Craig J. Clark — Nov. 24th 2015
Strictly speaking, 2014’s When Animals Dream isn’t a werewolf film, but since it’s a coming of age story about a young woman who, like her mother, is genetically disposed to grow thick hair all over her body — and become short-tempered and aggressive to boot — it’s close enough to count for this month’s Full Moon Feature. Set in a provincial fishing village in Denmark, When Animals Dream opens with 16-year-old protagonist Marie (Sonia Suhl, making an assured screen debut) seeing the doctor about a small rash on her chest. That concerns him enough that he submits her to a full examination of her fingernails, gums, and back, along with a barrage of questions about any other symptoms she may be experiencing. What these may be isn’t clear at first, just as there’s some mystery about what condition Marie’s invalid mother (Sonja Richter) suffers from, but it does require her to be given shots by Marie’s rock-steady father (Lars Mikkelsen), who’s also seen shaving her back. Then Marie starts having disturbing dreams in which she’s transforming into some kind of bestial creature and, well, do the math.
Even if they had eschewed the supernatural angle, director Jonas Alexander Arnby and screenwriter Rasmus Birch would have been on to something since they paint a compelling portrait of a withdrawn young woman struggling to fit in. New to her job working on a fish disassembly line, Marie has the expected locker-room confrontations with the factory’s alpha-male bully and undergoes a humiliating initiation where she’s pushed headlong into a tank filled with fish heads. (Paging Carrie White.) On the other hand, she also catches the eyes of friendly fisherman Daniel (Jakob Oftebro), whose interest is reciprocated. Heck, he doesn’t even bat an eye when she tells him, “I’m transforming into a monster and I really need to get laid before.” That’s what I call a keeper.
If When Animals Dream has a fault, it’s that once all its cards are on the table, the back half of the film is far too predictable. Still, it’s worth sticking with it to see how Marie is emboldened by the changes she’s going through, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When she’s leaving home for good and her father’s parting words to her are “Don’t take any crap,” viewers can feel confident she won’t.
A. Quinton — Nov. 24th 2015
The werewolf-centric ‘zine I edit, WEREWOLVES VERSUS, is coming out with a second issue in early 2016. The theme this time is “romance”, a subject so broad and cliché that it’s just begging to get fucked up by monsters. That’s the point of WV! Check out the first issue, The 1990s, for an 80+ page demonstration.
Below is a handy index of issue 2 contributors, each of whom has whispered in my ear an excellent idea for a story, comic or illustration on the theme of “WEREWOLVES VERSUS: Romance”.
A. Quinton — Nov. 23rd 2015
Funding a feature-length film through crowdsourcing requires more than luck. It only seems to work if you have a huge pre-existing audience or a devoted cult following. A team of filmmakers decided to “get the ball rolling on [their] feature-length werewolf movie” by creating a stand-alone short film to woo studios and investors. Their 2013 campaign met its goal, and they got to work.
The result, a 10-minute horror film called End of the Road, feels like a particularly vicious Tales from the Crypt episode. Writer/director J. Spencer’s screenplay puts archetypical characters in an enclosed space and then lovingly surveys the carnage. There’s no world-building and no deep character exploration – the surprise is that everyone is exactly who you think they are – but the point is not to win an Oscar. The point is to grab audiences and investors by the shoulders, point to the beautifully-composed shots, endearingly-rendered characters (big Travis fan, here) and gore-splattered windows and say “look at the cool shit we did with $23,000… now imagine if we had a bigger budget”.
End of the Road isn’t simply a means to an end. It stands on its own as a brutal, funny and supremely-well-made horror short. There are flourishes of pacing and character detail that delighted me so thoroughly that after watching it once, I immediately started it again and attempted a goofball live-tweet session.
It’s not perfect – some of the dialogue clunks, and the werewolf design seems to vary significantly depending on whether or not it’s in focus – but perfection isn’t the point, either. J. Spencer and his colleagues are making the case for a feature-length werewolf project (which he teased in a message to me, and which sounds awesome), and in demonstrating their capabilities, they’ve created an aesthetic showcase that exemplifies the strength of crowdfunding, and the power a group of creative people can wield when they’re truly passionate about something.
Also, just putting this out there: I would pay to watch a Wes Anderson style movie about a day in the life of Travis.
Andrew Niemann — Nov. 19th 2015
Captain America Sam Wilson continues to be the most fun I’ve had reading a comic book series since I was a small child. Only three issues in, it’s already managed to piss off most of conservative America with a plotline that centers on militant anti-immigrant white supremacists called the Sons of the Serpent. Issue #3 takes a back-step from the main plot to bring a pack a perennial fav favorite. That’s right! As Misty Knight exclaims, Cap-Wolf (or should I say Cap-Sam-Wolf) makes a howling return after Wilson’s encounter with the fiendish Dr. Malus.
If you haven’t been following Captain America comics these days, here’s a quick summary to get you up to speed. The original Captain America (Steve Rogers) has stepped down after being trapped in an alternate dimension for decades – aging quite a bit – before returning to his world. He passes on the mantle to Sam Wilson, who served for years as his trusty partner the Falcon. Wilson, along with fellow heroes Misty Knight and D-Man, have teamed up to prevent the world from falling into the clutches of HYDRA and other evil organizations.
In this issue, Misty finds a very wolfish Cap tied to a chair. He has fallen prey to a resurrected Dr. Malus, who had previously been swallowed by Carnage. Malus seems to also possess symbiote-like powers and is using super science to turn victims into animal hybrids, including pigs, turtles, iguanas, and other beasties. Turning Cap into a werewolf ends up being bad move for Dr. Malus, since it makes him stronger, faster, better, and way shaggier. Unfortunately, it appears to be a temporary effect for Cap, so in the next issue he’s restored to his previous form. Darn.
But don’t let that stop you from further reading! This issue in particular is a barrel of laughs and fun, with Misty Knight making jokes at Cap’s expense by referencing werewolf movies. The story reminds me of plots from the Saturday morning cartoons of yesteryear, where an evil scientist turns our hero into a monster… almost always a poor move. There’s even a nice reference to the original Cap-Wolf’s origin, with a mention of the Bloodstone. The political humor of past issues is still at work here with one slack-jawed gawker saying he can’t get behind Captain America being “a flying werewolf AND a communist” as he swoops over the city in search of Malus. Oh yeah. Did I mention this Cap can also fly?
Check out this issue of Captain America Sam Wilson and further issues if you want to read a culturally relevant series packed with humor and amazing art. After all, this werewolf has wings!
A. Quinton — Nov. 19th 2015
Remember this stunning tour poster John Keogh did for The Mountain Goats? I think of it often, because the song that inspired it gets shuffled into my earbuds on the regular, and because a print of it hangs in my office. Now, it can hang in your designated art area too.
Previously, there were only four ways to obtain this poster:
- be a member of The Mountain Goats. Hard to do if you’re not already there.
- be John Keogh. Also tough to manage if you’re just starting now.
- run a “werewolf stuff” blog and be publicly excited about the poster and lucky and be prepated when someone nice who also has access to a test print and the Topatoco shipping facilities DMs you on Twitter. Easier than the first two, but availability is limited.
- purchase it directly from The Mountain Goats merch table at a live show during the spring and summer of 2015. This was the easiest way, but it required advance planning, so if you didn’t already do it, sorry.
Except I’m not sorry! I’m excited – excited to tell you that this poster is now available to purchase directly from The Mountain Goats, in Spring and Summer configurations, for a mere $20. Go get it, friends!
A. Quinton — Nov. 16th 2015
Today I want to take you back to a slightly more innocent time: the mid-1980s. It was a time when literally any family-friendly film might be wadded into a ball of bright colours, cheap animation and baggy plaid overshirts and then crammed into a hopefully-lucrative Saturday morning cartoon slot.
The gamble paid off for Columbia Pictures with Ghostbusters, but it did not work for Atlantic Entertainment, who tried to turn the Michael J. Fox comedy film Teen Wolf into a cartoon series that threw out pretty much everything from its parent film except some character names and the premise “there is a teen, who is also a werewolf”.
The series ran for 21 episodes between 1986 and 1987 before disappearing in the paperwork shuffle that accompanied one of the many entertainment conglomerate mergers of the era. It wasn’t a hit. It didn’t even have a consistent schedule, I don’t think – I only ever saw it once, when a local TV station needed to fill time when a live event ended early.
Some Googling will find random episodes on various video streaming sites, but as of today there’s no legal modern way to watch the show. That’s why I’m grateful for everyone who shared this Retro 80s post on Tumblr today. This one GIF contains everything you need to know about television in the 1980s.
A. Quinton — Nov. 14th 2015
I got a follow-up email from Hair of the Dog director Michael Butts the other day.
Just wanted to share this picture of the “werewolf” in “Hair of the Dog.” Bennett Rodgers spent 6 hours in make-up which went from head to toe. This of course is just a shot of Bennett’s face in full werewolf make-up.
Scott Crain took the picture[,] and the make up artists were Stacy Lockhart, Caleb Paschall, and Laura Natalie Homer.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn the werewolves in this movie have a form more lupine than the wolfman-esque visuals we’ve already seen (and that I was quite happy with).
A. Quinton — Nov. 13th 2015
Cartoon Saloon and Tomm Moore are responsible for The Secret Of Kells and Song Of The Sea, two of my favourite animated films of recent years. Now, according to a post on Moore’s Tumblr and this Den Of Geek write-up, Moore’s laying the groundwork for Wolfwalkers, a film exploring Irish (maybe-)werewolves and Oliver Cromwell’s campaign of destruction in their country.
In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and nature as evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, ROBYN, comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, MEBH, their friendship leads her to discover the world of the WOLFWALKERS and transforms her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
Cartoon Saloon’s next film is The Breadwinner, due out in 2017, so Wolfwalkers may still be in production for a few years yet. Song of the Sea narrowly beat out Patrick McHale’s gorgeous miniseries Over the Garden Wall as my favourite animated project of 2014 – lupine metamorphosis or not, I’m very excited to see what wonders Moore’s latest visit to Ireland’s history and mythology will unveil.
Thanks to Tandye for the link!
A. Quinton — Nov. 6th 2015
It’s a big week for Hair of the Dog, the upcoming film about a middle-aged werewolf trying to get his life back on track through AA and a lycanthropy support group.
As you may recall from my Q&A with filmmaker Michael Butts, Hair of the Dog has evolved from a short film into a feature-length production, and filming starts this weekend. As with any big production, this is a collaborative effort, and I want to share two things that Michael shared with me.
Tennessee rock band Sleep Nation is providing the soundtrack for Dog, and they just released a music video for their song Mr. Unlucky, directed by Michael and starring Scott Crain as werewolf Ethan Russoff. I like the tune, and if this is the kind of stuff Ethan gets up to in bars, he’s going to need more than a support group to get his shit figured out.
Michael also sent me this faux whiskey poster by Caleb Paschall, “a buddy of mine who does special make-up effects for films who designed this fun poster on my behalf”. I might learn to like whiskey if this was a real brand.
A. Quinton — Nov. 4th 2015
Here’s a web series pilot that I’d really like to see make its Kickstarter goal for a few reasons, not the least of which is that the main character seems to be… me.
Gentle Werewolf is a comedy series about life in your late 20s and early 30s when you are feeling lost and uncertain about what your future holds. You reassess your career goals, your life goals, your personal grooming goals and you pretty much obsess over every thought that runs through your head, forgetting to allow your brain time to breathe. Now, throw in becoming a werewolf, and things get really, really messy. Welcome to Tom’s life, and that of his nearest and dearest friends who struggle with the idea that he may actually be a werewolf.
Okay, so I’m in my mid-30’s and I may not actually be a werewolf, but the rest of that stuff? I guarantee I’ll stop writing this post at least twice* to worry about one of those things.
It’s refreshing to hear about a werewolf film/video project that’s leaning on comic and character beats. I particularly like director Ally Zonsius‘s vision:
Gentle Werewolf is a dry buddy comedy with a touch of romance, drama, and werewolf transformation. I was flying to Seattle when I first read the script myself, and I laughed aloud, which doesn’t happen often. My overall approach for Gentle Werewolf is to celebrate the humor and find unique ways to keep it relatable, with characters just like people you may know. In our present, everyday world, Tom’s transformation to become a werewolf fits awkwardly, and I want that to show. Sam Esmail’s film Comet and TV show Mr Robot serve as visual inspiration – both have wonderfully uncomfortable ways to compose a frame to suit the discomfort happening on screen. Tonally, Silicon Valley and Catastrophe set a good par for Gentle Werewolf and they, along with The Last Man on Earth, match the style of humor I am going for – part real, part ridiculous and a little dark too. We have a fantastic cast on board that will bring this group of friends to life with a camaraderie, and well-written, witty dialogue. Gentle Werewolf was written to become a guilty pleasure for all. We appreciate your support.
I enjoy (or have in my must-watch queue) every show mentioned, and as demonstrated in the pitch video, they’re not just called out for the sake of positive association. Catastrophe tone and Mr. Robot shot framing? That alone gets my pledge, werewolf angle or not!
This project has been carefully considered for at least a year or two, and given the concept and the impressive experience of everyone involved in the campaign, this looks like it would be a fantastic series. I’d like them to make their goal (at least!) and be able to make Gentle Werewolf the way it ought to be made. Check it out on Twitter and Facebook, and do consider chipping in a few bucks.
*it was three times