Craig J. Clark — Aug. 5th 2017
The year 2007 was rather a light one for werewolf films (the only one I’ve missed the anniversary of is the YA adaptation Blood and Chocolate, which I’m not exactly heartbroken about), and it would be even lighter had the Canadian-made Skinwalkers, which premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, not taken so long to get a theatrical release. (Oddly, there’s no Canadian release date on record, but it did finally come out in the States on August 10, 2007.) Directed by the late Jim Isaac, whose previous genre effort was Jason X, Skinwalkers features decent-looking creature effects by Stan Winston Studio, but all too often they’re obscured by flash cuts and camera-speed trickery that was probably intended to make the action scenes seem more exciting, but all it really does is detract from them. Its effectiveness is also blunted by how much it was whittled down from its original 110-minute R-rated cut to the leaner (but definitely not meaner) 92-minute PG-13.
The plot is centered around a boy named Tim Talbot (I wonder which of the three credited screenwriters came up with that name) born of a human mother and a skinwalker (which is a fancy Navajo term for werewolf) father who is on the cusp of his thirteenth birthday, when legend says he will be able to break the curse of lycanthropy — that is if he lives that long. Seems one group of evil skinwalkers (led by Jason Behr’s Valek) has developed a taste for blood and wants to go on indulging their bestial natures, while another (led by Atom Egoyan regular Elias Koteas’s Jonas) seeks to protect the boy (Matthew Knight) and his skeptical mother Rachel (Rhona Mitra, who went on to play the vampire love interest in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) at all costs.
At one point they hit the road in a converted RV that is incredibly easy to spot once you know to look for it (and which reminded me a lot of the fortified vehicle in George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead), and eventually wind up at an abandoned factory (that favorite locale of action directors) where the survivors of both groups duke it out and occasionally shoot at each other. (Did I mention there’s a lot of gun play in this movie? No? Well, there is.) Then comes the most unintentionally amusing moment in the whole film, when the two main werewolves square off against one another and the filmmakers quickly flash on the actors’ faces so you know which one you’re supposed to be rooting for. I guess it didn’t hit them until they were in the editing room that guys in furry werewolf makeup tend to look somewhat similar.
Anyway, in addition to the distracting editing tricks, the film also features plenty of digital effects that don’t do a whole lot to advance the story. Sure, they can make the moon look red and show extreme close-ups of animalistic yellow eyes, but are they doing anything at all to make me believe in the reality of what’s happening onscreen? (Not that realism is necessarily the first order of business when one is making a werewolf movie, but still.) One of the things that I did take away from the film that showed the filmmakers had actually put some thought into their premise, though, was the design of the restraints that the good skinwalkers voluntarily put themselves in when they know the change is coming on. Looking at them, one can imagine how they would have been handed down and modified over the centuries. Of course, with this film’s paltry box office take (just over $1 million in the few weeks it was in U.S. theaters), it’s no surprise we never got a Skinwalkers 2: Rise of the Skinwalkers.
A. Quinton — Aug. 2nd 2017
Hi hello yes I’ve been away working on my other werewolf project, WEREWOLVES VERSUS, but I’m back now in part because I have a brief gap in the production schedule for WV, and also because after years (literal YEARS) of walking into Michaels to scope their Halloween section and getting angry that they never seem to have good werewolves in their wacky Lemax “monsters doin’ stuff in a monster town” displays, the winds of change are here, and they bring with them the scent of hair spray and wet dog and the sounds of your very favourite club bangerz – those sweet bangerz you crave to hear all night long.
Okay. Deep breath.
Lemax, that famous company we all know and love at the “forefront of the rapidly growing pastime of holiday lighted villages for Halloween and Christmas”, is providing at least two werewolves to you this Halloween 2017. The first, I’m realizing, is actually from 2012, but they’ve re-released it for 2017: the Lemax Spooky Town Werewolf Grooming and Night Spa with Adaptor.
You have to say the whole name when you refer to it. It’s a miniature spa where they turn you into a werewolf, and then they sort out your scraggly pelt with a nice wash and blow-dry. If you’ve been a werewolf for a while they’ll probably give your claws a manicure, too, and help you with the weird halitosis you get from eating too many trick-or-treaters. And when you’re done, you can go chill on the Moon Deck with a cold one. Everything about this concept is so fundamentally delightful to me that I’m giddy. You can get it wherever Lemax stuff is sold – Michael’s, probably although it’s not on their site right now – and Amazon has a few, too. Oh, you plug it in and it lights up and plays sounds, but if you needed those features to push you over the edge you’re not the kind of werewolf collector I’m addressing right now (that is, excitable idiots like me).
What if you don’t want to spend almost eighty bucks on a werewolf spa? Shame on you, but I get it, and Lemax does too. Maybe perhaps instead you might fancy DJ Wolfman, the werewolf disc jockey who somehow looks even more serene than the one chilling on the Moon Deck, even as he crushes your eardrums with Porter Robinson or State of Mind or Run The Jewels (but never Monster Mash – don’t be normative). This dude comes with detached (sadly non-functioning) speakers (one with a jack-o-lantern and one with two crushed cold ones) and can be found online for $7 or less.
Thank you to my knick-knack-enabling partner Tandye for the links!
A. Quinton — Jul. 18th 2017
There’s nothing I despise more than a tiny-ass art book. Ink all piled up on the middle of minuscule pages like pepper on a playing card because you don’t respect the art? Get your small format reproductions away from me. I don’t want to see it. Get me a nice big tome like this new Thicker Than Blood art book from FPG.
Thicker Than Blood is a three-issue comic series written by Simon Reed, with pencils by Mike Ploog and paints by Simon Bisley. For an overview of the story and an assessment of why the series is considered a stand-out effort, may I direct you to this Werewolf News review from 2011. Suffice it to say that what grabbed most folks’ attention was the art, which is what this new book depicts, at its original size and in a variety of states.
This will be a large hardcover book that measures 12” x 17”. We will take full advantage of this format by reproducing Mike’s graphic pen and ink pages on the left-hand page and Simon’s richly painted artwork on the right-hand page. So, each and every cover and interior page can be compared and enjoyed in both mediums; one right next to the other!
This is a Kickstarter project but it’s already 200% funded with over a month to go on the campaign, so chipping in at this point is essentially a pre-order. Every pledge tier – ranging from $10 to $175 – gets you a copy of the book, so if you’re an interested party, your only quandary is just how fancy you want to be.
Thanks to Doruk Golcu for the link, and apologies to the Internet in general for the following – my first and last foray into the world of Drake memes.
A. Quinton — Jul. 14th 2017
It’s the supernatural Archie spin-off so nice they did it twice! After the success of Jughead: The Hunger – March’s one-shot comic in which Jughead Jones becomes a werewolf and Bettie Cooper a werewolf hunter – Archie Comics is continuing the concept with an ongoing monthly series. Writer Frank Tieri will return, with Pat and Tim Kennedy picking up art duties.
“We purposely left the door open with the one shot, we told you if you made Jughead: The Hunger a hit we’d make more — and since you more than held up your end of the bargain — here we are,” writer Frank Tieri said in a statement. “Fans can expect more of everything they loved about the one shot now as we expand our universe — more werewolf Juggie, more bad ass Betty, more conflicted Archie and more twists and turns than you can shake a severed arm at.”
The series will continue on from the one-shot, under the same title – Jughead: The Hunger – and the first issue will be available in comic stores and digitally on October 25th.
Thanks to @EvilViergacht for the link!
A. Quinton — Jul. 13th 2017
Pop quiz! Which of the following best describes Frank Bruce’s online, free-to-read comic The Marrow Bones? Find the answer at the bottom of this post!
- a lovingly-illustrated storybook for disturbed children
- a pitch for an enjoyable episode of Tales from the Crypt or The Outer limits
- “a tale of societal expectations and conformity”
- a dark little morality tale with a punchline that could be summarized by the last line of Mother Mother’s song “The Stand”
- all of the above
I had a lot of fun reading this. It’s a privilege to see someone’s concept expressed with such diligence, craftsmanship and character. The artwork – generally hand-drawn on Bee Paper products with Sakura Micron ink pens and Copic markers, according to Frank’s site – is mesmerizing, and the story leads down some interesting paths before taking a (maybe kind of expected but still enjoyable) twist.
There’s a ton of captivating art on his site, including a gallery titled “Women & Werewolves” that had me scrolling for a long time. For more of his work you can also follow him on Instagram and Facebook.
Thanks to @EvilViergacht for the link.
Quiz answer: stop reading this and go look at the comic, ya dingus
A. Quinton — Jul. 10th 2017
You and I are alone in an executive office. I am sitting across from you at a desk. Behind me, a smouldering sunset illuminates the skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The desk is massive, gleaming, its dark varnished surface devoid of objects except for my folded hands and an unbranded video tablet. Its screen is illuminated but shows only a white triangle on a black background.
We sit in silence, the steady eye contact between us drawing out for what seems to you like many minutes, until I lean forward suddenly, as though responding to a signal your senses are not yet attuned to detect. My leather chair creaks as I push the tablet towards you with my stiletto-manicured fingertips. Wordlessly, you accept the device, rotating it so that the triangle points to your right in the universal symbol of commencement, fresh starts, new beginnings. But you have been here before, you tell yourself. This is not new. Can this be right?
“WolfCop?” Your whispered question hovers between us like a frightened hummingbird.
I lean back in my chair, folding my hands, and blink slowly. A look of profound serenity settles on my face, as gentle and implacable as the encroaching twilight. You don’t understand, yet. But you will.
“No,” I murmur. “Another WolfCop.”
As the last sliver of sun sinks below the horizon, presque-vu blooms in your mind, heralding a sudden liminal epiphany – too big to comprehend, but eternal and infinitely knowable. With trembling fingers, you reach out and press “play”.
Thank you to @Somnilux and everyone else who sent me a link to this trailer for the long-awaited sequel to WolfCop. If you’re in Montreal you can catch the Canadian premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival at 2:40 PM on July 29th. If you’re anywhere else in the world, keep an eye on this site for release info.
Craig J. Clark — Jul. 8th 2017
Is it possible to make a successful werewolf movie where the protagonist never transforms into a wolf creature of any kind? Well, in 1975, Toei Tokyo proved it was not only possible, but the resulting film could be wildly entertaining in unexpected ways. Based on a popular manga series by Kazumasa Hirai, Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope follows the adventures of Akira Inugami, the lone survivor of a clan of werewolves slaughtered during the opening credits who grows up to be a reporter played by action star Sonny Chiba. After witnessing the grisly demise of a man in a white suit (all the better to show off his red, red blood) frantically fleeing from a phantom tiger that corners him and claws him to death, Akira is grilled by the police, but soon released when the autopsy report comes back. “A human being wouldn’t be able to slash a body like that,” one cop says, “and not in such a short time either.” Little do they know…
From that point on, the fantastical plot Akira gets enmeshed in becomes increasingly convoluted. Turns out the dead man was in the band Mobs which, at the behest of its corrupt manager, gang-raped up-and-coming singer Miki Ogata (Etsuko Nami), who was given syphilis by one of them. As a result, she’s strung out on drugs and reduced to singing in a cheap strip club, which is where Akira tracks her down, but not before facing off against a vicious gang of yakuza thugs. From this altercation he’s rescued by a mysterious motorcyclist all in black leather who takes him back to her place, literally licks his wounds, and initiates sex. “Right now, I’m just a woman who wants an animal,” she says, and she gets one before disappearing from the film as abruptly as she rode into it.
At various points during the story, director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi inserts a caption to keep the viewer updated on what day of the lunar cycle it is. This is pertinent because while Akira never physically changes, his mystical powers wax and wane with the moon, so on Day 15 — the full moon — he’s near-invincible and he’s at his weakest when it’s new. Even so, between these extremes he still has astonishing healing powers, which is why he shrugs it off when he’s shot in the shoulder and is unconcerned about catching the clap when he puts the moves on Miki.
For her part, Miki turns out to have a psychic link with the phantom tiger slashing her rapists and other ne’er-do-wells to death. This is why she’s of interest to the Japanese Cabinet Intelligence Agency, which also scoops up Akira and experiments on him, even performing a blood transfusion to see if lycanthropy and its attendant powers can be passed on in that fashion. The answer: kind of, but the effect is only temporary and the recipient has a nasty surprise coming to them. “Is this proof that werewolves and humans can never mix?” Akira muses, sending him back to his birthplace, where he’s immediately recognized and captured by the same superstitious villagers that massacred his clan years before. (Guess they have long memories.)
This development leads to the the film’s third weird sex scene, when Akira is freed by a woman who takes pity on him and says, “Let my body give you some relief, even if just for a while.” (Screenwriter Fumio Konami’s dialogue is full of such howlers, although it’s entirely possible this is just a translation issue.) Inevitably, everything winds up with the long-awaited clash between wolf and tiger as Akira and Miki are pitted against each other by the J-CIA, whose director also meets a fitting end. And now, thanks to Arrow Video’s sterling release, this underseen werewolf exploitation film will be reaching more eyeballs than it has in decades. Long live Wolf Guy!
A. Quinton — Jul. 6th 2017
I love a good werewolf-themed event hashtag. I even tried starting one myself, to middling success. (Pro tip: don’t expect your art-related group thing to pop off if you don’t really draw anything yourself). Enter #Julycanthropy, the preferred portmanteau of summertime werewolves everywhere.
Originally coined (as near as I can tell) on Twitter last year by Tiffany Turrill, Julycanthropy is a great excuse to draw werewolves for an entire month. It’s like Inktober with all of those pesky non-lycanthrope prompts removed. Participating artists generally post their daily drawings on Twitter under the #julycanthropy tag, where the rest of us can enjoy the wide variety of thematic interpretations.
Collective, decentralized events like this are awesome because anyone can do whatever they like, but for those wanting a common set of prompts to work from, may I recommend Maria Nynfa‘s list:
— Maria Nynfa (@maria_nynfa) July 1, 2017
A. Quinton — Jul. 4th 2017
All right, put down your hot dogs and sparklers. Put them down. You shouldn’t be holding both of them at the same time. What’s wrong with you? Anyway. Today Image Comics published= the entire series run of The Astounding Wolf-Man in a single hardcover collection, and at 656 pages and 4.4 pounds, you’re going to need both hands to pick this thing up. That’s heavier than the MacBook I’m typing this on.
And pick it up you should, especially if you’ve ever wished that werewolves had their own mainstream comic book series or television show, like zombies got with The Walking Dead. The Astounding Wolf-Man was written by none other than TWD writer/creator Robert Kirkman. While it eschews the monochrome misery of his famous zombie franchise for a more superhero-versus-supervillain type of tale, TAWM has its fair share of narrative shocks and monstrously-derived violence. It’s one of the first comic titles I ever wrote about for Werewolf News, and I’m very glad to see its three-year run and all of Jason Howard‘s awesome art captured in such a lovely artifact.
For the first time ever, the complete ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN is collected in one volume! When Gary Hampton is mauled and left for dead, his life takes a drastic turn! When the moon is full, he transforms into a beast of the night—a werewolf! But this curse will not be used for evil. Witness the birth of the world’s most unlikely new superhero—The Astounding Wolf-Man! Collects ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #1-25 and INVINCIBLE #57
This big book of werewolf-punching-vampires is available right now in print from Amazon or your favourite local comic retailer (request it with Diamond ID APR170737), or digitally through Image and Comixology.
Many thanks to @JDBoucher0 of Space Goat Productions for the heads-up!
A. Quinton — Jun. 28th 2017
Space Goat Productions is combining three things I love: werewolf comics, Halloween and free stuff. Their very sweet, very fun all-ages comic Moonlighters has joined the 30-title roster of Halloween ComicFest, and will be including a mini-version of Moonlighters #1 (which I reviewed in March) in the spooky version of Free Comic Book Day.
Halloween ComicFest happens on the Saturday before Halloween (this year it’s on October 28th) at your local comic shop. It’s a family-friendly event where you can pick up some free comics, show off your costume someplace that isn’t a cold sidewalk after dark, and maybe win a shopping spree in the Halloween ComicFest costume contest. There are at least two comics in this year’s list that feature werewolves (Moonlighters and this Black Betty one-shot, which looks great), and the commemorative t-shirt (illustrated by Francesco Francavilla) features a werewolf who’s super into Hellboy.
For more on Halloween ComicFest visit the event website, and for more on why Moonlighters is an especially good choice for a family-friendly give-away, check out this Space Goat news post. And lest you think a kid-friendly werewolf comic has nothing to hold your grown-up werewolf fan attention, check out this page from Moonlighters #2, which shows that not every werewolf transformation in the series is of the “sparkle magic” type.