Full Moon Features: Wildling (2018)

Sep. 24, 2018

Much like a fairy tale, 2018’s Wildling opens with a man (played by reliable genre stalwart Brad Dourif) telling a little girl about the title creature — which has long, sharp teeth and nails, and long, black hair all over its body — as a way of explaining why he has to keep her locked in a room with bars on the window and an electrified doorknob. “Do you want to hear more?” he asks and she shakes her head, but it won’t take long for the astute viewer to catch on to the fact that these precautions aren’t in place to keep the wildling out, but rather to keep the girl, whose name is Anna, in. (Some other clues that she’s far from ordinary: her incredibly acute hearing and the all-vegetable diet the man has her on, as if he’s afraid what would happen if she ever ate meat.)

Thankfully, director Fritz Böhm (making his feature debut) doesn’t make the viewer wait long for their first glimpse of a wildling, even if it’s only in Anna’s dream. While it’s debatable whether it qualifies as a werewolf, it lives up to its billing, ravenously devouring its victim while Anna watches, at once repelled and attracted by the bloody sight. This confusion carries over to the next morning when it’s revealed that Anna has had her first period, prompting Dourif’s conflicted Gabriel to start injecting her with “medicine” to halt her development. By the time Anna has reached her 16th birthday (and is played by Bel Powley from The Diary of a Teenage Girl), the “medicine” has taken its toll on her health in general, but instead of putting her out of her misery like she asks, he attempts to put himself out of his, a desperate act that lands them both in the hospital.

Suffice it to say, this is an extremely disorienting place for Anna to wake up since she’s spent her whole life in a single room with a bed frame made out of tree branches. Instead of being packed off to the sinister-sounding Bellington House, though, she goes home with kindly sheriff Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler, also one of the film’s producers) and makes the acquaintance of her jerky younger brother Ray (Collin Kelly-Sordelet), who’s a pussycat compared to the real bullies at the high school where she’s enrolled, the payoff for all those years of home-schooling. From there, Böhm and co-writer Florian Eder trace Anna’s integration into society as she eats her first hamburger, is given her first feminine hygiene product, and (continuing the Carrie parallels) spends an awful lot of time in the library researching predator behavior and the Aurora Borealis, which she’s mysteriously drawn to. She also attends her first party where she has her first taste of alcohol and her first close encounter with a would-be rapist, who doesn’t get to live long enough to truly regret his choice of target.

After that, things start moving pretty fast, which is a good thing because Anna’s started losing her human teeth (shades of Cronenberg’s The Fly) and growing the clawed hands and feet that have been her birthright all along. Speaking of which, she finally learns some things about her real parents from a fur-clad hunter (James Le Gros, listed in the credits as “Wolfman”), who tells her he hasn’t seen one of her kind in “16 years, since the last purge.” Seems these things have a way of going in cycles.


“Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow” short film explores the werewolves of northern Vermont

Sep. 20, 2018

“It’s a werewolf. It’s not like it’s some crazy monster… it’s just a werewolf.” For me, this is the take-away quote from freelance journalist J.D. Thompson’s short film Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow.

Thompson put the 25-minute film together to capture his experience “working for Playboy on a story investigating a weird little part of America where the locals still believe in werewolves.” The premise he explores in the short film (and the article itself) is that werewolves are responsible for dozens of disappearances and deaths along the Vermont / Quebec border.

This is not a detective story and I think that’s just as well – I imagine the real causes of the disappearances are a far more banal class of evil than French-Canadian lycanthropes. Rather, the film’s focus is the nervous enthusiasm the interviewed locals have for the idea that they might have secret werewolves among their neighbours. The pervasive vibe from the subjects interviewed, and the interviewer himself, is a low-key “we all want this to be true, right?”

The article, “Werewolves Are Definitely Not Real… Right?”, was published in Playboy in October 2015. You can find a reprint on the “Cold Hollow” web site, but I recommend watching the short film first. It’s expertly made, with lots of excellent interview and location footage intercut with stock drone shots of the region’s foggy, snowy forests.

Are the werewolves of Vermont real? Thompson draws no conclusions on the matter, but he seems to say (and I will explicitly state) that many of us would be delighted if they did exist, especially if they continued to spend their full moon time chasing cars for fun, and less time murdering hikers.

“Creatures from Russian Myths and Fairy Tales” artwork by Victor Sukhochev

Sep. 18, 2018

This beautiful image set of Russian monsters and myths rendered in Illustrator and Photoshop by Victor Sukhochev was part of the weekly “cool art & design you might like” email I get from Behance. For once, an algorithm got something right – my old friend the Wilkołak was front and center in the thumbnail image. Click through to see all eight creatures in one huge image (or visit Victor’s Instagram to check them out individually). My favourites are the decidedly un-decrepit Baba Yaga and a radical fellow labelled only as “Water Little Devil”.

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Workplace werewolf short “Overtime” shows why you should never get too close to your coworkers

Sep. 13, 2018

Overtime is a beautifully-shot, genuinely delightful short film from Craig D. Foster and Emma McKenna that showcases a great mix of humour, tension, and gore. After its release in 2016 it received a ton of festival accolades, and now it’s available to watch in full on Vimeo, where it became an official Vimeo Staff Pick this summer.

For an in-depth review, including background on the cast, crew, and effects team, check out this Birth. Movies. Death. post. You might also want to check out the film’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates and behind-the-scenes photos, like this one of Ralph (played by Aaron Glenane) getting a manicure.

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Craig Ian Mann

Fright Rags launches official Teen Wolf shirt collection

Sep. 12, 2018

The OG, very good, very 1980s Teen Wolf movie spawned a lot of knock-off “Dicknose” t-shirts, but as far as I can tell, it’s never had an official line of apparel, until now. The venerable horror & sci-fi t-shirt company Fright Rags has secured the official Teen Wolf license – it says it right there in the banner! – and they aren’t sleeping on it. Starting today, you can buy one of six different designs on a variety of shirt styles. I think my favourite is the cartoon-style “85” design, but the Howard’s Hardware flyer is pretty great, too.

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Full Moon Features: A Werewolf Boy (2012)

Aug. 25, 2018

Were one to stop watching the Korean drama A Werewolf Boy at the 58-minute mark, it would be easy to come away with the impression that it’s been mistitled for the English-language market. Sure, there’s a kid in it who’s pretty feral, but a werewolf? Pull the other one. A funny thing happens 58:45 in, though. The kid actually turns into a werewolf, growing hair all over his body, his bones shifting to increase his size. (He also gets a fright wig in place of his regular hairdo.) The thing is, writer/director Jo Sung-hee plays coy for so long that it’s possible to imagine a version of this film where this transformation doesn’t occur and he’s just a super-strong teenager that was apparently raised by wolves, hence the lousy table manners.

Made in 2012, the box-office smash (it was South Korea’s third-highest-grossing domestic release that year) opens with retired grandmother Sun-yi (Lee Young-lan) returning to the dilapidated country house where she spent a few formative months in her late teens. “It was like that even back then,” she tells her distracted granddaughter, Eun-joo (Park Bo-young). “It seemed like a monster would appear at any second.” Naturally, this triggers a 100-minute flashback to when Sun-yi (now played by Park) moved there 47 years earlier for her health — as her mother (Jang Young-nam) reveals to their new neighbors, she has lung problems — and befriended an orphan boy (Song Joong-ki) who is eventually given the name Chul-soo because the family has to call him something.

Sun-yi’s first nocturnal encounter with the boy spooks her something fierce, but in the light of day he’s not nearly as scary, even with his ragged clothes and gnarled fingernails. Besides, he cleans up nice and responds well when she consults a dog-training manual to curb his more anti-social tendencies. What Chul-soo doesn’t take kindly to is her late father’s business partner’s rich asshole son Ji-tae (Yoo Yeon-seok), who treats it as a foregone conclusion that Sun-yi will be his wife someday. That’s enough to inspire some growling, but it isn’t until Ji-tae physically threatens Sun-yi that Chul-soo’s bestial nature asserts itself in a big way. Since this development requires an explanation, Ji-tae tracks down a scientist who reveals that Chul-soo was part of an experiment to create a super-soldier by combining the traits of man and wolf. (Hey, just like Project: Metalbeast!) Normally, I would call that a bad idea (after all, I’ve seen Project: Metalbeast), but all the military had to do was hire Sun-yi to train their wolfman army and they would have been in the pink. Too bad they’re so intent on putting their lone werewolf boy down.

Full Moon Features: Another WolfCop (2016)

Jul. 26, 2018

Just as the 1987 Richard Dreyfuss/Emilio Estevez buddy-cop comedy Stakeout begat Another Stakeout in 1993, adding Rosie O’Donnell to the mix for some reason, lowbrow Canadian horror-comedy WolfCop has sired Another WolfCop, which premiered as a work-in-progress at Austin’s Fantastic Fest in 2016 before making its proper debut one year ago at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. To make up for its Rosie O’Donnell deficit, returning writer/director Lowell Dean cast an uncredited Kevin Smith in a glorified cameo as Bubba Rich, the interim mayor of Woodhaven, which is still reeling from the severe power vacuum it suffered following the events of the first film. Dean even contrives to let Smith perform his scenes in a hockey jersey since the supernatural threat facing Woodhaven in the sequel is personified by transparently evil tycoon Sydney Swallows (Yannick Bisson), whose plan to reopen the town’s long-defunct brewery (the ominously named Darkstar) and hockey arena smacks of Brewmeister Smith’s world-domination scheme in the 1983 Bob and Doug McKenzie vehicle Strange Brew.

Unlike that film, Another WolfCop skips the Hamlet allusions, and even eschews the fairy-tale references that littered the first film. It does, however, appear to take a page out of the Bubba the Redneck Werewolf playbook by having Leo Fafard’s Lou Garou hole up at the town animal shelter on the nights of the full moon. Even so, his hairy alter ego (which has become the “official” mascot of Liquor Donuts, naturally) is in the habit of defying recently installed police chief Tina (Amy Matysio) by going out on patrol whenever the mood strikes him. As a matter of fact, WolfCop is introduced in hot pursuit of four miscreants in a truck (three of them played by members of Canadian film collective Astron-6) making a special delivery to Swallows that turns out to be Lou’s buddy Willie (Jonathan Cherry), who was merely being impersonated by one of the Shifters in the first film. Willie’s return to the fold is not without complications, though, as he has been seeded with an alien that spends a good part of the film sticking out of his torso like Kuato from Total Recall.

In addition to the alien-impregnation plot, which is reminiscent of the Roger Corman-produced Carnosaur from 1993, Swallows throws in a cyborg named Frank (Alden Adair) for good measure and sends it on a killing spree at the local strip club to draw WolfCop out. Frank’s defeat comes at a cost, though, prompting Willie to drive the injured Lou all the way to Regina so he can get patched up by Willie’s estranged sister Kat (Serena Miller), who has just the thing for him: a piece of moon rock from one of the Apollo missions. This not only does the trick, it leads to Another WolfCop’s requisite bestial sex scene, in which the roles are reversed this time. The moon dust also comes in handy since Lou needs all the help he can get for his showdown with Swallows at the Darkstar Arena, where the whole shebang comes to a head — and the film ends with a bang.

This probably goes without saying, but fans of the first WolfCop will find plenty to like in Another WolfCop, from the hard-rocking score by Shooting Guns to Emerson Ziffle’s gruseome makeup effects to the committed performances by Fafard, Matysio, Cherry, et al. And they will likely greet the closing promise of WolfCop’s return with a cheer. If I may, I humbly suggest Dean and company consider sending Lou Garou (and whoever wants to tag along with him) overseas next time. How does A Canadian WolfCop in London sound?

New comic “The Family Graves” explores what would happen if The Incredibles were all monsters

Jul. 24, 2018

The Family Graves is a four-issue comic series from Timothy Bach and Brian Atkins (the former wrote it; the latter drew it) that explores the sci-fi superhero adventures of a family of monsters.

Together with his dysfunctional, mismatched family of monsters, Phil Graves, an alchemical engineer recently turned unpredictably shifting werewolf, must race across dimensions to collect a set of magical mirrors in order to stop a chronal vampire from devouring the space-time continuum and destroying reality. But can the family hold together even as reality falls apart?

The Family Graves is a book for anyone who loves monsters, family, and unabashedly fun comics! Although spooky, it’s more heroic than horror, combining big sci-fi adventure with a love of classic monster movies to create lots of supernatural action.

Timothy was kind enough to share the first issue with me, and I really enjoyed it. (You can read a 10-page preview of the issue’s middle act here, but fair warning – Phil doesn’t wolf out in these pages.) The logline proffered was “The Munsters meets The Fantastic Four, with a dash of Locke & Key”, but my impression was more like “The Incredibles, if Bob Parr was a self-absorbed tech billionaire werewolf whose monster family tolerates his sci-fi bullshit while consistently outclassing him.” Phil, you need to spend less time looking at your floating orange screens and more time with your family and / or as a werewolf. And figure out your damn bloodwork!

The art has all the flash and colour of a superhero comic, but the monstrous aspects of the cast’s designs are rendered with an eye for creature-based horror, and there were a few little details that made me smile every time I saw them. There’s something very funny and good about a zombie infant with perpetual bags under his eyes.

Story-wise, I was more engaged than I expected to be, as a person who doesn’t really get into superhero comics. I was especially happy to find no explanation for why the immediate Graves family contains so diverse a cast of monsters (werewolf, gorgon, siren, merman and zombie). They’re monsters, and that’s fine. I don’t need an origin story for characters I’ve just met. Whatever happened to them doesn’t seem to be unique, either. There are plenty of supernatural creatures in background roles, which lends a pleasantly brisk in media res feeling to the story’s world.

The first issue comes out in real, tangible form on September 19th (order it from your local shop with Diamond code JUL182141). You can get all four issues right now from Source Point Press, or digitally from Comixology and DriveThruComics.

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SDCC pop-up shop debuts limited-edition, low-appeal “The Wolf Man” shoes

Jul. 20, 2018

If you’re at San Diego Comic Con this weekend and you have no taste and cash to waste, why not line up at the “Boodega Monstore” (701 Eighth Ave, San Diego, CA 9210) for a chance to buy a Super7 / Saucony / Universal Monsters triple-co-branded “The Wolf Man” shoe?

Combining high cost ($95), artificial scarcity (only 12 pairs per size [7 through 13] exist), and zero werewolf design aesthetics other than colours referenced from a character who debuted in a black and white film, this shoe is presumably precision-crafted to appeal to sneakerheads (maybe) and Universal Monsters fans who don’t have to justify their expenditures to anyone.

Saucony makes good gear, or so I’m told, so they’ll probably be comfortable shoes to wear, but these things are utterly unremarkable in appearance, particularly in comparison to the other Universal Monster shoes (thank you, Daily Dead) at the Boodega pop-up shop. At least the other shoes have some graphical elements. These have all the visual appeal of an overripe avocado. The high price and the artificial scarcity are in keeping with the nature of SDCC collectibles, I guess, but I just can’t imagine anyone getting excited to line up for what seems like a deeply cynical cash-grab.

I’m mad about the shoes. What an overpriced waste of an opportunity to do something new, fun and interesting with the dorkiest werewolf intellectual property ever.

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Getting the dirt on a werewolf Presidential candidate in “Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters”

Jul. 19, 2018

Bobcat Goldthwait’s new truTV series, Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters, started airing last week. Last night’s episode, “Face in the Car Lot”, takes place four decades ago but satirizes the political climate of present-day America. David Koechner plays Del Wainwright, a good ol’ boy who ends up on track to become the next president of the United States, despite having some significant skeletons in his closet.

If you missed it, like I did, you can watch it right on the truTV web site, which is where this synopsis is from:

Set in the 70’s, an uncouth car salesman with no political experience leads the presidential race, while a determined journalist is out to prove that he’s an actual monster.

Watch journalist Regina Bailey get some real dirt on Koechner in this clip, which features a very acceptable CG werewolf transformation and a great looking practical costume for the post-change shots.

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