

    1. Grand - thanks for giving it a look.
      I used to be really into werewolves, then switched over to a more zombie-centric fan. With the recent flood of all things zombie going on, I'm slipping back into some of these old favorites. :)