The Creepshow reboot is all-horror streaming service Shudder’s newest offering, and they didn’t waste any time getting to the werewolves with episode 2’s first story, “Bad Wolf Down”.
Set in WW2 France, the tale follows four American soldiers on the run from Nazi troops. Taking refuge in an abandoned jail, they discover a pile of gnawed-on corpses and a strange, yellow-eyed woman locked in a cell. As the enemies close in, the trapped men make a desperate deal with the woman – she passes on her lycanthropic curse in exchange for a silver crucifix to end her own life. The three freshly inducted werewolves then proceed to tear through the unsuspecting Nazis like a chainsaw through cupcakes.
Nazis and werewolves are a theme that has come together surprisingly often, most likely because of Hitler’s wolf obsession, with many fictional tales using Mengele’s horrific tortures as a setting for mad science, something that is of questionable taste. Heroic werewolves are seen less often, with Robert McCammon’s novel The Wolf’s Hour and its shapeshifting super-spy being a notable example. And of course, our own AQ’s zine Werewolves Versus put out a special charity issue, Werewolves Versus Fascism.
Writer/director Rob Schrab (Scud: the Disposable Assassin, Monster House, The Sarah Silverman Program) is best known for his comedy, and “Bad Wolf Down” has its slobbery tongue very firmly in cheek. The cinematography has strong comic book sensibilities, switching from gritty browns to vivid red during the werewolfy bits in a distinct 80’s style. The script is fast paced and rather bare bones, and sprinkled with Easter Eggs for werewolf movie fans. Especially enjoyable is how each soldier transforms into a different type of wolf – classic Wolf Man, quadrupedal hellhound in the style of An American Werewolf in London, and the towering, long-eared biped that became the new gold standard in The Howling.
One thing that might cause fans to grumble are the transformations, which are rendered as a series of still pictures. However, this fits with the general style of the show cutting away to comic panels. The drawings are well done, and considering we get two suits, a full and two partial make-ups, and plenty of practical gore effects (genre fav Jeffrey Combs as the Nazi commander gets a particularly gruesome demise), realistically the budget had to give somewhere.
Overall this is a fun stylistic throwback to the slightly cheesy anthology shows of the 80’s like Monsters, Tales From the Crypt and Tales From the Darkside.