Category: Film, Television & Music
Craig J. Clark — Jun. 27th 2018
After its twin successes with 1957’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, it’s only natural that AIP would want to pair up its two monstrous creations, Universal-style. And it did so the following year in How to Make a Monster, released 60 years ago on July 1, 1958. The form that monster summit took, though, was the fictional (and generically titled) Werewolf Meets Frankenstein being produced (in self-reflexive fashion) by American International Studios, which not only has its own lot, but also a proud history going back 25 years.
Much of the credit for American International’s longevity is due to the work of its tireless makeup man Pete Dumond (Robert H. Harris), but when he’s given the shove by the new regime that has taken over the studio, he fights back by adding a special ingredient to his foundation cream that gives him influence over Larry Drake and Tony Mantell, the young actors playing the Teenage Werewolf (Gary Clarke, taking over for Michael Landon) and Teenage Frankenstein (Gary Conway, reprising his role from the earlier film). They are then dispatched to murder the new studio heads, who only want to make (ick) musicals. Naturally, this attracts the attention of the police, who turn the heat up on Harris’s nervous assistant, Rivero (Paul Brinegar), after the monstrously made-up Tony is spotted running from the scene of one of the crimes.
The funny thing about the film, which was shepherded by Teenage Frankenstein director Herbert L. Strock, is while Pete starts out extremely mild-mannered, over time he becomes more and more of a raving lunatic, taking on the mad scientist role previously played by Whit Bissell in the earlier films. And things take a definite turn for the macabre when he creepily invites Larry and Tony over to his house (where the film abruptly switches from black and white to color) so he can immortalize them as he’s done with his other creations, which are displayed in a room populated by props from previous AIP films. Suffice it to say, whatever his actual plans are (the dialogue is vague on that point, but I think it’s something along the lines of what Vincent Price does to his victims in House of Wax), the boys are right not to want any part of them.
Craig J. Clark — May. 28th 2018
By the time the ’70s rolled around, the biker movie explosion that followed Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels had just about fizzled out. There was still time, however, to squeeze in a few outliers, like 1972’s Pink Angels, about a group of gay bikers riding to Los Angeles for a drag ball, or 1971’s Werewolves on Wheels. Co-written and directed by Michel Levesque, who directed one more feature before becoming the art director for Paul Bartel’s Cannonball! and a number of Russ Meyer films, Werewolves on Wheels is about a motorcycle gang called the Devil’s Advocates (meaning, I suppose, they’re in favor of him), which is made up of a dozen or so interchangeable hairy, bearded savages (who, let’s face it, are halfway to being werewolves before the story even begins) who decide they want to meet the big man himself and go on a field trip to the local Satanic monastery.
Turns out this is a bad idea because soon after their arrival some hooded monks surround them and offer them an unholy communion of drugged wine and bread, which the gang readily partakes of. Once they’ve all conked out, high priest One (Severn Darden, late of The President’s Analyst and Vanishing Point) invokes his master with the sacrifice of a black cat and calls the leader’s old lady Helen (D.J. Anderson) to be the Bride of Satan, which apparently involves her seductively wrapping a snake around her naked body and playing with a skull while One gestures lewdly with a phallic statue. Just in time her man Adam (Stephen Oliver) comes out of his drugged stupor, rouses a few of his fellow bikers and they interrupt the ceremony and bust some heads, but not before having their faces marked by the falling monks.
With a stark naked Helen in tow the gang hightails it out of there, but soon enough their resident mystic Tarot (Duece Berry), whose name gets pronounced every which way but the right one, realizes something is amiss with their vibes or something. This is confirmed over the next couple nights as various gang members (and their old ladies) start getting picked off one by one by vicious killers with hairy paws and a penchant for hiding in the shadows until the final reel. When they finally do show themselves it’s no surprise who they turn out to be (after all, this isn’t a film about lycanthropic unicyclists) and the remaining human members of the gang decide fire is the best weapon available to them. This provides an important lesson to all would-be werewolves: if you’re ever set on fire, “Stop, Drop and Roll” doesn’t really work if you insist on rolling over a roaring campfire while trying to put yourself out.
Their furry former compatriots dispatched, Tarot leads the surviving Devil’s Advocates back to the monastery to get their revenge, but in an incredible twist it turns out they’re the monks they were planning on attacking! Or something! I don’t know exactly, the ending is all kinds of confusing. All I know is the gang rolls on under the closing credits and maybe the rest of them have been turned into werewolves and maybe they haven’t. That’s something that may have been cleared up in the sequel had there been one. As it is, Werewolves on Wheels exists in exploitation isolation.
A. Quinton — May. 16th 2018
After some time off to work on other things, Scott C., the single most chill artist I’ve ever met at a convention, has resumed his delightful Great Showdowns painting series (“chronicling of some of the greatest confrontations in FILM HISTORY”). This week’s entry is a face-off between two of New Zealand’s most acrimonious crews: the vampires and the werewolves from Taika Waititi’s “What We Do in the Shadows”.
Scott’s art always makes me smile (much like every character and most inanimate objects in his paintings), and his Showdowns are great, even when I haven’t seen the film depicted. Werewolves do appear in some of his previous Showdowns, including Monster Squad, The Wolf Man and Teen Wolf.
A. Quinton — May. 12th 2018
In a world where supernatural creatures roam amongst us, Kristy Wolfe (Beckett), a tough private investigator, tries desperately to keep her secret hidden. She has descended from a long line of werewolves. When her uncle is brutally murdered, Wolfe must use her natural instinct and risk her secret to unravel the mystery before she becomes the next victim.
More family drama and secret werewolfery. We will never escape these tropes.
The Shadow Within was shot in 2015 and was noted at the time for being the start of controversially rowdy actress Lindsay Lohan’s “comeback” bid, but as of February 2018 it was still being shopped around at the European Film Market. I think Lohan’s presence might have been a bit of stunt casting meant to generate interest – note that she gets top billing on the posters despite not getting mentioned in the synopsis – but I don’t think it worked. One of the three trivia entries for the film on IMDB reads: “Will most likely be released in 2017”.
Posters via Flickering Myth:
Dramatic horror series “The Order” to bring werewolves, magic & college exams to Netflix this December
A. Quinton — May. 7th 2018
There’s a new Netflix series scheduled for release on December 15th, and it’s about (or at least contains) werewolves. According to Variety, the streaming service has picked up 10 episodes of The Order, which follows “college freshman Jack Morton [Jake Manley], who joins a fabled secret society called The Order”. Writes Deadline:
Created/written by Dennis Heaton (Motive) and Shelley Eriksen (co-creator of Private Eyes), The Order centers on college freshman Jack Morton, who joins a fabled secret society, The Order, where he is thrust into a world of magic, monsters and intrigue. As Jack goes deeper, he uncovers dark family secrets and an underground battle between werewolves and the magical dark arts.
[Sarah] Grey plays the female lead, Alyssa, a pretty and smart overachiever with a double major in poli-sci who is a member of The Order and is attracted to Jack.
Okay, so, points in favour: this is being produced by Nomadic Pictures, which also produces Van Helsing, Ghost Wars, and Hell on Wheels, and other successful series with critical responses ranging from “acceptable” to “great”. When Canadian productions are given the time and budget to do practical effects, they generally turn out well. If it gets renewed for a second season (the first has probably already wrapped), it might be filmed in downtown Vancouver, which means ya girl can lurk around the sets.
Points against: everything revealed so far about the storyline. I’m willing to give most things a fair shake, but I don’t need another supernatural drama about a handsome male protagonist who discovers a dark family secret while trying to balance his academic life and a will they / won’t they relationship with his “pretty and smart overachiever” female costar. I already saw MTV’s Teen Wolf, and a half-dozen movies that hit the “handsome guy + skeletons in the family closet” plot point. Also, Trollhunters.
Here’s hoping creators / writers Dennis Heaton and Shelley Eriksen steer things in a new direction. It’s hard not to be cynical about these things, but at the very least we’ll get a chance to see how a new horror franchise thinks werewolves should look.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”