Category: Film, Television & Music

“Lycanimator” trailer leans hard into goopy, colourful B-movie territory

A. Quinton — Jan. 5th 2018

Whatever you might say about its production values or its gratuitous fetish content (“Who’s afraid of the big slimy wolf?” sounds like a writing prompt for a very DeviantArt sort of short story), writer / director / actor Sébastien Godin‘s upcoming film Lycanimator certainly looks fresh as hell. I spy that one werewolf mask everyone’s using in their low-budget werewolf movies, but it gets remixed into a horrific neon nightmare of ooze and incredibly long claws. Dread Central has the exclusive trailer (or watch it below) and more credits. Keep an eye on its Facebook page and its Werewolf Movies entry for release dates.

Full Moon Features: Something with Bite (2008)

Craig J. Clark — Jan. 1st 2018

This holiday season, Netflix subscribers received a lump of coal in their stocking in the form of Bright, a movie with more than a passing resemblance to 1988’s Alien Nation since it’s about a human cop reluctantly partnered up with an orc. Coming on the heels of 2015’s poorly received Victor Frankenstein, screenwriter Max Landis’s last high-concept genre effort, this doesn’t exactly bode well for his plans to retool the story of his forthcoming American Werewolf in London remake, but if one looks back about a decade in his CV, it’s possible to have a glimmer of hope for what might be.

It’s hard to imagine now, but long before he had any features to his name, Landis was just an up-and-comer whose sole writing credit was on the Masters of Horror episode Deer Woman, on which he collaborated with its director, who just so happened to be his father. When Showtime decided two Masters of Horror seasons were enough, creator Mick Garris sold NBC on a similar anthology called Fear Itself and brought the younger Landis on board to pen one of its episodes. The result was the scrappy werewolf tale Something with Bite, which never aired on the network because it pulled the plug on the ratings-challenged series after eight episodes in favor of airing the 2008 Summer Olympics. Talk about shortsighted.

Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson — another Masters of Horror veteran — Something with Bite stars Wendell Pierce as tubby, lethargic veterinarian Wilbur Orwell, who’s good with animals but whose home life isn’t all it could be. (His wife and son both feel neglected, and with good reason.) Then he gets bitten by an injured werewolf that’s brought to his clinic when it’s hit by a truck and, well, things start turning around for our man Wilbur. Not only does he develop a heightened sense of smell (along with the ability to transform into a large, hairy, ravenous beast at will), but he also becomes more assertive with his employees and attentive to his family. The only hitch is the series of apparent animal attacks that has been plaguing the city. The police detective on the case believes they’re the work of a man (“A disturbed man, but still a man.”) and somehow comes to suspect Wilbur, which puts him on the spot. After all, if he doesn’t remember everything he does when he’s a wolf, how does he know for sure that he didn’t do them?

Maybe I’m biased, but when I eventually caught up with Something with Bite on DVD, I found it to be one of Fear Itself‘s better episodes. Its take on werewolf lore is interesting (for instance, did you know there are vegan werewolves?) and Landis leavens the script with enough humor to keep it from getting too dark. I also like the design of the beast, which Dickerson is able to give a fair amount of screen time at the climax. Even in extreme closeup it manages to be convincing, which is quite an achievement given the budget constraints. Should Landis’s American Werewolf redo see the light of day, I hope to be able to say the same thing about the creature his special effects team conjures up.

UK werewolf film “Carnivore: Werewolf of London” is out in North America

A. Quinton — Dec. 23rd 2017

Writer/director Simon Wells‘s low-budget feature film is now available for purchase States-size from Amazon and Google Play. It stars Atlanta Johnson and Ben Loyd Holmes  (who also produced), plus this wooly, beady-eyed werewolf.

“Whilst trying to reignite their relationship at a remote cottage,” the promo copy reads, “Dave and Abi are stalked by a terrifying secret.”

I searched the trailer for hints as to what the secret could be, since the presence of a werewolf is right there in the title. Here’s my guess: the secret is that the poster art bears no relation whatsoever to the content of the film, which does not take place in London, and which seems like a thin story wrapped around excuses to have Johnson scream very loudly and show a fit Holmes with his shirt off.

Conduct your own investigation with the trailer here:

Watch “Transitions” horror short’s award-winning werewolf effects

A. Quinton — Dec. 17th 2017

Edit 2018-01-06: the Vimeo link was password protected for a few days in December, but it seems to be public again.

Werewolf short film “Transitions” was an Official Selection in the 2017 Bleedingham Horror Short Film Festival, and it won four awards, including Best Special Effects and a respectable 3rd Place in Cinematography. Congratulations to director Eddie Hayes and the rest of the folks involved! This was a great little short with some nice transformation effects, although the werewolf could’ve used a wet wipe and I feel like there could have been two howls at the end.

Concept art & CG demo reel scene for “Bitch” werewolf

A. Quinton — Dec. 16th 2017

I can’t find any information about the status of director Matt Oates‘s action/horror film “Bitch” (its absence on his kind-of broken web site doesn’t bode well), but Digital Frontier FX did an excellent job on the creature design and execution in the trailer pitch. It’s nice to see a long take of a shadowy werewolf lit just well enough to show off some of its eerily human features, like its (her?) hands.

Max Landis is retooling “An American Werewolf in London” story

A. Quinton — Dec. 15th 2017

From ComingSoon.net comes news that Max Landis, son of American Werewolf in London writer / director John Landis, is making some changes to the storyline presented in the original film.

A fan posed a question to Landis about a sequence in the original film, specifically about the village of East Proctor, its citizens, why they didn’t attempt to stop the werewolf before the events of the film, and whether they knew him as a person or not. Landis replied:

“Answering this question and the nature of the village’s role in the plot in the second and third act as of now are the biggest changes I’ve made to the original structure… I always wondered about that Pentagram. Doing some fun stuff.”

Say what you want about the guy (and plenty have), but he does take writing seriously. I don’t have any expectations for this remake so there’s nothing to crush.

Full Moon Features: Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound (2007)

Craig J. Clark — Dec. 2nd 2017

In a just world, you would be reading my review of Another WolfCop right now, but as this world is not just, the closest the sequel to 2014’s premiere Canadian werewolf film is playing to me is a four-hour drive away. Plus, it’s only being screened at midnight, making it especially inconvenient for out-of-towners (and out-of-staters) such as myself. So, in its stead, my final Full Moon Feature of the year is dubious also-ran Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound, which went straight to video ten years ago this month.

Right off the bat, The Devil’s Hound puts the wrong furry foot forward by claiming that “The events that follow take place in the near future,” which doesn’t seem all that necessary since there’s nothing in it that’s even vaguely futuristic. (And considering it was released in 2007, the odds are good that its “near future” has already come to pass.) It also doesn’t waste any time in revealing its poorly designed title creature, which looks like a white, long-haired yeti. After mauling a couple of unnamed Germans, it gets tranqued and packed in a crate so it can be shipped to some guy named Kwan, but instead it gets delivered to a small special-effects company in Connecticut owned by portly Phil Madden (co-producer Phil Gauvin), who runs it with his son Kevin (Michael Dionne) and daughter-in-law Char (Tamara Malawitz). His wife, meanwhile, is local vet Elizabeth (Jennifer Marsella), but the cutaways to her office reveal she’s more than that.

Since Dionne is top-billed, naturally it falls to Kevin to be the one who gets scratched when the werewolf decides it’s spent enough time in the box, and before long he starts exhibiting all the signs of the newly bitten: increased sex drive, heightened senses, voracious appetite, fast healing, and yes, all of a sudden he doesn’t need his glasses anymore. He also starts running into pale-skinned, leather-clad goth chick Christine (Christy Cianci), whose identity isn’t much of a mystery, especially after she eviscerates a homeless guy right in front of him. (What is a mystery, though, is what becomes of her black leather ensemble when she changes into the Abominable Snowman, or why Kevin does little more than grow fangs, sprout sideburns, and develop slightly hairier arms when he wolfs out.)

Clearly lacking the wherewithal to make a straight-up horror film, writer/directors Gregory C. Parker and Christian Pindar stack the deck with a surplus of comic-relief characters, including Dionne’s alien-obsessed brother Michael (Adam Loewenbaum) and his vacuous girlfriend Krystal (Kirsten Babich), Phil’s ultra geeky assistant Steve (Michael Wrann), and the aforementioned Kwan (Lance Hallowell), who turns out to be quite the pratfall-prone buffoon when he finally shows up. Parker and Pindar also photographed and edited the film, which explains why it goes a little overboard with the creative camera angles and quick cutting. This is especially apparent in the climactic battle, for which Kwan dons a set of leather armor that doesn’t do much to protect him and looks damned silly to boot. Not that I expected any different at that point.

“Typecast” werewolf loses it on set in the best Kickstarter video I’ve seen

A. Quinton — Nov. 13th 2017

I’m very excited about this Kickstarter campaign for Typecast, an 8-episode horror-comedy web series from creators Ben Paddon (PortsCenter, Boomer’s Day Off) and Werewolf New friend Mac Beauvais (Hit Girl, The Gloaming) about a trio of monsters tired of being boxed into unfulfilling careers.

An ambitious web series to be sure, we decided to take the struggling/disenfranchised actor trope and turn it on its head by imagining a world where all the creepy crawlies you’ve ever seen on the screen were played by actual monsters. If you need the elevator pitch (that’s Hollywood-speak for please compare your stuff to other people’s stuff), it’s a bit of Being Human meets Extras.

We’ve written a first season arc consisting of 8 episodes, all aiming to be around 6-10 minutes in length, telling the story of these actors and their journey. We want to deliver the best quality possible, and that requires great locations, crew, catering and, of course, some truly monstrous makeup.

They’re looking to raise $52,000 to pay for the production (including copious practical makeup effects by Michael Spatola) and they’re well on their way, with $4,615 as of this post and 28 days to go. Rewards include thanks in the credits, HD downloads of the episodes, Full Moon Flakes / “Moony the Werewolf” cereal box art and fan club merch (including perfume!), and even a chance to be made up as a monstrous extra.

Here’s the pitch video, which starts off with a proof-of-concept mini-episode featuring a fantastic, profanity-laced on-set freak-out from werewolf Abby (played wonderfully by Beauvais).

I’m hyped about this project – it’s got a great cast and crew from top to bottom and I want very much for it to succeed, so check it out!

Full Moon Features: Lycan (2017)

Craig J. Clark — Nov. 3rd 2017

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Some college students head into the woods under some flimsy pretext and get picked off one by one by a POV camera that knows the terrain better than them. In the new indie Lycan, the pretext is that the six students are working on a group project where their vaguely defined assignment is to “recreate a moment of history,” and between the title and the fact that the landmark they’re looking for (on horseback, no less) is the supposed grave of the Werewolf of Talbot County (get it?), it’s reasonable to assume that whatever is stalking them is a werewolf. Then again, the opening title does specify that it’s “A FILM Based on a TRUE LEGEND,” so the chances of anybody in it actually sprouting fur and fangs before going on their co-ed killing spree land squarely between slim and none, and slim isn’t liking its chances.

Set in the year 1986 for no discernible reason (although it does allow writer/director Bev Land and co-writer Michael Mordler to shoehorn in references to Sixteen Candles and Mr. T with impunity), the film announces its intentions with two solid minutes of a naked, overweight farmer having vigorous sex with a prostitute, followed by his discovery that something has killed his chickens and his dog and is about to do the same to both of them. On the other side of the opening titles, a history prof with a prickly sense of humor (played by Vanessa Angel, previously known to me as the Soviet snow bunny Dan Aykroyd cozies up to in Spies Like Us) sets things in motion by throwing six Breakfast Club types into one group and addressing them all by name so the viewer knows which characters they’ll be following and what their defining traits are.

The one that doesn’t fit into the John Hughes mold is Kenny (Parker Croft), the Bolex camera-toting horndog pothead whose character seems modeled more on Jamie Kennedy in Wes Craven’s Scream than, say, Judd Nelson’s “criminal” Bender. As for the others, Irving (Craig Tate) is definitely the overachieving “brain” of the group, putting him in Anthony Michael Hall’s shoes. Baseball player Blake (Jake Lockett) is the Emilio Estevez “athlete” equivalent. Stuck-up rich girl Blair (Rebekah Graf) and her dutiful sorority pledge Chrissy (Kalia Prescott) have to split the Molly Ringwald “princess” role between them. (Blair even makes multiple references to the debutante party she doesn’t want to miss.) And bringing up the rear is social outcast Isabella (Dania Ramirez, also one of the film’s producers and a contributor to its story), who’s working the Ally Sheedy “basket case” angle something fierce but needs more than a simple makeover to fit in.

Unsurprisingly, Isabella is the character we learn the most about, including that she lives on a farm with an older woman she calls “mama” (Gail O’Grady, who made her screen debut as “Victim in VW” in the pilot for the ’80s Werewolf TV series) who isn’t her real mother, she takes medicine for some unspecified condition, she sleeps in the barn, and she has a fairy tramp stamp (which is tastefully revealed by Land, who incidentally is also Ramirez’s husband). Furthermore, when the group sets up camp for the night, she repurposes her own childhood trauma by relating how her actual parents were slaughtered in the very same woods when she was eleven as a campfire story, which none of the others pick up on. Soon after the party turns in (with Irving having been drugged by Kenny, who intended to roofie Chrissy), one of them is dragged out of their tent by something with enormous claws and the game is afoot (or aclaw, as it were).

Even in the light of day, the boobs falls prey to various traps, with one getting his foot caught in a coyote trap, another stepping in one that leaves him hanging upside-down from a tree, and a third falling into a pit (and pulling the fourth down into it with him). Finally, the survivors make it to Isabella’s house, where they’re greeted by a couple of not-terribly-intimidating-looking wolves and their number is further reduced by a booby-trapped piano. (Don’t ask.) There follows one of the most blatantly foreshadowed reveals ever, a poorly choreographed fight to the death, and an unnecessary flash-forward to the present day, when Kenny’s Bolex is happened upon by a little girl. Based on the footage he got and the condition it will be in after being out in the elements for three-plus decades, I don’t foresee anyone making a Blair Witch-type feature out of it.

Werewolves in Podcasts this Week

A. Quinton — Oct. 20th 2017

I consume more podcasts than any other media, and this week I was delighted to find two of my favourite shows discussing werewolves.

First up is a Sawbones episode about every werewolf’s best friend, the full moon. Sawbones is a medical history podcast that examines all the “odd, weird, wrong, dumb and just gross” things humans have done to themselves and each other in the name of medicine. In this latest episode, hosts Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin explore the full moon’s connection to lunacy, rumours of crowded hospital ERs, and – of course – lycanthropy.

The moon is more than just a big hunk of cheese. Actually, it’s not even really cheese. Did you think it was cheese? Wow, you know less about the moon that we thought. Dr. Sydnee and Justin’s history of all the things we blame the moon for is going to be extra super educational for you, huh?

Sawbones is one of my favourite podcasts and I’m so glad they took a short break from dunking on Pliny the Elder to discuss that big white orb.

Next up (and currently paused in my earbuds while I type this) is Lore episode 71, “Silver Lining”, in which writer / producer / narrator Aaron Mahnke visits the werewolves of 18th century France.

We’ve conquered much of our world, but even with all of our great cities and urban sprawl, there are still shadows on the edge. And it’s in the shadows that the greatest threats still exist—creatures from our darkest nightmares that threaten our feeling of safety. Which has led some to strike out into the dark and hunt them.

Lore is a phenomenal show about the true-life roots of monster myths and scary stories. This month it debuts in a new form – an Amazon Prime Video series that combines “dramatic scenes, animation, archive and narration” to re-visit classic episodes of the podcast. The fifth video in the series is an adaptation of Lore’s first werewolf-themed episode “The Beast Within”, which I wrote about in 2015. I’m not a Prime subscriber so I’m not sure how or when I’ll get to watch this, but the key art alone (the featured image on this post) makes me pretty sure I’ll love it when I do see it.

Thanks to @Somnilux and @colonelnemo for equipping me with advance Lore knowledge!