Rick Baker’s daughters Rebecca and Veronica become a new American Werewolf & her victim for Halloween

Oct. 31, 2018

Rick Baker’s daughters Rebecca and Veronica become a new American Werewolf & her victim for Halloween featured image

I would watch this reboot of "American Werewolf" every day for the rest of my life (image: @therickbaker Instagram)

Every Halloween, monster maker / creature effects legend Rick Baker transforms his entire family with a themed range of makeup that he spends days preparing. In 2015 he and his two daughters became variations of the Joker, in 2016 he re-created the doctor, nurse, and patient from the Twilight Zone episode “Eye of the Beholder”, and last year he turned his daughters into characters from The Strain.

This year, with the help of his daughters, Baker revisited the work that won him the first Academy Award for Best Makeup in 1981 – a little film called “An American Werewolf in London”.

Here’s his daughter Veronica as Jack (Jackie?) “Meatloaf” Goodman, who went to work today like all good and industrious werewolf murder victims do:

And here’s his daughter Rebecca as David (Danielle?) Kessler. She stayed home from work today, but I hope she went to the mall (or Piccadilly Circus) so people can get a look at this incredible work:

Now we know why Baker was revisiting some of his “American Werewolf” work last week!

A deep dive into the Colony with “The Howling: Studies in the Horror Film”

Oct. 31, 2018

“The Howling: Studies in the Horror Film” by Lee Gambin looks like a must-have book for anyone interested in the seminal 1981 werewolf movie.

Author and editor Lee Gambin has written the definitive story of the making of The Howling, complete with an insightful plot synopsis and complete critical analysis, behind the scenes information, and a slew of interviews with cast and crew. Rounding out the book are nearly 150 stills of the movie, ranging from individual frame enlargements to rare, never-before-published behind the scenes photographs.

Over 350 pages, this handsome sewn paperback offers everything you need to know about one of the 1980’s greatest horror films, and is a welcome addition of the Centipede Press Studies in the Horror Film series.

I’ve been squinting at the text visible in some of these spreads and I’ve already learned things I never knew about a film as old as I am.

Eddie Quist’s sketches depicting other residents of the Colony were actually done by Richard Hescox
More supplemental artwork by Richard Hescox

You can order this book today from Centipede Press.

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Former Dimension exec confirms that the original cut of Wes Craven’s “Cursed” exists & should be seen

Oct. 30, 2018

Former Dimension exec confirms that the original cut of Wes Craven’s “Cursed” exists & should be seen featured image

The famous werewolf bird-flip from Cursed

Here’s an exclusive from Bloody Disgusting that’s got me ready to head to the Miramax offices in New York City and start searching in closets and storage rooms: Cary Granat, who was COO of Dimension (a label within Miramax) from 1995 to 2000, has confirmed that there’s an original cut of Wes Craven’s 2005 werewolf movie Cursed, and that it’s good enough that it should be released.

“Yes, yes, yes, 100%,” Granat told us when we asked about the Craven cut of Cursed in a phone interview promoting his new movie, Welcome to Mercy.

Since Cursed came after Granat’s tenure at Dimension, he’s not sure where to find the original cut, only that it’s got to be somewhere.

“It still exists,” Granat said. “I just don’t know if it went with The Weinstein Company. I left in 2000 to start Walden so it was in development after that.”

For context: Cursed was shot in 2003, with an R-rated script, Wes Craven’s direction, and werewolf effects by Rick Baker, but then spent two years in development hell as Dimension execs Bob and Harvey Weinstein (yeah, that Harvey Weinstein) proceeded to ruin it. Massive reshoots cut it down to a disjointed PG-13 mess that radically mangled the plot, omitted many actors, changed the ending twice, relied heavily on KNB for CG for werewolf effects (although I still like the werewolf design), and was ultimately disavowed by Craven.

There’s no telling what state this original cut is in, although it’s probably not complete – Wikipedia claims that only 90% of the original script was shot, leaving some gaps that wouldn’t be covered by the “three films worth” of footage they got during the film’s time in purgatory. I’d be glad to see it in any state, though, especially with some Rick Baker werewolf effects.

SciShow’s “Werewolf Myths” video doesn’t disappoint

Oct. 30, 2018

SciShow’s “Werewolf Myths” video doesn’t disappoint featured image

Werewolf stock photo from the video (image: Thinkstock)

YouTube channel SciShow recently published a short video on the origin of werewolf myths. A number of people sent me the link – thank you! – and I only just had a chance to watch it.

It gets off to a bad start. Within the first 30 seconds, host Michael Aranda makes a Twilight reference, which would have been tedious a decade ago, and then asserts that werewolves aren’t real, which, okay, granted, but that doesn’t set a fun tone. Your writer and producer better have some good stuff planned to make the next four and a half minutes worth my time, you buzzkill.

They actually do! This is a show about science, not debunking myths or recounting history, so in short order they get into specifics about neurons and chromosomes in order to discuss three werewolf-adjacent maladies – rabies, congenital hypertrichosis, and delusional misidentification syndromes, of which clinical lycanthropy is an example. The science is quite up-to-date, providing some details I didn’t know about. If you’re interested in the how of things, definitely check this video out.

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Trash your house and ruin a babysitter’s life as a tiny werewolf in “Where’s Baby?”

Oct. 25, 2018

Where’s Baby? is an award-winning asymmetrical multiplayer game. Each player assumes the role of a rowdy monster baby or a beleaguered babysitter, and respectively trashes the house while escaping capture or tries to fix all the broken furniture before slam-dunk the kid back in their crib.

One of four playable babysitters attempts to un-trash a bookshelf while a baby werewolf goes buckwild

From the developer’s web site:

Play as a baby critter, wrecking everything in the house and having a blast! Power ups along the way will help amplify your natural toddler abilities, including diaper bombs and a foot-powered pink plastic car (beep beep)! OR play as the baby sitter, and try to keep things together until the parents get home and the round ends! If you are lucky, you’ll be able to find a blanket, put that little guy to bed, and have a little peace!

It’s a Steam Early Access game that you can download for Mac or Windows for less than the cost of a bad cup of coffee. Currently included:

  • Single Player AI Verses!
  • Local Split Screen Multiplayer!
  • Beta-ish Online Multiplayer (via Steam Chat’s Join Me Function)!
  • 4 Power Ups for Both Sitter and Critter!
  • 4 Sitters!
  • 2 Critters!
  • 2 Levels!
  • And a whole lotta love!
All vampires are terrible and this baby is no exception.

One of the two critters is a baby werewolf who seems just as adorable as they are destructive, and the other is a baby vampire who – well, I’m not going to write profanity about a cartoon infant, but you know how I feel about vampires.

Here’s the announcement trailer, which shows some gameplay:

You can check out the game on Steam and follow its development on Twitter at @WellBredRhino.

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John Dillard

Rick Baker shows off “American Werewolf” head sculpts & behinds the scenes info

Oct. 24, 2018

Monster maker extraordinaire Rick Baker has been posting videos of his award-winning “An American Werewolf in London” werewolf sculpts on Instagram. The first is a looped zoom on fully-transformed David Kessler’s face, showing off the muzzle and right eye. This head was used on-screen, and after almost 40 years the “foam latex has turned to graham cracker”, but it still looks amazing.

The second is a longer video in which Rick explains why “Change-o Head #2”, used during David’s first transformation scene, was intentionally sculpted with an asymmetrical face. This is a more recent cast from the original mold. Just think about that – this guy has the ability and desire to just make a new one of these whenever he wants.

It’s so cool to see the skill and forethought that makes Rick a legend today was already in effect when Jimmy Carter was president.

Full Moon Features: Carnivore: Werewolf of London (2017)

Oct. 24, 2018

Typically, when the director of a low-budget werewolf film is presented with a naff-looking monster suit, they compensate by keeping it in the shadows and showing it as little as possible. This, however, was not the tack taken by Simon West, the writer, producer, director, and editor of 2017’s Carnivore: Werewolf of London, in which said carnivorous beastie first shows itself 32 minutes in and keeps on showing itself until the credits roll 48 minutes later. And even then it’s not a werewolf “of London” so much as it’s one that lives about an hour outside of the city in the vicinity of an isolated cottage with few amenities that a British bloke unwisely chooses for the romantic getaway where he plans to propose to his girlfriend, an American actress played by a London-born actress whose accent slips occasionally, but that’s really the least of Carnivore’s problems.

Following the traditional pre-credit kill in which an anonymous girl running through the woods is stalked and slayed by… something, West introduced Dave (Ben Loyd-Holmes, his co-producer) and Abi (Atlanta Johnson), who take a taxi to the aforementioned cottage, which has been let to them for the weekend by Sam (Gregory Cox), who shows no sign of actually leaving them alone to have some privacy. West also throws in a number of POV shots of something watching the couple from the woods, and we know it isn’t Sam because at one point it kills and eats a rabbit. All the while, West pads out the preliminaries with two separate sex scenes, Dave’s ill-timed proposal, and an interminable search for Abi’s phone, all of which plays like a warmed-over variation on the relationship issues in Bryan Bertino’s home-invasion horror film The Strangers. Then comes the first of many, many window scares, which become tiresome and predictable in a hurry but still somehow manage to get a scream out of the protagonists.

With no way of calling for help or keeping the monster at bay indefinitely (although it pointedly never breaks through the cottage’s many unprotected windows), Dave and Abi put aside their personal problems and try to figure out how to make it through the night in one piece. Dave even gets proactive, hatching a plan to lure the werewolf inside the cottage and burn it down, which goes about as well as his marriage proposal. As for Sam, he eventually reveals what he’s up to and why he’s able to tell the werewolf that it’s dinner time without being on the menu himself.

Viewers looking for gratuitous nudity and gore to compensate for Carnivore‘s unconvincing werewolf will feel somewhat slighted on the former front as West holds off on it about as long as he keeps the monster off-camera. (Loyd-Holmes and Johnson are both seen in the buff for their second sex scene, though, which comes right before the big reveal.) As for the gore quotient, this gets upped by the random driver who pulls up to the cottage and has his hand bitten off, as well as a later scene where one of the characters is mauled and their intestines removed. It’s doubtful even the most forgiving gorehound will be satisfied, however, by the epilogue which circles back to London (where this carnivore is supposed to be from, remember) and perfunctorily introduces a group of club kids who exist purely to be werewolf chow. But hey, at least they don’t have to hang around for an hour waiting to be devoured, which is a lucky break for them. Pity that doesn’t hold for anybody unfortunate to call up this film.


The Wolf Clan of Erin: A Saga of Ireland’s Legendary Tribe of Werewolves

Oct. 24, 2018

The Wolf Clan of Erin: A Saga of Ireland’s Legendary Tribe of Werewolves featured image

Cover art for the print edition of The Wolf Clan of Erin

Last month I shared journalist J.D. Thompson’s short film Hunting the Hound of Cold Hollow. Now the novel based in part on the research he did for that documentary is available for pre-order at a nice discount in advance of its October 31st release.

The Wolf Clan of Erin: A Saga of Ireland’s Legendary Tribe of Werewolves

In days when heathen gods were honoured and the old ways were still held in the hearts and minds of the native folk. In a time when fairies, wights and even werewolves were not just the things of fantasy.

Follow Maewyn as he discovers the truth about an ancient tribe said to be shapeshifting “Wolf
Men”. With his faith in the One True god to guide him he embarks on a journey to crush whatever evil he may find, but with his mysterious companion Elcmar by his side he may discover more than he had ever imagined.

Full disclosure: I’ve been sent a copy of this book, which I have not yet read. I enjoyed the documentary, and I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of story Thompson can weave out of his research.


Werewolf House: Synthincisor is the kind of weird, wonderful werewolf game that could only exist online

Oct. 23, 2018

Werewolf House: Synthincisor is the kind of weird, wonderful werewolf game that could only exist online featured image

Werewolf House: Synthincisor cover art (image: Cat Rogers)

An browser/mobile game styled after 8-bit text adventures? I think I’ll pass. I make corporate web applications with middling JavaScript for a living and I don’t need to be reminded of the radical shit that people have made with bad JavaScript.

But what’s that, you say? The game plunges you into an eerily synth-scored story where you play as a vaping EDM DJ who gets hired to play a gig at Werewolf House, but who has their fresh new beat blasted out of their head by lightning, and who must have “an unforgettable, Webby-deserving interactive adventure in the Werewolf House in an attempt to create a new beat before the moon is full”?

Don’t mind if I do.

This is Werewolf House: Synthincisor, the third and final instalment in writer/musician Andy Kneis‘s trilogy of absurd browser-based werewolf-laden choose your own adventure games. I haven’t played any of them for longer than 10 minutes, having only just learned about them, but they all look deeply funny in a way that blends the chunky GIF-style graphics of the point & click text adventure genre with Kneis’s beautifully slapdash/smartass writing.

I beat this computer’s haunted web site by clicking past a GIF of a werewolf labelled “sensuality”.

The first two games in the trilogy, Werewolf House Rising: Werewolf House of Wolves and Werewolf House Rising: Werewolf House of Wolves – Arbor Day Edition, seem to be single-page HTML documents stacked with wonderful GIFs, music embeds, and links that jump you around in the narrative. Synthincisor is quite a bit more involved, though.

The full moon is out and what started as a choose-your-own adventure site has transformed into a full-on interactive fiction game with a unique mechanic that lets you to add new layers the game’s soundtrack as you progress.

“The art in the game is silly and the writing is really silly,” he told the Los Feliz Ledger in an interview, “so I wanted the music to be as good as possible.”

An animation from a Werewolf House pop-up ad

The music seems quite good indeed. During my brief playthrough, I made it through the ground-level room of Werewolf House, which was just far enough to enhance the pulsing 80’s slasher flick style music with some “modem sounds” I earned by helping a (potentially evil) web site exorcise itself by banishing 2002-era pop-up ads for werewolf pills.

This is the kind of weird, wonderful, fully-committed-to-the-goof stuff that I love. I made myself click the “save” button and come over here to write this post. As soon as I hit “publish” I’m going back over to that other browser tab to resume my game. I need to recover that missing beat, play a killer set for the Werewolf House denizens, and then maybe down some werewolf pills.

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John Dillard

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.