Full Moon Feature: Dark Moon Rising (2009)
When presented with a film like 2009’s Dark Moon Rising, it’s hard to know quite where to begin. Also known as Wolf Moon — and not to be confused with 2015’s Dark Moon Rising, which is a different movie altogether — it raises a big red flag by virtue of the fact that it has a running time in excess of two hours. In all my years of watching werewolf movies, there has only been one other that has topped two hours and that was Mike Nichols’s Wolf. (Even the director’s cut of Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman managed to come in under two hours.) In the case of Wolf, the extended running time was somewhat justified because the film doubled as a sharp character study. Dark Moon Rising, on the other hand, is stocked with shallow characters who are exactly what they appear to be on first glance and never develop beyond that. And since there are only seven characters of any note — and two of those are glorified cameos — that means they have a hell of a lot of water to tread between them.
If the opening narration is anything to go by, this is the story of a girl named Amy (Ginny Weirick), the virginal daughter of an overprotective Nevada rancher (Chris Mulkey) who falls in love with a handsome drifter named Dan (Chris Divecchio) who just so happens to be cursed to periodically turn into a hairy beast (which looks a heck of a lot like the X-Man Beast when we finally get a good look at him about a third of the way into the picture). Actually, the two of them don’t hit it off at first because he’s a total jerk to her, but then he stops being a jerk and later comes to her rescue when she naïvely accepts a ride from a stranger who attempts to rape her. It is then that Dan reveals he’s been following Amy around since the day they met, which she rightly identifies as stalker behavior, but they still go through with the standard-issue “falling in love” montage that is only slightly marred by his vision of slashing her face with a hairy paw. That’s only the beginning, though, because in the very next scene he goes full-on wolf-man, terrorizing an old couple in a truck and bothering some livestock and killing a dog before getting scared off by the shotgun-toting Crazy Louis (the part the late Sid Haig was born to play).
The next morning, Dan wakes up in the desert, clad only in torn jeans (kind of like The Hulk) and gets a ride back into town, whereupon he drives Amy out to the desert so he can spill his secret, bluntly saying, “I’m a fucking werewolf,” then chaining himself up so he can’t hurt her. He breaks the chain as soon as he changes, though (through the magic of morphing), but doesn’t harm her, which inspires them to go to a psychic to find out what the deal with him is. The psychic tells them he’s cursed (no duh) and that his father must be killed if he is to be freed from it. (She also tells them, “Goodbye. Please don’t let out the kitty,” when it’s time for them to go.) This, by the way, is the perfect time to bring up the dark, mysterious stranger (played by top-billed Max Ryan) who kills his way through several states on his way to Pahrump, Nevada. (Can’t imagine who he could be.) (Also, Pahrump, Nevada, is totally a real place that neither I nor the filmmakers made up.)
In the role of the clueless sheriff who can’t understand how a wolf could kill a horse while walking upright like a man, co-writer/director Dana Mennie cast Maria Conchita Alonso, one of six lucky cast members who are listed as co-producers in the opening credits. (I’m guessing this means they didn’t get paid up front.) The last piece of the puzzle is provided by Billy Drago as a man on the trail of Dan’s father who fills in Amy’s father and the sheriff (who once had a thing for each other, don’tcha know) on his backstory. Meanwhile, Amy’s father tries in vain to keep her and Dan apart, even pulling a gun on him at one point, but he’s happy to have the young werewolf on his side when the time comes for the final showdown with his old man. (Crazy Louis gets in on this as well, allowing Haig to let rip with lines like “Let’s go kill some shit” and “All right, you fuzzy-ass motherfucker” when he goes mano-a-mano with the big, bad wolf.) Why Dan has to walk off into the sunset after it’s all over was lost on me (after all, his father was killed, which is what I thought had to happen for his curse to be lifted), but as it’s been a decade since this came out, I don’t think we’ll be getting a Dark Moon Rising 2 (or a Wolf Moon 2, for that matter) to clarify it.
No haunted house or cursed castle is complete without this bust of “The Hound”
(image: Art of Kurt)
This 17.50 inch polystone sculpture by Kurt Papstein for Level52 Studios is the perfect addition to any empty plinth in your shadowy hallway or bare space between dread grimoires in your library. I also think it would look amazing on my rickety $30 Ikea shelf, but then, I’m not a wealthy insane baroness who lives in a dilapidated castle, so I have to make compromises.
The Hound is a super-sized new addition to the Busted Series by Level52 Studios. Sculptor Kurt Papstein has managed to capture the untamed ferocity of this nocturnal nightmare in stunning detail from its bright, ruthless eyes to its gaping maw and flowing mane. Add this beast to your collection, and you’ll have to do a double take when stepping into the room. Maybe this time it IS lunging at you!
Standing at a truly massive 17.5” tall and produced in polystone, this finely crafted creature arrives in Level52’s signature premium packaging. The Hound will make an excellent watchdog to guard your other collectible treasures.
The werewolf queen of Chaos Costumes featured on Nice Content
You’ve almost certainly seen Blair Ondrla’s work online. Her incredible werewolf queen costume surfaces every so often on Twitter and in convention photos, and her cloven hoof shoes regularly make the rounds on Facebook – her self-described “hoof empire” has escaped the realms of cosplayers and furry and reached the world of the normies. She’s really, really good at what she does, so it’s no surprise she was the subject of a short feature on YouTube, which you can watch below.
There are plenty of how-to videos online, and I’m glad this wasn’t one of them. I enjoyed the close-up meditative shots of the resin and other materials, and it was cool to see her applying makeup and horn prosthetics in a manner that emphasized the artistry of the process. The video weirdly omits any direct links to Ondrla’s work, so allow me: Etsy, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! It’s too late to order anything for Halloween, but
Russ Turk’s “Hungry Werewolf” mask embodies the spirit of 80’s cartoon menace
This werewolf mask by Russ Turk is a real-world manifestation of what I loved about every werewolf I saw in 1980s Saturday morning cartoons. The wild fur, the beady yellow eyes, the big ol’ snout… this is precisely the kind of beast who menaced Egon and the boys in The Real Ghostbusters and ensured the werewolf’s place in my heart.
Before we go any further, yes, as of the time of this post, there’s one – and only one – left for sale. If you love the look of it as much as I do and you have $450 USD to spend, go, quickly!
When Russ first shared photos of this mask’s predecessors on the Latex Mask Central Facebook group back June, I immediately wanted to know more. Russ was kind enough to email me some more photos and some details about how each one is made.
This particular werewolf mask took 4 days to sculpt, one day to make the mold, 3 days for the latex to dry, and an afternoon to paint. The hair application took about 4 hours. The teeth were sculpted and molded separately and cast in resin. I glue them into the mouth of the mask after the mask is painted, but before the hair is applied.
There was no particular inspiration for the werewolf, it’s just a hodgepodge of werewolves I’ve seen in movies and magazine over the years. The main thing I wanted to portray was a scary expression on its face and a big mouth filled with sharp teeth.
I’d say the result is a success, and again, I’m delighted by how precisely it nails the vibe of “werewolf who kills people but who will be defeated by four teenagers and their dog in the third act”.
Russ is a genuine talent – he just won Best New Vendor at Maskfest 2019 – and I’m so happy that he’s using his abilities to create masks with such cartoonish character and real menace. You can see more of his work on Etsy and Instagram.
Full Moon Feature: Alpha Wolf (2018)
This month marks a milestone of sorts since this is my 100th Full Moon Feature for Werewolf News. To mark the occasion, I could revisit an old favorite (like An American Werewolf in London, which I covered in my very first column eight years ago) or take stock of everything I’ve seen and learned in the time I’ve been contributing to this fine site. Or I could eviscerate some half-assed werewolf movie I found streaming on Amazon Prime. Yeah, that’s more like it.
This month’s half-assed werewolf movie is Alpha Wolf, which has one up on its low-budget brethren since director Kevin VanHook has a recognizable star in Casper Van Dien (also one of the film’s producers), who has come down in the Hollywood hierarchy since his days appearing in such A-list genre fare as Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. In Alpha Wolf, he plays Jack Lupo (not the film’s most egregious character name, but it’s close), who is introduced driving out to the proverbial cabin in the woods with his wife Virginia (Jennifer Wenger) and her dog Larry (as in Talbot). Their destination: her aunt’s cabin, which has sat vacant since her uncle was killed in the standard “two hunters get brutally slain by some shaggy, half-seen monster” prologue.
The cabin is the kind of place where there’s no cell reception and they need to fire up the generator if they want electricity. In other words, the perfect place to patch up a shaky marriage or get savaged by some hairy beast. This happens about a quarter of the way into the film, after the obligatory sex scene where Van Dien shows off more of his body than his co-star. Likewise, Jack reveals the kind of man he is when, having been bitten on the arm by the beast that just jumped through the window, he runs off (shades of the cowardly husband in Force Majeure), leaving Larry to come to Virginia’s rescue. In the process of chasing the monster off, though, Larry gets bit himself. And what do you think happens when a dog is bit by a werewolf? Have no fear. Alpha Wolf has the answer.
The film also has an answer for why everyone in the isolated rural community where it’s set behaves so strangely knowing. From Big John, owner of the general store, and his brother, Sheriff Carradine (whose names combine, Voltron-like, to form one of the werewolf actors in The Howling) to Doc Howard (who has the same surname as a certain Teen Wolf), who examines Jack’s wound and tells him “life for you is about to change,” they all know what the score is from the start.
None is more smug about it, though, than the neighborly Reed Oliver (yes, screenwriter Wes C. Caefer went and took the name of the star of The Curse of the Werewolf and just reversed it), who arrives on their doorstep after Virginia has boarded up all the windows and doors and proceeds to bend her ear about the duality of man and how Jack has been given “The Gift” when all he’s really been given is the ability to turn into a creature (“What you might call a werewolf,” he says patronizingly) that looks a lot like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. As played by Patrick Muldoon (a fellow Starship Troopers vet), Reed is about an insufferable as they come, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who the couple’s fuzzy visitor was. Similarly, when Virginia points out the coin jar full of silver dollars upon their arrival at the cabin, that all but guarantees they’ll be put to some use before the credits roll.
Shout Factory’s “The Howling” Statue
(image: Shout! Factory Instagram)
Shout! Factory typically deals in deluxe home media movie releases, but this summer, they’ve teamed up with PCS Collectibles to bring werewolf fans something special:
…an exclusive, officially licensed and limited-edition statue based on Joe Dante’s classic werewolf film THE HOWLING. This special offer comes in two variants – one available at shoutfactory.com and the other for pick up at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
This statue looks like a scaled-down, simplified version of the two-foot-tall monster PCS released in 2016.
Unless you have a time machine, you’re too late to get in line for one of the Comic-Con variants, but the shoutfactory.com version is still available – and it’s marked down to $64.99 USD!
San Diego’s one-night-only Horrorgasm art & entertainment event
Friend of the site Jenn Cooksey emailed me to tell me about Horrorgasm, an upcoming San Diego event that celebrates the beauty of horror. She writes:
A few San Diego artists and I have collaborated to create Horrorgasm, San Diego’s First Horror themed art and entertainment event. Since I’m such a huge werewolf fan, there will be plenty of werewolf art on display. I’ll also be creating a werewolf art piece exclusively for Horrorgasm.
What else is there to know? What else is going on? Plenty!
Horrorgasm is a one-night-only celebration of horror and all things creepy, spooky and macabre. The event will feature an Art gallery, an artisan marketplace, live performances, live readings of chilling tales, and our version of an escape room, the Horrorgasm Survival Chamber. Horrogasm’s curated artists and performers will explore this year’s themes of Monsters, Maniacs, The Paranormal, and the Surreal.
You can check out the scene yourself on Saturday, October 26th, at Queen Bee’s Arts and Cultural Center in San Diego’s North Park neighbourhood. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids. If you’re interested in being a vendor or participating artist, it looks like applications are still open!
“Hellhound” Werewolf Zombie sculpt by DARKTYPE
The head of a zombified werewolf, cast in what appears to be pink resin (image: DARKTYPE)
I saw this outstanding werewolf zombie sculpt by DARKTYPE in a friend’s Instagram stories a few days ago and I’ve had it open in a browser tab ever since.
In practical terms, I was waiting until I had a free moment to write this post, but I think I was also hoping that if I just looked at it a lot, a “buy” button would magically appear, and if I clicked it, the completed sculpt would appear on a shelf behind me.
That button never appeared, though, because magical realism is a cruel joke meant to instill false hope in those of us who live in a world so broken that we have to use PayPal.
Many of DARKTYPE’s handmade creations appear in his Etsy store, but if you’re interested in purchasing this Hellhound once it’s complete, you can DM him on Instagram, or reach him via the email address in his bio.
The Underworld Lycan Vinyl Statue from Star Ace Toys has tons of detail, great butt
Star Ace Underworld Lycan figure (image: Star Ace Toys)
I kind of liked the werewolf designs in the Underworld movie series. The designs have changed somewhat as the series continues its slide towards direct-to-digital purgatory, but they’ve remained consistently monstrous in a way I find appealing. I know that puts me in the minority, but I’m going to stand in my truth: you don’t need a hairy chest, a classically lupine head, or a tail in order to be a badass-looking werewolf.
Collectible company Star Ace Toys has got a new addition to its “super-vinyl” series (which I originally read as “super-villainy”) that will interest my fellow Lycan-enjoyers: a 32cm soft vinyl Lycan statue based on the creature design from Underworld: Evolution. It’s a super-detailed rendition that captures the vascular, gangly Lycan look, and which includes a curious mixture of modelled hair and fluffy synthetic hair. And, like, not to objectify monsters or anything, but this Lycan has a great ass.
Here’s the product copy from Star Ace’s site:
In the “Underworld” movie series a war rages in the darkness where humans cannot go. The vampires battle the werewolves or Lycans in a centuries-old war. The Lycans can transform from human to a fierce snarling beast, but still retain their human reasoning. This 32cm tall vinyl figure represents a Lycan ready to go into battle, his mouth wide open showing his sharp teeth and his claws out, ready to rip apart his vampire foe. This figure features synthetic hair attached to the head sculpt to better represent the look of the Lycan.
As of this post, Star Ace lists the statue as a pre-order product, due out “4th Quarter 2019”. If you’re in North America, you can put in your pre-order with BigBadToyStore, who list the Deluxe edition (which includes a more detailed base) for a very reasonable $189.99. I imagine other online retailers will have it soon, and for true good karma, you can always check your local comic shop to see if they’ll order it for you.
Full Moon Feature: Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory (1961)
The Italian horror cycle, begun in 1957 with I Vampiri, a.k.a. Lust of the Vampire (directed by Riccardo Freda with an uncredited assist from cinematographer Mario Bava), was in full swing by the time 1961’s Lycanthropus came along. Retitled Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory when it was dubbed into English and released in the US two years later — on a double bill with the Boris Karloff vehicle Corridors of Blood — it is precisely as cheesy as you would expect a film about a wolf man terrorizing a girls’ reformatory to be. Instead of a straight-up horror film, though, what director Paolo Heusch (credited as Richard Benson) and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (fresh off 1960’s The Vampire and the Ballerina) cooked up is more akin to a murder mystery, with reform school girl Priscilla (Barbara Lass) determined to find out who clawed her best friend to death. (Quoth Priscilla: “Mary was just assassinated. No one will convince me she was torn up by wolves.”)
Good thing for Priscilla she has no shortage of possible suspects. There’s new science teacher Dr. Olcott (Carl Schell), who arrives in a cloud of mystery; the institute’s director Swift (Curt Lowens), who knows his secret; lecherous aristocrat Sir Whiteman (Maurice Marsac), who was being blackmailed by the murder victim; Peter Lorre-ish caretaker Walter (Luciano Pigozzi), who is used to doing Whiteman’s dirty work; and creepy-looking porter Tommy (Joseph Mercier), who has little to do apart from hang around and be a creepy-looking red herring. Once you get past the low-budget trappings and the lazy plotting (the first time we get a clear look at the werewolf, it’s easy to tell which character he is), this is actually a fairly entertaining movie. If it had been made a couple of decades later, it might have even delivered on its exploitation title (à la 2006’s Werewolf in a Womens Prison), but some things are better left to the imagination.