Category: Film, Television & Music
Craig J. Clark — Sep. 24th 2018
Much like a fairy tale, 2018’s Wildling opens with a man (played by reliable genre stalwart Brad Dourif) telling a little girl about the title creature — which has long, sharp teeth and nails, and long, black hair all over its body — as a way of explaining why he has to keep her locked in a room with bars on the window and an electrified doorknob. “Do you want to hear more?” he asks and she shakes her head, but it won’t take long for the astute viewer to catch on to the fact that these precautions aren’t in place to keep the wildling out, but rather to keep the girl, whose name is Anna, in. (Some other clues that she’s far from ordinary: her incredibly acute hearing and the all-vegetable diet the man has her on, as if he’s afraid what would happen if she ever ate meat.)
Thankfully, director Fritz Böhm (making his feature debut) doesn’t make the viewer wait long for their first glimpse of a wildling, even if it’s only in Anna’s dream. While it’s debatable whether it qualifies as a werewolf, it lives up to its billing, ravenously devouring its victim while Anna watches, at once repelled and attracted by the bloody sight. This confusion carries over to the next morning when it’s revealed that Anna has had her first period, prompting Dourif’s conflicted Gabriel to start injecting her with “medicine” to halt her development. By the time Anna has reached her 16th birthday (and is played by Bel Powley from The Diary of a Teenage Girl), the “medicine” has taken its toll on her health in general, but instead of putting her out of her misery like she asks, he attempts to put himself out of his, a desperate act that lands them both in the hospital.
Suffice it to say, this is an extremely disorienting place for Anna to wake up since she’s spent her whole life in a single room with a bed frame made out of tree branches. Instead of being packed off to the sinister-sounding Bellington House, though, she goes home with kindly sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler, also one of the film’s producers) and makes the acquaintance of her jerky younger brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), who’s a pussycat compared to the real bullies at the high school where she’s enrolled, the payoff for all those years of home-schooling. From there, Böhm and co-writer Florian Eder trace Anna’s integration into society as she eats her first hamburger, is given her first feminine hygiene product, and (continuing the Carrie parallels) spends an awful lot of time in the library researching predator behavior and the Aurora Borealis, which she’s mysteriously drawn to. She also attends her first party where she has her first taste of alcohol and her first close encounter with a would-be rapist, who doesn’t get to live long enough to truly regret his choice of target.
After that, things start moving pretty fast, which is a good thing because Anna’s started losing her human teeth (shades of Cronenberg’s The Fly) and growing the clawed hands and feet that have been her birthright all along. Speaking of which, she finally learns some things about her real parents from a fur-clad hunter (James Le Gros, listed in the credits as “Wolfman”), who tells her he hasn’t seen one of her kind in “16 years, since the last purge.” Seems these things have a way of going in cycles.
A. Quinton — Sep. 20th 2018
“It’s a werewolf. It’s not like it’s some crazy monster… it’s just a werewolf.” For me, this is the take-away quote from freelance journalist J.D. Thompson’s short film Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow.
Thompson put the 25-minute film together to capture his experience “working for Playboy on a story investigating a weird little part of America where the locals still believe in werewolves.” The premise he explores in the short film (and the article itself) is that werewolves are responsible for dozens of disappearances and deaths along the Vermont / Quebec border.
This is not a detective story and I think that’s just as well – I imagine the real causes of the disappearances are a far more banal class of evil than French-Canadian lycanthropes. Rather, the film’s focus is the nervous enthusiasm the interviewed locals have for the idea that they might have secret werewolves among their neighbours. The pervasive vibe from the subjects interviewed, and the interviewer himself, is a low-key “we all want this to be true, right?”
The article, “Werewolves Are Definitely Not Real… Right?”, was published in Playboy in October 2015. You can find a reprint on the “Cold Hollow” web site, but I recommend watching the short film first. It’s expertly made, with lots of excellent interview and location footage intercut with stock drone shots of the region’s foggy, snowy forests.
Are the werewolves of Vermont real? Thompson draws no conclusions on the matter, but he seems to say (and I will explicitly state) that many of us would be delighted if they did exist, especially if they continued to spend their full moon time chasing cars for fun, and less time murdering hikers.
A. Quinton — Sep. 13th 2018
Overtime is a beautifully-shot, genuinely delightful short film from Craig D. Foster and Emma McKenna that showcases a great mix of humour, tension, and gore. After its release in 2016 it received a ton of festival accolades, and now it’s available to watch in full on Vimeo, where it became an official Vimeo Staff Pick this summer.
For an in-depth review, including background on the cast, crew, and effects team, check out this Birth. Movies. Death. post. You might also want to check out the film’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates and behind-the-scenes photos, like this one of Ralph (played by Aaron Glenane) getting a manicure.
A. Quinton — Sep. 12th 2018
The OG, very good, very 1980s Teen Wolf movie spawned a lot of knock-off “Dicknose” t-shirts, but as far as I can tell, it’s never had an official line of apparel, until now. The venerable horror & sci-fi t-shirt company Fright Rags has secured the official Teen Wolf license – it says it right there in the banner! – and they aren’t sleeping on it. Starting today, you can buy one of six different designs on a variety of shirt styles. I think my favourite is the cartoon-style “85” design, but the Howard’s Hardware flyer is pretty great, too.
Craig J. Clark — Aug. 25th 2018
Were one to stop watching the Korean drama A Werewolf Boy at the 58-minute mark, it would be easy to come away with the impression that it’s been mistitled for the English-language market. Sure, there’s a kid in it who’s pretty feral, but a werewolf? Pull the other one. A funny thing happens 58:45 in, though. The kid actually turns into a werewolf, growing hair all over his body, his bones shifting to increase his size. (He also gets a fright wig in place of his regular hairdo.) The thing is, writer/director Jo Sung-hee plays coy for so long that it’s possible to imagine a version of this film where this transformation doesn’t occur and he’s just a super-strong teenager that was apparently raised by wolves, hence the lousy table manners.
Made in 2012, the box-office smash (it was South Korea’s third-highest-grossing domestic release that year) opens with retired grandmother Sun-yi (Lee Young-lan) returning to the dilapidated country house where she spent a few formative months in her late teens. “It was like that even back then,” she tells her distracted granddaughter, Eun-joo (Park Bo-young). “It seemed like a monster would appear at any second.” Naturally, this triggers a 100-minute flashback to when Sun-yi (now played by Park) moved there 47 years earlier for her health — as her mother (Jang Young-nam) reveals to their new neighbors, she has lung problems — and befriended an orphan boy (Song Joong-ki) who is eventually given the name Chul-soo because the family has to call him something.
Sun-yi’s first nocturnal encounter with the boy spooks her something fierce, but in the light of day he’s not nearly as scary, even with his ragged clothes and gnarled fingernails. Besides, he cleans up nice and responds well when she consults a dog-training manual to curb his more anti-social tendencies. What Chul-soo doesn’t take kindly to is her late father’s business partner’s rich asshole son Ji-tae (Yoo Yeon-seok), who treats it as a foregone conclusion that Sun-yi will be his wife someday. That’s enough to inspire some growling, but it isn’t until Ji-tae physically threatens Sun-yi that Chul-soo’s bestial nature asserts itself in a big way. Since this development requires an explanation, Ji-tae tracks down a scientist who reveals that Chul-soo was part of an experiment to create a super-soldier by combining the traits of man and wolf. (Hey, just like Project: Metalbeast!) Normally, I would call that a bad idea (after all, I’ve seen Project: Metalbeast), but all the military had to do was hire Sun-yi to train their wolfman army and they would have been in the pink. Too bad they’re so intent on putting their lone werewolf boy down.
Craig J. Clark — Jul. 26th 2018
Just as the 1987 Richard Dreyfuss/Emilio Estevez buddy-cop comedy Stakeout begat Another Stakeout in 1993, adding Rosie O’Donnell to the mix for some reason, lowbrow Canadian horror-comedy WolfCop has sired Another WolfCop, which premiered as a work-in-progress at Austin’s Fantastic Fest in 2016 before making its proper debut one year ago at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. To make up for its Rosie O’Donnell deficit, returning writer/director Lowell Dean cast an uncredited Kevin Smith in a glorified cameo as Bubba Rich, the interim mayor of Woodhaven, which is still reeling from the severe power vacuum it suffered following the events of the first film. Dean even contrives to let Smith perform his scenes in a hockey jersey since the supernatural threat facing Woodhaven in the sequel is personified by transparently evil tycoon Sydney Swallows (Yannick Bisson), whose plan to reopen the town’s long-defunct brewery (the ominously named Darkstar) and hockey arena smacks of Brewmeister Smith’s world-domination scheme in the 1983 Bob and Doug McKenzie vehicle Strange Brew.
Unlike that film, Another WolfCop skips the Hamlet allusions, and even eschews the fairy-tale references that littered the first film. It does, however, appear to take a page out of the Bubba the Redneck Werewolf playbook by having Leo Fafard’s Lou Garou hole up at the town animal shelter on the nights of the full moon. Even so, his hairy alter ego (which has become the “official” mascot of Liquor Donuts, naturally) is in the habit of defying recently installed police chief Tina (Amy Matysio) by going out on patrol whenever the mood strikes him. As a matter of fact, WolfCop is introduced in hot pursuit of four miscreants in a truck (three of them played by members of Canadian film collective Astron-6) making a special delivery to Swallows that turns out to be Lou’s buddy Willie (Jonathan Cherry), who was merely being impersonated by one of the Shifters in the first film. Willie’s return to the fold is not without complications, though, as he has been seeded with an alien that spends a good part of the film sticking out of his torso like Kuato from Total Recall.
In addition to the alien-impregnation plot, which is reminiscent of the Roger Corman-produced Carnosaur from 1993, Swallows throws in a cyborg named Frank (Alden Adair) for good measure and sends it on a killing spree at the local strip club to draw WolfCop out. Frank’s defeat comes at a cost, though, prompting Willie to drive the injured Lou all the way to Regina so he can get patched up by Willie’s estranged sister Kat (Serena Miller), who has just the thing for him: a piece of moon rock from one of the Apollo missions. This not only does the trick, it leads to Another WolfCop’s requisite bestial sex scene, in which the roles are reversed this time. The moon dust also comes in handy since Lou needs all the help he can get for his showdown with Swallows at the Darkstar Arena, where the whole shebang comes to a head — and the film ends with a bang.
This probably goes without saying, but fans of the first WolfCop will find plenty to like in Another WolfCop, from the hard-rocking score by Shooting Guns to Emerson Ziffle’s gruseome makeup effects to the committed performances by Fafard, Matysio, Cherry, et al. And they will likely greet the closing promise of WolfCop’s return with a cheer. If I may, I humbly suggest Dean and company consider sending Lou Garou (and whoever wants to tag along with him) overseas next time. How does A Canadian WolfCop in London sound?
A. Quinton — Jul. 19th 2018
Bobcat Goldthwait’s new truTV series, Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters, started airing last week. Last night’s episode, “Face in the Car Lot”, takes place four decades ago but satirizes the political climate of present-day America. David Koechner plays Del Wainwright, a good ol’ boy who ends up on track to become the next president of the United States, despite having some significant skeletons in his closet.
If you missed it, like I did, you can watch it right on the truTV web site, which is where this synopsis is from:
Set in the 70’s, an uncouth car salesman with no political experience leads the presidential race, while a determined journalist is out to prove that he’s an actual monster.
Watch journalist Regina Bailey get some real dirt on Koechner in this clip, which features a very acceptable CG werewolf transformation and a great looking practical costume for the post-change shots.
A. Quinton — Jul. 17th 2018
I’ve been listening through the backlog of Sawbones, a informative and darkly funny medical history podcast hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin. Last year they talked about the full moon and its connection to clinical weirdness, including werewolves, but way back in 2015 the show got even more lycan-specific. In the episode “Aah, Real Monsters!” Sydnee and guest host Rileigh Smirl (Sydnee’s younger sister, subbing for Justin and crushing it) discuss “the Halloween diseases” – werewolfism and vampirism.
This isn’t just a recounting of the Wikipedia entries for hypertrichosis and ergot poisoning. In typical Sawbones fashion, Sydnee presents an insightful and cogent history of lycanthropy and porphyria – including a surprisingly compassionate recap of Peter Stumpp‘s story. Rileigh provides enthusiastic and delightfully pro-werewolf colour commentary, and influences the episode’s vibe in such a way that “having a real disease” comes off as a bad situation, but “being a Halloween monster” is extremely good. That’s as fine a Sawbones conclusion as any they’ve reached in all the episodes I’ve heard.
A. Quinton — Jul. 11th 2018
The werewolf from the 2015 Goosebumps film is back for the upcoming sequel, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. He’s lower-resolution, true, but he’s still got his basketball shorts, and he still cannot get enough of the cold cases at the local grocery store. Extra lean ground beef and blackberry Liberte greek yogurt? He goes wild for the stuff. Check him out (and a bunch of other monsters too, I guess) in the trailer.
Know who’s definitely not back? Anyone from the cast of the first film (including, most regrettably, Jack Black), nor the writers and director who made the first film a weirdly polished nostalgia trip. The trailer gives Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween a kind of made-for-streaming-TV look, but then, it comes out in October, when I’ll watch just about anything with a goofy/spooky vibe to it. And I mean anything.
A. Quinton — Jul. 10th 2018
Inhumane is a feature-length werewolf film from writer/director Eric Winkler that, like so many other promising werewolf films, doesn’t quite exist yet. It’s currently in search of investment based on the strength of a teaser trailer, some cool concept art (see the image at the top of this post) a shorter version already in the can.
Lisa [Lindsay Lillig] runs a bookstore in her rural Missouri hometown. Assaulted at work by the town sheriff’s son, she reports the crime only to be victimized once more: The son and his cronies rape and beat Lisa, leaving her for dead in the woods.
Taking on superhuman abilities after being bitten by a werewolf, Lisa begins exacting brutal revenge on her attackers. Is she justified in her actions? Can she retain her humanity as she cedes more and more of herself to her animalistic ways?
Inhumane’s being pitched as “a female empowerment movie”, but a post-assault revenge tour sounds more like a grindhouse or exploitation film. That’s not an indictment, and there’s certainly a precedent for good films that merge the two, but I’m relieved that Winkler is involving Lillig and his wife / production partner (whose name I can’t find anywhere) in the writing and overall vibe of the film.
From an interview Eric did in May with Velvet Film and More:
We filmed a short version of the movie last Fall. Our lead actress lived in LA at the time (she’s since moved back home to KC), and she and her husband (he’s also an actor) were back in town for a wedding. We had them for two days. We filmed for 17 hours each day. Then we did some pickup shots. I found the filming process to be absolutely exhilarating. And I was in awe of the professionalism and talent of our crew. I’m so honored to even be associated with them! …the main goal has always been to make the full-length movie. Not unlike many independent films, we’re seeking the funds to do that. We currently have a rough cut of a teaser trailer finished, and it’s fantastic, even in rough cut form!
A version of that trailer (see below) was posted to the Inhumane web site, and while the name makes it seem like it might not be the final version, I’m already pretty impressed, particularly by the very nice kill towards the end. Here’s hoping Winkler and his team get a chance to put together a feature length cut that delivers the same kinds of delicious “fuck you” moments.