Category: Film, Television & Music

Believe it or not, there are werewolf movies other than “An American Werewolf in London”.

“Werewolves Within” teaser trailer & poster hints at a fun werewolf whodunnit

Werewolf movies are generally bad. Movies based on video games are generally extremely bad. These things are known. What, then, am I to make of Werewolves Within, an upcoming werewolf movie based on a 2016 Ubisoft PlayStation VR game of the same name?

From ComingSoon.net:

The film, written by Mishna Wolff (I’m Down) and directed by [Josh] Ruben, centers on the small town of Beaverfield as a proposed gas pipeline creates divisions within the town and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside the local inn, with newly arrived forest ranger Finn and postal worker Cecily teaming up to try and keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community.

“A bunch of people all trapped somewhere while one of them, secretly a malevolent force, kills them off one at a time” is such a well-worn trope that there’s literally a party game about it, which inspired the video game that inspired this movie. It’s a whodunnit framework used approximately one million times in werewolf media, most recently to poor effect in The Beast Within. Even Timothy Dalton had a turn at it in a Tales from the Crypt episode. As a basis for a screenplay, its only narrative hooks are “guess who the werewolf is” (it’s always the least-likely person) and “will the werewolf prevail” (no). It’s formulaic to a fault. The success or failure of such a film rests on the shoulders of its characters, who have to be charming and interesting enough to make a weary werewolf-loving audience care. If you would like to know how often I think this is successful, please re-read the first sentence of this post.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the teaser trailer for Werewolves Within reveals a bunch of distinctly rendered oddballs, all running around clutching guns and screaming while their dogs get eaten, and their friends get mauled in bed. I want to see these people get eaten (or eat other people). Of course, I want to see the werewolf (or werewolves) triumph at the end, but this time, the journey to my likely disappointment seems like it’ll be fun.

I love that this werewolf is just… chilling

Speaking of the werewolves, what do they look like here? True to form, each shot in the trailer cuts away just before the werewolf is revealed, but the game is obvious in its commitment to the bipedal monster design we know and love. Hopefully, the film follows suit. In the meantime, those of us who freeze-frame trailers in search of a beastly money shot might derive some satisfaction from the film’s teaser poster.

“This movie is an homage to my love for Hot Fuzz, the Coen Brothers, and Arachnophobia,” writes Ruben. As references go, these sound promising. The trailer for Werewolves Within does not promise a lycanthropic Knives Out, but it does show a high level of self-awareness and delight at its own premise. If it turns out to be at least as entertaining as Timothy Dalton’s big surprise at the end of Werewolf Concerto, I’ll be happy.

Werewolves Within premieres in theatres on June 25th, followed by a VOD and digital release on July 2nd.

Full Moon Features: Beast Beneath (2011)

It’s the Worm Moon, but this month’s Full Moon Feature has nothing to do with them (and precious little to do with actual werewolves, to be honest.) Rather, it’s 2011’s Beast Beneath a.k.a. The Legend of Griffith Park (at least, that’s the title at the end of the closing credits). And that’s not its only alternate title since it’s basically a reworking of director Julian Higgins’s 2007 debut The Wrath. No matter what it’s called, though, it’s pretty lousy, and it committed the crime of stealing 90 minutes of my life. Sure, I arguably would have spent it watching a different crappy werewolf movie, but this is one of the absolute worst I’ve seen since I set off on this journey over a decade ago. It’s enough to make even the most dedicated lycanthropologist wonder whether it’s all worth it. Still, I soldier on, hoping I’ll find another gem or two before I pack it in. (Needless to say, this isn’t one of them.)

As far as I can tell, the main additions to The Wrath are the prologue, in which an unwary couple making out in the park are attacked by an indistinct creature, and the framing device of a father (Mike Agresta) telling the story of the curse of Griffith Park to his alleged teenage son (Phillip Agresta) while they’re camping out there. (Incidentally, this is the first film I’ve seen that goes out of its way to trumpet the fact that it was shot in Griffith Park, a haven for low-budget monster movies going back to the ’50s.) It all starts in the 19th century with Don Antonio, a Mexican immigrant and wealthy landowner on his deathbed whose estate is stolen by the greedy Don Coronel with the help of his shady lawyer and a crooked judge. All three are cursed by Don Antonio’s blind daughter, though, and before they can split up the spoils they’re all killed, one of them at the claws of a hairy beast whose existence is never explained.

Fast-forward to the present day, when Don Antonio’s great grandniece Angelina (Kristina Morales) and her boyfriend Derek (Daniel Bonjour) find a map inside one of her old family heirlooms. Unable to read it, they take it to language arts professor John Diaz (Kurt Sinclair), who claims he needs a couple days to brush up on his Castilian. In the meantime, Angelina and Derek head to Griffith Park to do some snooping and run into bearded hippie pirate homeless guy George (Bertie Higgins, who co-wrote the screenplay with the director and produced the film and wrote the music). George tells them of the “devil monster dog” on the loose, which Derek promptly hits with his jeep, but apparently it isn’t spoiling for a fight and lets them investigate a spooky cave unmolested. Before they make too much headway, though, they’re ejected by a passing park ranger and meet up at a Bob’s Big Boy with Derek’s cinematographer buddy Zhan Foo (Roy Vongtama), who offers to take a crack at translating the map.

Meanwhile, having made short work of it himself, Prof. Diaz tries to beat them to the punch but only manages to get himself, his intern, and the park ranger killed. Does the same fate befall Angelina, Derek, Zhan, and Homeless George? No, it does not. In fact, they continue to go untouched by the hairy beast (because it’s Don Antonio’s pet) and make off with the Don’s treasure without a hitch. One year later, Angelina, Derek, and Zhan are shooting a film called (wait for it) The Wrath and Homeless George has bought a boat and is sailing the Caribbean decked out like the pirate he’s always wanted to be. That just leaves the father and son in the framing story to be attacked by the monster, which they promptly are. I wonder if that’s the part of the story that is “partially based on actual events.” I guess I’ll never know. Frankly, to find out would be beneath me.

NECA Toys teases “American Werewolf in London” Kessler-wolf figure

Last week, NECA’s Twitter account (hi, Randy) posted a photo of what looks like a collectible figure version of the Kessler-wolf from An American Werewolf in London. The accompanying text is from a relevant Creedence Clearwater Revival song. You know the one.

AWiL figures are cursed, and not in the fun “grow claws” kind of way. As Bloody Disgusting reports, this isn’t the first AWiL werewolf figure to be teased by a collectible company, but none of the other figures ever made it to market. NECA certainly has the chops to do a good job making and packaging the figure, but can they get it into the hands of customers?

NECA is known for producing high-quality figures from beloved horror and sci-fi franchises, but lately, they’ve also gained a reputation for accepting pre-orders through toy sellers, and then just kinda missing their projected release dates. Often by months, with no official acknowledgement. As with so many delayed or cancelled things, Covid is likely to blame, but no one likes waiting in silence for a thing they bought while simultaneously being teased with new things to buy. I have friends who are still waiting for figures that were ordered in 2020, and I’m checking daily for a shipping notification on a figure that was meant to be out in January or February.

When can people buy this NECA American Werewolf in London figure? What will it cost? How big is it? Will other characters from the film appear as figures as well? No one knows, and frankly, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for more info. You can ask Randy about it, and if he’s had a good breakfast, he might respond.

“Walpurgis Night” promises all practical effects in a “sleek new” wolfman movie

Last week, filmmaker and makeup effects artist Eric Yoder launched an Indiegogo campaign for Walpurgis Night, a “disturbing new twist to the classic werewolf story”. This is the continuation of a vision that started with his successful 2019 Kickstarter campaign for The Legend of El Hombre Lobo.

The main thing this time around is the emphasis on practical effects to realize the wolfman and the wolfman-associated carnage. “There won’t be any CGI in this film,” the campaign page promises. “EVERY EFFECT WILL BE PRACTICAL!! This includes over FOUR transformation scenes: each more horrifying than the last.”

The design and implementation of the werewolf effects are displayed prominently in the campaign video and still images, and I will say, under the copious amounts of glycerine drool, I like what I see.

Walpurgis Night is a “loving tribute and reimagining” of the Waldemar Daninsky story.

A wealthy couple, Imre and Justine, are visiting the deep forests of Romania and find themselves at the mercy of Waldemar Daninsky, THE WEREWOLF. The wolf terrorizes the countryside, killing anyone in its path. But Waldemar desperately seeks a cure to his lycanthropy. After a horrific tragedy strikes, Waldemar and Justine travel to London to seek the help from of Dr. Jekyll’s grandson. But when the full moon rises… The werewolf becomes loose in London! Justine and Jekyll must quickly find a way to end this horrible curse.

The campaign offers the usual range of rewards for backers, from tip jar to a copy of the completed film to a starring role. You can also get a “custom werewolf mask” or a “costume”, but I didn’t see any specifics about what those mean, exactly. Yoder’s a very talented monster maker, though, so I imagine the rewards will be pretty impressive.

I am excited at the prospect of practical effects, especially in the execution of werewolf creature design and transformation scenes. I am less excited that these effects are in service of another “tribute to monster films from the past”. I appreciate that it’s easier to focus on your show-stopping creature effects if you’re dropping them into a story where much of the narrative is ready-made, but I can guarantee that Paul Naschy references are not what most modern werewolf fans are looking for.

Then again, it’s clear from the El Hombre Lobo Kickstarter text that Yoder is a huge Naschy fan, and he firmly believes in the value of modernizing Waldemar Daninsky’s story. This campaign has already reached 115% of its funding goal in its first week, so the promise of “a disturbing new twist” to a story from 50 years ago is certainly appealing to some! I will likely back this for the sake of the creature effects. If you want to jump on board, the campaign will be running until March 17th.

Full Moon Features: Lone Wolf (1988)

In retrospect, I probably should have saved The Wolf of Snow Hollow for this month’s Snow Moon, but there’s enough snow in the Colorado-set Lone Wolf to pick up the slack. Released at the end of a decade that delivered a bumper crop of iconic werewolf movies, it’s a film made with a great deal of enthusiasm, if not a lot of skill, with most of the supporting players delivering broad, community theater-level performances and the leads running the gamut from robotic to wildly overacting.

The premise is that the town of Fairview has been beset by a rash of gruesome killings that the police have blamed on a pack of wild dogs, but the viewer knows it’s a werewolf from the start. Right after the cheap-looking opening titles, there’s a scene of a couple making out in a car on a wintry night that ends with the guy (who’s drunk, so he has it coming to him) going off in a huff and being slaughtered by a monster that gets an extreme close-up so there’s no doubt whatsoever about its existence. The girl who left him out in the cold, by the way, is Julie (first-billed Dyann Brown), who doesn’t find out the fate of her would-be paramour until the Neighborhood Watch meeting that’s crashed by his distraught father. “How could a pack of wild dogs do this?” he wails, and top cop Sgt. Patrickson (James Ault) doesn’t have a good answer because there have been two other, equally baffling killings in the interim and he’s done little more than berate detective Cominski (Michael Parker) over his inability to get to the bottom of things.

One of the characters screenwriter Michael Krueger presents as a potential suspect is recent Chicago transplant Eddie (Jamie Newcomb), the lead singer of an unnamed bar band that performs hard-rocking songs with generic titles like “Let It Rock,” “Rock You All Night,” and “Raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll,” but the most germane one is “Misunderstood” because Eddie sure is. Since his parents were mysteriously killed, he’s moved in with his Aunt Trudy and Uncle Jack, who browbeat him for staying out late, violating his parole, and not going to school where he’s taking a course in computer programming along with every other major character. These include put-upon nerd Joel (Kevin Hart — no, not that one), stuck-up mean girl Deirdre (Ann Douglas), and her eye-rolling sidekick Colleen (Siren), plus the sundry ski-jacketed preppies who periodically have their throats torn out.

As suddenly as the attacks start, though, they cease for an entire month, after which Joel uses his ace computer-modeling skills (“We’re not talking another WarGames here, are we?” Julie asks when he proposes hacking into the police department’s computer) to figure out that they all coincide with the full moon. This can lead to the only one conclusion and it’s one he takes seriously enough to melt down his father’s silver sports trophies to make silver bullets off-screen. (“Hey, look,” he quips. “This isn’t Michael J. Fox we’re dealing with here.”) Meanwhile, Eddie is less than heartbroken when Uncle Jack has his heart ripped out, one of many gruesome practical effects the film is littered with. By the time director John Callas gets around to his big transformation scene, though (after limiting sightings of the werewolf to half-second inserts during its attacks), all this does is reveal just how rubbery it is. Conversely, the most effective scenes are the ones where we only see the creature’s shadow as it creeps up walls and looms in the background. Definitely a case where less would have been more.

French werewolf film “Teddy” is back in festivals with a trailer and some goofy vibes

When friend of the site Avery Guerra recently linked me to Bloody Disgusting’s recent post about “Teddy”, my first thought was “wow, that French horror film with the cool poster that I mentioned a few years ago is back in the news!” Gang, I posted about Teddy in January 2020. The pandemic has wrecked my sense of time, and all I can do now is rotate low-polygon models of werewolves in my mind and listen to podcasts.

I digress. That 13-month-old post is still up-to-date in terms of synopsis and background, but “Teddy” has gathered a few more awards and has expanded its marketing a little with two teasers and a trailer. Its next appearance will be at EFM Berlin, which runs online March 1 – 5. I don’t see it on the screening schedule, but the “Screening Schedule is constantly updated… up until and during the market”, so if you somehow have EFM credentials, keep an eye out.

The trailer is basically a single scene from the film, and it was enough to make me write a second three-paragraph post about a film few people can actually see yet. The dialogue, the awkward characters, the shot composition… it looks like a werewolf movie by way of Napoleon Dynamite, and that makes me happy.

Cavitycolors launches new “Howling” apparel designs

Horror apparel company Cavitycolors is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic werewolf horror film The Howling with a new line of licensed clothing. Have you ever dreamed of wearing Eddie Quist on your legs? Now, your dreams can become… reality.

At a glance, they have a design by Sam Coyne that’s available on a unisex tee, a ladies tee and a baseball shirt, an alternate “werewolf hair” tee by Dismay Designs, sweat pants (art by Hillary White), and socks (art by Matt Skiff). I’m liking all these designs but I’m only really considering those socks.

You can see the whole category of products on the Cavitycolors site.

Werewolf fans are desperately seeking “Eight for Silver”

Eight for Silver is a new film written and directed by Sean Ellis. Described in its promo material as a “gruesome gothic spin on werewolf lore”, word from friends and reviewers is that it may be that rarest of creatures: a werewolf movie… with an actual, cool-looking werewolf… that’s also a good movie.

In the late nineteenth century, brutal land baron Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie) slaughters a Roma clan, unleashing a curse on his family and village. In the days that follow, the townspeople are plagued by nightmares, Seamus’s son Edward (Max Mackintosh) goes missing, and a boy is found murdered. The locals suspect a wild animal, but visiting pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) warns of a more sinister presence lurking in the woods.

Unfortunately, I have not seen Eight for Silver (other than a few screengrabs and a story synopsis provided in private by a friend), and as of this post, there’s no way for anyone else in the public to see it, either. It premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it was on the schedule for a mere two screenings, accessible only to American audiences with $15 and the ability to sit down and watch the stream at the appointed time. There appears to be no press material other than what’s on the Sundance page – not even a trailer or poster. That it’s made such an impact on Werewolf Twitter despite the narrow window of visibility says much about its qualities!

I hope it picks up some awards and a North American distributor so those of us without a time machine and a VPN can buy or rent it. I complain a lot about the dearth of decent werewolf films, and I’m looking forward to supporting the seemingly great ones when they come along.

If you saw one of the screenings – or if you didn’t but you don’t care about some moderate spoilers – this 30-minute Q&A with Ellis, Alistair Petrie, and Kelly Reilly is worth a watch. Topics include the design decisions behind the werewolf, the decision to go with practical effects, the lucky breaks with location, English accents, film influences, nursery rhymes, and “why weren’t the werewolves hot?”

Full Moon Features: The Wolf of Snow Hollow (2020)

January brings with it the Wolf Moon, so it’s appropriate that this month’s Full Moon Feature is The Wolf of Snow Hollow, which is set in a Utah ski resort town experiencing a sudden upswing in what appear to be werewolf attacks. (The subject gets danced around at first, but once the w-word is invoked 28 minutes in, it’s never far from anyone’s lips.) As if that wasn’t bad enough, Snow Hollow’s sheriff (played by Robert Forster in his final screen role) is in his “last quarter” due to a heart murmur, which the department is trying to keep the public in the dark about, and his son is feeling the stress of being his heir apparent, which is bad news for the hard-won sobriety he’s all but guaranteed to lose before all is said and done.

Following the standard introduction of a couple of vacationing city slickers renting a cabin in the woods only for one of them to be horrifically mutilated by something off-screen that leaves a giant paw print behind in the fresh snow, writer/director Jim Cummings goes about introducing his protagonist, John Marshall (who happens to be played by Cummings), leading an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. “If you can just focus and not let the monsters inside of you come out, if you can just concentrate on the 12 Steps,” he says shortly before losing his concentration and trailing off, a signal that he’s a man with a lot on his plate. In addition to keeping his father’s failing health under wraps, John is also taking charge of his college-bound daughter and worrying about the onset of ski season, the sole reason for Snow Hollow’s existence. (The Wolf of Snow Hollow takes place around Christmas, but this amounts to little more than window dressing.) As the unsolved murders pile up, though, and John becomes an unwelcome presence at successive funeral services, his grip on the situation and his sanity rapidly unravels.

All in all, this is not a bad set-up for a werewolf story, and Forster lends gravity to the role of the ailing sheriff, giving Cummings someone solid to play off of. The problem is most of the time Cummings’s performance is overwrought, his character’s hair-trigger temper causing him to mistake shouting at the top of his lungs and throwing things at people for shows of strength. Cummings also intercuts his werewolf attacks with the subsequent investigations, which catch John at his most frazzled and disorganized. Next to him, Riki Lindhome’s patient detective looks like Snow Hollow’s most capable and dependable law enforcement officer by default.

I’m probably making The Wolf of Snow Hollow sound worse than it is, but I’d be more inclined to give it a break if Cummings had a better handle on the mystery aspect. Since he tips his hand early on by showing the second attack being carried out by a hulking wolf creature, the only question that remains is who the monster is when there isn’t a full moon out, and one obvious red herring aside, the viewer isn’t presented with any likely (or even unlikely) suspects. And when John does show up on the killer’s doorstep, the realization that Cummings has lifted his climax straight out of The Silence of the Lambs doesn’t make it go down any easier.

“Zombieland: Double Tap” Deutch attached to dog-walker werewolf movie “The Hound”

As reported by Deadline and shared with me by reader Avery G., we have another potential werewolf movie in the pipeline. Zombieland: Double Tap‘s Zoey Deutch loved Lisa Duva‘s script The Hound so much that she’ll be starring and producing the feature for Searchlight.

The story follows a timid dog-groomer, Callie (Deutch), who after being bitten by a mysterious stray dog, she’s forced to wrestle with dark, new desires as her body goes through unexpected changes.

Justin Kroll, Deadline

So, no direct mention of werewolves, but “bitten by a weird dog”, “dark desires” and “unexpected changes” are themes so common to modern werewolf movies that they might as well be boilerplate text in press packages. I hope Deutch’s enthusiasm prevents studio execs from sanding off whatever weird edges Duva’s script has. I would love for this to be a black comedy that leans hard into body horror territory!