Russ Turk’s “Hungry Werewolf” mask embodies the spirit of 80’s cartoon menace
This werewolf mask by Russ Turk is a real-world manifestation of what I loved about every werewolf I saw in 1980s Saturday morning cartoons. The wild fur, the beady yellow eyes, the big ol’ snout… this is precisely the kind of beast who menaced Egon and the boys in The Real Ghostbusters and ensured the werewolf’s place in my heart.
Before we go any further, yes, as of the time of this post, there’s one – and only one – left for sale. If you love the look of it as much as I do and you have $450 USD to spend, go, quickly!
When Russ first shared photos of this mask’s predecessors on the Latex Mask Central Facebook group back June, I immediately wanted to know more. Russ was kind enough to email me some more photos and some details about how each one is made.
This particular werewolf mask took 4 days to sculpt, one day to make the mold, 3 days for the latex to dry, and an afternoon to paint. The hair application took about 4 hours. The teeth were sculpted and molded separately and cast in resin. I glue them into the mouth of the mask after the mask is painted, but before the hair is applied.
There was no particular inspiration for the werewolf, it’s just a hodgepodge of werewolves I’ve seen in movies and magazine over the years. The main thing I wanted to portray was a scary expression on its face and a big mouth filled with sharp teeth.
I’d say the result is a success, and again, I’m delighted by how precisely it nails the vibe of “werewolf who kills people but who will be defeated by four teenagers and their dog in the third act”.
Russ is a genuine talent – he just won Best New Vendor at Maskfest 2019 – and I’m so happy that he’s using his abilities to create masks with such cartoonish character and real menace. You can see more of his work on Etsy and Instagram.
Full Moon Feature: Alpha Wolf (2018)
This month marks a milestone of sorts since this is my 100th Full Moon Feature for Werewolf News. To mark the occasion, I could revisit an old favorite (like An American Werewolf in London, which I covered in my very first column eight years ago) or take stock of everything I’ve seen and learned in the time I’ve been contributing to this fine site. Or I could eviscerate some half-assed werewolf movie I found streaming on Amazon Prime. Yeah, that’s more like it.
This month’s half-assed werewolf movie is Alpha Wolf, which has one up on its low-budget brethren since director Kevin VanHook has a recognizable star in Casper Van Dien (also one of the film’s producers), who has come down in the Hollywood hierarchy since his days appearing in such A-list genre fare as Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. In Alpha Wolf, he plays Jack Lupo (not the film’s most egregious character name, but it’s close), who is introduced driving out to the proverbial cabin in the woods with his wife Virginia (Jennifer Wenger) and her dog Larry (as in Talbot). Their destination: her aunt’s cabin, which has sat vacant since her uncle was killed in the standard “two hunters get brutally slain by some shaggy, half-seen monster” prologue.
The cabin is the kind of place where there’s no cell reception and they need to fire up the generator if they want electricity. In other words, the perfect place to patch up a shaky marriage or get savaged by some hairy beast. This happens about a quarter of the way into the film, after the obligatory sex scene where Van Dien shows off more of his body than his co-star. Likewise, Jack reveals the kind of man he is when, having been bitten on the arm by the beast that just jumped through the window, he runs off (shades of the cowardly husband in Force Majeure), leaving Larry to come to Virginia’s rescue. In the process of chasing the monster off, though, Larry gets bit himself. And what do you think happens when a dog is bit by a werewolf? Have no fear. Alpha Wolf has the answer.
The film also has an answer for why everyone in the isolated rural community where it’s set behaves so strangely knowing. From Big John, owner of the general store, and his brother, Sheriff Carradine (whose names combine, Voltron-like, to form one of the werewolf actors in The Howling) to Doc Howard (who has the same surname as a certain Teen Wolf), who examines Jack’s wound and tells him “life for you is about to change,” they all know what the score is from the start.
None is more smug about it, though, than the neighborly Reed Oliver (yes, screenwriter Wes C. Caefer went and took the name of the star of The Curse of the Werewolf and just reversed it), who arrives on their doorstep after Virginia has boarded up all the windows and doors and proceeds to bend her ear about the duality of man and how Jack has been given “The Gift” when all he’s really been given is the ability to turn into a creature (“What you might call a werewolf,” he says patronizingly) that looks a lot like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. As played by Patrick Muldoon (a fellow Starship Troopers vet), Reed is about an insufferable as they come, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who the couple’s fuzzy visitor was. Similarly, when Virginia points out the coin jar full of silver dollars upon their arrival at the cabin, that all but guarantees they’ll be put to some use before the credits roll.
Shout Factory’s “The Howling” Statue
(image: Shout! Factory Instagram)
Shout! Factory typically deals in deluxe home media movie releases, but this summer, they’ve teamed up with PCS Collectibles to bring werewolf fans something special:
…an exclusive, officially licensed and limited-edition statue based on Joe Dante’s classic werewolf film THE HOWLING. This special offer comes in two variants – one available at shoutfactory.com and the other for pick up at San Diego Comic-Con 2019.
This statue looks like a scaled-down, simplified version of the two-foot-tall monster PCS released in 2016.
Unless you have a time machine, you’re too late to get in line for one of the Comic-Con variants, but the shoutfactory.com version is still available – and it’s marked down to $64.99 USD!
San Diego’s one-night-only Horrorgasm art & entertainment event
Friend of the site Jenn Cooksey emailed me to tell me about Horrorgasm, an upcoming San Diego event that celebrates the beauty of horror. She writes:
A few San Diego artists and I have collaborated to create Horrorgasm, San Diego’s First Horror themed art and entertainment event. Since I’m such a huge werewolf fan, there will be plenty of werewolf art on display. I’ll also be creating a werewolf art piece exclusively for Horrorgasm.
What else is there to know? What else is going on? Plenty!
Horrorgasm is a one-night-only celebration of horror and all things creepy, spooky and macabre. The event will feature an Art gallery, an artisan marketplace, live performances, live readings of chilling tales, and our version of an escape room, the Horrorgasm Survival Chamber. Horrogasm’s curated artists and performers will explore this year’s themes of Monsters, Maniacs, The Paranormal, and the Surreal.
You can check out the scene yourself on Saturday, October 26th, at Queen Bee’s Arts and Cultural Center in San Diego’s North Park neighbourhood. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids. If you’re interested in being a vendor or participating artist, it looks like applications are still open!
“Hellhound” Werewolf Zombie sculpt by DARKTYPE
The head of a zombified werewolf, cast in what appears to be pink resin (image: DARKTYPE)
I saw this outstanding werewolf zombie sculpt by DARKTYPE in a friend’s Instagram stories a few days ago and I’ve had it open in a browser tab ever since.
In practical terms, I was waiting until I had a free moment to write this post, but I think I was also hoping that if I just looked at it a lot, a “buy” button would magically appear, and if I clicked it, the completed sculpt would appear on a shelf behind me.
That button never appeared, though, because magical realism is a cruel joke meant to instill false hope in those of us who live in a world so broken that we have to use PayPal.
Many of DARKTYPE’s handmade creations appear in his Etsy store, but if you’re interested in purchasing this Hellhound once it’s complete, you can DM him on Instagram, or reach him via the email address in his bio.
The Underworld Lycan Vinyl Statue from Star Ace Toys has tons of detail, great butt
Star Ace Underworld Lycan figure (image: Star Ace Toys)
I kind of liked the werewolf designs in the Underworld movie series. The designs have changed somewhat as the series continues its slide towards direct-to-digital purgatory, but they’ve remained consistently monstrous in a way I find appealing. I know that puts me in the minority, but I’m going to stand in my truth: you don’t need a hairy chest, a classically lupine head, or a tail in order to be a badass-looking werewolf.
Collectible company Star Ace Toys has got a new addition to its “super-vinyl” series (which I originally read as “super-villainy”) that will interest my fellow Lycan-enjoyers: a 32cm soft vinyl Lycan statue based on the creature design from Underworld: Evolution. It’s a super-detailed rendition that captures the vascular, gangly Lycan look, and which includes a curious mixture of modelled hair and fluffy synthetic hair. And, like, not to objectify monsters or anything, but this Lycan has a great ass.
Here’s the product copy from Star Ace’s site:
In the “Underworld” movie series a war rages in the darkness where humans cannot go. The vampires battle the werewolves or Lycans in a centuries-old war. The Lycans can transform from human to a fierce snarling beast, but still retain their human reasoning. This 32cm tall vinyl figure represents a Lycan ready to go into battle, his mouth wide open showing his sharp teeth and his claws out, ready to rip apart his vampire foe. This figure features synthetic hair attached to the head sculpt to better represent the look of the Lycan.
As of this post, Star Ace lists the statue as a pre-order product, due out “4th Quarter 2019”. If you’re in North America, you can put in your pre-order with BigBadToyStore, who list the Deluxe edition (which includes a more detailed base) for a very reasonable $189.99. I imagine other online retailers will have it soon, and for true good karma, you can always check your local comic shop to see if they’ll order it for you.
Full Moon Feature: Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory (1961)
The Italian horror cycle, begun in 1957 with I Vampiri, a.k.a. Lust of the Vampire (directed by Riccardo Freda with an uncredited assist from cinematographer Mario Bava), was in full swing by the time 1961’s Lycanthropus came along. Retitled Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory when it was dubbed into English and released in the US two years later — on a double bill with the Boris Karloff vehicle Corridors of Blood — it is precisely as cheesy as you would expect a film about a wolf man terrorizing a girls’ reformatory to be. Instead of a straight-up horror film, though, what director Paolo Heusch (credited as Richard Benson) and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi (fresh off 1960’s The Vampire and the Ballerina) cooked up is more akin to a murder mystery, with reform school girl Priscilla (Barbara Lass) determined to find out who clawed her best friend to death. (Quoth Priscilla: “Mary was just assassinated. No one will convince me she was torn up by wolves.”)
Good thing for Priscilla she has no shortage of possible suspects. There’s new science teacher Dr. Olcott (Carl Schell), who arrives in a cloud of mystery; the institute’s director Swift (Curt Lowens), who knows his secret; lecherous aristocrat Sir Whiteman (Maurice Marsac), who was being blackmailed by the murder victim; Peter Lorre-ish caretaker Walter (Luciano Pigozzi), who is used to doing Whiteman’s dirty work; and creepy-looking porter Tommy (Joseph Mercier), who has little to do apart from hang around and be a creepy-looking red herring. Once you get past the low-budget trappings and the lazy plotting (the first time we get a clear look at the werewolf, it’s easy to tell which character he is), this is actually a fairly entertaining movie. If it had been made a couple of decades later, it might have even delivered on its exploitation title (à la 2006’s Werewolf in a Womens Prison), but some things are better left to the imagination.
Help turn the first 5 issues of WEREWOLVES VERSUS into a book!
You may not know that in addition to running Werewolf News, I’m the editor of WEREWOLVES VERSUS, a (previously) digital-only anthology project that collects art, comics, stories and all kinds of other great content about werewolves. We’ve done seven issues so far, with another four on the way, and I’m proud to announce that we’ve teamed up with Make That Thing and launched a Kickstarter to turn the first five issues into a giant 780-page book!
Here’s the campaign video:
This book has been four years in the making, and it shows off the incredible work of literally dozens of amazing creators. I’m thrilled at the chance to put it on shelves! Here’s a mockup of what the final book will look like:
That’s a Photoshop render, but if you want to see how big this monster really is, check out the “blank” the printing company sent me as a proof. This has all the properties of the final book – page count, dimensions, and stock. It’s huge.
In addition to the book, backers will also receive some rad rewards created especially for this campaign by WEREWOLVES VERSUS contributors. We’ve got stickers, an enamel pin, a bandana, a new and extremely rowdy song by Colin Janz, and a print of the amazing cover art by John Keogh (whose work you may remember from this stunning poster he did for The Mountain Goats). Have a look at these rewards:
I’ve worked harder on the contents of this book than just about anything else in my life. It’s absorbed a lot of my attention (including time I would have otherwise spent posting stuff here!), and I’m incredibly proud of it. If you like WEREWOLVES VERSUS or just want more great werewolf content in your life, consider checking out the campaign. If you’re not in a position to make a pledge, even just sharing the link is a huge help. Thanks so much!
Full Moon Feature: Night Shadow (1989)
Another month, another Full Moon Feature. This month’s selection is 1989’s Night Shadow, a film I came by in a four-movie pack with Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, Raging Sharks, and Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep. (I guess you’d call that a surf-and-wolf combo.) I knew the film couldn’t possibly live up to its cover image, which depicts a man with a howling wolf’s head and hairy shoulders who’s wearing pants that have slipped down to reveal his underwear, but a werewolf movie is a werewolf movie is a werewolf movie…
Unless, of course, that werewolf movie is Night Shadow, which sends up its first red flag during the opening credits when it reveals that it’s “based on a concept and creature designed by Mark Crowe.” Not that I have anything against Crowe and his creature design work, mind you, but if this movie got made simply because he had a werewolf suit lying around, that’s not a good enough reason. I guess it was sufficient for writer/director Randolph Cohlan, though, who killed two birds with one swipe of the claw by making Night Shadow both his directorial debut and swan song. It was also one of the last films for veteran character actor Aldo Ray (as Gene Krebelski, novelty fish product salesman), and it was the last for special effects technician Rick Scott, who got the role of a lifetime — literally — as the bearded drifter with the gnarly fingernails who (shock! horror! puzzlement!) turns out to be a werewolf. (I often wonder why low-budget movies bother “introducing” actors if they’re only going to fade back into the woodwork.)
Actually, the star of the film is Brenda Vance, who plays successful TV anchorwoman Alex Jung, who chooses to spend her vacation in her sleepy hometown and finds she’s being stalked by a real creep who seems to have some kind of a psychic connection with her — that is, when he isn’t killing old men for their pickup trucks. While she’s home, Alex checks in with her brother Tai (Stuart Quan, credited as Dane Chan), a kickboxing handyman in a half-shirt, and makes time with old flame Adam (Tom Boylan), whose job as sheriff is complicated by the vicious mutilations that get dropped into his lap. Meanwhile, Tai pulls pranks on and with his two asshole friends Dean and Bruce (Kato Kaelin — yes, that Kato Kaelin — and Orien Richman), who are marked for death when they steal the drifter’s diary out of his stinky motel room.
Now, some people who lived through the ’90s will say it’s worth tracking this movie down just to watch Kato Kaelin get a metal pipe shoved through his chest by a hairy werewolf. Let me assure you, these people are wrong. If there’s any entertainment to be wrung out of this tedious monster movie, it can be found in the performance of Jeannette Lewis as unflappable county coroner Francis Stern. Not only does she deliver the requisite werewolf movie dialogue (“All of the victims were mutilated in exactly the same way. There are definite signs of an animal attack.”) like a champ, but she also says one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in any werewolf movie: “The woman’s head is missing, making identification very difficult.” I tell you, that’s Academy Award material right there.
Full Moon Features: Freaks of Nature (2015) and Slice (2018)
This month’s Full Moon Feature is a double since I’m covering a pair of films set in places where humans coexist with supernatural creatures. In Freaks of Nature, it’s Dillford, the “Home of the Riblet,” where humans, vampires, and zombies live side by side, with shock collars on the zombies to prevent them from chowing down on the human population and an uneasy truce keeping the humans and vampires from going at each other. Meanwhile, Slice’s Kingfisher is divided between humans and ghosts, but the town’s slogan — “A Great Place to Be Alive!” — is a real slap in the face to its 40,000 deceased residents. Of course, I wouldn’t be talking about either film if they didn’t also feature werewolves, but in both cases the hairy beasts feel like an afterthought, as if the screenwriters decided to throw in another monster at the last minute, which is pretty much when they show up in each film.
The protagonists of Freaks of Nature are high school students Dag (Nicholas Braun), whose hippie parents have long kept from him the fact that he’s a werewolf, newly turned vampire Petra (Mackenzie Davis), who gets labeled a slut for going “all the way” with one of the vamp bullies at their school, and put-upon nerd Ned (Josh Fadem), the smartest kid in school who deliberately gets himself bitten by a zombie after an uninspirational teacher shatters his dream of getting into a good college. Said teacher, who just so happens to be a vampire, also happens to be played by Keegan-Michael Key, one of a number of funny people director Robbie Pickering and screenwriter Oren Uziel don’t spend nearly enough time with.
Other grown-ups who get short shrift in Freaks of Nature are Denis Leary’s asshole riblet plant owner, Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack as Dag’s “understanding” parents (who give him The Talk about the changes his body is going through), and Patton Oswalt as a doomsday prepper who’s ready for the coming apocalypse — whatever kind of apocalypse it turns out to be. His decision to let Dag, Petra, and Ned into his shelter in the midst of an alien invasion predictably backfires, but at least he can take comfort in having aided the only creatures — undead or otherwise — standing between Dillford and oblivion.
There’s no alien invasion to foil in Slice, just a conspiracy by a coven of witches to open the gate to Hell located in the basement of Perfect Pizza Base, which is suffering from a shortage of delivery people thanks to the mysterious killer targeting them. Since fugitive werewolf Dax Lycander (Chance the Rapper) is spotted at the scene of each murder, Kingfisher’s mayor (Chris Parnell) is quick to attribute them to him in a series of press conferences. This isn’t too hard to swallow since Dax fled town after the Yummy Yummy Chinese Cuisine Massacre, which claimed six lives, but has returned for reasons known only to writer/director Austin Vesely. (He certainly doesn’t seem too concerned about clearing his name.) Meanwhile, the first victim’s girlfriend (Zazie Beetz) tries to get to the bottom of things since the lead detective on the case is prejudiced against werewolves and therefore eager to pin it all on Dax without any evidence.
“What kind of werewolf are you?” Dax is asked when he’s taken into custody, and the answer turns out to be the kind that needs the moon to be full to wolf out, and when he does the change in his appearance is decidedly underwhelming. (See above. That his transformation back to human form mere minutes later is accomplished with CGI only adds insult to injury.) As in Freaks of Nature, the brightest spots in Slice’s supporting cast are filled by skilled comedians like Parnell and Paul Scheer (as the owner of the cursed pizza place who’s more concerned about the losses in sales than his employees’ lives). To paper over the copious holes in his script, though, Vesely throws in tons of narration by an eager newspaper reporter (Rae Gray) whose efforts to make sense of it all are ultimately beside the point in a film with lines of dialogue like “Godspeed, you Chinese food werewolf.”