This monster (pun intended) will be available in late 2016 though Pop Culture Shock Toys and is limited to 800 pieces, 300 of which will have swappable heads with open and closed mouths. Either would make a great Thanksgiving dinner centerpiece (for a cool family only, Robertsons). (more…)
I missed this when it first came out last summer but it’s the sort of thing that keeps indefinitely. Screenwriter and director Max Landis stood in for David Naughton in a bare-bones shot-for-shot remake of the famous transformation scene from his father’s film An American Werewolf in London. (more…)
An iconic example of body horror introduces the most famous werewolf transformation in cinema: David Kessler stares in terror as the palm of his outstretched hand slowly elongates. The claws haven’t appeared yet, but it’s not David’s hand anymore. Sculpting that hand was one of Tom Hester‘s first assignments as a make-up effects artist. (more…)
Readers sometimes share their makeup photos with me, and at this time of year the levels of effort and quality go through the roof. Here are two separate shoots that I really enjoyed.
Macabri – Wolf Man
Photographer: Rick Basaldua
MUA/Hair: Chrissy Lynn
Werewolf Face Piece: Michael Spatola
Bailey & Paige as David & Jack
Bailey Quillin sent me this photo of she and her friend Paige. I’m going to let her describe what’s going on.
…my best friend Paige and I dressed as David Kessler and Jack Goodman from An American Werewolf in London to watch the annual Little Five Points Halloween Parade in Atlanta, Georgia. Our makeup was a strange mixture of gore and drag, since we are actually both girls with shoulder length hair. Our friends at the Junkman’s Daughter had a hard time recognizing us in costume. This was also my first attempt at FX makeup.
I declare these two the winners of the Werewolf News costume contest that I should have started a month ago but instead just made up right now. Flippin’ fantastic. To see more photos of this startlingly faithful makeup / costume situation, check this post on Bailey’s blog. There’s also a more recent post showing she and her boyfriend as a mid-transformation punk rock werewolf and Teen Wolf, respectively. Great work!
As reported first in the LA Times (and then quickly picked up by a dozen other movie news sites), the Weinstein Co. division of Dimension Films is moving ahead with a remake of “An American Werewolf in London”. The script will be written by Fernley Phillips, whose only other writing credit seems to be “The Number 23” (yes, the movie where a “dark” Jim Carrey plays a saxophone). When AWIL’s original writer and director John Landis sold the rights to the remake last year, I was cautiously neutral. 13 months can change a lot in a man, and my current feelings on the matter are much more focused:
Dimension? Fernley Phillips? Do not fuck this up. Give Rick Baker a blank cheque and convince Edgar Wright to direct and you might have a shot. Otherwise, put the whole thing back on the shelf and back away slowly.
Image credit: Alex Proimos
Edit: bumping this up to the top because the auction ends in two hours. Current bid is $204.50 US. Want it? Get it!
Werewolf News reader Bill has notified me of an eBay auction he’s just started on a life-size werewolf bust. I really like the design– it’s evocative of the “horror” style of werewolf I like, so I’m the high bidder as of 1:56PM Pacific today. I’m shooting myself in the foot by posting this, but I’m duty-bound, so here are the details!
Due to a need for cash, I am selling a very rare (possibly one of only two in existence) lifesize werewolf bust. It is cast in resin with foam backing and is unpainted. I purchased this from the UK about 6 years ago. It is an awesome piece! Approximate dimensions are; 19″ from nose to back of head, 20″ tall, and 19″ across the back. Obviously the sculptor was inspired by the American Werewolf in London movie bust because it is similar but not the same and personally I like this one better. I think it is a little meaner looking
There’s no reserve and the auction runs until July 21st, so if you want to help Bill out with some cash in exchange for a wicked-looking werewolf bust, get over there and bid!
Are Werewolves Scarier When We Don’t See Them? Or, “A Werewolf in the Mind is Worth Two on the Screen”
I was recently directed to “Wolfman versus Werewolf“, an entry in Roger Ebert’s “Our far-flung correspondents” feature. Gerardo Valero writes what is ostensibly a review of “An American Werewolf in London” (AWIL), but he touches on a larger (and to me, more interesting) conversation about the potency of fear when its subject is imagined or unseen. Valero says that “Landis directs this film [AWIL] with a clear awareness that the things that scare us the most, reside in our imaginations, never just on the screen.” I agree that keeping werewolf David (mostly) hidden from view after his transformation was the right call– it allows the special effects to shine without revealing any zippers, and it makes for a better story. In fact, I think virtually every werewolf movie released since AWIL could have been improved if their makers had handled the screen presence of their lycanthropes in the same way.
First, consider the state of special effects in 1981. Yes, the effects work done by Rick Baker and his crew were so far ahead of their time that they inspired a new awards category at the Oscars. But not being able to see into the future, and with only $10 million to spend on the entire production, Landis had to assume that even Baker’s most realistic efforts to create a fully transformed werewolf, if shown full-body and in decent lighting, would have been read by the audience as “dude in a suit”. Instead of fear, the audience’s reaction would become one of artistic / technical appraisal, and it’s difficult to be scared of a monster when you’re looking for its zippers or rubber claws (or CG equivalents like bad compositing or flat textures).
The decision to limit the werewolf’s screen presence isn’t merely practical. Like Valero says, it’s all about the imagination. By showing only brief closeups and the occasional half-body tracking shot of werewolf David, the AWIL audience gains just enough exposure to trigger the mind into creating something far more ferocious than a costumed actor or an animated prop could represent. This is why even the most amazing combinations of CG and physical effects still fall flat today. Baker’s work on the recent “Wolfman” remake, for example, was amazingly, startlingly detailed… but was it scary? The survey says “no“. Everyone who was even remotely interested in the film knew what the Wolfman looked like well before the film came out, and even those who avoided spoilers got to see the beast in full detail before the first hour of the film was up. The initial shock at the vivid detail wears away, and there’s no suspense anymore, no mystery or fear of the unknown. Those are potent elements of fear, and they are easily lost when too much light is shed on the monster.
Every film tries to tell a story, and most werewolf movies are meant to be horror stories. Sadly, rather than being truly horrific, werewolf movies tend to fall into the schlocky domain of the “creature feature”, in which audience-avatar protagonists are menaced by a monstrous presence. In these movies the monster is only a character insofar as it possesses frightening qualities to highlight its “otherness” and status as a threat. The audience wants a clear look at the foe before it’s destroyed; otherwise there’s no payoff or gratification. Zombies, for example, are usually shown in exquisitely gory detail because there’s nothing there with which to empathize. Even if you can see the humans they once were, zombies aren’t people; they’re merely monsters, and are designed to eat housewives and businessmen until they’re destroyed by flame or a 12-gauge blast. The monsters in creature features might be frightening, but as characters they’re no more engaging than the interchangeable aliens foes in Space Invaders. We can’t identify with them, nor do we want to.
Then there’s David, the protagonist of AWIL. We spend a lot of time getting to know David as a character before the appearance of the werewolf. Much of that getting-to-know-you time is spent with the audience well aware of what’s to come, and we empathize with him. He talks with his friend Jack, he canoodles with a pretty nurse, he loafs around a London flat reading books and watching television… and then the moon rises, Rick Baker works his magic, and David becomes the creature we’re meant to fear.
And we do fear it, but why? How is this scenario more horrific than what Lawrence Talbot or Ginger Fitzgerald faced? Like Valero, I think the answer lies in how the werewolf is portrayed: as a shadowy and unknowable presence, seen only in glimpses and heard as menacing sounds from the dark. Just as David has no memory of what he becomes or what he does while in his bestial form, the audience doesn’t really know what the werewolf looks like, so has no way to associate the monster with the man it used to be. This underscores David’s (and therefore the audience’s) horror of the “other” he becomes. Other than the traumatic transformation scene there’s no screen-based connection between David and the werewolf; to the viewer, David is not just transformed but utterly annihilated. Without clear visuals of the beast he becomes, there’s no easy way to equate the likable mop-haired American with the glimpses of fangs and yellow eyes his victims see before they die. Yet we know it’s him, because our minds tell us so, and from that knowledge and our own empathy for the character, a stronger horror is born than that which is derived from an overexposure to props and effects.
What if Wes Craven’s “Cursed” had been filmed with these points in mind? How about any of the “Howling” sequels, or even the dire non-sequel “An American Werewolf in Paris“? No amount of editing or tweaking would turn these into Oscar material, but I think each one could have been more interesting and enjoyable (and less embarrassing to werewolf fans) if the filmmakers had left their werewolves in the shadows like Landis did with AWIL. By focusing on what makes the werewolf a genuinely frightening creature instead of stretching the effects budget in an effort to shock and amaze, I think the the intrepid filmmaker might actually be able to produce a werewolf film worth watching.
- The Yorkshire Post has an interview with Jenny Agutter, who played nurse Alex Price in An American Werewolf in London. She discusses her role in AWIL and talks about how the audience reacted to the initial screening of the film.
- The Grosse Pointe Farms Department of Public Works in Michigan is home to a boulder that bears the footprint of Le Loup Garou, the werewolf of Grosse Pointe. Hooray for urban legends!
- Here’s a printable 3D werewolf paper craft, in case you’re locked in a room with a colour printer and 15 minutes to kill. I may have crafted one of these for my office desk.
- pjstar.com has an interview with Professor Leslie Sconduto, author of “Metamorphoses of the Werewolf: A Literary Study from Antiquity through the Renaissance”. Choice quote: “There’s a werewolf for everyone. Each to its own. One to suit each taste.”
- Champions Online is running a game event called “Blood Moon“, wherein the game’s world is overrun with werewolves, vampires and other monstrous creatures. Players can battle (and become) these monsters, and of course there’s a number of werewolf-related items to be had. There’s a free trial available for anyone who wants to try the game out, but it expires at 10 AM Pacific on November 2nd. That’s in, like, 10 hours. Hurry! HURRY!
- The BSC Beat has an interview with Mark Chadbourn, author of the recently-released Hellboy novel Hellboy: The Ice Wolves. You can read a preview of The Ice Wolves at the Dark Horse web site.
- Scribblenauts is an interesting game that’s just come out for the Nintendo DS. The idea is to solve puzzles by typing in the name of virtually any object you can think of that might help. That object then appears in the game and does its thing, whether it’s a ball, a chainsaw or a platypus. You can probably guess where I’m going with this… yes, you can summon werewolves. Here’s a Youtube video of two garlic and stake-infused werewolves scaring a vampire to death. I want this game just so I can do that, over and over.
- Cinematical explains why it’s worth it to replace your DVD copy of An American Werewolf in London with the recently released Full Moon Edition on Blu-ray. Apparently the new bonus content alone is worth the cost! I wish I had a Blu-ray player.
- I also wish I had an Xbox 360. The LIVE Marketplace has got werewolf costumes for your Xbox 360 Avatar.
Many thanks to people who submitted these items!