Category: Full Moon Features
Craig J. Clark — Feb. 21st 2016
Five years ago, I partook of the one werewolf movie that was in theaters, Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood. Written by David Leslie Johnson, who also gave the world Orphan and the Clash of the Titans sequel Wrath of the Titans, it takes place in an isolated village surrounded by a foggy, sun-dappled forest sheltering a hungry beast that’s only placated by an animal sacrifice every full moon. Then comes the dreaded “blood moon,” which lasts a whole week and is the only time a werewolf bite can turn somebody into one. Sounds intriguing enough, right? Too bad Johnson chooses to yoke that story to a tedious love triangle centered around vapid, virginal Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who spends her week of wonders torn between the husky woodcutter’s son she’s loved since they were children (Shiloh Fernandez) and the soulful blacksmith’s son she’s engaged to (Max Irons, son of Jeremy). Any resemblance to the adolescent romance in the Twilight series (the first entry of which Hardwicke directed) is entirely intentional.
Stranded on the sidelines is a host of slumming actors, including Virginia Madsen as Seyfried’s mother, who’s pushing her to marry for money instead of love; Billy Burke as her frequently drunk father; Julie Christie as her grandmother, she of the house whereto the one in the titular riding outfit goes; and Lukas Haas as the petrified local priest who sends for help when the werewolf breaks its pact with the village and kills Seyfried’s older sister. (How this pact was made in the first place never comes up.) Help arrives in the form of fundamentalist werewolf hunter Gary Oldman, who comes complete with a full entourage and an odd little voice that mostly goes away when he gets all shouty (which is often). He even has silver fingernails, which doesn’t seem too practical (for one thing, how do they stay in?), but that’s pretty much par for the course with this film.
In the end, the plot boils down to a medieval Murder, She Wrote with Seyfried trying to suss out who the werewolf is between largely bloodless attacks (the number of times Christie is dangled in front of us as a potential culprit borders on the ludicrous). This wouldn’t be so egregious if everybody weren’t so bloody solemn the whole way through — the notable exception being the furry-themed party they throw when they think they’ve killed the monster. Probably not the best idea with Reverend Killjoy hanging about, but whatever. After the creature has thinned out the cast and had a couple telepathic conversations with Seyfried, the whole shebang leads up to a classic Bond-style “talking villain” scene that couldn’t help but remind me of the one at the end of Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. Note to screenwriters: If your bad guy has to sit the main character down and explain the whole plot to them, then what you’re writing is a piece of trash, so at least have some fun with it. If you don’t, Red Riding Hood is what you’ll wind up with.
Craig J. Clark — Jan. 22nd 2016
Looking over this year’s crop of presidential hopefuls, I can’t help but think our nation would be much better off with a werewolf in the Oval Office than any of the candidates currently on the campaign trail. Sure, the White House would have to go on lock-down every 28 days or so, but electing a lycanthrope would send a clear message to other nations and extremist organizations across the globe: Don’t mess with us. Our president is literally a lunatic.
Until the day that comes to pass, the next best thing is 2012’s President Wolfman, which came to my attention via Noel Murray’s “After Midnight” column at The Dissolve (R.I.P.). It’s the brainchild of writer/director Mike Davis, whose day job as a stock footage coordinator served him in good stead since President Wolfman is almost entirely cobbled together from public domain material, the lion’s share of which hails from the 1973 feature The Werewolf of Washington, which I covered in its own right some years back. As it’s been re-dubbed by Davis and his voice cast (à la Woody Allen’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily? or the serial spoof J-Men Forever), Dean Stockwell’s junior White House press secretary has now become embattled President John Wolfman, who’s up for reelection and faces some stiff challenges — including being a single father to his son Bobby (a subplot drawn from an entirely different film) and the threatened takeover of the country by the Chinese — even before he’s bitten by a supernatural coyote and cursed with lycanthropy.
Over the course of the 80-minute film, Davis casts his net wide, having a go at the Miss America Junior Miss pageant, hippies, stoners, and Smokey the Bear, and periodically indulging in “ironic” racism directed at Native Americans, African Americans, and Chinese Chinese. At least President Wolfman’s struggle to prevent the United States from falling into the hands of the latter (and being renamed “Chimerica”) gives Davis the ability to incorporate all of his source film’s werewolf attacks, recasting the victims as the duplicitous Speaker of the House, powerful lobbyist Maude Atkins, who sold Congress on the deal, and the aptly named Vice President Mangle, who intends to sign the bill that the President doggedly refuses to once Wolfman is out of the picture. None of them are a match for a Commander in Chief whose bite is worse than his bark, though.
Craig J. Clark — Dec. 24th 2015
This month marks a major milestone for werewolf movie fans since December 16th was the 90th anniversary of the release of the 1925 silent Wolf Blood, which is the earliest extant werewolf-related feature on record. This is, of course, not to say it’s been given the deluxe restoration treatment. To date, its only DVD release has been through the budget label Alpha Video, which included it as a bonus feature on its release of F.W. Murnau’s The Haunted Castle in 2008. Within a year, Kino came to The Haunted Castle’s rescue with a restored authorized edition, but Wolf Blood still languishes and, like a lot of films in the public domain, can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.
Subtitled “A tale of the forest” (because evidently the filmmakers didn’t want to go for the “tail” pun), Wolf Blood is set deep in the Canadian wilderness where a bitter rivalry between competing logging companies has fatal consequences. Caught up in the conflict is the Ford Logging Company’s new field boss Dick Bannister (George Chesebro, co-director with Bruce Mitchell), who quickly gets fed up with his men getting shot at per the orders of Consolidated Lumber’s underhanded owner Jules Deveroux (Roy Watson), who hires half-breed bootlegger Jacques Lebeq (Milburn Morante) to do the job. Dick calls in the boss, society dame Edith Ford (Marguerite Clayton), and she brings along her fiancé Eugene Horton (Ray Hanford), a doctor whose surgical skills come in handy when Dick has a run-in with Deveroux and requires a blood transfusion.
It’s a while before it comes to that, though, and in fact on the day Edith arrives at the camp Dick is felled by a tree but somehow suffers no ill effects, which already makes him out to be some kind of a superman. Even a superman can be overpowered when outnumbered, though, and after one of Deveroux’s men brains him with a rock he’s left to die in the woods, where he’s menaced by some of the least threatening wolves ever put on the screen. (I suppose they’re distant cousins of the lone hyena masquerading as a werewolf in Murnau’s Nosferatu.) Luckily, Eugene happens upon him and is able to keep him alive with the blood of a she-wolf, but there are complications when Lebeq starts spreading the rumor that he’s now half wolf and the superstitious lumberjacks start to shun him.
Even Eugene follows suit, telling Edith, who has since become smitten with him, that “the blood through his brain will change his whole character — his mentality — his desires — his whole life!” This, coupled with Dick’s vague memories of the “weird tales of the Loup Garou of the Far North,” makes him suspect himself when Deveroux turns up dead one morning with his throat torn out. He then heeds the call of the “phantom pack,” following their photo-negatives to the edge of Wolfs Head Rock, but Edith pulls him back at the last minute. Seems there’s a non-supernatural explanation after all, which is mildly disappointing, but it’s still preferable to, say, She-Wolf of London, the 70th anniversary of which no one will be celebrating next year.
Craig J. Clark — Nov. 24th 2015
Strictly speaking, 2014’s When Animals Dream isn’t a werewolf film, but since it’s a coming of age story about a young woman who, like her mother, is genetically disposed to grow thick hair all over her body — and become short-tempered and aggressive to boot — it’s close enough to count for this month’s Full Moon Feature. Set in a provincial fishing village in Denmark, When Animals Dream opens with 16-year-old protagonist Marie (Sonia Suhl, making an assured screen debut) seeing the doctor about a small rash on her chest. This concerns him enough that he submits her to a full examination of her fingernails, gums, and back, along with a barrage of questions about any other symptoms she may be experiencing. What these may be isn’t clear at first, just as there’s some mystery about what condition Marie’s invalid mother (Sonja Richter) suffers from, but it does require her to be given shots by Marie’s rock-steady father (Lars Mikkelsen), who’s also seen shaving her back. Then Marie starts having disturbing dreams in which she’s transforming into some kind of bestial creature and, well, do the math.
Even if they had eschewed the supernatural angle, director Jonas Alexander Arnby and screenwriter Rasmus Birch would have been on to something since they paint a compelling portrait of a withdrawn young woman struggling to fit in. New to her job working on a fish disassembly line, Marie has the expected locker-room confrontations with the factory’s alpha-male bully and undergoes a humiliating initiation where she’s pushed headlong into a tank filled with fish heads. (Paging Carrie White.) On the other hand, she also catches the eyes of friendly fisherman Daniel (Jakob Oftebro), whose interest is reciprocated. Heck, he doesn’t even bat an eye when she tells him, “I’m transforming into a monster and I really need to get laid before.” That’s what I call a keeper.
If When Animals Dream has a fault, it’s that once all its cards are on the table, the back half of the film is far too predictable. Still, it’s worth sticking with it to see how Marie is emboldened by the changes she’s going through, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When she’s leaving home for good and her father’s parting words to her are “Don’t take any crap,” viewers can feel confident she won’t.
Craig J. Clark — Oct. 26th 2015
For the first time in recent memory, werewolf aficionados have two films featuring our favorite furry monsters to choose from in theaters this Halloween. True, they’re both more family-friendly than some might like, but PG werewolves are better than no werewolves.
First up, there’s Hotel Transylvania 2, the sequel to the hit animated film from 2012. I haven’t seen either, but Steve Buscemi does return to voice Wayne, the harried family wolf who has his paws full keeping his rambunctious pups in line. And since Hotel Transylvania 2 has continued to pack ’em in a month after its release, there’s every reason to believe we’ll be getting a Hotel Transylvania 3 in short order.
Less assured of a follow-up is Goosebumps, which brings to life all of the creepy crawlies cooked up by R.L. Stine in his book series of the same name. I had aged out of the target audience long before Stine’s books first came out in the early ’90s, so I’ve never read any of them, nor have I seen the television shows, specials, and videos they spawned. (Nope, not even The Werewolf of Fever Swamp.) That didn’t prevent me from enjoying the film, though, especially since said werewolf gets a fair bit of play. True, he’s a purely CGI creation (as are most of the monsters in the film), but he has a good design going for him and he’s party to some of the film’s most suspenseful sequences.
In addition to the werewolf, which gets about five minutes of featured screen time (not that I was keeping track or anything), Goosebumps also unleashes an abominable snowman (the first of Stine’s creations to escape from his manuscripts), a vindictive ventriloquist’s dummy named Slappy, an army of garden gnomes, the Invisible Boy, a giant praying mantis, a squad of space aliens with freeze rays, a gaggle of ghouls, some scarecrows, a mummy, a scary clown (is there any other kind?), and many others. That should be enough to satisfy just about any monster fan.
On the opposite end of the spectrum in that regard is the horror anthology Tales of Halloween, which received a limited release in conjunction with its bow on VOD. The main draw for me was the participation of Dog Soldiers director Neil Marshall, who contributes the best segment (“Bad Seed,” about a killer jack-o-lantern), but the IMDb keywords page also promised a werewolf that the film failed to deliver, so I have submitted a request to the site to have it removed. And I’m using this space to let potential viewers know there are no werewolves in Tales of Halloween. Maybe if there were, it would have actually gotten a wide release.
Craig J. Clark — Sep. 27th 2015
With the super blood moon upon us — for the last time until 2033 — it’s fortuitous that there’s a new werewolf movie out called Blood Moon. What’s unfortunate is that it’s not a very good one. Set in Colorado in the year 1887, but filmed in the South of England for reasons known only to its financiers, Blood Moon is about a Native American Skinwalker — a warrior who’s able to take the form of a bipedal wolf creature and is at his strongest during the blood moon according to the film’s resident half-breed font of Navajo legends and dream visions — who has chosen to bedevil the abandoned mining town of Pine Flats and all who pass through it.
Taking its cues from classic Hollywood westerns like John Ford’s Stagecoach as much as modern revisionist ones like Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, Blood Moon is populated by all the expected character types. There’s Calhoun (Shaun Dooley), the mysterious gunslinger about whose past there is much speculation, who stops a stagecoach on the road to Pine Flats and talks his way onto it. His fellow passengers are deputy marshal Jake Norman (George Blagden), his blushing bride Sarah (Amber Jean Rowan), saucy saloon owner Marie (Anna Skellern), baby-faced London Times reporter Henry Lester (George Webster), and requisite priest Father Dominic (Kerry Shale), who’s the first to get plugged when the travelers are ambushed by outlaw half-brothers Hank and Jeb Norton (Corey Johnson and Raffaello Degruttola), who are on the run after a bank robbery gone bad. In addition to the repeated references to their deplorable personal hygiene, both are repugnant in their own unique ways. While Jeb has an eye for the ladies and makes plain that he plans to rape Sarah before they move on, Hank can’t go five minutes without spitting and sounds so much like Yosemite Sam that it: a) must have been a deliberate choice, and b) is incredibly distracting.
Speaking of distractions, director Jeremy Wooding and screenwriter Alan Wightman include numerous cutaways to Jake’s cousin, Marshal Wade (Jack Fox), who hires the aforementioned half-breed Black Deer (Eleanor Matsuura) to track down the Nortons, hand-waving her concerns about going out during the blood moon. Once it rises, that should mean the end of the tedium (“Jesus Christ, Jeb. Pull the trigger,” Hank says, speaking for the audience. “Shoot somebody.”), but even when one of the Nortons is put out of his misery and one of the passengers is attacked off-screen by the Skinwalker, the others seem unnaturally unperturbed when it drags the victim’s legs away, leaving the head and torso on the front porch of the inn where they’re holed up. Meanwhile, Wooding reveals the creature incrementally, progressing from an over-the-hairy-shoulder shot to the hairy arm that breaks through a window and grasps at the unwary soul who had their back to it. Then there are the closeups of its hairy back as it’s repeatedly shot so Wooding can show that the bullet wounds heal instantly thanks to the magic of CGI. What’s surprising about this is he was actually given a decent-looking practical werewolf costume to work with, so waiting until the last fifteen minutes to show it off just seems like a waste.
Also puzzling are the film’s attempts to prop up Calhoun like he’s some sort of icon who should be mentioned in the same breath as Eastwood’s Man with No Name. Based on his refusal to ever say where he’s from, despite being asked repeatedly, perhaps he should be known as the Man with No Birth Certificate. Also, his reputation as a crack shot may be somewhat overstated since the Skinwalker has to wait patiently up on the roof for Calhoun to fire a shotgun shell filled with silver jewelry into its heart. Then again, it was probably still dazed after being run over by that stagecoach. Blood Moon may not be a classic, but that’s still a moment for the record books.
Craig J. Clark — Aug. 28th 2015
Fifteen years ago this month, the Canadian werewolf film Ginger Snaps had its first public screening at the München Fantasy Film Fest on the way to its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The first high-profile werewolf flick of the new millennium, it’s about two teenage sisters who have enough problems even before one of them survives a werewolf attack during a full moon. Deliberately alienating themselves from their peers and their clueless parents, they amuse themselves by compiling a photographic record of creative suicides and dissing their more popular classmates. Then older sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle), who’s not quite 16, gets her first period (three years late) and a werewolf bite on the same day, leading 15-year-old Brigitte (Emily Perkins) to spend the next month boning up on both lycanthrope lore and menstrual cycles.
Ginger, meanwhile, starts showing an interest in boys, which alarms Brigitte, but not as much as the other changes she starts to go through (growing hair in strange places, developing sharp nails and canines, and growing a prehensile tail, among other things). For help, Brigitte turns to friendly neighborhood drug dealer Sam (Kris Lemche), who not only takes her seriously, but also agrees to help her find a cure. Of less help is the girls’ mother (Mimi Rogers), who is so thrilled they’re finally becoming women that she doesn’t notice one of them is turning into something else entirely. Ginger Snaps may not be the first film to equate the emergence of a young woman’s untapped sexuality with turning into a monster (that would be Brian De Palma’s Carrie), but it’s probably the one that does it best.
This film, incidentally, was directed by John Fawcett from a screenplay by Karen Walton (based on a story by Walton and Fawcett) and they manage to deliver the genre goods while putting a decidedly feminist twist on the werewolf mythos. (For more on this subject, see the “women in horror” panel discussion included on Scream Factory’s recent Blu-ray/DVD.) The film also has a unique take on the werewolf itself — it’s much less hairy than its cinematic forebears (or should I say forewolves?). Thankfully, this design quirk would be jettisoned in the two follow-ups, 2004’s Ginger Snaps: Unleashed and Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning, which I plan to cover in the coming months.
Craig J. Clark — Jul. 30th 2015
A blue moon only comes along once in a blue moon, so to complement this month’s, I am highlighting 1973’s Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo. This was the famed Mexican wrestler’s 41st feature film (which is pretty impressive when you consider he started making them in 1961) and the second one where he and Blue Demon teamed up to fight a wolfman since they had previously tangled with one (along with a number of other creatures) in 1970’s Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters. That was just a generic werewolf, though. This one is Rufus Rex, Count Drácula’s right-hand wolfman, who’s revived alongside his master to take revenge on the descendants of the alchemist who vanquished them four centuries earlier.
Now, where do Santo and Blue Demon fit into all this? That’s a very good question. Well, at the start of the film Santo has his traditional wrestling match with an opponent who has nothing to do with the main story — in this case, the less-than-righteous Ángel Blanco, who not only outweighs Santo, but is a dirty fighter to boot. Also, his white mask is virtually indistinguishable from Santo’s silver one from a distance, so in order to tell them apart you have to go by his blinding white shorts, which are a lot less modest then Santo’s wrestling trunks. After Santo is victorious (because how could he not be?), he’s summoned by professor of the occult Jorge Mondragón, who’s concerned about the curse on his family and the effect it could have on his daughter Laura (María Eugenia San Martín), his niece Lina (Nubia Martí), and his granddaughter Rosita (Lissy Fields). And it turns out he was right to be concerned because that very night he’s abducted by a devil-bearded hunchback (Alfredo Wally Barrón) who suspends him over Drácula’s (Aldo Monti) coffin and slits his throat so the long-dead vampire can be reconstituted. And he’s soon joined by his fur-faced friend Rufus (Agustín Martínez Solares), who was apparently buried in some hip threads, man. (I had no idea they had polyester back in the 16th century.)
As per usual, the police (represented by chief Antonio Raxel, who calls the story “too fantastic to take it seriously”) are absolutely no help, so Santo enlists Blue Demon, who’s introduced wrestling Renato, the Hippie. (Incidentally, these matches take place in limbo, so we have to take the announcer’s word when he says there’s a sold-out crowd being wowed by the physical prowess and agility of the combatants.) Meanwhile, Rufus waits for daylight so he can take human form and seduce Laura, who is to be sacrificed at the next full moon. (Sadly, when this comes to pass, director Miguel M. Delgado declines to show his transformation, erroneously believing we’ll be satisfied by some growling and screaming over a stationary shot of the moon.) For his part, Drác plans to kidnap Rosita, but he’s thwarted by the mystical dagger her grandfather left on her bedside table and has to go back to the drawing board.
This is followed by one of the silliest sequences in a film brimming with them. In it, Santo and Blue Demon are lured by the hunchback to a warehouse where they’re ambushed by a bunch of mobsters in his employ. Before they can be unmasked and rubbed out, though, Lina comes to their rescue by driving a forklift through a wall of hay bales, which help cushion everyone’s falls when they get into an all-out melee. This is matched only by the one with Drácula’s army of sad-looking vampires and wolfmen at the end of the film, when it becomes painfully clear that the sound editor had a grand total of three foley effects to choose from, but that’s a few reels away. First we have to see Drácula hypnotize Lina a few times and fail to put the bite on her because he keeps getting interrupted. There’s also a wonderful shot where Blue Demon follows her through the woods and is captured by three wolfmen who throw a net over him and bundle him off. Eventually everybody winds up at the mansion that is Drácula’s base of operations and the monsters are defeated, after which, instead of ending the movie like a rational person, Delgado tacks on an eight-minute tag-team match between Santo and Blue Demon on one side and Ángel Blanco and Renato, the Hippie on the other. No points for guessing which team comes out on top.
Craig J. Clark — Jul. 1st 2015
In recent years, there seems to have been an uptick in films that feature werewolves, but don’t have them front and center. A recent example is Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows, in which its central group of vampires has multiple run-ins with a pack of werewolves whose alpha has his work cut out for him keeping them in line. (Needless to say, I found their scenes to be the highlight of the film and hope Clement and Waititi follow through with the werewolf spin-off they’ve talked about.) This is a proud tradition that goes back almost to the dawn of cinema, though.
Take F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent classic Nosferatu, the first (unofficial) adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which includes a cutaway to a howling werewolf in the Carpathians. (Okay, so maybe it’s a hyena. Beggars can’t be choosers.) There’s also talk of Bela Lugosi’s Count turning into a wolf in Tod Browning’s Dracula from 1931, but that’s all it is: talk. Thankfully, by the time Francis Ford Coppola tackled his version in 1992, makeup effects had progressed to the point where Gary Oldman’s Count was able to physically appear as a seductive wolf man. (Pity it’s just for the one scene, but what a scene.) And speaking of vampires that have the ability to take the form of wolves, who can forget Evil Ed’s “Howl Mary” pass at living up to his nickname at the end of 1984’s Fright Night? The way he’s dispatched so soon after being seduced by the dark side, though, it almost makes you feel sorry for the guy.
On the other paw, anyone tuning in to Rowan & Martin’s 1969 werewolf-themed comedy The Maltese Bippy hoping for a lot of hair-raising action will only end up feeling sorry for themselves since its werewolfery is confined to a single dream sequence where Dick Martin becomes a wolf man and is chased by an angry mob. That’s about as satisfying as Jesús Franco’s 1972 film Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein, in which a shaggy-looking wolf man appears out of nowhere to do battle with the monster and then is never seen or heard from again.
Much better is 1988’s Waxwork, in which one of the dopey teens who gets lured into David Warner’s macabre wax museum is thrust into a scenario where a werewolf (played by John Rhys-Davies in human form) puts the bite on him. Even if the wolf’s screen time is limited, it’s all quality time since director Anthony Hickox didn’t skimp on the effects budget. And our hairy pal is also part of the monster free-for-all at the film’s climax, with blood and gore aplenty and tongue planted firmly in cheek.
In the past decade, werewolves have popped up in supporting roles in everything from the Harry Potter series to Terry Gilliam’s not-altogether-successful The Brothers Grimm, and from the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania (and its forthcoming sequel) to the YA adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (in which they’re even name-checked in the trailer, although that wasn’t enough to get me to see the damned thing). And since 2012’s Dark Shadows was based on a ’70s soap that featured a recurring werewolf character, it’s only natural that Tim Burton (who had previously squeezed a lycanthrope into 2003’s Big Fish) would include one in his film, although the out-of-nowhere revelation that Barnabas isn’t the only monster in the Collins family does come off as rather perfunctory. (“I’m a werewolf, okay?” they say. “Let’s not make a big deal out of it,” and the film proceeds not to.)
Of course, as far as films of recent vintage are concerned, the gold standard for werewolf cameos remains 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods. Enough said.
Craig J. Clark — Jun. 1st 2015
As a regular contributor to this site for the past four years, I’ve been privy to production details of a great many werewolf films at all stages of their development. There is none, however, that I’ve heard more about than the Canadian horror-comedy WolfCop. From its entry in the CineCoup Film Accelerator competition in the spring of 2013 to the report that it would be hitting movie screens in the U.S. last fall (something that unfortunately never came to pass), there was a time when it seemed like Werewolf News could have been renamed WolfCop News and no one would have batted an eye. Good thing, then, that it more than lives up to the hype.
The brainchild of writer/director Lowell Dean, who wisely doesn’t skimp on the werewolf action, WolfCop stars Leo Fafard as functionally alcoholic sheriff’s deputy Lou Garou (whose name is one of many jokes and puns Dean’s screenplay is littered with), the sort of lawman that gives the badge a bad name, much to the chagrin of his chief (Aidan Devine). He certainly can’t hold a candle to go-getter Tina Walsh (Amy Matysio), who picks up his very loose slack, but that all changes when he’s dispatched to investigate a disturbance in the woods on the outskirts of town — and so does he. “Save me the paperwork. Go the fuck home,” he pleads before stumbling onto the scene of a ritual sacrifice and getting knocked out by a trio of mysterious figures in masks and long cloaks previously glimpsed in the occult symbol-laden credit sequence. The next morning, Lou wakes up to find a pentagram carved into his chest and that his senses are heightened, but that’s nothing compared to what happens when night falls.
One thing for which Dean and his producers can be commended is their insistence on practical makeup and transformation effects. These first come into play in a big way when Lou is doing some police work at his favorite watering hole — the Tooth & Nail Tavern, owned by the shapely Jessica (Sarah Lind) — on the night of the full moon and changes just in time to eviscerate some thugs sent after him for reasons known only to their boss (Jesse Moss), the local drug lord. (I realize they aren’t unique to this film, but the skin-bursting effects are appropriately disgusting.) Subsequently subdued by conspiracy theorist Willie Higgins (Jonathan Cherry), Lou learns more about his condition and the curious history of his town, with its annual Hunt for the Woodhaven Beast, colloquially known as the “Drink ‘n’ Shoot,” which is cancelled every 32 years like clockwork. The real breakthrough happens that night, though, when Lou has Willie lock him in a cell before he transforms, only for him to find he has enough presence of mind to don his uniform and head out into the night (with Willie as his chaperone) to foil a robbery, trick out his squad car, urinate on some vandals, and destroy a meth lab. It’s all in a night’s work for WolfCop.
I suppose because he couldn’t resist, Dean slips a few fairy-tale references into the proceedings. Not only does WolfCop neutralize a trio of notorious robbers in pig masks, but he also has a run-in with a Little Red Riding Hood that turns decidedly steamy. Less expected is the apparent nod to Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master since it eventually comes out that alcohol increases his strength considerably. That it also activates his quip-delivery centers (“What the fuck are you?” asks one miscreant. “The fuzz,” he growls) pretty much goes with the territory.