Category: Film, Television & Music

Max Landis to write & direct remake of his father’s “An American Werewolf in London”

A. Quinton — Dec. 1st 2016

Max Landis

It had to happen eventually! As reported in early November by Deadline Hollywood, John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London – generally considered to be the gold standard of werewolf movies – is now officially set to get a remake. Things are still in the paperwork phase, but one thing’s for sure: Landis’s son Max will write and direct.

Max Landis is a filmmaker, writer, and producer in his own right, and he’s already taken a swing at a small but crucial part of An American Werewolf in London. In 2015 he and Homemade Movies collaborated on a deliberately shoe-string-budget shot-for-shot remake of the famous AWIL transformation scene.

I have mixed feeling about this. Personal issues aside (I’ve never interacted with Max Landis but he was a real dick to some friends of mine), I didn’t much like American Ultra or Chronicle, both of which Landis wrote. But more recently, he’s been involved in two small screen adaptations of works I really enjoy – the Douglas Adams Dirk Gently books, for which he wrote a BBC America / Netflix series, and Kris Straub’s Candle Cove / Ichor Falls stories, which he executive-produced as Channel Zero for Syfy. I haven’t seen those adaptations yet, but they’ve both received favourable reviews, and it has to mean something that this AWIL remake is the third thing in a row he’s involved with that I also happen to be super into.

An American Werewolf in London is a film that doesn’t need a remake, but then, what film really does? And if someone’s going to adapt AWIL, let it be someone who has a familial connection to the original’s legacy. As with so many other nascent werewolf films, I’ll keep my expectations low and my hopes high.

 

Full Moon Features: Bad Moon (1996)

Craig J. Clark — Nov. 13th 2016

Bad Moon

Compared to the ’80s, which was rather a boom time for werewolf cinema, the ’90s were considerably leaner, and with one or two notable exceptions, the films produced that decade much less memorable. Case in point: 1996’s Bad Moon, which was released 20 years ago this month, coming between the ludicrous Project: Metalbeast (which, I shit you not, is about a secret military plan to create armored werewolves) and An American Werewolf in Paris (a misbegotten sequel I still have no intention of wasting my time on). Tellingly, neither of those cast-offs have been released in souped-up editions by Scream Factory, but Bad Moon has, so that’s a definite point in its favor. Plus, the thing’s only 79 minutes long. How torturous can it be?

The answer is not very torturous at all. Bad Moon is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s ridiculous enough to be laughable for long stretches of time — even when the filmmakers are trying to play it straight. It was written for the screen and directed by Eric Red, who deserves an award for adapting a novel called Thor and not filling it with references to Norse mythology. Rather, Thor is an überprotective German shepherd owned by lawyer Janet (Mariel Hemingway) and lovable moppet Brett (Mason Gamble), who have moved to the Pacific Northwest to get away from the big, bad city. What they end up doing is moving next door to the big, bad wolf when Hemingway’s brother Ted (Michael Paré) returns from the jungle, where he was attacked by a werewolf, and takes up residence in their backyard. Thor knows what’s what, though, and does what any dog would do to protect the family.

Werewolf films live and die by their transformation scenes. In the olden days, they were accomplished with the use of time-lapse photography (as in 1941’s The Wolf Man) or simple cutaways (as in 1935’s Werewolf of London, which is featured in this film). During the wolf’s ’80s resurgence the order of the day was in-camera make-up effects (which is why classics like The Howling and An American Werewolf in London continue to be revered today). By the ’90s, however, the standard was CGI “morphing,” which in the case of Bad Moon looks about as cheesy as you would expect. The werewolf itself isn’t half bad and Paré’s performance as its human side is reasonably credible, but one wishes the effects crew had skipped the part in-between.

Full Moon Features: Big Bad Wolf (2006)

Craig J. Clark — Oct. 15th 2016

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Faithful readers of this blog are well aware that 2006 was not a stellar year for werewolf films. Between the turgid Underworld: Evolution, the substandard The Feeding, and the abysmal Curse of the Wolf, it has a lot to overcome. Which is why it’s such a surprise that Big Bad Wolf, which came out ten years ago this month, kinda works. I know I wouldn’t have expected too much from a movie about a group of college kids who drive up to a cabin in the woods to party and fall victim to, as Netflix describes it, “a vicious werewolf that rapes, murders and cracks bad jokes.”

For one thing, it helps that writer/director Lance W. Dreesen dispenses with the “teens partying in the woods” angle after the first 30 minutes and concentrates on the cat and mouse between the two survivors — timid Derek (Trevor Duke) and tough girl Sam (Kimberly J. Brown) — and the man they suspect of being the werewolf, namely Derek’s stepfather Mitchell (Richard Tyson), whose last name is Toblat because Dreesen apparently didn’t feel like being too subtle about it. As it turns out, Derek’s estranged uncle Charlie (Christopher Shyer) has also had his suspicions about Mitchell ever since Derek’s father died from an animal attack while on a hunting expedition in Cameroon, but getting the proof they need is harder than it looks, especially since the wolf has a way of coming out whenever Mitchell is roused to anger or just plain aroused. This leads to some pretty awkward scenes for all concerned (and a bit more hand-wringing than is absolutely necessary when Sam has to resort to drastic measures to get the DNA sample they need), but all roads lead back to the cabin on Bear Mountain for the final showdown between man and beast.

Genre fans looking for some creative bloodletting won’t walk away from Big Bad Wolf disappointed (although there is one scene that may cause those of the male persuasion to cross their legs in discomfort). And there are a couple of nice cameos from Clint Howard (as the requisite local who warns the kids away from the cabin) and a noticeably paunchy David Naughton (as the sheriff who believes Derek and Sam are holding back, but doesn’t feel obligated to press them on the matter). If only Dreesen had resisted the temptation to have his furry villain quote from a certain story about a wolf and some little pigs…

Nashville werewolf fans: attend premiere screening of “Hair of the Dog” for free

A. Quinton — Oct. 12th 2016

If you’re in the Nashville area on October 24th, you’re invited to attend the premiere screening of “Hair of the Dog”, a short film about werewolves, addiction, and recovery.

I first heard about Hair of the Dog when its creator, Michael Butts, contacted me with some gross, funny and extremely well-done teasers last year. I loved what I saw so I’ve covered the project more than any other werewolf indie film (except for WolfCop), including an interview with Michael, posts on additional teasers and werewolf makeup, and a related music video by Sleep Nation. I’m happy to share a new Sleep Nation track named after the film’s old title, “I’m a Werewolf, But That’s Ok”, and I’m delighted that the project is nearing completion.

I can’t make it to the premiere, but Michael’s given me the go-ahead to invite all of you! It’ll be standing room only, but you can get in for free. Say hi to Michael for me!

Malco Smyrna Cinema
100 Movie Row, Smyrna, TN 37167
Doors open at 6:30PM and the film will start at 7PM

PCS “The Howling” exclusive statue now available for pre-order

A. Quinton — Oct. 11th 2016

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That stunning two-foot-tall statue of The Howling‘s Eddie Quist from Pop Culture Shock is now available for pre-order from a variety of sources, but if you’re gonna get it, you’d be crazy not to get it direct from PCS. Their exclusive version has the same sticker price as other sites – $474.99 USD – but it comes with an alternate head (jaws closed, which is cool to see) and one of Eddie Quist’s smiley-face stickers. Plus, if you pay in full up front, you get 15% off.

Here are eight photos showing the werewolf statue’s different angles and details. For another 19(!) photos and more details, visit PCS. There are only 300 of this edition available, so act fast!

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PCS Collectibles announces killer 1:4 “The Howling” werewolf statue

A. Quinton — Sep. 28th 2016

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Here’s a first look at the upcoming 1:4 “The Howling” werewolf statue from PCS Collectibles, fresh out of their email newsletter (which I almost deleted out-of-hand because it led with another Street Fighter II statue instead of this beauty).

If there was a “Mount Rushmore” of cinematic werewolves, three portraits would be carved into it: Larry Talbot by Jack Pierce, David Kessler by Rick Baker and Eddie Quist by Rob Bottin. The first two have been merchandised in the past, but now, for the first time ever, PCS Collectibles is proud to present a 1:4 scale statue of Bottin’s seminal creature work from The Howling.

This gorgeous 24″ polystone statue captures Eddie Quist at his best, and will be available for pre-order at 3PM PST on Monday, October 10th. It’ll come in two versions, both priced at $474.99 USD:

  • the retail version, which will be limited to an unknown quantity, available through channels like Diamond and Sideshow Collectibles.
  • the PCS exclusive, limited to 300 pieces, available only through the PCS web site, and apparently exactly the same as the retail version except for the addition of a second, swappable head.

Here’s a (weirdly composited?) image from PCS showing the statue’s scale. Bloody Disgusting has an “exclusive” photo from an alternate angle, too. This thing looks incredible!

WolfCop sequel “Another WolfCop” cast photos & screening this Sunday

A. Quinton — Sep. 23rd 2016

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The fact that he deputized me as an official WolfCop officer (with a badge and everything) is the only reason I’ll ever forgive writer/director Lowell Dean for not calling the WolfCop sequel “WolfCopier”. I will admit the actual title, Another WolfCop, is apropos, especially when rendered in the style of a hard-boiled cop thriller. God knows the original had enough schlocky 80’s cops & crooks satire to own that look. However, like its predecessor, this Canadian horror-comedy doesn’t take itself too seriously.

After saving Woodhaven from a gang of evil reptilian shapeshifters, alcoholic werewolf cop Lou Garou is finding it hard to keep a low profile. Instead, he roams the street at night, gleefully and violently disposing of criminals and stealing boxes of Liquor Donuts causing all sorts of problems for his former-partner-turned-chief Tina.

There’s no release date yet, but according to Horror Society, the film will be screening at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas this Sunday, September 25th.

Horror Society also got the scoop on the first official photos from the production, revealing an armed and dangerous Tina, Lou and Willie. I was surprised (and delighted) to see this particular lineup back for the sequel, considering the events of the first film, and when it comes out, I’ll be excited to watch it in a theatre that will sell me a beer to drink at the same time.

Hit up Horror Society for the rest of the photos, including an uncomfortably close close-up banner of Lou.

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Werewolf and serial killer square off in short film “Prey”

A. Quinton — Sep. 22nd 2016

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Elizabeth Ho and Alastair Duncan star in Prey, a short horror movie by Matt Yang King and top 15 semi-finalist in the You Offend Me You Offend My Family channel’s “Interpretations 2.0” contest. The two main rules of the contest seem to be “maximum 3 minute length” and “interpret this tiny four-line script we’ve given you”.

You probably don’t need all that context to enjoy the great practical werewolf transformation makeup and effects! I particularly like the close-ups on the hands and the fur growth.

Thanks to Somnilux for the link.

Full Moon Features: Curse of the Wolf (2006)

Craig J. Clark — Sep. 15th 2016

In all the years I’ve been watching werewolf movies, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a sorrier example of the genre than the 2006 schlocker Curse of the Wolf, which went direct to video ten years ago this month. In fact, it may very well be the worst werewolf film I’ve ever seen, eclipsing even the amateur-hour likes of Night Shadow and Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound, which I didn’t think was possible. Like the latter, Curse of the Wolf was shot on cruddy-looking video and used cheap-ass werewolf makeup, and like the former, it was built around the skills of a martial artist. In this case, though, there are multiple martial artists in the cast, and one of them was also the writer, director, and fight choreographer, which explains the preponderance of hand-to-claw combat scenes.

When it isn’t focused on the fisticuffs, the action revolves around Dakota (Renee Porada), the most reluctant member of a sad little five-person wolf pack who breaks away when she figures out how to medically suppress her transformation. This doesn’t sit well with her would-be mate James (Alex Bolla, who wears shiny shirts so he can be readily identified even in wolf form), but pack leader Michael (Todd Humes, who overacts something fierce) decides to let her go for the time being. And offered up as a study in contrasts are the other two members of the pack: sexpot Harley (Katie Russell, who owns the film’s first gratuitous nude scene) and repulsive, blue-haired fat slob Franklin (Brian “Blue Meanie” Heffron, who spends an entire scene clad only in a pair of pee-stained and skidmarked briefs, which makes the fart sounds laid over top of it superfluous).

Jumping forward six months, the story finds Dakota working at a veterinary clinic, which gives her access to the drugs she needs, and palling around with co-worker Sam (Kylie Deneen), whom she rescues from a gang of would-be rapists who are subsequently slaughtered by Franklin while he’s out following Dakota’s scent. Per the homicide detective interviewed on the news about it the next day, “One victim suffered gash wounds over 50% of his body. Looks like he was mauled by a bear, for God sakes. There were chunks of these potato heads all over the place, and drugs everywhere. What could have done that in this area? No idea, but one thing’s for sure: We’ll get the bastards.” This turns out to be a load of hot air, though, since we never see this cop again, or any other police officer for that matter.

Instead, we’re plunged into a lopsided conflict between Michael’s pack and magnanimous club owner Logan (top-billed Lanny Poffo), who offers Dakota his protection. This extends to the services of his long-haired right-hand man Stick (writer/director Len Kabasinski, credited as Leon South) and clothing-averse weapons experts Ivy (Darian Caine) and Star (Pamela Sutch), who go with Dakota to stake out the house where the pack is holding Dan (Dennis Carver), whose relationship to her is rather nebulous. Even so, it’s more explicable than the scene where Ivy takes a bath while listening to a song called “Teetah the Cat Lady” which I swear I’m not making up. I’m also not lying when I say this film has one of the most deliriously incoherent final melees ever committed to magnetic tape, which is topped only by the credits for Kabasinski’s “spiritual advisor” and “snack guru,” who shockingly enough aren’t one and the same person.

Editor’s note: the cover art for Curse of the Wolf is so discomfitingly gross / bad /  that I’m too embarrassed to display it directly on the site. You can see it here if you think you want to, but you don’t want to.

“Underworld: Blood Wars” trailer shows more of the same

A. Quinton — Sep. 7th 2016

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The international trailer for “Underworld: Blood Wars” came out today. It features lots of footage from the previous four films in the series, and from the looks of things, a lot of recycled ideas from those films, too.

  • High-stakes, low-investment plot about finally ending the war between vampires and werewolves, for real this time
  • Powerful new villain with long hair
  • Coloured contact lenses and very white teeth
  • Grim pronouncements uttered in aristocratic accents
  • Weightless acrobatic fights
  • Quick cuts away from shadowy CG werewolves
  • Ubiquitous blue filter over everything

The only thing I had no trouble distinguishing from the flashback footage was Kate Beckinsale’s updated appearance as Selene, featuring two-tone hair and a big comfy coat she can deploy as an evasive manoeuvre during combat.

“Underworld: Blood Wars” comes out January 2017. With respect to everyone who worked on this – particularly the technical crews – please, stop. Speaking as a representative of what I have to assume is a primary target demographic, I don’t want this. Nobody I know does. Spend your time and effort elsewhere.