Category: Film, Television & Music
A. Quinton — Jan. 16th 2017
George Caltsoudas is a graphic artist who spent nine months applying his bold and colourful vision to the creation of iconic posters for every episode of Batman: The Animated Series season 1. Not because he was commissioned by Warner Bros. Animation or DC, but because he just felt like it.
That’s sixty-five individual pieces of art, each one perfectly capturing the brooding, timeless Art Deco production design of the show.
A gallery of the whole collection flew by on my Twitter timeline and I dove in immediately, partly because B:TAS was one of my favourite shows growing up, and partly because I wanted to see what George put together for episode 43: “Moon of the Wolf”. I wasn’t disappointed! Check out the whole series (and a lot more great artwork) on George’s Tumblr.
Craig J. Clark — Jan. 11th 2017
It’s increasingly rare for a werewolf film to actually be out in theaters when the moon is full, but as the one that’s currently playing on 3070 screens across this great nation is Underworld: Blood Wars — and I gave myself permission to skip any further films in that dreary franchise after the last one — I have chosen to devote this month’s column to another, decidedly more worthy, werewolf movie sequel.
Released in 2004, Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed came along four years after its Scream Factory-approved predecessor and found editor Brett Sullivan stepping into the director’s chair. It also sees surviving Fitzgerald sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) barely keeping her nascent lycanthropy at bay while staying two steps ahead of a persistent male werewolf (dubbed The Beast in the closing credits) that’s looking to answer the call of the wild. On top of that, she’s periodically visited by the ghost of her dead sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), who may in fact only be a figment of her imagination. Either way, Ginger’s appearance generally signals that things are going south for Brigitte in one way or another, as they do early on when she winds up in a rehab facility and is denied the monkshood extract she’s been using to keep the beast within her in check.
The primary setting for the first half of the film, the hospital is where Brigitte runs afoul of administrator Alice (Janet Kidder), who works overtime to convince her charges she’s been where they are, and orderly Tyler (Eric Johnson), who takes advantage of the more vulnerable patients. It’s also where she makes the acquaintance of Ghost (future Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany), a chirpy eight-year-old who seems to have the run of the place and arranges for the two of them to escape together. Their destination: Ghost’s grandmother’s off-the-grid cabin, where Brigitte finds out what it’s like to jump out of a frying pan and into the fire. Considering she’s gradually turning into a creature that’s covered in hair (a welcome design change from the first film), that’s obviously less than ideal.
A. Quinton — Jan. 9th 2017
Dances With Werewolves is a feature-length film made on a music video budget by a dedicated schlockmeister whose recent writing credits include titles like “Countess Dracula’s Orgy of Blood” and “The Mummy’s Kiss: 2nd Dynasty”. Its main selling point: it’s the last screen role of Angus Scrimm, the guy who played The Tall Man in Phantasm. I thought I kept my expectations sufficiently low going into the trailer, but they deployed that howl sound effect (you know the one) in the first three seconds, and things got worse from there. By the end I felt a lot like this promo photo of Scrimm.
If you want to watch this, cool, I guess: Bloody Disgusting says Santa Fe’s Jean Cocteau Cinema will screen it on January 27th. I’d rather watch this other film by the same name, though, if it ever gets out of development hell.
A. Quinton — Jan. 5th 2017
Sold me on the clip, that is. I still don’t want to see Blood Wars.
A. Quinton — Dec. 14th 2016
Space Goat Productions has just announced an officially licensed comic book and board game(!) based on The Howling werewolf film universe.
Not all of that colourful franchise is particularly worthy of adaptation or expansion, but don’t worry: the four-issue The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen will take place directly after the events of the first film. Given that title and the events of the second film, Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, we might be in for some backstory on a certain powerful werewolf lady.
The comic series will be written by two-time New York Times best-selling author Micky Neilson, whose lycanthropic work you might already be familiar with: he wrote the Warcraft comic series Curse of the Worgen and the werewolf novel The Turning, previously mentioned here on Werewolf News.
The comic’s line art will be handled by veteran Jason Johnson, who says he’ll “bring this story to life like only a true werewolf connoisseur can”. If the teaser image accompanying this post is any indication, uh, yes, dude, I believe you will.
The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen comes out in Summer 2017. No details on the board game yet, but if it involves quoting lines from the film series, I’m gonna win every single round with this gem.
Keep an eye on Space Goat and the very web site you’re reading right now for more details.
Craig J. Clark — Dec. 12th 2016
As film historian Tom Weaver points out on his commentary, much of the werewolf mythology we take for granted today was codified in Curt Siodmak’s screenplay for The Wolf Man and further refined by the sequels that followed. Happily, Weaver’s informative commentary track is one of the many special features Universal ported over from its previous releases to the Complete Legacy Collection, which got a DVD release in 2014 and has been upgraded to Blu-ray just in time for the original’s 75th anniversary.
Since its general release on December 12, 1941, and home-video bow four decades later, The Wolf Man has been trotted out many times by Universal in multiple formats — VHS, laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray. What makes the Complete Legacy Collection special is it collects the entire Lawrence Talbot saga in one set for the first time. If you bought the previous Legacy Collection released in 2004, all you got was The Wolf Man and its sequel, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, plus 1935’s unrelated Werewolf of London and 1946’s worthless She-Wolf of London. If you wanted to find out what happened to Larry after he threw down with the Monster, you also had to get the Frankenstein Legacy Collection (for House of Frankenstein, which also came as part of a double feature with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man) and the Dracula one (for the otherwise unavailable House of Dracula). And that’s not even taking into account 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, for which Universal brought back all its heavy hitters from the undead.
The point is, in the DVD era you had to shell out for a lot of extraneous content if all you wanted to do was follow Lon Chaney, Jr. from first bite to monster-mash finale. Now there’s no need to jump through so many hoops and, with any luck, this Blu-ray release, which also comes with the Abbott and Costello title, will be definitive. And best of all, it isn’t sullied by the behind-the-scenes featurette on Stephen Sommers’s Van Helsing, which the initial trio of Legacy Collections were put out in tandem with. As much as Universal likes to repackage its horror classics, at least it knows well enough what to excise from later editions.
A. Quinton — Dec. 6th 2016
My all-time favourite podcast is a long-running weekly goof-fest that the AV Club just awarded “most likely to lift your spirits” in their Favorite Podcasts of 2016 list. On My Brother, My Brother and Me, brothers Griffin, Justin, and Travis McElroy take listener questions (and questions culled from the sewers of Yahoo Answers) and “turn them alchemy-like into wisdom” – wisdom that every episode’s opening disclaimer explicitly warns you not to follow. I could spend another five paragraphs extolling the virtues of MBMBaM, its hosts and its fandom, but there’s a werewolf-related point I want to get to, so I’ll just say that the show has provided me with hundreds of hours of delight, including some of the funniest riffs I’ve ever heard, and that it’s worth your time.
To the werewolf point: I’m a completionist, so I’m working my way through the show’s back catalog. A Yahoo Answers segment from 2013’s episode 166 caught my attention this morning, just as I was finishing a run, and I’d like to share it with you.
The question, posted by Yahoo Answers user Ryker:
Werewolf question.WEREWOLVES ONLY?
my friend says that i might have been born a werewolf. iv’e always thought of myself to have an inner wolf. im just starting to physically shift. but i have no memory of when i shift and how to control it.someone please help.WEREWOLVES ONLY
The Brothers McElroy give this person’s quandary the thoughtful consideration it deserves, touching on Griffin’s minuscule werewolf heritage, the dangers of owning a pet when you think you might be going through a change, and the speciesist nature of the question itself.
I get questions like this emailed to me regularly. I generally answer with a polite reminder that werewolves are 1) cool and 2) not real. It’s nice to hear three non-werewolf-nerds wrestle with it. Justin’s comment about Siri is especially apropos – when I first heard the question I took a screenshot of my phone to capture the segment’s timestamp for this post, and look at the fucking reminder that had just appeared.
A. Quinton — Dec. 5th 2016
In 2014 I reported that game company Sega and ad agency Hakuhodo DY Group were launching Stories International, a joint venture to produce film and TV shows based on Sega’s video game properties. Classic werewolf / were-bear / wear-tiger / were-dragon beat-em-up Altered Beast was among the game franchises mentioned at the time.
Today, as reported by Variety, Stories International has teamed up with Walking Dead and Dirk Gently production company Circle of Confusion to produce adaptations of ‘Altered Beast’ and ‘Streets of Rage'”.
From the Stories press release:
STORIES INTERNATIONAL has partnered with Circle of Confusion, executive producers of “The Walking Dead”, to produce filmed entertainment adaptations of “Altered Beast” and “Streets of Rage”, based on the respective SEGA video game franchises, and will explore opportunities for both titles in film and television.
We’re still at the “big companies agreeing to work with each other” stage, but it’s encouraging to see the production gigs going to a company that really seems to know what it’s doing.
A. Quinton — Dec. 1st 2016
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.
Craig J. Clark — Nov. 13th 2016
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.