Claymation video for Clutch’s “The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…”

April 22, 2014 by in Film, Television & Music

Maryland rock band Clutch has a particularly dedicated fan in Curtis Hein, who singlehandedly animated a full-length music video to the band’s song “The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…” from their latest album, Earth Rocker. The guys in the band were so impressed with the effort and the results that they made it the official music video. I can see why! Great song, great video.

Extraterrestrial nonsense couldn’t derail Face Off’s “Cry Wolf”

April 21, 2014 by in Film, Television & Music, Special Effects & Props

When I heard that last Wednesday’s episode of Face Off was the conclusion of a two-episode competition involving vampires and werewolves, I had to take a look. What I saw puzzled me: alien werewolves. In “Cry Wolf”, the four remaining competitors were tasked with creating werewolves displaying “newly-evolved feature specifically designed to take their vampire rivals down”. They did something very similar a year ago. Is it a rule that every challenge on this show has to be hampered by the requirement that the creature be from another world? Isn’t it challenge enough to design, sculpt, cast, paint and finish a unique werewolf design in 20 hours without having to make it look like a background extra from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

But I digress. The four competitors were Rashad, Tyler, George and Niko. Each one of them definitely worked a unique angle in the design of their otherworldly werewolves. Rashad’s Asian-themed werewolf had the ability to throw flame from his hands, Tyler’s design was classic werewolf with the addition of giant wrist bone spurs, George’s werewolf was actually an evolved version of his vampire design, and Niko’s creation was covered in spikes to ward off his vampire’s super long, super creepy tongue. I won’t tell you who got eliminated, but I will say that it wasn’t Tyler, whose old-school werewolf design I liked best.

face-off-tyler face-off-rashad face-off-niko face-off-george

One other observation about the episode – despite the standard reality TV techniques trying to inject drama into the proceedings (tense music, reaction shots, playing up injuries and accidents, etc.), these four guys really seemed to get along. There wasn’t any bickering or trash-talking, and they seemed to respect each others’ work. I don’t know if it was because of the professionalism of the industry, or just because these guys do like each other, but it was nice to see.

My WolfCop experience at Fan Expo Vancouver

April 19, 2014 by in Pop Culture, Special Effects & Props

Wolfcop & MeYesterday was the opening night of Fan Expo Vancouver, and I used a combination of stealth, charm, and an ancient technique known as “paying for a ticket” to gain entry. Once inside I spent most of the evening lurking around booth 143, where the WolfCop crew was set up.

Over the course of three hours Emersen Ziffle transformed Leo Fafard into the lycanthropic lawman, while CineCoup and production representatives (hi Megan!) explained the film to an increasingly enthralled crowd of passersby. Director Lowell Dean was there too, answering questions and helping Emersen get Leo’s uniform sleeves rolled down over WolfCop’s enormous clawed gloves.

Once the transformation was complete, WolfCop stalked the halls of the Vancouver Convention Centre with his entourage. I had to leave before the procession ended with beer, bourbon and nachos at The Cambie, but I had an excellent time, and I came away with some souvenirs and some good info. Here’s what I learned:

  • The June 6th release date is for Canadian Cineplex theatres only, but an announcement regarding wider distribution – presumably covering US and international markets – should be happening in the next week or two. The film will have a two-week engagement in Canadian theatres, but it could run longer if audience numbers are good.
  • Lowell Dean graciously endured my initial fanboy freakout and we had a great conversation about the film’s promotion, the bright side of having to shoot outdoor scenes in sub-zero Saskatchewan winter weather (atmospheric snow effects), and the action figures available through the Indiegogo campaign. He had the affable, easygoing air of someone who gets to do what he loves with people he trusts.
  • Leo Fafard is enthusiastic, charming and intense, even when faced with the prospect of having to sit still for three hours while someone glues stuff to his face – again. I look forward to seeing how he channels that energy into his portrayal of Lou in the film.
  • Emersen Ziffle tackled his work with fastidious care, and surveyed the prowling, capering results from a distance with the quiet satisfaction of a proud parent. After chatting with him I learned that this was roughly the 25th time he’d applied the makeup to Leo, and it was clear to me that he didn’t think the casual convention setting was an excuse to compromise on quality.
  • WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-11The main makeup application appeared to be a two-piece prosthetic, comprised of a cowl that surrounded Leo’s face with fur and built-in pointed ears, and a facial prosthetic that blended into the larger piece at the edges. Leo inserted his own contact lenses and dental appliances, and Emersen and Lowell helped get his werewolf gloves on like a Formula 1 pit crew changing tires. The nails on the gloves were solid and fairly sharp, and even at close range the detail on everything held up wonderfully.
  • A pair of gore-streaked WolfCop gloves were on display around the corner from the main booth, ostensibly as part of a small CineCoup booth. The blood and flesh splattering the fur were obviously from Lou, and Lowell confirmed that the transformation scenes are going to be graphic. There’s blood and shredded skin “everywhere,” he told me. “He actually rips his own face off.”
  • I heard more than a few folks exclaim with glee over the film’s tagline “Here Comes The Fuzz”, which replaced the “Dirty Harry… Only Harrier” line initially seen on the official poster.
  • I got deputized with an official WolfCop police badge, so, you know, don’t be doing any crimes near me.

The WolfCop presence at Fan Expo Vancouver continued today, with a panel at 11AM, followed by another makeup transformation. If you’re in the Vancouver area, you still have a chance to see Lowell, Leo, Emersen and friends tomorrow. After that they’ll also be at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo April 24 – 27, and at Fan Expo Regina May 3 – 4. I imagine further events will be announced as the premiere approaches.

Below are some photos I took of the makeup process. Many thanks to the WolfCop crew for letting me hang out!

WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-01 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-02 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-03 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-04 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-05 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-06 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-07 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-08 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-09 WolfCop-FanExpoVancouver-10

Kickstart the “Tales of the Wolfman” multi-artist anthology

April 18, 2014 by in Books & Comics, Crowdsourced Projects

Bride of the Wolfman coverTales of the Wolfman creators David Gruba and Rene Castellano have just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a 48-page, multi-artist Tales of the Wolfman anthology.

Tales of the Wolfman is an Instant Press Comics series that observes the unconventional domestic bliss that arises when Little Red Riding Hood decides to marry the Big Bad Wolf (instead of letting some burly dude chop him up with an axe). Adding to my delight at this premise is the twist that the Wolf is actually a wolfman with a posse of monster friends, and that Red kind of looks and acts like the lady who married me instead of giving me the axe.

There are two shorter Tales of the Wolfman books out already, and for this new one David and Rene are looking to raise $5,000 USD, which will cover the cost of printing the books and paying the lengthy list of contributing artists. That list includes folks like Justin Casteneda, Dave Scheidt (whose Monster Dudes comics I adore), Lee O’Hanlon, Angel Onofre, Ali Cantarella, Tony Maldonado, Greg Sorkin, Lauren Burke, Brian Babendererde, Sara Mundt (can’t find a link, sorry, Sara), Wil Brendel, Catherine and Sarah Satrun, and more.

So you’ve got a comic series with an adorable premise, two great books out already, and an army of talented comic creators who want to make even more for you. In exchange for your support, you can get the new book (duh), the previous two, original art, and even an appearance as a character in the anthology. Why not skip that fancy corporate coffee or that artisanal locally micro-brewed wheat ale or whatever, just one time, and put that money towards this instead?

Oh boy, I’m starting to use Marc Maron guilt tactics now. BOOMER LIVES!

Get a little WolfCop in your life / in your home / on your body

April 17, 2014 by in Crowdsourced Projects, Film, Television & Music, Gaming & Collectibles

Every time the creators and filmmakers behind WolfCop come up with something new, I holler like a maniac and run in an excited circle. Friends, I’ve been hollering and circling all morning. Yesterday they launched a $10,000 Indiegogo campaign to “take WolfCop beyond the big screen”, and its centrepiece is a little WolfCop to call your own. For $75 USD, you can get a 7.5″ vinyl figure with 16 points of articulation, sculpted by WolfCop creature FX artist Emersen Ziffle and produced by Erick Scarecrow of ESC Toys. There’s also a $200 limited edition deluxe version for the “big kid collector”, with some upgraded materials and extra perks to sweeten the deal.

WolfCop Action Figure

WolfCop Graphic Novel PreviewWolfCop T-Shirt

There are a ton of other levels, with rewards including VIP screening tickets, getting listed in the DVD / Blu-ray credits, an exclusive t-shirt, a print of that bad-ass poster, and even something at the $2 level that involves SnapChat and “WolfCop’s fleeting moments in heat”. Everyone who contributes at the $15 level or higher also gets a digital copy of the first WolfCop graphic novel from Arcana Studios, with two more entries in a potential trilogy as a stretch goal.

I’m already contributing at the $75 level, but I’m considering ruining myself financially in order to obtain the single $10,000 USD “Unleash Your Inner WolfCop” reward. That’s the one where Emmersen flies to your town and transforms you into WolfCop – latex appliances, fur, claws, uniform and all. Interesting that the cheapest and most expensive backer levels get you intimately acquainted with WolfCop’s fur.

The campaign runs until May 16th and they’re already over halfway funded, so I think they’re gonna make it.

Oh, and two more things: a sincere thank-you to Sarah and the WolfCop team for choosing me as one of the winners in their draw for a signed-by-Lowell print of this great set still! And if you’re at Fan Expo Vancouver tomorrow, I will be there too, saying hi to the WolfCop folks – and to you too!

Full Moon Features: The Beast Must Die

April 15, 2014 by in Film, Television & Music, Reviews

The Beast Must DieThe discerning lycanthropologist might be interested to know that the recently published reference book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks includes entries on a number of classic werewolf films, including Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, The Curse of the Werewolf and The Company of Wolves. (Full disclosure: I contributed the chapter on Werewolf of London.) And somebody was also willing to go to bat for the werewolf-themed whodunnit The Beast Must Die, which was released 40 years ago this month.

Made by Amicus Productions, which was better known for its horror anthologies, The Beast Must Die is about a rich, eccentric big-game hunter (Calvin Lockhart) who invites five strangers out to his secluded estate because he believes one of them to be a werewolf — and when he finds out which one it is, he plans to put a silver bullet right between its eyes. To this end, he’s had his property rigged up with surveillance cameras and microphones by security expert Anton Diffring, who’s about the only person on the premises who’s not under suspicion. For all he knows, it could even be his own wife (Marlene Clark, star of Ganja & Hess), but obviously he would rather that not be the case.

Those watching The Beast Must Die for the first time might be confused by the opening, in which Lockhart tests out his security system by pretending to be the most dangerous game and having his own men hunt him down. Those watching it for the second time, however, will find it fairly tedious since we already know what the score is. Its one saving grace, though, is that Lockhart doesn’t speak much, because for the balance of the film he’s given some pretty damned pretentious dialogue for somebody who’s hosting an Agatha Christie-inspired werewolf-hunting party. This comes to the fore when he introduces the suspects: ex-diplomat Charles Gray, concert pianist Michael Gambon, his ex-pupil and current lover Ciaran Madden, hirsute painter Tom Chadbon, and noted archaeologist Peter Cushing. As it turns out, Cushing is also something of a werewolf expert, which is unfortunate for him as it means he has to deliver reams of pseudoscientific exposition, and in a fairly shaky accent to boot. (For example, did you know that lycanthropy is caused by a lymphatic hormone, or that silver is only poisonous to a werewolf when wolfbane pollen is in the air? I didn’t, either.)

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m completely down on the film. It’s not the worst werewolf film ever made — not by a long shot — but it’s definitely one of the least enthralling, especially the second time around. It sure doesn’t help that director Paul Annett pads the running time with a pointless car chase when one of Lockhart’s suspects attempts to flee, and the way he alternates between scenes of Lockhart stalking his prey at night and being stalked himself during the day loses its novelty in a hurry. The biggest disappointment, though, is when the monster is revealed to be a big, black German shepherd. That’s not a beast that needs to die. It probably just wants to go walkies.

A “Curse” worth having

April 14, 2014 by in Books & Comics

Curse #4 CoverThe dangers of a long journey home from a distant land can cast a haze on the memories of the adventure as a whole, unless the traveller returns with some bauble or token to commemorate the experience. That is why I drove home from Emerald City Comic Con – the gruelling two hours between Seattle and Vancouver just straight up riven with gentle rain and outlet stores – with three issues of Curse clutched to my chest. It was important… that I remember.

This isn’t a review, because I’m bad at those. This is me, a werewolf fan, asserting to you, a fellow werewolf fan, that Curse is excellent, and worth your time. Its four creators have made something like a tender paternal heart, then wrapped it in chains and stuffed it with wiry grey fur, blood-stained snow and the specific sadness that comes when you were real good at football but then someone stepped on your leg. Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel are bad men for thinking up a story where the character with the sunniest outlook is a kid with terminal cancer, and Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer are suspiciously adept at drawing human entrails.

The fourth and final issue comes out this Wednesday the 16th, and you can see an exclusive preview on Bloody Disgusting, but I recommend that you read the first three issues before you go there. There are some Bad Decisions happening in the preview pages, and you’re better off understanding the characters before you take sides.

It is true that I collected some other artifacts while at ECCC: an advance DVD of the excellent comics documentary Stripped, a physical copy of the splendid werewolf comic anthology Wolfen Jump, a smile and chat from Anathema creator Rachel Deering, and a persistent cold that my wife and I received from inhaling the coughs of tens of thousands of people. But for me, Curse stands out as the jewel for two reasons: 1) I wanted to read it because everyone says it’s really good, and 2) it turns out everyone’s right, it’s really good. You should check it out.

Help “House of Monsters” cross the finish line

April 9, 2014 by in Crowdsourced Projects, Film, Television & Music

The Kickstarter campaign for stop-motion series House of Monsters is currently eight days out from finishing, and while it looks like it’s building some momentum, it’s gonna need a little juice from monster fans to go all the way. Take a look at the campaign page or my previous HoM post for a rundown on why this project is worth your contribution (short version: talented and experienced people building and animating incredibly detailed monster puppets, including an excellent werewolf), or check out this higher-level backer reward: get turned into a monster puppet and have a role in the show! I can’t even type that without my eyebrows going up in excitement.

House of Monsters custom puppetSuspend your anti-vampire prejudice for just a moment (I know it’s hard, but if I did it, so can you) and imagine how rad it would be to see yourself transformed into a werewolf in such a novel way. Now stop imagining, and recognize that this is a Real Thing That Could Actually Happen if you donate at The Broomstick level or higher. Go check it out!


Laura Imbruglia & Chelsea Wolfe music videos

April 8, 2014 by in Film, Television & Music, Pop Culture

Do you like music? I like music, and I like music videos that are trippy or funny, too. I have one of each for you on this Tuesday evening.

The first, submitted by the venerable Lew, is for Laura Imbruglia‘s song “Awoooh!“, which is from her new album “What A Treat.” Lew suggested that it would fulfill all my “disco line-dancing wolfgirl needs”, which it absolutely did. It also introduced me to Laura’s music, which is a poppy brand of country-rock – something I never would have sought out on my own, but which I find utterly charming.

The second video comes from a reader whose original email or tweet I have lost, but to whom I am indebted for giving me a such great flashback to the mid-1990′s heyday of music video production. The song is “Feral Love” by Chelsea Wolf, which you might recognize from this trailer for season 4 of Game Of Thrones. The song is originally from her album “Pain Is Beauty“, and the video by Mark Pellington is loaded with unsettling imagery.


Nicholas Pekearo’s “The Wolfman” novel gets a film deal

April 4, 2014 by in Books & Comics, Film, Television & Music

Pekearo - The WolfmanDeadline reports that a film version of Nicholas Pekearo’s “werewolf cop uses curse to kill criminals” novel The Wolfman is in the works.  The novel was up by Macmillan Entertainment and Everest Entertainment Group, who are working with Pekearo’s mother to develop the novel into a screenplay. Pekearo was a NYPD Auxiliary police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2007. “The Wolfman” was his first novel, and was published in 2009.

I bought a copy of The Wolfman when it came out and never finished it because… well, I didn’t think it was a very good book. I feel like a turd for saying this about the posthumous debut of a murdered hero, but to me it read like satire written by someone who didn’t really like the subject he was satirizing. I would love to think that if I had given it a few more pages I would have “gotten” Pekearo’s angle and enjoyed it, as so many of its reviewers did. Okay, how about this: I hope the film adaptation cuts through the cliches that distracted me, does well enough to spin off into a TV series, makes Pekearo’s family a million bucks, and culminates in a six-episode cross-over with WolfCop. From what I’ve read about him, I think that would have pleased Pekearo.