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.”
A. Quinton — Mar. 28th 2018
From writer Michael Kogge (Star Wars), artists Dan Parsons (Star Wars, Game of Thrones) and David Rabbitte (Star Wars Insider) and colourists Rabbitte and Chris Summers (Spartacus: Blood & Sand) comes Empire of the Wolf, a graphic novel about an alternate history in which the banana bread that was the Roman Empire got garnished with the chocolate chips of lycanthropy.
During a vicious battle with the wolf-king Caradog, two Roman centurions fall victim to the werewolf’s bite. Now, as werewolves, Lucius and Canisius are cursed to relive the legendary feud between the wolf-brothers Romulus and Remus. As their hostility grows, a war erupts that will not only decide the fate of the Roman Empire, but also threatens to claim the life of the woman they both love.
Empire of the Wolf is published by Alterna Comics, who have a landing page on their site with a 5-page preview, but curiously, no link to purchase the graphic novel in any format, and no way to find more information. This title is from 2014, so the page might have been orphaned through subsequent updates.
Don’t worry, though, I got you some links: you can buy it in physical or Kindle formats from Amazon, or digitally through comiXology. You can also follow the project on its Facebook page, which has artwork and relatively current signing event info.
A. Quinton — Mar. 23rd 2018
I’m time-constrained these days with some cool projects you’ll get to see this year, but I had to take a coffee break from work to post about a new anime series hitting Japanese TV this July: Sirius the Jaeger.
The creatures of the night stalk the streets of 1930’s Tokyo in Sirius the Jaeger, an upcoming original TV anime about a young werewolf seeking to avenge the slaughter of his clan by hunting the vampires responsible.
From the English-language version of the Sirius the Jaeger web site:
Imperial Capital, 1930.
A strange group of people carrying musical instrument cases landed on Tokyo station. They are called the “Jaegers”, who came to hunt vampires. Amongst them, there stood a young man with striking serenity and unusual aura. His name is Yuliy, a werewolf whose home village was destroyed by vampires. Yuliy and the Jaegers engage in deadly battle over a mysterious holy arc only known as “The Arc of Sirius”. What truth awaits them at the end…?
With eternal affinity and spiral of conspiracy entwine, the highly anticipated action-thriller anime begins!
From @Sausage_Spirit on Twitter, who shared the news with me and knows way more about the anime world than I do:
it’s being directed by the guy who did wolf’s rain and the cowboy bebop movie with character designs by the girl who does the designs for street fighter and some other capcom games
I’m not sure when or how this will become available to audiences outside of Japan, but I hope it’s soon!
A. Quinton — Mar. 13th 2018
Friend of the site John Dillard sent me this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it video ad for Google Cloud, featuring an animated werewolf transformation and a pertinent bit of college basketball trivia. It’s onscreen for less than two seconds but I think it’s a perfect transformation scene. The only way it could be improved is if the lycanthropic basketball player’s jersey number was “42” instead of “4”.
A. Quinton — Mar. 7th 2018
Growl is an upcoming board game where the point is to be a werewolf who infect as many villagers as possible. That’s the only win condition. At the end of the game you and every other player you’ve sufficiently bitten all literally growl to declare victory. Okay, yeah, you can also play as a human and try to rid your village of lycanthropy (and you can win by keeping at least one human alive until the end), but if you’re reading a site called Werewolf News, I think we all know which side you’re rooting for.
This card-based game was designed by Joey Vigour, features artwork by Rob Joseph, and comes out later this month. To get instant access to a printable version of the basic game system, you can sign up for a game release notification here. According to that page the first 500 copies of the game will be free, which seems too good to be true, but maybe get your email address in there just in case. I was never really a fan of the original Werewolf social game, so it’s nice to read positive reviews of this potential successor and see Joey playtesting it to a fine polish. I look forward to getting a copy of this whether it’s free or not!
4-7 players (up to 10 with more cards) all claim to be innocent villagers, but one of you is Wolf Zero, the original werewolf that intends on turning the whole town wolfy….
The deck of cards sits face-up in the middle of the table. One by one you take turns picking up the top card and giving it to whichever player you want. The cards can be a Bite (which brings you closer to becoming a wolf) or a Wound (which brings you closer to dead), or cards that cancel other cards. When a NIGHT card is revealed, the full moon comes out and werewolves and villagers get to pass cards anonymously, which is how the infection spreads and turns villagers into wolves. 3 Wounds kills either a human or a werewolf. 3 Bites turns a human into a werewolf, and only wolves can pass Bites at night.
When the deck is exhausted at the end of the third night, Wolf Zero begins to GROWL and slowly other wolves (even dead wolves) join the growl! If any humans are left alive, all humans (even dead ones!) win. If all the players who are still alive are growling, all wolves win!
A. Quinton — Mar. 4th 2018
This week’s art is by Kosse, a freelance illustrator and occasional hyena from France. Despite some uncertainty in the tags and the potential contextual significance of a Neon Genesis Evangelion quote that goes over my uninitiated head, I think this fellow is a werewolf. A pious werewolf, which is one of the most dangerous kinds, as the residents of Tarker’s Mills well know. His proper posture and rosary aren’t enough to convince me that he’s got the welfare of his flock in mind.
You can find Kosse on Twitter, Tumblr, FurAffinity and Ultra-book. Werewolves and other snarly canids appear frequently in his work. His great poses contrast nicely with his muted, earthy colour palettes, and he draws extremely good chompers.
A. Quinton — Mar. 3rd 2018
Do you know what The Adventure Zone is?
If you answered “no” but you like great audio storytelling, may I suggest jumping in at the setup episode for this current arc? It’s a long-running actual play roleplaying podcast by a family of funny, thoughtful and inclusive writers/actors. If you start at the link above, no prior knowledge of the show is required.
After the conclusion of their years-long main arc, “Balance”, the McElroy boys (Justin, Travis and Griffin of MBMBaM fame) and their dad (Clint) are taking turns running short 5- or 6-episode campaigns as a way to narrow down their next long-form story. This is the second-to-last mini-arc, and as much as I’m looking forward to a longer adventure, each of these has been superb (Clint even made me like “tights and fights” superheroes with “Commitment“).
If you are familiar with The Adventure Zone, then you probably already know that Travis’s new arc “Dust” just started, and it’s high in lycanthrope content. The western / supernatural crime procedural continues TAZ’s trend of storytelling excellence. Griffin plays Errol Ryehouse, a permanently-half-transformed werewolf. He’s an excitable politician who leans into his semi-lycanthrope status with enthusiasm as he strives to protect his neighbourhood from crime, vampires, and bad zoning laws. There’s also Gandy Dancer (an orphaned magic user played by Clint) and Augustus Parsons (an asshole and cashew magnate ghost played by Justin). The story so far involves a murder investigation that starts at midnight and which must be concluded by 8 a.m. the next morning, lest the werewolves and vampires of the territory take matters into their own hands.
— arin hamhunk 🐻 (@lordbilingual) March 3, 2018
The first episode of gameplay came out March 1st and it’s really, really good. Future episodes will arrive every Thursday around 11am Pacific. You can subscribe in Apple Podcasts, or in the podcast app of your choice using the direct feed.
Trying to enumerate why The Adventure Zone deserves your attention – especially if you’re not usually into roleplaying podcasts, roleplaying, or podcasts – is too big a job for me to tackle in a single blog post. The show packs a ton of story into each episode, making it hard to provide an overview that remains both comprehensive and interesting to people who aren’t already listening. All I can do is recommend it as ardently and sincerely as any other thing I’ve posted about on this web site in the past 10 years: please listen to The Adventure Zone.
To close out this post, here’s a tiny sample of Twitter fan art depicting Errol, Gandy and Augustus. #TheZoneCast fans are prolific (there were over 40 pieces of art of these characters posted in the eight days since the arc started) and I love popping into that hashtag every now and then to see how characters are being portrayed.
— it's pronounced yay-new (@jeinu) February 23, 2018
— Daddy (@sweetloveofpan) March 2, 2018
— sonny acosta (@comacronyc) March 2, 2018
— Bailie (@bailierosenlund) March 2, 2018
— Nicolette (wanlingnic) (@wanlingnic) March 1, 2018
— WhatItMeansToBeHuman (@WIMTBH) February 28, 2018
— Ana 💖💛💙 (@AnaTheUnknown) February 27, 2018
— Avery Helm (@avery_helm) February 27, 2018
— A Bear from Space (@GalacticJonah) February 26, 2018
— Isaac Pope (@IsaacPope1) February 25, 2018
— Fame ✍🏼 (@Anonymous_Fame) February 25, 2018
#theZonecast I’m so stoked for the The Adventure Zone: Dust arc! A short, Western-set story with a supernatural cast is a greaaaaat jumping in point if you’ve been shopping for a new podcast! pic.twitter.com/Kcm5rKVXhO
— Stitchy (@stitchyarts) February 25, 2018
— Inkblot Bat (@StarBatArt) February 24, 2018
just listened to the new arc of #TAZdust did this little quick thing, ill probably come up with something better when their characters build. i looooooove griffens fursona #taz#TheZoneCast #sketch #characterdesign pic.twitter.com/UhZ1L8Cpco
— Ceara (@mcraicin) February 23, 2018
Craig J. Clark — Mar. 1st 2018
I’m hopping a bit off the beaten path with this month’s Full Moon Feature, but with Early Man now in theaters, I can’t think of a better time to watch a cheese-loving inventor and his long-suffering pooch grapple with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Made in 2005, it was the second feature for Aardman Animations after 2000’s Chicken Run and the first big-screen adventure for their signature characters, Wallace and Gromit. Directed by their creator Nick Park and Steve Box, the film amply illustrates the dangers of hooking yourself up to a Mind Manipulator-omatic and then plugging it into a BunVac filled with pesky rabbits and trying to brainwash them into not liking vegetables under the light of the full moon. There’s just so many ways something like that can go so, so wrong, as man and his best friend alike soon learn.
How it comes to that is simple: In the lead-up to their town’s annual Giant Vegetable Competition, everyone has signed up with Anti-Pesto, Wallace (voiced as always by Peter Sallis) and Gromit’s high-tech “Humane Pest Control” service. Their non-lethal methods especially impress animal lover Lady Campanula Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), who has to fend off aggressive blueblood Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), who resents the competition. However, after Wallace’s attempt at bunny brainwashing backfires, he literally creates a monster that is identified by Reverend Hedges (Nicholas Smith, Mr. Rumbold from Are You Being Served?) as the titular beast, carrotus apetitus giganticus. No points for guessing who it turns out to be.
Park and Box and their co-writers Mark Burton and Bob Baker pack as many vegetable puns as they can into the proceedings (under the headline “Night of Vegetable Carnage!” there’s the delicious subhead “Anti-Pesto Fail to Turnip in Time”), and they also managed to smuggle a few naughty jokes past the MPAA. (“Beware the moon,” indeed.) Even better, they work in numerous allusions to classic horror films, with my favorite being when the beast is vanquished and it returns to human form with the aid of a series of lap dissolves, just like in the old Lon Chaney, Jr. movies. I know that’s hardly extraordinary considering the entire film is stop-motion animated, but the gesture is appreciated.
A. Quinton — Feb. 28th 2018
I only read a handful of comics anymore, and Pure of Heart is at the top of that list.
Human-werewolf relationships are always tricky, especially when the werewolf is heir to the throne. After years married to the prince, Penelope falls for another human – shame he’s a bit of a loser. Things get messy when they find themselves embroiled in the midst of royal intrigue, and dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Can they overcome danger and their own issues to give the baby a chance? Pure of Heart is a comic about aristocratic werewolves, human weakness and scheming siblings.
Pure of Heart is free to read, but $1+ Patrons get the full experience; with color pages several weeks before everyone else, high-res PDFs, plus a shedload of other perks, there’s no better way to support the comic. I’m halfway to my first goal, at which point Pure of Heart will become twice weekly, so every dollar helps!
The comic’s creator, HamsterToybox, has been drawing great werewolves (and other things) for years. Just look at this big jerk! It’s wonderful to see her idiosyncratic lycanthropes coupled with captivating serialized storytelling.
She’s not kidding about the shedload of Patreon perks, either. I jumped in at the “get a cameo in the strip” level and was very pleased with the result (here I am getting my coffee knocked out of my hands) and the behind-the-scenes art and coloured pages are such a pleasure to see. Patreon support, though recommended, is not a requirement to enjoy Pure of Heart – just visit pureofheartcomic.com.
My thanks to Pure of Heart for sponsoring Werewolf News for the month of March!
A. Quinton — Feb. 23rd 2018
Roald Dahl’s collection of delightfully messed-up fairy tales has been adapted from a book into two half-hour animated short films directed by Jakob Schuh Jan Lachauer and narrated by Dominic West. The meta-story surrounding the two short films stars a wolf (potentially Big and/or Bad), which is werewolf-adjacent enough to be posted here.
The characters designs are fantastic – a kind of mashup of Quentin Blake’s illustrations and Aardman-style 3D figurines. Lupine bias aside, I love the variety of depictions the wolf (or wolves) have.
Revolting Rhymes was produced by Magic Light Pictures (London), animated by Magic Light Pictures (Berlin) and Triggerfish Animation (Cape Town), and aired on PBS in the United States. The first episode, featuring a radical reinterpretation of Red Riding Hood and Snow White’s stories, is currently in the running for an Academy Award.