Category: Film, Television & Music

Vampires, werewolves, female CEOs, tight rubber pants and plasticine: a video

A. Quinton — May. 2nd 2018

There’s a great new animation making the rounds that explores the age-old battle between vampires and werewolves from some novel new angles.

To quote @EvilViergacht, who sent me the link, VvWW contains “Werewolves, hairy female werewolves, vampires in rubber pants, and butts.” That list has a near-perfect overlap with the terms people are searching for when they arrive here at Werewolf News, but this video presents a more cogent analysis of those subjects than I ever could. See for yourself:

safetyhammer (who goes by No-One Suspected the Cat on Facebook) did the animation, writing and voice work, and the incomparable Trudy Cooper (who also makes the comic Oglaf – maybe the most NSFW site I’ve ever linked to, but very good also) did the artwork.

By the way, I agree with every assertion made in this video, and you can quote me.

Werewolves abound in these student video projects from LCAD Animation

A. Quinton — May. 2nd 2018

While updating the Laguna College of Art + Design Animation YouTube channel late last year, Chair of Animation Dave Kuhn noticed that two group projects from their 2015 Summer Master Class happened to be werewolf-themed. He writes:

The first is “The Big Dad Wolf” which is traditionally animated and was created under the mentorship of Disney supervising animator James Lopez. The second is a stop-motion project “Un Garçon et sa Bête (A Boy and his Beast)” which was made with the guidance of stop-motion director Stephen Chiodo of Chiodo Bros. Productions.

You can watch both projects below!

“The Big Dad Wolf” took me back to the slapstick delights of the Disney and Warner Bros. shorts I remember from the 1990s (when the gurney rolled into the nursery I honestly felt like I was watching Tiny Toons or Animaniacs).

“Un Garçon et sa Bête” has a creature that isn’t strictly a werewolf, but which is close enough for the purposes of all concerned, and the production features some sincerely lovely animation and character / set designs.

Visit the LCAD Animation YouTube channel for more wonderful animations. Thanks for the links, Dave!

Full Moon Features: Werewolf (1995)

Craig J. Clark — Apr. 28th 2018

Over the course of its initial, decade-long run on cable, Mystery Science Theater 3000 tackled werewolves exactly twice. The first time was in the show’s third episode for the Comedy Channel (later renamed Comedy Central) when Joel Robinson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo riffed on 1942’s Poverty Row Wolf Man knock-off The Mad Monster, which starred George Zucco as the requisite mad scientist who tampers in God’s domain by injecting wolf blood into a farm hand with predictably hair-raising results. After that, they waited until they were deep into both the Mike and Sci-Fi Channel eras to take down 1995’s Werewolf, one of the freshest examples of cinematic roadkill they ever sank their teeth into since its comedic evisceration premiered on April 18, 1998, in the midst of the show’s ninth season.

By that time, the folks at Best Brains had settled into a definite groove and, after much flitting about in time and space the previous season, the show’s trio of villains — Pearl Forrester, Observer, and Professor Bobo — had settled into Castle Forrester for the long haul, or at least until the plug got pulled the following year. Suffice it to say, compared to their first such effort, made while the writers were still finding their feet, the crew of the Satellite of Love was a well-oiled joke-delivery machine when Mike Nelson and his robot pals gave Werewolf the business. Then again, Werewolf offered up plenty of material for them to work with, alongside the ability to make then-contemporary references to the band Hanson, Janet Reno, rejected Supreme Court Justice Robert Bork, and Eddie Vedder.

Your standard cheapjack lycanthropic doggerel, Werewolf (also known as Arizona Werewolf) is comparable in quality to one of the later Howling sequels. Its Flagstaff setting even recalls the same year’s New Moon Rising, but thankfully this one features less line dancing. In its place, co-writer/producer/director Tony Zarindast presents the unwary viewer with a borderline nonsensical plot about a werewolf skeleton unearthed during an archaeological dig and the trouble this causes various actors for whom English is clearly not their first language.

Chief among them is top-billed George (actually Jorge) Rivero, a Mexican actor whose career stretched back to the mid-’60s, when he divvied up his time between westerns and wrestling pictures in which he was often teamed with legendary luchador Santo. Here he’s Yuri, an opportunistic foreman who uses the werewolf skull to infect multiple people with lycanthropy, including one of the dig’s Native American workmen (who’s subsequently shot and killed by two of his buddies), an unsuspecting security guard (who transforms while behind the wheel of a car, a true recipe for disaster), and a self-proclaimed “struggling young writer” who moves to Flagstaff following the death of his mother and takes up residence in her attic. This is Paul Niles, who’s played by Fred (actually Federico) Cavalli, starring in his one and only feature film. Similarly inexperienced is Adrianna Miles, who plays his love interest Natalie and whose pronunciations of the word “werewolf” are a wonder to behold. (Weirdly, whenever Mike imitates her, he sounds like Tommy Wiseau.)

Rounding out the cast are Joe Estevez (“one of the lesser Estevezes,” per Crow) as Joe, one of the skinwalker-averse workmen, and Richard Lynch (a genre veteran with credits going back to the late ’60s) as lead archaeologist Professor Noel, who absents himself from the plot partway through the MST3K edit, leading me to believe he may have more scenes in the uncut version, which runs a full 22 minutes longer. I’m not about to seek it out to test that theory, though.

Besides, anything that fell by the wayside was for a good cause since it made room for host segments like the one where Mike, having tripped and cut himself on Crow while leaving the theater, abruptly turns into a were-Crow, a two-step process that mirrors the discrete stages of lycanthropy Paul and his fellow werewolves pass through in the film. At first they merely have extra hair plastered to their faces. Then the actors are given a heavy makeup job that makes them look more ape-like than wolfish. The final stage, though, is a barely articulated wolf head puppet, which is seen in extreme close-ups, along with fleeting glimpses of a stuntman in a gorilla suit with a wolf’s head for the long and medium shots, none of which are remotely convincing. Late in the film, at a point where Paul is in the second stage, Tom Servo quips, “Oh, that fiend Rick Baker tackled him and did this to him.” He wishes.

“Typecast” returns with a new goal and the same pissed-off werewolf actress you know and love

A. Quinton — Apr. 3rd 2018

After a few months off to recalibrate their goal and bury the corpses, Mac Beauvais and Ben Paddon are back with a new and improved IndieGoGo campaign for their “monsters are real and they hate shitty Hollywood gigs” web series Typecast.

They cancelled their initial campaign last year when they realized that November is a bad time to ask people for a bit of their disposable income. They’ve also moved from Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing system to a platform that will allow them to keep whatever funds they’re able to raise, even if they don’t make it all the way to their $50,000 USD goal. I think that’s a good approach: I’d take fewer episodes of a good show over no show at all!

I’ve never met Mac (Hit Girl, The Gloaming, tons of amazing cosplays) or Ben (PortsCenter, Boomer’s Day Off) but I’ve known about them since the early days of Werewolf News. If anyone’s capable of making this series and doing it right, it’s them. Please check out the campaign, the press release (below) and the campaign video (also below). If you can pitch in, you’ll be helping make a good and funny show with practically-created monsters, and if you can’t, please consider sharing the campaign with your pals on Facebook, Twitter and whatever Discord and Telegram groups you’re a part of.

Typecast: A Monstrous Movie Tale

Hollywood may be the land of dreams and opportunity, but it’s not all red carpets and martini lunches when you’re an actual monster.

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA – From writer/comedian, Ben Paddon (PortsCenter, Boomer’s Day Off), writer/actress, Mac Beauvais (Hit Girl, The Gloaming), and featuring director Justin Zagri (Severus Snape and the Marauders) comes TYPECAST, a comedy of horrors about just how truly monstrous Hollywood can be.

TYPECAST is an original eight part web series about actual flesh and blood monsters stuck in an endless parade of sci-fi shlock and horror films. Most actors dread being trapped in the same kinds of roles project after project, but as bad as that may be for humans, it’s an absolute nightmare when you’re a real monster.

The show, described as one half ‘Being Human’ and one half ‘Extras’, follows the trials and tribulations of Tony, a bog monster, who dreams of playing the lead in a drama instead of generic beasts in lame sci-fi horror films; Abby, a werewolf, who wants to ditch her regular gig as a breakfast cereal mascot; and Leeroy, a zombie, who just wants people to take the living-impaired seriously, which would be easier if he didn’t have to keep gluing his ear back on.

But TYPECAST is not just about snappy dialogue and Hollywood commentary, it will also highlight a staple of classic filmmaking: practical makeup effects. The makeup department, headed by two-time Emmy-nominated entertainment veteran, Michael Spatola (Tales from the Crypt, Return of the Living Dead, Iron Man 2), will bring these characters to life using traditional techniques and application. A sample of his work on TYPECAST can be seen in the trailer on their IndieGoGo page, which features a live-action kids’ breakfast cereal commercial and subsequent epic meltdown from the werewolf, Abby: “Who are you? Who put you in charge?”

TYPECAST is currently seeking $50,000 in funding for its first season via the crowdfunding platform, IndieGoGo. This will cover costs of makeup, crew, and locations, as well as donor rewards that include downloads of the ‘Full Moon Flakes’ cereal box, a cereal perfume (yes, really!), and even an opportunity to be put in full monster makeup and appear in a scene during filming.

With the deadline for funding this truly original take on Hollywood closing on May 11th, the time to donate is now. Unless, of course, you’re okay with annoying a werewolf.

Full Moon Features: A Werewolf in the Amazon (2005)

Craig J. Clark — Mar. 30th 2018

Over the course of his five-decade screen career, Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy appeared as just about every monster imaginable — at least, those that walked on two feet — but the one he returned to time and again was the werewolf. Most often it was because he was reprising his most famous creation, Waldemar Daninsky, but he occasionally donned the fangs, claws, and fur for films unrelated to that long-running series. The first time was for 1982’s Buenas noches, señor monstruo, a family comedy in which he was El Hombre Lobo alongside other actors playing Count Dracula, Quasimodo, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Considerably less family-friendly is A Werewolf in the Amazon, which Naschy made for Brazilian director Ivan Cardoso in 2005.

In addition to playing the title character, Naschy also shoulders the responsibility of embodying one created by H.G. Wells a century earlier since A Werewolf in the Amazon serves as a belated sequel to The Island of Dr. Moreau, which Naschy’s Moreau directly refers to with his talk of once owning an island and a “legion of mutant creatures” before he was betrayed. As for how he came to be cursed with lycanthropy, this is thanks to an “incident in the Carpathian Mountains,” so his experiments in gene-splicing are as much about finding a cure for his own condition as they are about creating human/animal hybrids like his right-hand beast-man Zoltan (Guará Rodrigues), who yearns to be fully human, yet unmistakably likes it when his master scratches him behind the ears.

If Moreau kept his activities confined to making beast-men, that would be one thing (and if Cardoso could afford to show more than a handful of them, that would be another), but he has also hooked up with a bevy of buxom, bloodthirsty Amazon warriors who protect his secret jungle laboratory. In addition, Moreau has a sexual relationship with their queen, Pentesiléia (Joana Medeiros), which the 70-year-old Naschy can do little to make palatable considering he was twice the age of his co-star at the time of filming. Still, that’s no more gratuitous than, say, the shower scene at the top of the film in which female lead Natasha (Danielle Winits) is spooked by her roommate Samantha (Karina Bacchi), whose dialogue referencing Psycho is redundant since the soundtrack has already aped Bernard Herrmann’s score. Cardoso goes Hitchcock one further, though, by having Samantha disrobe and step into the shower with Natasha because clearly that’s what people want to see when they pop in a movie called A Werewolf in the Amazon. (For the record, close to half the film’s 77-minute running time elapses before the viewer gets a decent look at Naschy’s Moreauwolf, and even then he’s mostly in shadow.)

How Natasha and Samantha fit into the plot is barely worth getting into since they and their friends — who head into the Amazonian jungle in search of hallucinogenic herbs — are there to be little more than werewolf bait. (Well, Natasha is a bit more than that since she’s revealed to be a reincarnated Amazon warrior by a ghostly Incan priest who delivers the news in song, but still.) Also not worth spilling much digital ink over are the American zoologist and no-nonsense policeman assigned to accompany him while he investigates the bizarre murders that have been occurring the area. (And yes, the zoologist does get to say the deathless line, “These wounds were made by some large animal.”) Not only are they almost exclusively used for labored comic relief (including a Re-Animator-style gag where a corpse in the morgue briefly comes to life before being smacked down again), but they’re nowhere near as funny as the moment where Moreau dresses one of them down, saying, “I guess you don’t deserve the privilege of being turned into an animal.”

“Sirius the Jaeger” anime: a lone werewolf hunts vampires in Imperial Japan

A. Quinton — Mar. 23rd 2018

I’m time-constrained these days with some cool projects you’ll get to see this year, but I had to take a coffee break from work to post about a new anime series hitting Japanese TV this July: Sirius the Jaeger.

From Crunchyroll:

The creatures of the night stalk the streets of 1930’s Tokyo in Sirius the Jaeger, an upcoming original TV anime about a young werewolf seeking to avenge the slaughter of his clan by hunting the vampires responsible.

From the English-language version of the Sirius the Jaeger web site:

Imperial Capital, 1930.

A strange group of people carrying musical instrument cases landed on Tokyo station. They are called the “Jaegers”, who came to hunt vampires. Amongst them, there stood a young man with striking serenity and unusual aura. His name is Yuliy, a werewolf whose home village was destroyed by vampires. Yuliy and the Jaegers engage in deadly battle over a mysterious holy arc only known as “The Arc of Sirius”. What truth awaits them at the end…?

With eternal affinity and spiral of conspiracy entwine, the highly anticipated action-thriller anime begins!

From @Sausage_Spirit on Twitter, who shared the news with me and knows way more about the anime world than I do:

it’s being directed by the guy who did wolf’s rain and the cowboy bebop movie with character designs by the girl who does the designs for street fighter and some other capcom games

I’m not sure when or how this will become available to audiences outside of Japan, but I hope it’s soon!

Full Moon Features: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Craig J. Clark — Mar. 1st 2018

I’m hopping a bit off the beaten path with this month’s Full Moon Feature, but with Early Man now in theaters, I can’t think of a better time to watch a cheese-loving inventor and his long-suffering pooch grapple with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Made in 2005, it was the second feature for Aardman Animations after 2000’s Chicken Run and the first big-screen adventure for their signature characters, Wallace and Gromit. Directed by their creator Nick Park and Steve Box, the film amply illustrates the dangers of hooking yourself up to a Mind Manipulator-omatic and then plugging it into a BunVac filled with pesky rabbits and trying to brainwash them into not liking vegetables under the light of the full moon. There’s just so many ways something like that can go so, so wrong, as man and his best friend alike soon learn.

How it comes to that is simple: In the lead-up to their town’s annual Giant Vegetable Competition, everyone has signed up with Anti-Pesto, Wallace (voiced as always by Peter Sallis) and Gromit’s high-tech “Humane Pest Control” service. Their non-lethal methods especially impress animal lover Lady Campanula Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), who has to fend off aggressive blueblood Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), who resents the competition. However, after Wallace’s attempt at bunny brainwashing backfires, he literally creates a monster that is identified by Reverend Hedges (Nicholas Smith, Mr. Rumbold from Are You Being Served?) as the titular beast, carrotus apetitus giganticus. No points for guessing who it turns out to be.

Park and Box and their co-writers Mark Burton and Bob Baker pack as many vegetable puns as they can into the proceedings (under the headline “Night of Vegetable Carnage!” there’s the delicious subhead “Anti-Pesto Fail to Turnip in Time”), and they also managed to smuggle a few naughty jokes past the MPAA. (“Beware the moon,” indeed.) Even better, they work in numerous allusions to classic horror films, with my favorite being when the beast is vanquished and it returns to human form with the aid of a series of lap dissolves, just like in the old Lon Chaney, Jr. movies. I know that’s hardly extraordinary considering the entire film is stop-motion animated, but the gesture is appreciated.

Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” animated shorts features very stylish wolves

A. Quinton — Feb. 23rd 2018

Roald Dahl’s collection of delightfully messed-up fairy tales has been adapted from a book into two half-hour animated short films directed by Jakob Schuh Jan Lachauer and narrated by Dominic West. The meta-story surrounding the two short films stars a wolf (potentially Big and/or Bad), which is werewolf-adjacent enough to be posted here.

The characters designs are fantastic – a kind of mashup of Quentin Blake’s illustrations and Aardman-style 3D figurines. Lupine bias aside, I love the variety of depictions the wolf (or wolves) have.

Revolting Rhymes was produced by Magic Light Pictures (London), animated by Magic Light Pictures (Berlin) and Triggerfish Animation (Cape Town), and aired on PBS in the United States. The first episode, featuring a radical reinterpretation of Red Riding Hood and Snow White’s stories, is currently in the running for an Academy Award.

It’s available to stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and you can obtain it on DVD or iTunes if you’d prefer something you can actually own.

You can’t watch “Monster Family”, the animated film that was based on a ride that was based on a book

A. Quinton — Feb. 19th 2018

“Monster Family” is animated family film of the sort where the trailer features a lovingly-animated fart joke. As far as I can tell, there is no way to watch it.

When I saw the character art I was sure it was a spin-off from the Hotel Transylvania series, but nope – it’s based on David Safier’s book “Happy Family”, which was then somehow turned into the premise for a 4D cinema/ride at a cave-based theme park called Wookey Hole, which was then – because this is how these things work – expanded into a feature film. It follows the misadventures of a shitty family who get turned into monsters because Dracula hates them for some reason. I’m posting about it because the boy becomes a werewolf who looks like Rhea Butcher.

This British-German production features the voices of Emily Watson, Nick Frost, Jessica Brown Findlay, Celia Imrie, Catherine Tate, and Jason Isaacs. The trailer and the airport scene that follows it seem to contain dialogue animation matching a non-English script – German, maybe, or perhaps Brazilian Portuguese, for the sake of the film’s premiere, which was in Brazil. It arrived in American theatres on February 9th 2018, and now doesn’t seem to be playing anywhere, nor is it available for purchase. It does not exist. Did it ever exist? Or did Genndy Tartakovsky have a bad dream that we all shared?

Wookey Hole, if you’re looking for another attraction to turn into a feature film, I have a suggestion.

Vote for “Timber”, a Storyhive project that pits lumberjacks against werewolves

A. Quinton — Feb. 5th 2018

Want to help bring a new werewolf web series to life? Starting today and running through Friday the 9th, werewolf fans can visit the Storyhive campaign page for “Timber” to cast one vote per day (no registration required). Those votes will comprise a large part of the decision-making process that will award 15 projects $50,000 each to fund a full series.

“Timber” is being pitched as “Lumberjacks Vs Werewolves” by its creative team. Here’s the synopsis:

In 1920’s Canada a doctor visits her estranged brother while he is working at a lumber camp. When she gets there she is shocked to learn that the lumberjacks are hiding the dark secret that werewolves are real, and she must discover who is and isn’t infected before it’s too late.

I’m writing this post on the 4th, before the big push for votes starts, and there’s already a ton of video and production stills on Timber’s Storyhive page and Facebook page. Watch the pilot episode below!

I asked Peter Kominek, one of the experienced filmmakers behind the project, about their plans for the werewolf design. I’m always interested to hear how the werewolf for a given project is going to be built, and here’s what he wrote me:

Our werewolf is going to walk on all fours, it is going to be a ferocious beast/hell hound rather than a wolfman type werewolf. Our intention is to make it hairy, and if possible have the face be completely hairy/flocked, unlike a lot of other movies. We are going to have arm extensions and make an animatronic head. There will probably also be a separate puppet head for maximum chomping. Our instagram has a couple sketches from our designer up on it, and there is also a short video about the history of our project.

“Maximum chomping”. Those two words alone are worth the 10 seconds it’ll take you to cast a vote.

Update 12:27: this post previously incorrectly stated that Timber was in the running for a $10k prize to fund a pilot; in fact, it has already won that prize and is now in the final phase of the competition.