Full Moon Features: Uncaged (2016)

Craig J. Clark — Jun. 19th 2016

Uncaged Werewolf

Tonally, the horror-comedy is one of the trickiest hybrid genres to successfully pull off. Lean too heavily on the comedy — as last month’s Full Moon Feature Crying Wolf did — and the horror won’t register. Go too far in the other direction and the comedy will feel awkwardly shoehorned in. The third option arises when neither half of the equation works all that well, leading the whole to be a wash, which is the unfortunate situation with the new werewolf film Uncaged by writer/director Daniel Robbins and co-writer Mark Rapaport. What’s especially sad is they started with a not-terrible concept and proceeded to spoil it with sloppy execution, illogical plotting, and the most egregious comic-relief character this side of Franklin in the woeful Curse of the Wolf. (Stay tuned for that direct-to-video gem.)

See, there’s this boy named Jack (Ben Getz) who, upon turning 18, inexplicably starts waking up outdoors, completely naked and with no memory of how he got that way. Since he’s spending winter break at his uncle’s cabin with his college buds Turner (Kyle Kirkpatrick) and Brandon (Zachary Weiner) — the latter his geeky horndog cousin — after it happens a second time he borrows the former’s GoPro camera and straps it to his forehead to see what he gets up to when he gets up in the middle of the night. This sets up the moment the next morning when he uploads the video to his laptop and watches himself (or, rather, his hairy, flailing arms) kill a man and chase down a woman who manages to get away. That’s when he realizes what he is and retroactively figures out what happened when he was six and his mother slaughtered his father one night while he cowered in his bedroom. (They really should have been more strict about who tucked him in when it was mommy’s time of the month.)

So far, not so bad, even if Brandon’s obsession with sex is more off-putting than endearing. (After Jack comes home one morning clad only in a plastic garbage bag, Brandon confides, “You know, if it’s something weird, like some fetish thing, I get it, all right? Let’s just say I get it.” Enough said, young man.) Then Robbins and Rapaport start introducing extraneous characters like Rose (Paulina Singer), whose suspicious-minded drug dealer husband Gonzo (Garrett Lee Hendricks) is anxious to know what she was doing on a train platform with Jack’s victim. (When she’s interviewed about it on TV, it’s called a “bear attack,” but when she tells Jack the creature looked like “a big gorilla,” that’s a bit closer to the mark.) And the less said about Turner’s online hookup Crystal (Michelle Cameron) the better since her only function is to be his victim when he’s bitten by Jack and subsequently turns into a werewolf himself. Which, incidentally, is where Robbins and Rapaport directly contradict themselves since every discussion between Jack’s mother (Angela Atwood), who’s kept her distance from him for the past twelve years, and his uncle Mike (Alex Emanuel) makes plain that their shared condition is genetic, so it shouldn’t be able to be transmitted via bites or scratches.

Speaking of Jack’s mother, she jumps through a lot of unnecessary hoops to get a heavy-duty metal cage to him, dropping it off at a second-hand store and having its owner leave a cryptic message on Jack’s voicemail. If she had truly wanted him to be prepared for his first (and his second and his third and his fourth) change, she would have been up front with him instead of sneaking into the cabin at night to secretly tranquilize him. And having Uncle Mike send a letter inviting Jack to his empty cabin while he’s out on the road for some damned reason is just plain illogical. Then again, a dearth of logic is endemic to most of these characters. As suspicious as Turner is about what’s going on, why would he go out of his way to prevent Jack from locking himself in his cage? And when Brandon turns up with his throat torn out the next morning, why doesn’t Turner blame himself since it’s totally his fault? And why does he keep inviting Crystal out to the cabin if he truly believes this will put her in harm’s way? When you get right down to it, the only halfway reasonable character in the whole bunch is Wade (Gene Jones, also the only halfway recognizable actor in the cast), the second-hand store owner, and he has next to nothing to do with the plot. That says something, and what it says is not good at all. Woof.

The Big American Road Trip Vacation

A. Quinton — Jun. 15th 2016

If you hadn’t noticed from the dearth of posts, I’m on vacation! My wife and I are driving 10,000 km (6,200 miles) around America. Internet access and time to research & write posts are scarce. I’ll be back the weekend of June 25th.

In the meantime, Craig J. Clark has a great Full Moon Features werewolf movie review coming up on the 19th, and June 20th is #DrawAWerewolfDay.

Total werewolves encountered on this road trip so far: 2.

Paul Simon’s “The Werewolf” is coming, with extra fries

A. Quinton — May. 24th 2016

Paul Simon

Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger Paul Simon is one of those musicians who’ve always just been there during my life, even though I’m only – deeply – familiar with one of his albums. That shallow knowledge is going to get a little deeper on June 3rd, when his album Stranger to Stranger comes out.

The opening song on that new album is The Werewolf, a tune that would have fit perfectly on Graceland, with its quirky instrumentation, drawling vocals and black-humoured lyrics about modern dread.

Two things I learned about Paul Simon today: he’s one of those people who pronounces it “WURR-wolf”, and his singing voice has not changed a bit in 30 years.

NPR’s All Songs +1 podcast has an interview with Simon about how The Werewolf was conceived, written and recorded. “We’re about to get hit with all the stuff that people’ve been saying we’re going to get hit with for a long time, and it’s coming.”

Thanks to @burntwolf for the link!

Full Moon Features: Crying Wolf (2015)

Craig J. Clark — May. 20th 2016

Crying Wolf

A British horror-comedy that succeeds at being neither horrific nor funny, Crying Wolf fails on the former front because it’s too incompetently made for any of its intended shocks to register. And it fails on the latter front because its humor is far too broad and its cast of characters stocked with insufferable caricatures given naught but inane dialogue to recite. The only thing remotely “funny” about it is the fact that its top-billed “star” — horror vet Caroline Munro — appears in one scene only at the very beginning of the film, never to return. I hope she made a point of cashing her check as soon as it arrived in the post.

Set in the quaint country village of Deddington (are we laughing yet?), Crying Wolf comes burdened with a cumbersome framing story about a private detective (second-billed Gary Martin, whose character is never given a name) who buys a book of that title from an antiques dealer (Munro) which he proceeds to peruse at the local pub. Instead of being an ancient tome, though, it rather improbably tells the tale of a modern-day pack of werewolves which fell prey to a pair of paranormal pest controllers in the none-too-distant past. These events are so recent, in fact, that the reason the detective is nosing around town is because he’s looking into the death of a newspaper reporter who was looking into the mysterious death of a local girl, both of which are recounted in flashbacks that are not to be confused with the stories told by the pack to pass the time while they’re out on a camping holiday-cum-hunting expedition together or when they were bullshitting the soon-to-be-dead reporter. Yep, totally straightforward, movie. Not unnecessarily convoluted at all.

At the center of the drama, such as it is, are alpha Milly (Gabriela Hersham) and her recently turned lover Andy (Kristofer Dayne). In fact, everyone else in the pack has been recently turned as well since Andy put the bite on them within minutes of being infected by Milly at the same time she eliminated the aforementioned local girl. (Seems she’s not fond of competition.) The others are a varied lot, each with a single defining trait — one’s a toothless old codger, another smokes a pipe, etc. — but they all turn into the same exact black-furred, rubber-faced creature when they transform, and the only way to tell which one is which is when they’re killed and revert back to human form. They’re also subject to the same cheap-ass digital effects when they let their wolfish side out, which doesn’t happen en masse until the end of the film, when director Tony Jopia lingers on the worst CGI transformations I’ve ever had the misfortune to see.

Not content merely to half-ass their way through a werewolf film, Jopia and his co-writers, screenwriter Andy Davie and story collaborator Michael Dale, periodically digress into other genres, including gangster films (pointlessly referencing the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction), slasher movies (in the scene where one topless sunbather tells her impressionable friend about all the bad things that could happen to them out in the woods, including being stalked by a hooded killer), and action films. The latter come into play during the climactic showdown between the pack and the well-armed hunters that have led them down the garden path, and frankly, by the time they started getting shot to pieces and otherwise dismembered, I was more than ready to see their ranks thinned out. There’s even a dollop of torture porn courtesy of the scene where one of the hunters chains up one of the werewolves and pulls out a chainsaw, prompting the wolf to say, “Oh, great. A fucking chainsaw. What are you going to do with that?” “Funny you might ask that,” the hunter replies. No, it is not, Crying Wolf. It’s lousy screenwriting and you should be ashamed of it.

I’m writing a novel

A. Quinton — May. 14th 2016

I’m writing my first novel.

The draft will be around 120,000 words, if my outline is even remotely accurate. I’ve been trying to put down 1,000 words a day since the beginning of the month. That’s an ambitious daily goal for a slow writer like me, and I’m not quite making it, but I’m getting closer with each day.

I’m finding some comforting parallels between this effort and the 4 months I spent training for my first marathon, which I ran the day before I started writing this novel. Getting up early to run or write, grinding out 10 miles or three pages when I’d rather be reading or having a leisurely breakfast (especially when my goal was 12 miles or five pages) and then knowing I have to do it again tomorrow… it can be miserable, but the delight and satisfaction that comes from the cumulative result far outweighs the disappointments.

My posting schedule here will continue to be sporadic as I dedicate my daily commutes and lunch breaks to the novel. My goal is to get the first 30,000 words done as quickly as possible, then take a break to write more here and focus on Werewolves Versus Music while that first quarter draft mellows. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience and your continued readership.

I’m superstitious and shy and I’ve learned to under-promise and over-deliver, so I’ll share just two things about this novel for now. The working title is “Lilly & Jack”, and one of those two people is a werewolf.

Blumhouse & Boom! Studios adapting excellent “Curse” werewolf comic

A. Quinton — May. 10th 2016


According to The Hollywood Reporter, another werewolf film is headed into production – this one based on the excellent Boom! Studios comic Curse.

Curse pageTHR adequately describes Curse as the story of Laney Griffith, “a widowed father who inadvertently captures a werewolf, who will either become the broken family’s reluctant savior or its final destroyer.” Sure, that’s fine. For a more in-depth assessment, may I direct you to my 2014 post on the comic in question, A “Curse” Worth Having. An excerpt:

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.

I’m excited that such an excellent werewolf comic is being adapted for film, especially in what sounds like it might be a joint project between horror producer Blumhouse and Boom!. I know he’s probably busy with The Dark Tower, but I’d love to see Laney Griffith played by Idris Elba.

Curse is available as a trade paperback on Amazon, Comixology and direct from Boom!. Thanks to @ColonelNemo for the link.

Stoner ski bum vs. rich kid werewolves in upcoming horror-comedy “The Wildness”

A. Quinton — Apr. 29th 2016

The Realm

As reported exclusively by The Wrap, BC-based Bron Studios’ “genre label” The Realm is set to produce a werewolf feature film called The Wildness.

The story follows a ski bum who’s pushing 40 and still has a penchant for drugs, babes and transcendental meditation. He’s forced to become an unlikely hero in order to save a mountainside community too drunk on wild parties and over-development to notice that their kids are being systematically turned into werewolves.

Director Marcel Sarmiento will be shooting the horror-comedy from a script by Evan Dickson. Casting is underway, and filming is set to start in January 2017 right here in Vancouver.

There’s nothing about The Realm on the Bron Studios web site, but The Wrap describes it as “a genre label that specializes in director-driven films across multiple genres”. So, probably not horror-centric label, but something more boutique-y in general. I’m happy to see werewolf films getting some traction in these channels.

I can already think of several Vancouver-area mountainside neighbourhoods where over-development and parties are a thing. Of course, what this means is that once again, somewhere within 20 miles of me there will be cinema-quality werewolf costumes and makeup in play, and I will have no credible reason to be involved.

Jack & David “American Werewolf” figures from Pop Culture Shock

A. Quinton — Apr. 25th 2016


Via The Toyark, here’s the only psychic damage I’ve sustained this year from visible proof of werewolf stuff I missed by not being at Monsterpalooza again.

Pop Culture Shock announced a range of new figures, including An American Werewolf in London‘s unlucky backpackers Jack Goodman & David Kessler. From PCS’s newsletter, which I’m still not subscribed to:

12″ Jack & David Figures from An American Werewolf in London!
We are still working on getting the likeness right for the David Naughton figure so please dont judge too harshly just yet!

It’s a testament to the sculptor’s skill that I went from “who cares about figures of two floppy-haired dorks in puffy coats who don’t listen to advice re: moors, and staying off them” to “these look extremely cool” in under 60 seconds.

No news yet on release dates, but if you sign up for their newsletter (which, by this point in the post, I can confirm that I have done) you’ll get details as they become available.

If you’re more interested in the version of David Kessler that eats motherfuckers, PCS has you covered there too: the massive 1:4 scale “Kessler Wolf” statue I told you about last summer is now available for preorder.


Rich Tommaso’s “She Wolf” could be my comic of the summer

A. Quinton — Apr. 23rd 2016

She Wolf

SheWolf-01This one’s got its hooks in me. Following on the heels of his crime series Dark Corridor, writer/artist Rich Tommaso is bringing a new werewolf comic to Image this summer: She Wolf.

Set in New Jersey in the 1980s, “the story follows a teenage girl [Gabrielle] who believes she’s been bitten by a savage werewolf. Soon after she begins to experience feverish nightmares that seamlessly bleed into her everyday reality.”

This interview with Tommaso on The Frog Queen has some great background on the setting and his reasons for writing a book about werewolves:

I’ve always loved werewolves and I’m always disappointed when they’re given such small parts in fantasy/monster movies (Harry Potter is the best example of that). It was just a matter of coming up with something interesting to do with them. Once I thought about my High School years and trying to hide your bad habits (drinking, smoking, etc.) from your parents I felt like I had a good place to work from.

DarkCorridor_06-1The dreamlike nature of Gabrielle’s situation is underscored by the curving elegance and surreal high contrast of Tommaso’s artwork. Frankly, I can’t stop looking at it. This post took an afternoon to write because I kept opening new tabs to check out Dark Corridor original pages. This cover he designed for Dark Corridor #6 is insane. The creative force behind that kind of imagery, applied to werewolves? Yes PLEASE.

She Wolf issue 1 comes out June 22nd, 2016, and issue 2 follows on July 20th. I asked Tommaso on Twitter how many more he has planned, and to my simultaneous delight and consternation, he said “I’ve got it written as a 4-issue series. If it does well, I’ve got more I can do with it.”

Werewolf comic fans, help She Wolf do well because [altruistic: it’s important to support creators] [greedy: I want Tommaso to make as many issues of this as possible]! You can order issues 1 and 2 from your local comic shop right now with Diamond IDs APR160661 and MAY160656, respectively. A trade – presumably collecting the first 4 issues – will be out November 16th, but don’t wait that long to get into it or there won’t be more issues to collect in a second trade.

Check out this io9 post for a look at the first few pages of She Wolf issue 1, or scroll down for some interior artwork Tommaso has been posting on Twitter.

Full Moon Features: Howl (2015)

Craig J. Clark — Apr. 21st 2016

Howl Poster

When we first meet Joe Griffin (Ed Speleers), the protagonist of the British werewolf film Howl, things aren’t going so hot for him. Not only has he been passed over for a promotion at Alpha Trax, the rail company he works for, but the guy who got the job in his stead is a real jerk who makes him take a double shift and he’s shot down by a co-worker (Holly Weston) when he asks her out. Then, to top things off, the dreaded Eastborough red eye (which they’re both on) suffers a breakdown in the middle of a forest infested with werewolves. Talk about your hairy situations.

Writers Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler were on the ball when they named the company Alpha since much of the drama arises out of who takes the lead when things go pear-shaped and the train’s driver (played ever so briefly by Dog Soldiers vet Sean Pertwee) goes missing. Try as he might to maintain his authority, Joe is swiftly undermined by a entitled first-class passenger (Elliot Cowan) who’s accustomed to taking charge and an uptight businesswoman (Shauna Macdonald). Just about everybody takes a turn putting him in his place, though, including a narcissistic teenager (Rosie Day) and the elderly couple (Duncan Preston and Ania Marson) who share her compartment and have to put up with her inconsiderate behavior.

A funny thing happens, though, as the situation grows more dire and everyone comes around to the realization that the threat they’re facing is supernatural in origin: Joe becomes more confident and decisive, and he even gains some allies (starting with the similarly marginalized Sam Gittins and Amit Shah). That this coincides with director Paul Hyett’s decision to show off his creatures more is surely coincidental. After teasing the viewer with fleeting shots of digitigrade legs and twisted claws, once Hyett does the full reveal he keeps his monsters out in the open, while being mindful that the worst villains in these films are often the ones still standing on human feet.