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.
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!
I’ve heard good things about Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest, but I kept pushing it off my mental radar because it’s an ongoing problem with me that I never make time to play video games. Luckily, Werewolf News reader Denise wrote in with a great capsule review, which she graciously allowed me to share:
I would like to recommend Werewolf the Apocalypse: Heart of the Forest to the werewolf fans out there. It’s a visual novel that’s on Steam as of today; set in the World of Darkness tabletop roleplaying series. Though the game is somewhat short compared to similar Choose-your-adventure/visual novel type stories I’ve played, the atmosphere and art are top notch. You play a character, Maia, and through choices, her personality evolves into one of the various “classes” of Werewolf; warrior, talesinger, shaman, and the like. You can play her as rage-filled and impatient, or introspective and friendly, and others in between. I’m also a fan of the WtA RPG, and I think it does it justice. I’m not sure how approachable it’d be for those that are new to the setting, but I think it’s a decent story on its own.
Denise’s review and the game’s “Very Positive” Steam rating make me feel quite confident that, against all odds, there is a good W:tA game for you to play on macOS, Windows or SteamOS right now!
Arriving at the end of a year that has been fairly dire on all fronts, Cartoon Saloon’s WolfWalkers comes as a blast of fresh air. The latest feature from the animation studio behind The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, WolfWalkers is of a piece with them since it is steeped in Irish folklore and revels in the traditions of hand-drawn animation.
Its story, devised by co-directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart and fleshed out by screenwriter Will Collins, has the simplicity and directness of a fairy tale. Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsey), the headstrong young daughter of hunter Bill (Sean Bean), has moved with him to the walled city of Kilkenny, Ireland, where he is employed by the autocratic Lord Protector (Simon McBurney) to hunt the wolf pack that threatens their ever-expanding outpost of civilization. Of course, the wolves wouldn’t be a problem if the humans weren’t so intent on encroaching upon their enchanted forest.
This enchantment comes by way of the WolfWalkers, a mother and daughter who can communicate with the wolves and become wolves themselves — but only while they’re asleep. They also have mystical healing powers which work on ordinary wounds but not WolfWalker bites, as Robyn discovers after she’s bitten by the semi-feral Mebh (newcomer Eva Whittaker), who’s responsible for keeping the pack in line while her mother searches for a new forest for them to move to.
Without being heavy-handed about it, WolfWalkers dramatizes the conflicts of civilization versus nature, Christianity versus paganism, even the English versus the Irish. (Robyn and her father are outsiders in the country and the townspeople never let them forget it.) And it does so with fluid animation, dynamic characters, and some of the most breathtaking action sequences this side of a Hayao Miyazaki film. Best of all, it’s about people who become wolves when they go to sleep. Sounds like a dream come true.
I didn’t see 2020 werewolf movie Beast Within despite it being the 3rd most popular Canadian film on the country’s VOD platform a month after it came out. I probably won’t ever see it because apparently it just wasn’t very good. It’s a “which one of us is the werewolf” mystery with weird musical choices, poor acting, sloppy editing, and a premise that might have worked better if the filmmakers hadn’t played it straight? That’s a familiar refrain around here.
If it ever comes across the desk of werewolf movie poison-eater Craig J. Clark and he says it’s worth checking out, I may reconsider, but for now, its trailer and its weirdly desolate Instagram account (that features a prominent misspelling of the movie’s tagline) are enough to warn me away.
Beast Within is directed by Chris Green & Steven Morana, and stars Steven Morana, Holly Deveaux, Ari Millen, and Colm Feore. You can rent or buy it on Amazon or Youtube.
SHIFT is a werewolf-themed zine put together by Sarah Mason, Sketchbook and FeatheryFlukes featuring 18 artists. I pledged on Kickstarter to get a physical copy as a collector’s item, but PDFs are still available. At A5 size, it’s small but packed with skilled imagery – a perfect haiku of lycanthropic goodness.
Each artist gets a two-page spread, and the imagery ranges from cartoony and cute to vicious and gory to abstract and eerie. Particular favorites are WolfSkullJack’s wild-maned, fiercely snarling figure in stark red, grey and black, Mx. Morgan G. Roble’s frenzied pack with their tortured expressions and exposed rib cages, and Dominique Ramsey’s colorful, vividly stylized beast who has a complete nighttime woods incorporated into its fur.
Honestly, there’s not a single dud in the bunch, and you’re certain to find something to your taste. My only critique is that all the werewolves adhere to the basic design of fully lupine head, legs, tail and fur, and human torso and arms. It would have been nice to see more variety, anything from feral monster quadrupeds to more humanoid, or more depictions of transformation, otherwise, it risks being indistinguishable from furry art.
This was the first venture for the Werewolf Collaborative, and as it was a howling success, I’m looking forward to more volumes from them in the future.
Jim Bycznski is a monster maker, and he’s really good at it. I have one of his pieces – the werewolf mask in this post’s featured image is mine – and like any collector of werewolf stuff, I always want more. Here’s the thing with Jim’s work: more are available, and it’s not just more of the same. He possesses a mastery of the different ways a werewolf or a wolfman can look, and his designs always have such astonishing character.
Check out the gallery of his recent werewolf work below (my thanks to him for sending the photos), and know that if you see anything you like… well, in Jim’s word, “All of the pieces attached are custom made and all available”. Some are wearable, some are display-only, and all of them make me very happy. To enquire, email him at bycznski at wowway dot com, or message him on Facebook. Tell him Angela sent you!
Postscript: I searched for Jim’s name to see if I’d written about him before, and it turns out yeah, I first posted about his werewolf work almost 11 years ago. What is time?
As Werewolf News previously reported, there are werewolves in the horror anthology Scare Package, a Shudder Original that got some festival play last year before making its streaming debut in June ahead of its release on home video last month. And as a horror anthology with six individual segments and a time-consuming wraparound story that morphs into a seventh — which is by far the longest — this package has so little time to devote to its werewolf story that the actual werewolves in it amount to little more than afterthoughts.
Befitting its home on a horror streaming service, Scare Package goes all in on over-the-top gore leavened with goofy dialogue and a heaping portion of meta humor, especially in the opening segment about a creatively frustrated “cold opener” who wants to be a real character without understanding the implications of that in the genre he works in. When this turns out to be a script called “Cold Open” that the passenger in a car is telling the driver about and the driver’s response is “I just don’t know about all the meta stuff, you know,” that’s a fairly clear indication that the rest of the film will be more of the same.
Ranging from the obvious to the ridiculous to the nonsensical, the segments in Scare Package are a mixed bag, many of them playing around with multiple genre tropes while repeatedly returning to the same, familiar slasher beats that were thoroughly beaten to death during its ’80s heyday. One of the few that doesn’t go there is “M.I.S.T.,E.R.” because director Noah Segan and his co-writer Frank Garcia-Hejl have their sights set elsewhere.
It starts unpromisingly enough in a bar where a patron (played by Segan) is having his ear bent by a cliche-spouting bartender. Retreating to the men’s room, he spies a flyer put up by a group calling itself Men in Serious Turmoil, Establishing Rights! Investigating further, Segan tracks the group down to a pet shop where they meet in the back room after hours to air out their petty grievances with women. Eager to hook their latest recruit, the group’s leader (played by Garcia-Hejl) invites Segan to join them that night at a secluded location where they can be as masculine as they want to be, but he has other things in mind.
Suffice it to say, if you’ve ever wanted to see hateful MRA types transform (some of them only partially) into werewolves and get killed off in quick succession in a variety of ways (as one of the film’s creators says on the commentary, “So much of this movie was coming up with interesting ways to kill people”), this nine-minute short should scratch that itch. Just don’t expect its conclusion, which takes a wild swing into a completely different subgenre, to be remotely satisfying. Chasing “M.I.S.T.,E.R.” with a self-proclaimed “post-modern feminist slasher revenge body horror” film was probably a good call, but the most consistently amusing segment in the whole film is the Fourth of July-themed “The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV – The Final Kill.” One segment can’t redeem an entire anthology, though.
It’s rare for the full moon to fall on Halloween, as it does this year. This one is also the Hunter’s Moon, which so happens to be the title of a new werewolf movie that came out earlier this year. What a pity, then, that it’s short on scares and suspense and long on irritating characters. Chief among them is Juliet Delaney (Katrina Bowden), daughter of Thomas and Bernice (producer Jay Mohr and Amanda Wyss), who leave Juliet and her two younger sisters alone in the isolated country house the family has just moved into while they go away on a business trip. What their business is eventually becomes clear, as does the reason why they’re not afraid to leave their daughters alone with three local miscreants prowling about and a sheriff (Thomas Jane doing a ludicrous accent) who has a conflict of interest when it comes to upholding the law.
Hunter’s Moon gets off on the wrong foot with a pre-title sequence in which a young woman is drugged by a psycho killer (the prominently billed Sean Patrick Flanery) who buries her in the woods and is immediately taken out by an unseen growling creature. (This is why his house — “the Ellsbury place,” as the locals ominously call it — was on the market for the Delaneys to snap up.) This opening eventually ties in with the main story, but writer/director Michael Caissie takes his time with the reveal, just as he waits until the last ten minutes to show his monster in full and even longer for someone to actually name it. This kind of coyness is to be expected to some extent, but not every werewolf movie needs to be plotted like a mystery for the characters to solve and fewer still should be built around a twist that can be spotted coming a mile away. The alternate title of Hunter’s Moon is The Orchard. I recommend picking something else to watch this Halloween.
That something else shouldn’t necessarily be Hubie Halloween, though. The latest product of Adam Sandler’s ongoing multi-picture deal with Netflix, Hubie is most notable for featuring Steve Buscemi as a lycanthrope, making this the fourth time he’s played one if you count the Hotel Transylvania movies. Here he’s Walter Lambert, the new neighbor of Sandler’s Hubie Dubois, latest in the long line of socially awkward naifs who are too good for this world that he’s played over the years. This incarnation is a lifelong resident of Salem, Massachusetts, where he’s in his element as a lover of all things Halloween, but also the constant butt of people’s jokes. (He even has to dodge a variety of objects thrown at him while he rides around town on his bicycle, one of the film’s few genuinely amusing running jokes.)
After his introduction, Walter tells Hubie that if he should ever hear strange noises coming from next door not to investigate, setting up the scene later on when Hubie does just that and finds evidence of Walter locking himself in his basement — as well as a feral-looking Walter himself. Before that, he’s also been seen boarding up his windows and doors and piling furniture up against the front door as the full moon (which falls on Halloween, naturally) approaches. After his escape from the basement, Hubie next encounters Walter in the woods, where his sole sign of physical transformation is his extremely hairy arms. Those expecting him to completely wolf out will come away as disappointed as I was.
I know not to expect great things from Syfy Original Movies, but even by their low, low standards, Monsterwolf (which premiered ten years ago this month) is aggressively mediocre and dramatically inert. The main conflict stems from whether Louisiana girl-turned-wannabe high-powered New York lawyer Maria Bennett (Leonor Varela, who was Arrested Development‘s first Marta) will help the nakedly evil Holter Oil Company and its sleazy CEO Stark (Robert Picardo, a long way from The Howling) rape her people’s land. Yes, you guessed it. It’s the old “oil company surveying team accidentally releases the animal spirit of a long-vanished Native American tribe which proceeds to eliminate them and anybody foolish enough to sell out to them” plot we’ve all seen a hundred times before. Only this time it features Jason London (following in his twin’s footsteps one year after Jeremy starred in the execrable Wolvesbayne) as Maria’s redneck ex-boyfriend Yale, who comes complete with a runner about how he has an outstanding warrant for his arrest because he ducked out of jury duty. That’s what passes for comic relief to screenwriter Charles Bolon, who figured he would conserve characters by making Maria’s father the local sheriff (Marc Macaulay) who’s investigating the wolf attacks that have targeted Holter’s employees, especially when it catches them littering or driving drunk.
In the role of the Native American Who Knows What’s Going On, Man, Monsterwolf gives us Chief Turner (Steve Reevis, Fargo‘s Shep Proudfoot), whose stories about the brave warrior who turned himself into a spirit wolf to protect his tribe and the other warrior who had to sacrifice himself to lay the wolf to rest are rendered in adorably simplistic animation. And in the role of Yale’s annoying best friend we’ve got full-on redneck stereotype Chase, who’s played by Wolvesbayne director Griff Furst, who also served as this film’s co-producer and second unit director. I haven’t even mentioned Coughlin (Jon Eyez), the cigar-chomping, pretentious, knotted-beard-having mercenary called in by Stark to take out the wolf and, failing that, Chief Turner. At least while he’s around, director Todor Chapkanov appears to be marginally engaged in the action, but the combination of practical wolf effects (for the extreme closeups) and CGI (for the medium and long shots) only serves to highlight the artificiality of both.