Full Moon Features: Iron Wolf (2013)
I’ve seen it reported that this month’s Super Pink Moon is going to be the biggest full moon of 2020. In keeping with that, I wish I had a good werewolf movie to write about, but instead I’ve got 2013’s Iron Wolf. Following in the paw prints of Project: Metalbeast, the German-made Iron Wolf also followed closely on the heels of the previous year’s Iron Sky, which was about Nazis biding their time on the dark side of the moon following the defeat of the Third Reich. Iron Wolf stays decidedly earthbound, however, opening with a 15-minute pre-title sequence set in Germany in 1945 as the Russian army (i.e. kids playing dress-up) is bearing down on a Nazi research facility (guarded by some other kids playing dress-up) where the obligatory mad scientist Dr. Müller (Urs Remond) is hard at work on “the most powerful weapon in the entire war” — a werewolf that has been trained not to attack soldiers in German uniforms. “All right, gentlemen,” says Major Schilling (producer/executive producer Nico Sentner), the officer in charge of the program. “Create a whole army of these… creatures. We have a war to win.” Within minutes, however, the compound is overrun, everyone who knows what’s what is shot, and Müller’s sole success (a gypsy werewolf that has had its genes spliced with a German shepherd) is locked away for 65 years.
There follows a five-minute title sequence during which a homeless man (played by screenwriter Marco Theiss) tools around the facility with his shopping cart and decides to hunker down in front of the room where the werewolf has been locked away and is somehow still alive and kicking after six and a half decades without a meal. That presents itself when the story jumps ahead to the present day (i.e. three years later), when famous punk rocker Spike Jones (producer/co-executive producer Dominik Starck) arrives with his entourage to convert the building into the venue for a punk show to be headlined by his band, Scum of the Streets. Spike’s hangers-on — none of whom are bothered by the fact that he’s nicked his stage name from a famous bandleader — include his girlfriend Jersey (top-billed Carolina Rath), brother Leon (Roland Freitag), and upstart Trigger (Hannes Sell), who appears not to mind being named after Roy Rogers’s horse. He does mind Leon’s neo-Nazi past, however, and is at loggerheads with him right from the start, while his bandmate Todd (Michael Krug) is much more easy-going as long as the beer doesn’t run out. Also in the bargain is Todd’s girlfriend Lynn (Caterina Döhring), Trigger’s girlfriend Kate (Ildiko Preszly), and Sandy (Annegret Thalwitzer), a random girl Kate met at a club and brought along so the werewolf would have one more victim when Spike stupidly releases the monster from its prison.
It’s at this point that co-producer/co-editor/cinematographer/director David Brückner begins giving the viewer fleeting glimpses of his werewolf (which is played by producer/production manager/stunt choreographer/co-editor/co-director Jens Nier, who also cooked up the story with Sentner), which is eventually revealed to be a guy wearing a largely immobile werewolf mask in a tattered Nazi uniform. “You gotta give that to the Nazis,” says one of the characters. “When they did something inhuman, they did it thoroughly.” The same, however, cannot be said for Brückner and Nier, in spite of the copious blood and gore they throw into the mix (and all over some of the supporting players). They do make sure viewers know how many jobs they and their friends did on the film, though, by repeating most of the credits twice during the eleven-minute closing crawl. All the better to make sure you can avoid anything else they’ve work on.
28 were-creature tales in short fiction anthology “Mark of the Beast”
Can a book that was published five years ago be “news”? It can be if it’s news to me! Chaosium Inc.’s “Mark of the Beast” is a collection of 28 were-beast short stories edited by Scott David Aniolowski. It’s got good reviews on Goodreads, and Paul Mudie‘s cover art is the sort of gnarly lycanthrope I want on my bookshelf, digital or not.
Every civilization has some story or legend of creatures half man and half beast. Indigenous native peoples around the world held beliefs about shamans and witch doctors who could transform themselves into animals. The ancient Egyptians worshiped a whole pantheon of animal-headed gods. The superstitious folk of medieval Europe believed that a witch or a gypsy could curse a man to become a werewolf by night. Pacific islanders told tales of men changing into sharks. Certain African peoples feared leopard men.
Herein are gathered a number of tales portraying the glorious and bestial nature of the werewolf. There are horror, sci-fi, Gothic, cyber, fairy tale and fantasy stories and poems that embrace the essence of the beast, told by an assortment of scribes with diverse styles and voices.
Full Moon Features: Outcast (2010)
It may not strictly be a werewolf movie, but there’s a full moon on the cover of the Bloody Disgusting Presents release of 2010’s Outcast, which premiered ten years ago at the South by Southwest Film Festival, so it will make do for this month’s Full Moon Feature. There is, in fact, a creature called The Beast in it, but when we get a good look at it, there’s no denying that it is quite hairless, with glistening, rubbery skin. Then again, the werewolves in Ginger Snaps are also pretty rubbery, so one can’t be too particular.
At any rate, the film takes place in and around an Edinburgh housing estate, which overprotective mother Mary (Kate Dickie) and her sheltered teenage son Fergal (Niall Bruton) move into not expecting to stay very long. That’s partially because they’re travelers from Ireland, but mostly because they’re being pursued by the mysterious Cathal (James Nesbitt), who’s been endowed with magical powers and has a guide by the name of Liam (Ciarán McMenamin) to instruct him on how to use them. Good thing, then, that Mary knows some magic of her own, even if it isn’t much use when Fergal starts showing an interest in local girl Petronella (Hanna Stanbridge), who tries to bring him out of his shell, little realizing how much effort it takes him to stay inside it.
As much as I appreciate when a horror film puts a new spin on a familiar story, I do wish co-writers Colm McCarthy (who also directed) and Tom K. McCarthy hadn’t been so coy about it and simply made their monster a werewolf (or at the very least given it some hair). They also hint at a larger mythology with the character of the Laird (James Cosmo), who knows all that goes on in his domain and whose permission must be asked before Cathal and Liam can carry out their hunt. Maybe if the McCarthys had been a little clearer about how all the pieces fit together, the end result would be more satisfying. As it is, Outcast will have to remain a curious could have been.
Join the “Full Moon Club” with this werewolf-survivor denim jacket
Let’s get right to it because there’s less than a week to go on the campaign: this “Full Moon Club” denim jacket kicks ass, and I want its Kickstarter to succeed. I might even need it to succeed. I’ll have to check, but I think my denim vest is out of room for new pins and patches, so this would add some much-needed real estate.
The campaign details are simple: if you want this jacket, pledge to get it. If you want two or three, pledge more. No stretch goals, no extra swag. They’re focused on making one thing: a very good jacket that shows you got initiated into the Full Moon Club by surviving a werewolf attack.
Here are the details (although really, this is selling past the close, since a single glimpse at the photos above should be enough to show you how powerful this garment is):
This jacket is loaded with details, and the techpack alone is heavily detailed to ensure YOU get more bang for your buck! (Sorry Deers). This jacket is HEAVY, averaging 1.1kg [2.4 pounds] across all sizes, this is a jacket that’ll make sure you have something for the colder days and the adjustable zips allow more room for when you want to wear a hoodie under it.
- 100% Denim with faded areas.
- 100% Inner polyester lining with inner pocket and diamond stitching.
- Inner polished chrome metal coat hanger chain. (Will be added on bulk production)
- Werewolf claw rips on the rear, with screen printed text.
- Men’s/Unisex fit.
- Front body, pockets, side and cuff polished metal chrome zips. (Polished chrome zips will be added on bulk production)
- Branded debossed polished chrome rivets.
- Finishing V-Art swing tags and poly bags
If you want to show off your lycanthrope love with a garment but you don’t want another black t-shirt, this jacket is just the ticket. Check it out before the campaign ends on Wednesday March 4th!
Full Moon Features: Project: Metalbeast (1995)
Five years ago, when the theme of the inaugural issue of Werewolves Versus was announced as being “The 1990s,” I determined the way to tackle it was to review a film from that decade without the benefit of the IMDb or Wikipedia, relying only on my hazy memories. The film I chose was 1995’s Project: Metalbeast and after re-watching it for this month’s Full Moon Feature, I found my memories were mostly accurate, even if I didn’t know the names of most of the actors or behind-the-scenes personnel. In fact, the only ones I did remember were actor Barry Bostwick (who plays the film’s slimy human villain) and stunt coordinator Kane Hodder (who gets the “and _ as the MetalBeast” credit). Sorry, top-billed Kim Delaney!
I should also extend my apologies to co-writer/director Allesandro De Gaetano, but only if he apologizes to me first for bringing 2010’s Neowolf into the world. Then again, he may have done that simply to make his first werewolf film look better in comparison. One thing both films have in common is Eastern Europe as the source of their lycanthropy. In Neowolf, it was the eponymous rock band. Project: Metalbeast, on the other paw, opens in 1974 with a U.S. Military Intelligence infiltration of a Hungarian castle in the Carpathian Mountains.
Given the code name “Operation Lycanthropus,” its objective is the retrieval of a sample of werewolf blood for the purpose of creating a “superior combat agent.” That’s precisely what rogue operative Butler (John Manzilli) wants to be and why he has no compunction about letting their werewolf blood donor attack his partner, allowing him to get the drop on it. Back at the U.S. Secret Ops Center, though, Butler gets impatient with all the incessant testing (who cares if the blood has an extra chromosome, will it turn him into a bloodthirsty beast or not?) and recklessly injects himself with what’s left of the sample he took. In short order, he gets what he wants, but when he transforms and start mauling the medical staff, his smug superior Miller (Bostwick) plugs him with three silver bullets and has his body sent down to cryonics, where he spends the next two decades on ice. “This little experiment just gets more and more interesting, doesn’t it?” Miller asks no one in particular before the fade to black.
When the story picks back up in 1994, the “New U.S. Secret Ops Center” is being used for the development of an experimental synthetic skin by Dr. Anna de Carlo (Delaney), who keeps running into the problem of the skin hardening. That’s not an issue for Col. Miller, though, who gets himself put in charge of the project and provides de Carlo’s team with a test subject that’s more than just human. “These scientists don’t know it,” he tells Butler’s frozen popsicle of a corpse, “but they’re going to give you a skin of steel. You’ll be indestructible and under my control.” Of course, why he thinks the metal-skinned lycanthrope he shot 20 years earlier will be inclined to take orders from him is a real mystery. I guess he hopes Butler will let bygones be bygones.
As is often the case in werewolf movies, all it takes is for the silver bullets that killed the monster to be removed for it to come back to life. Unfortunately for de Carlo’s team, this occurs after they’ve covered most of Butler’s body with synthetic skin, resulting in his transformation into the MetalBeast when the full moon rises. As I wrote in my Werewolves Versus review, “There’s lots of running through dark hallways and warehouse space, gunfire galore, and even an explosion or two.” I also compared to Miller to Paul Reiser’s duplicitous company man in Aliens (an obvious antecedent), but it took this re-watch to remember how gruesomely Miller dies at the MetalBeast’s claws. Before he does, though, he straightens his tie and smooths down his hair. He’s fooling himself if he thinks he’s going to leave a good-looking corpse, but the effort is noted.
Thomas Jane, Jay Mohr & Sean Patrick Flanery run around the yard under a “Hunter’s Moon”
Hunter’s Moon from Lionsgate! Coming to digital and DVD in March! Starring Thomas Jane and two of the guys from Suicide Kings! Another entry in the “werewolf threatens people in a house” genre of films! It’s like Dog Soldiers but without the guns and the complaints about missing the football match! I’m so exhausted by this stuff!
Thomas Jane (The Mist) and Jay Mohr (Suicide Kings) star in this chilling home invasion horror thriller. When their parents leave town, three teenage girls decide to throw a party in their new country home. But when a gang of dangerous local boys with sinister intentions turn up, the women are forced to not only defend themselves from the evil inside of the house but an unseen bloodthirsty predator that is hunting them one by one outside of the house.”
This does not sound like ground-breaking cinema, nor does the trailer really help:
I am just not excited about this, but the grizzled presence of Thomas Jane might just elevate this out of direct-to-digital purgatory. Here he’s putting out big “secret werewolf” / “werewolf enabler” vibes, but even if he’s just a grizzled cop who knows how to prep a house for a siege, I’d watch him sneak around a garden in the dark for a few hours. Why not?
Werewolf effects corner: The werewolf shots from the trailer definitely show someone in a practical suit, which you love to see, but the end of the trailer does that “staccato shot of snarling jaws” thing, showing a mask with a skin texture like a no-bake cookie with fangs.
Hunter’s Moon will be available on March 24th.
The balance of monster & human is perfect in this Neal Harvey werewolf mask
Lurking in Facebook’s Latex Mask Central group continues to pay off. First I learned about Russ Turk’s “Hungry Werewolf” mask, and this week I discovered what may well be the best latex werewolf mask I’ve ever seen. Collector (and former werewolf mask maker, but more on that later) Paul Gill posted some photos of this snarling rat bastard of a lycanthrope, created by Neal Harvey of Rubber Gorilla. I contacted Paul privately and he was kind enough to provide more of his photos and some background on the mask.
Let me say right away that this is a werewolf mask that Neal makes and will sell to you, but you cannot succumb to poor impulse control and simply put it in an online shopping basket. According to Paul – who, may I remind you, figured out the secret because this is his mask you are looking at in this post – one can purchase this mask two ways: go to a convention where Neal is selling them, or ask him nicely through his Facebook page. I would be trying the latter approach if I hadn’t just made a purchase that depleted my monster acquisition funds for the next three years.
The monstrous mix of human and lupine features on this mask really appeals to me. Consider the long, lupine muzzle, the nearly-human ears, the incisors, and the blank eyes: a combination of features that underscore the werewolf’s subsumed, but still present – if vestigial – humanity. This is far more evocative to me than “a wolf’s head on a human body”, and I love seeing it executed so well.
Paul, by the way, is not just a collector – he used to make werewolves, too, under the name GDS-Fx, most famously for crowdsourced werewolf movie Bonehill Road, for which he crafted articulated werewolf heads. His site has many examples of his work, which I also quite like – his werewolf gloves, in particular, are something I would like to Have and Own – but he’s stopped selling his masks. He’s still obviously big into werewolves, though, and I’m grateful to him for sharing his time and these photos of his new Neal Harvey mask.
Extra Mythology’s explainer video on how to become a radical Romanian monster
Start your day with some charmingly-delivered background on Romanian folklore! This Extra Mythology video on the pricolici and the strigoi explains how to become one of these proto-vampire-werewolf monsters: be a real asshole, then die! Okay, there are a few other steps involved, but the video explains them, and then you get to spend your nights eating sheep and terrorizing little kids. Sign me up!
Extra Mythology is an offshoot of the wonderful Extra Credits project. You can see more Extra Mythology material by supporting their Patreon. You’ll learn a lot, which is its own reward, but it’s probably worth it just to get access to more of Joseph Maslov‘s artwork. Look at these:
Werewolf film “Teddy” ready to rampage across southern France
The person over at Dread Central whose job it is to keep an eye on film sales and production company web sites has found a good one – Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma’s werewolf movie Teddy, currently being sold as a WTFilms project.
France, Pyrénées. Twentysomething Teddy lives in a foster home and works as a temp in a massage parlor. Rebecca, his girlfriend, will soon graduate. A scorching hot summer begins. But Teddy is scratched by a beast in the woods: the wolf that local angry farmers have been hunting for months. As weeks go by, animal compulsions soon start to overcome the young man…
That may not be the most engaging synopsis, but the film won the Junior Prize for Best Screenplay at Les Prix du Scénario 2019, and the writers/directors – who are brothers – cite a love of Stephen King, instilled in them by their mother.
Monsters saved us from being bored to death as teenagers. Our mother, a fan of Stephen King, taught us about them since we were toddlers. So monsters became our friends, we imagined them walking in the desert streets of our small village.
As someone who read my mom’s copies of Cujo and The Drawing of the Three as a kid in the early 90s, that’s a background that appeals to me on a personal level. Also? Can I admit something? Any film that’s sold with a promo image like this is one I want to see. I like my werewolves gnarly, monstrous, and practical. I hope Teddy gets sold soon!
Full Moon Features: Silver Bullet (1985)
After 1981, the other big year for werewolf movies in the ’80s was 1985 since it saw the release of Ladyhawke (a werewolf film in all but name), Fright Night (which I’ll be covering in a few months), the comedic Teen Wolf, the laughable Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, and Silver Bullet, which isn’t strictly speaking a horror comedy, but it’s a creature feature that opens with the legend “Dino De Laurentiis Presents,” which all but guarantees there will be plenty of unintentional laughter before the closing credits roll.
Directed by Daniel Attias, who made only one feature before jumping to the small screen, Silver Bullet was written by Stephen King and based on his own novelette Cycle of the Werewolf, which covered a whole year of werewolf attacks in a small town. For the film version, he compressed the timeline to just a few months (from late spring to Halloween night) and did away with the conceit of having each attack fall on a different holiday (which was patently unrealistic, but King would be the first to cop to that). And the film wastes no time getting to its first laugh-inducing moment, which comes 3:27 in when a drunken railroad worker’s head rolls in a hysterically funny fashion. The requisite opening jump scare thus taken care of, King then gets down to the business of introducing his characters.
Top-billed is Gary Busey, who plays Red, the frequently drunk and unrepentantly vulgar uncle of crippled pre-teen Marty (Corey Haim) and his resentful older sister Jane (Megan Follows, who intrusively narrates the film, which takes place in 1976, from the present day). In a fantastical touch that must have seemed like a good idea on paper, Marty is equipped with a gasoline-powered motorized wheelchair called the Silver Bullet, which Uncle Red upgrades to a zippier model about halfway through the film — all the better to outrun the marauding werewolf in their midst. Since he’s the “cool uncle,” Red is the one adult Marty is able to confide in after he has a run-in with the hairy beast, although Red is understandably skeptical until the moment he’s face to face with it himself. The film also features Everett McGill as the local reverend, who quickly runs out of words of comfort as the bodies start piling up, Terry O’Quinn as the harried sheriff trying to get to the bottom of things, and Lawrence Tierney as a bartender with a baseball bat called “The Peace Maker” (which gets commandeered by the werewolf in one of the few moments where the filmmakers deliberately set out to get a laugh and succeed).
Of course, the real star of a werewolf movie should be its werewolf and the one in this film — which was created by Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi — is a pretty sad specimen. It’s not a good sign that the second big laugh in the film comes when the werewolf reaches into the frame (12:02 in) and its hand looks more like it belongs to a hairy ape. Other unintentionally comic moments are the greenhouse grab (24:50), the posse of werewolf hunters that is suddenly revealed to be in waist-deep fog (40:15), the multiple-casket funeral service (41:56), the confusion (“Is that a bear?” I initially thought) when the creature is seen reflected in the water (54:19), the shot that I like to call “Reverend Five O’clock Shadow” (1:08:00), and — last but not least — the werewolf’s Kool Aid Man entrance at the climax (1:28:36). (Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t have it growl out an “Oh, yeah!”) Maybe I would be more forgiving had I seen this when it first came out, but coming to it later in life, I’m afraid I can only shake my head in unabashed bemusement.
[Silver Bullet is now available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in a collector’s edition with two commentaries (one by Attias, the other by producer Martha De Laurentiis), and interviews with some of the actors and technicians who worked on the film. Notably absent is King, who had a busy year filmwise in 1985 between scripting this film and Lewis Teague’s Cat’s Eye and prepping his directorial debut, the infamous Maximum Overdrive.]