Author: Craig J. Clark

Craig J. Clark hasn't seen every werewolf movie ever made, but he's working on it (the complete list of the ones he's seen so far is here). He has been a contributor to Werewolf News since August 2011, when he wrote about his deep and abiding love for John Landis's An American Werewolf in London. Since then, his Full Moon Features have appeared every time the moon has been full and bright. His non-werewolf reviews can be found at Crooked Marquee and on Letterboxd.

Full Moon Features: One Wolf’s Family (1990)

It’s only natural that the syndicated horror anthology series Monsters would tackle werewolves at some point during its run. What’s surprising is it waited until most of the way through season two to do so. (Then again, its predecessor, Tales from the Darkside, waited until season-three opener “The Circus” to unleash its first werewolf, and followed it with the Tom Savini-directed “Family Reunion” in its fourth and final season.)

Aired on February 11, 1990, “One Wolf’s Family” is notable for starring husband-and-wife team Jerry Stiller (who died last month at the age of 92) and Anne Meara as two werewolves from “the old country” who have come to America to make a better life for themselves and their daughter. As the leader of their close-knit pack, Stiller’s Victor is a good provider, which is why he’s beside himself when he finds out his daughter Anya (Amy Stiller) is in love with a werehyena. That leaves his peacekeeper wife Greta (Meara) to browbeat him into accepting Anya’s choice of fiancé, even he is a lowly scavenger.

Writer Paul Dini (who still had Batman: The Animated Series in his future) and director Alex Zamm keep things light by having Victor and Greta playfully nip at each other when he comes home from work and casually talk about the jogger they’re having for dinner (whose freshly killed corpse is sharing fridge space with various other body parts). In addition to Anya’s engagement, Dini tosses another threat to their happy home life into the mix in the form of nosy neighbor Mrs. Peabody (Darkside vet Karen Shallo), who’s entirely too suspicious — and xenophobic — for her own good. (Who drops by to borrow a cup of cheese?)

Things get hairy — as does Victor — when Anya’s beau Stanley (Robert Clohessy) turns out to be every bit the bottom feeder he feared. Unlike a lot of Monsters episodes, where the make-up effects are used sparingly, once Victor wolfs out and scares Stanley off, he stays wolfed out, giving Mrs. Peabody the chance to get photographic proof of just what her neighbors are. “They’re werewolves!” she cries. “As if their being foreigners wasn’t enough.” Before she can gather the torch-bearing mob, though, Stanley proves himself useful — and worthy of joining the family.

Incidentally, exactly one year after “One Wolf’s Family” aired, Monsters returned to the well with “Werewolf of Hollywood,” but that’s a story for another day.

Blu-ray Review: The Beast and the Magic Sword (Mondo Macabro)

When I reviewed Paul Naschy’s 1983 film The Beast and the Magic Sword in 2018, I wrote that it was “only a matter of time before a company like Mondo Macabro or Scream Factory” got around to giving the film its first release in the States. As it turned out, Mondo Macabro was the one that stepped up, putting it out on Blu-ray in February in an edition that includes a variety of special features to please just about any Naschy fan.

In brief, The Beast and the Magic Sword finds Naschy’s signature werewolf character, Polish count Waldemar Daninsky, traveling to 16th-century Japan in search of a cure for his lycanthropy, which is the result of a curse placed on one of his ancestors by a witch. As Naschy points out in the 13-minute introduction included on the disc, this was his second Spanish/Japanese co-production following 1980’s Human Beasts and the one where he was given the largest canvas on which to paint Waldemar’s story. Calling it “a truly unique experience,” he relates how the Japanese crew went the extra mile for him, building sets and making props and costumes to match the era the story was set in (despite the fact that all of their standing sets, which he was perfectly willing to use, were from the following century) and even having a sword made with silver because that’s what the script specified. As a result, the attention to detail makes The Beast the most handsomely mounted entry in the series and the one Naschy was justifiably most proud of.

With a running time close to two hours, it’s also Waldemar’s longest screen adventure, giving NaschyCast hosts Rod Barrett and Troy Guinn ample time to provide a comprehensive commentary. After ten years of doing a podcast devoted to all things Naschy, they really know their stuff, and the enthusiasm they share for the man and his work comes through loud and clear. The same goes for Gavin Baddeley, author of the FrightFest Guide to Werewolf Movies, who contributes a 32-minute interview that puts Naschy’s entire career in perspective. Illustrated with clips from nearly all of Naschy’s werewolf films and trailers, this is an excellent primer for anyone who’s never seen one and is curious about where to start.

The last bonus feature on the disc is The Smile of the Wolf. Directed by Javier Perea, who was able to interview Naschy before his death in 2009, the 46-minute documentary covers his career, decade by decade, from the 1960s to the 2000s. If anybody can speak authoritatively about his work, it’s the man himself. This alone makes Mondo Macabro’s release worth a look, as is the fact that the remastered print looks amazing. Besides, where else are you going see a werewolf fight a Bengal tiger?

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.

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.

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.

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.]

Full Moon Features: 2019’s Secret Wide-Release Werewolf Movie

It speaks poorly for the marketing of this summer’s Annabelle Comes Home (somehow the seventh feature in “The Conjuring Universe,” because every film franchise now has to have its own universe for some goddamn reason) that I didn’t even get wind that there is a werewolf in it until it was slinking out of theaters. (Aside to movie marketing people: If you tell the general public there is a werewolf in your movie, the werewolf people will turn out for it.) The werewolf in question, called “The Black Shuck” and based on a legend hundreds of years old, is described as “a hellhound that possessed a man in England” and is a case that the Warrens — demonologist Ed (Patrick Wilson) and clairvoyant Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) — investigated in the mid-’60s.

Writer/director Gary Dauberman (making his directorial debut after writing three previous Conjuring spin-off films starting with 2014’s Annabelle) doesn’t show anything of the actual investigation, though, apart from an old book in the Warren Artifact Room (where they display all their haunted and cursed objects) and the case file in their office. That’s because the bulk of the film takes place in the early ’70s, one year after the Warrens have taken possession of possessed porcelain doll Annabelle and installed it in a case made of chapel glass in which, Lorraine declares, “The evil is contained.” The case also comes with explicit instructions that it never be opened, but if signs like those were heeded, movies like this wouldn’t exist.

The bulk of the film also takes place without Ed and Lorraine since they’re conveniently out of town, leaving their morose ten-year-old daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) with babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman), who has asthma so Dauberman can build a suspense sequence out of a race to retrieve her inhaler. Of course, she wouldn’t need it if her snooping friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) didn’t invite herself over and snoop around, breaking into the Artifact Room and letting Annabelle out of her case. Called “a beacon for other spirits” by Lorraine, Annabelle does indeed call in some backup to help wreak havoc on the Warren household and its inhabitants.

Of primary interest to readers of this site is The Black Shuck, which materializes out of the swirling mist that surrounds the house to menace Bob (Michael Cimino, not the director), a guitar-slinging neighbor who has a serious crush on Mary Ellen. In light of its stated m.o., I figured the creature would possess Bob, but it does not. In fact, it does little more than chase Bob into a chicken coop and traps Judy in a car, staying in the shadows to such an extent that it’s genuinely puzzling that the production bothered making a full-body suit for it, but at least it gets shown off in the “Behind the Scenes” featurette included on the disc.

As far as the werewolf’s scant screen time is concerned, it’s comparable to what the other malevolent visitors get, chief among them The Ferry Man, a bride in a cursed wedding dress, and a soul-sucking demon. In a way, Annabelle Comes Home is the Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed of The Conjuring Universe, with Annabelle as the least frightening part of it. Then again, the real Annabelle was a Raggedy Ann doll (seen briefly on TV while Mary Ellen is watching The Dating Game), so if the producers of this film had gone for verisimilitude, it could have been even less creepy.

Full Moon Features: Wolf Girl (2001)

A good 13 years before American Horror Story co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy set the show’s fourth season in and around a freak show, there was 2001’s Wolf Girl, which is set in and around a freak show. Instead of Jessica Lange as a Marlene Dietrich-like entertainer, this one’s owner, Harley Dune, is played by Tim Curry, who doesn’t have to act like anyone other than himself to be convincing. His main attraction — and he knows it — is Tara the Wolf Girl (Victoria Sanchez), who suffers from hypertrichosis, but otherwise is a completely normal, reasonably well-adjusted young woman. Then Dune’s traveling anachronism rolls into a town where Tara runs afoul of a quartet of teenage bullies who have nothing better to do with their time than come up with ways to humiliate her while she’s trying to work.

It’s not a total wash, though, since she meets a shy boy named Ryan (Dov Tiefenbach) who offers to help her out since his mother (Lesley Ann Warren), a cosmetics researcher, is secretly working on an experimental depilatory serum. While Tara appreciates its effectiveness, especially when her body hair starts falling out in clumps in the shower, the side effects she keeps from Ryan — headaches, violent daydreams, aggressive behavior — are more troubling. As to why she starts to act more like an animal the less she looks like one, that’s a question for screenwriter Lori Lansens and director Thom Fitzgerald, who pad out the running time with risque sideshow acts, including two full songs performed by Grace Jones as half-man/half-woman Christoph/Christine.

Sprinkled throughout the film are passing references to recent wolf attacks, which began before Tara’s arrival, so it’s not like the townspeople can suspect her of them, as well as glimpses of the not terribly threatening-looking beast itself. There’s also a scene where Dune’s right-hand man, Fingers Finnian (Jordan Prentice, who later popped up in a memorable cameo in Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges), invokes the Freak Code, thus raising the specter of Tod Browning’s Freaks. Once Tara gets a taste for revenge, though, she proves more than capable of taking care of herself.

Full Moon Feature: Dark Moon Rising (2009)

When presented with a film like 2009’s Dark Moon Rising, it’s hard to know quite where to begin. Also known as Wolf Moon — and not to be confused with 2015’s Dark Moon Rising, which is a different movie altogether — it raises a big red flag by virtue of the fact that it has a running time in excess of two hours. In all my years of watching werewolf movies, there has only been one other that has topped two hours and that was Mike Nichols’s Wolf. (Even the director’s cut of Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman managed to come in under two hours.) In the case of Wolf, the extended running time was somewhat justified because the film doubled as a sharp character study. Dark Moon Rising, on the other hand, is stocked with shallow characters who are exactly what they appear to be on first glance and never develop beyond that. And since there are only seven characters of any note — and two of those are glorified cameos — that means they have a hell of a lot of water to tread between them.

If the opening narration is anything to go by, this is the story of a girl named Amy (Ginny Weirick), the virginal daughter of an overprotective Nevada rancher (Chris Mulkey) who falls in love with a handsome drifter named Dan (Chris Divecchio) who just so happens to be cursed to periodically turn into a hairy beast (which looks a heck of a lot like the X-Man Beast when we finally get a good look at him about a third of the way into the picture). Actually, the two of them don’t hit it off at first because he’s a total jerk to her, but then he stops being a jerk and later comes to her rescue when she naïvely accepts a ride from a stranger who attempts to rape her. It is then that Dan reveals he’s been following Amy around since the day they met, which she rightly identifies as stalker behavior, but they still go through with the standard-issue “falling in love” montage that is only slightly marred by his vision of slashing her face with a hairy paw. That’s only the beginning, though, because in the very next scene he goes full-on wolf-man, terrorizing an old couple in a truck and bothering some livestock and killing a dog before getting scared off by the shotgun-toting Crazy Louis (the part the late Sid Haig was born to play).

The next morning, Dan wakes up in the desert, clad only in torn jeans (kind of like The Hulk) and gets a ride back into town, whereupon he drives Amy out to the desert so he can spill his secret, bluntly saying, “I’m a fucking werewolf,” then chaining himself up so he can’t hurt her. He breaks the chain as soon as he changes, though (through the magic of morphing), but doesn’t harm her, which inspires them to go to a psychic to find out what the deal with him is. The psychic tells them he’s cursed (no duh) and that his father must be killed if he is to be freed from it. (She also tells them, “Goodbye. Please don’t let out the kitty,” when it’s time for them to go.) This, by the way, is the perfect time to bring up the dark, mysterious stranger (played by top-billed Max Ryan) who kills his way through several states on his way to Pahrump, Nevada. (Can’t imagine who he could be.) (Also, Pahrump, Nevada, is totally a real place that neither I nor the filmmakers made up.)

In the role of the clueless sheriff who can’t understand how a wolf could kill a horse while walking upright like a man, co-writer/director Dana Mennie cast Maria Conchita Alonso, one of six lucky cast members who are listed as co-producers in the opening credits. (I’m guessing this means they didn’t get paid up front.) The last piece of the puzzle is provided by Billy Drago as a man on the trail of Dan’s father who fills in Amy’s father and the sheriff (who once had a thing for each other, don’tcha know) on his backstory. Meanwhile, Amy’s father tries in vain to keep her and Dan apart, even pulling a gun on him at one point, but he’s happy to have the young werewolf on his side when the time comes for the final showdown with his old man. (Crazy Louis gets in on this as well, allowing Haig to let rip with lines like “Let’s go kill some shit” and “All right, you fuzzy-ass motherfucker” when he goes mano-a-mano with the big, bad wolf.) Why Dan has to walk off into the sunset after it’s all over was lost on me (after all, his father was killed, which is what I thought had to happen for his curse to be lifted), but as it’s been a decade since this came out, I don’t think we’ll be getting a Dark Moon Rising 2 (or a Wolf Moon 2, for that matter) to clarify it.

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.