Archive for October, 2010

AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Review of Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too

Posted in 80s, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, reviews, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by Paxton

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This is it. The final day of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010. It surely has been a blast. Don’t mind me as I get all weepy and shed a tear for the end of this year’s festivities.  Hope everyone has had as much fun as I’ve had. And for me, it all begins again in a few months when I plan for AWESOME-tober-fest 2011.

Anyway, last Friday for werewolf TV week, I reviewed The Cartoon Adventures of Teen Wolf which was based on one of my favorite 80s movies, Teen Wolf. So, to cap off this year’s AWESOME-tober-fest, I’m going to review Teen Wolf as well as the sequel, Teen Wolf Too, which I think has a clever title (suck it, haters).  Here we go.

Teen Wolf 1985
Teen Wolf (1985) – Michael J Fox actually filmed this movie before he filmed Back to the Future, but Teen Wolf was released a month and a half later in August 1985 (Back to the Future was released on July 3).  I sat down with my wife to watch this movie for the first time in probably 10-15 years (she had never watched it all the way through).  And yes, I still enjoy it.  It’s a bit cheesy.  A bit goofy.  Michael J Fox is wonderful as usual.  Jerry Levine is great as the scheming Stiles.  And it’s just a fun and funny 80s comedy about a teen werewolf.  I will admit though, some of the music is an odd fit for this movie.  In one basketball montage they have what sounds like a Randy Newman song that was rejected from Toy Story.  And the final basketball game has a more typical 80s song over it, but it’s also weird.  However I love the “Big Bad Wolf” song during the school dance scene (along with the horribly cheesy “Teen Wolf Dance”).  The chick that plays Pamela is pretty hot (and reminds me of the hot blond chick from Sixteen Candles) and her neanderthal boyfriend is appropriately douchey.  It’s a good movie.  Not great, but good.  I think, though, people may remember it as being better than it actually was.  But I still enjoyed it, as did my wife.  I don’t think this movie was intended to be anything other than a solid B-comedy.  FYI…the next night after watching this we went to see the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Re-release.  Great double header.


Teen Wolf Too 1987

Teen Wolf Too (1987) – Yes, I saw this in the theater.  I loved Teen Wolf so much that I just had to.  I remember enjoying it, but thinking that it was nowhere near as good as the original.  So, my wife and I sat down to watch this sequel the other night and…it’s exactly as I remember.  Not great.  The story is extremely similar to the original movie.  Replace basketball with boxing and high school with college.  It’s not Bateman’s fault this movie is bad, it’s the script and special effects.  The movie looks extremely cheap, the werewolf makeup is terrible and there’s like three musical interludes, two of which are montages (TWO MONTAGES!).  The third musical interlude is Bateman, as the wolf, singing ‘Do You Love Me’ Ferris Bueller-style at a college party.  And I remember thinking back in 1987 that was a horrible choice of songs.  I guess they were trying to go classic like Bueller did for ‘Twist and Shout’, but damn, they couldn’ t find (or, more truthfully, afford) a better song?  Actually, Dirty Dancing came out a few months earlier, so I believe they may have been trying to capitalize on the success of that movie.  Regardless, it was a terrible scene that brings the movie to a screeching halt.  There are several lame attempts to connect this movie to the original.  Jason Bateman’s Todd Howard is the cousin of Fox’s character from the original.  They even bring back Scott’s dad, James Hampton, for two scenes.  The character of Stiles awesomely played by Jerry Levine in the first movie is recast and played by someone that looks completely different and doesn’t have half the charisma of the original.  They even bring back the character of Coach Finstock but, again, recast him with a goofier actor.  They also bring back Chubby from the first movie.  All of these feel more like the studio saying, “Hey, remember the original movie?  It was good right?  So you’ll remember these guys and like this movie even though it sucks”.  I was really hoping to have been colored by my love of the original when I saw this in the theater, but it wasn’t that.  The movie just blew.  I was surprised to find out Todd’s faculty advisor is played by Kim Darby.  I didn’t even remember it was her.  She was the little girl in True Grit with John Wayne, as well as the mom in Better Off Dead.  She’s not great either.  So, yes, overall this is probably as bad as you remember.  However, I still have a soft spot for it because it’s a Teen Wolf movie.  And I’m looking forward to MTV’s take on it.  I’ll probably hate it, because by all indications they are totally gaying it up like Twilight, but I’m going to watch it.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Review of Universal’s The Wolfman (2010)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, reviews, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by Paxton

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After this, there is one more day of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010.  It’s hard to believe we are almost all done.  I’ve been planning this since January.

Anyway, Day 4 of werewolf movie week. Originally, today’s review was going to be of Hammer’s 1961 classic, Curse of the Werewolf starring Oliver Reed. However, obtaining a copy of that movie was harder than I expected, so I moved the below review from the end of yesterday’s Universal reviews over to here.  What may happen is that I’ll post “Special Edition” reviews in the next few weeks for AWESOME-tober-fest 2010 that didn’t make the cut.  Movies like Curse of the Werewolf and Full Moon High as well as TV Shows Big Wolf on Campus and Hilarious House of Frightenstein would be included. So, without further ado, let’s move on to my review of Universal’s 2010 remake, The Wolfman.

The Wolfman 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, I loved the original Universal Wolf Man movie.  Werewolves have been my favorite monsters for years.  So, yes, I was super excited to hear Universal was bringing back their monster movies. They started with The Mummy back in 1999. Then around 2006-2007 I first read about The Wolf Man remake starring Benicio Del Toro as Talbot. While I’m not a huge Del Toro fan, I could see him as Talbot. Universal also went and got Rick Baker to do the wolf makeup and filled out the cast with other great actors; Sir Anthony Hopkins as John Talbot, Emily Blunt as Gwen and Hugo Weaving as a police inspector. Universal picked Andrew Kevin Walker to write the screenplay which was a great choice as he wrote moody thrillers like Sleepy Hollow, 8MM and Se7en.  And Mark Romaneck was selected as director in January 2007 and he was, to me, unproven but he had all this talent around him so I wasn’t too worried.

Then the production problems started.  Romaneck quit in February 2008.  Universal considered hiring Brett Ratner (NO!!) but came to their senses and hired Joe Johnston to deliver the finished film.  The release date slipped.  It was originally scheduled for Nov 12, 2008, but it slipped several times until it finally landed on Feb 12, 2010.  An interesting choice to open this on Valentine’s Day weekend.  Also interesting was that at no time was the movie slated to be released in October on Halloween.  The closest they got was November 2009.  Wonder what happened there.  Danny Elfman was hired to score the picture, however Universal didn’t think it fit with the tone of the movie so they hired another person to score it, but that too was scrapped and the Elfman score was reinstated.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Watching Universal’s Wolf Man movies

Posted in monsters, movies, reviews, Universal Studios, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by Paxton

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So here we are, Day 19 of AWESOME-tober-fest. We are in the middle of werewolf movie week. Yesterday I discussed The Howling and on Monday I talked about Silver Bullet. All of these were books I read and reviewed during werewolf novel week. Today, I go back to the beginning. The Universal Studios Wolf Man movies. This is where the current model for the modern werewolf was born. Universal made three werewolf centric movies. Although the Wolf Man would appear in several other “monster rally” movies, there were only three movies starring Wolf Man and included the Wolf Man in the title. Here are those three movies.

Werewolf of London
Werewolf of London (1935) – Contrary to what you might think, this was actually Universal Studio’s first “wolf man” movie (and widely considered the first mainstream werewolf movie).  It was released a good 6 years before the now famous Lon Chaney Jr vehicle, The Wolf Man, and starred Henry Hull as the title monster.  The legendary Jack Pierce created the wolf man makeup for use in this movie, however Henry Hull hated it and refused to wear the full wolf makeup (pansy).  Pierce would create a “less hairy” version for Hull, but then go back to the “full hairy” version for use with Chaney (who was a badass).
In this movie, Hull plays Dr Glendon, a world renowned botanist who travels to Tibet to find the elusive Mariphasa plant which only blooms in moonlight.  While there, Glendon is bitten by a creature that he leans later is a werewolf.  Glendon returns to London with his Mariphasa sample and then we meet his wife who is WAY too hot for him.  I mean, not only does Glendon look like he could be her father, but he’s also kind of a douche bag.  He doesn’t pay any attention to her and keeps himself locked away in his lab.  While sequestered in his lab Glendon keeps doing all these weird experiments to create artificial moonlight (how useful is artificial moonlight besides causing the Mariphasa plant to bloom?). Anyway, Glendon is visited by another creepy scientist, Dr Yogami, who knows all about the werewolf affliction he keeps calling Lycanthrophobia (which actually means “fear of werewolves” and not “is a werewolf”). Yogami says the Mariphasa plant can temporarily cure Lycanthrophobia (he keeps using that word) so Hull keeps trying to create his “artificial moonlight” when he finally (after about 45 minutes) turns into a damn werewolf (finally!).  This happens a few more times until he finally attacks his hot wife and is killed by police officers.  While dying, Glendon apologizes to his wife (you know, for trying to maul her) and thanks the police for killing him.
Not exactly the most “action packed” monster movie I’ve ever seen. Hull is a bit of an elitist a-hole as the main character, especially to his wife. And his obsession with creating “artificial moonlight” makes little sense. There is a good scene in the middle of the movie during a party at Glendon’s personal botanical gardens. Well, it’s good in that you see some ridiculously awesome plants including one that looks like a miniature version of the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi. I read somewhere that this plant was supposed to eat a child during that scene but it was deemed too graphic (or too awesome, maybe).  I say avoid this and start your werewolf journey with our next movie…

The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man (1941) – This is the movie everyone thinks of when you say “Wolf Man” or you are talking about the “original” Universal Monster movies.  Lon Chaney Jr stars as Larry Talbot who returns home after his brother’s death.  While fixing his dad’s telescope, Talbot happens to “peep” on the chick next door, Gwen.  He goes over and puts some creepy stalker moves on Gwen, who at first denies his advances. Later on, for no reason whatsoever, she caves and agrees to go on a date.  So Talbot escorts Gwen and her friend out to some old gypsy’s to have their fortunes read.  Lo and behold, the gypsy turns out to be Dracula!  Well, it’s Bela Lugosi playing the gypsy.  Anyway, turns out Bela is a werewolf, attacks and kills one of the ladies and Talbot beats him to death with a cane, but not before getting bitten.  This, of course, curses Talbot with werewolfism (and having the “werewolf poem” recited to him by every character in the movie every 5 minutes).  Talbot’s Wolf Man goes on a rampage and is finally beaten to death by the same cane that beat the gypsy Bela to death earlier in the movie.  Only Talbot gets beaten to death by his own father, The Invisible Man…or, Claude Rains, who played the Invisible Man.
Comparatively, this movie is much better than Werewolf of London. While Chaney’s Talbot does start off a bit lecherous when he puts the moves on Gwen, for the majority of the movie, he is a sympathetic character. You feel bad that he is cursed with this affliction (werewolfism). And the “full hairy” makeup by Jack Pierce is fantastic. Much better than the version used on Hull six years prior. The lady that plays Gwen, Evelyn Ankers, is really pretty. She makes a perfect scream queen and you like her character very much. It’s easy to see why this movie is still considered a classic and it also reaffirms why Wolf Man is my favorite Universal Monster.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Review of the movie The Howling (1981)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, reviews, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by Paxton

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Welcome to Day 18 of AWESOME-tober-fest. We are finishing up this month long run into Halloween with reviews of werewolf movies this week. Today, I’m taking a look at a 1981 Joe Dante horror classic, The Howling.

The Howling movie

Two weeks ago I reviewed the original 1977 Brandner novel, The Howling.  While it was slowly paced, it was an adequate werewolf story I thought did a good job of setting up a possible series of books about Brandner’s werewolves as, from the book, they obviously had a much larger back story than was told in the novel.

Well, Brandner’s book was optioned for a movie and Joe Dante was picked as the director, Rick Baker was chosen to do the Special Effects and The Howling movie was made in 1981.  Only, as Hollywood is want to do, the story was changed.  Honestly, a lot of the major story beats were the same, it was many of the details that were changed. But Rick Baker wound up leaving the production to do the effects for American Werewolf in London so the end of the movie suffered.

The main character, Karen White, is a television journalist who has a bad encounter with a serial killer, Eddie Quist (played by the hologram doctor from Star Trek Voyager).  After the serial killer is shot down when he attacks her, Karen and her husband travel out to this hippie community called The Colony for some rest and relaxation.  They meet the creepy members of The Colony in this weird beach bonfire party scene where we are introduced to Marsha.  Marsha overacts every single scene she’s in and constantly looks at everyone with these “crazy eyes”. She obviously takes a shine to Karen’s husband and everyone stands around awkwardly to some weird, out of place for a beach party O Brother Where Art Thou music.

Anyway, Karen is constantly haunted by her earlier encounter with Eddie and she starts to hear inhuman howling in the middle of the night.  That howling draws her husband to this clearing in the woods where he has sex with crazy eyes and they start changing into wolves in the middle of sex and then, at the very end, they turn into cartoon wolves (seriously, I guess they ran out of budget because the end of the scene is animated).  It’s pretty epic.  After this, the husband starts to get violent and belligerent towards his wife, even going so far as smacking her in the chops when she continues to whine about the night howling and how different he’s been acting lately.  Eventually Karen’s friend shows up, they start investigating the town, find out Eddie, who’s supposed to be dead, is actually there at The Colony and that he and everyone else is a werewolf.  While trying to notify her husband, the friend is attacked and killed in a nice scene.  I really like the look of the werewolf in this scene right before he kills the friend. You can tell Baker designed the hell out of this werewolf.  Very demon-like. Bravo.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Review of Stephen King’s Silver Bullet

Posted in 80s, books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by Paxton

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Welcome to the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010. This week I’m reviewing werewolf movies. Today, I’m reviewing the movie version of Stephen King’s novella, Cycle of the Werewolf, the movie changed the title to Silver Bullet.

Silver Bullet poster

Released in 1985, Stephen King’s Silver Bullet stars Corey Haim as paralyzed Marty Coslaw, Gary Busey as his alcoholic uncle and Megan Follows as his sister.  The movie was based on the 1983 graphic novella, Cycle of the Werewolf, also by Stephen King.  The movie follows the basic gist of the novella about a werewolf terrorizing the small town of Tarker’s Mill, Maine.

Silver Bullet VHS

This movie has garnered much hatred from Stephen King fans as well as horror movie fans due to the horrible quality of the movie.  And yes, the movie isn’t that great.  I watched it many years ago on video cassette and remember thinking it blew big time.  However, I DVRed it a few weeks ago off of EncoreHD and watched it very recently and didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would.  It’s a fairly decent B werewolf movie.

Check out the trailer:

While the movie does take the basic plot elements of the novella; a paralyzed boy discovers a werewolf is murdering the people in his town, it pretty much eliminates following the werewolf’s killing sprees during the different cycles of the full moon throughout an entire calendar year.  The movie takes place within a week or two during the Spring of 1976 (if the events do happen over several months like in the novella, the movie didn’t really do a good job of illustrating that).  It almost makes the werewolf killings seem like a recent occurrence whereas in the book the killings build up over months and the town labels the serial killer The Full Moon Killer.  Most of the movie is uselessly narrated by the sister from the future as if she’s looking back at that time in her life. There really seemed to be no reason to have this narration because the movie never really follows up on it.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: The Cartoon Adventures of Teen Wolf

Posted in cartoons, Halloween, holiday, monsters, TV shows, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2010 by Paxton

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Welcome to Day 16 of AWESOME-tober-fest. Today is the end of werewolf TV week. Yesterday I discussed one of my favorite cartoons, Fangface. Today, I’ll be discussing another personal favorite, The Cartoon Adventures of Teen Wolf.

Teen Wolf cartoon logo

The Teen Wolf cartoon was based on the characters in the 1985 Michael J Fox movie, Teen Wolf. Many of the movie characters show up in the cartoon. Obviously we see Scott Howard and his father Harold.  Also showing up is Scott’s friend Stiles, Boof, Pamela Anderson and her neanderthal boyfriend Mick. However, only Harold Howard is voiced by the actor who portrayed him in the movie, James Hampton. A few other famous voice actors filled out the cast. Don Most (Ralph Malph) voiced Stiles and the legendary June Foray (The Flintstones’ Betty Rubble, Looney Tunes’ Granny/Witch Hazel, Rocky Squirrel/Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle) voiced Grandma Howard.  So the cast was solid.  Plus it had a kick ass theme song and a ridiculously ’80s opening with Teen Wolf listening to a Walkman.

I love this cartoon and that opening sequence so much that I use a still from it as my avatar/buddy icon on Twitter, Flickr and WordPress.

Teen Wolf cartoon headshot

Obviously, being a big fan of werewolves, and also a big fan of the movie Teen Wolf, I was going to love this show.  Not surprisingly, the cartoon changed a few details from the movie. It added Scott’s entire extended werewolf family (see below), gave Scott a younger sister (he’s an only child in the movie) and making the fact that Scott is a werewolf a secret again.  I didn’t really have a problem with these changes because it added something to the show.  Making the werewolf thing a secret added a bit of drama that would be lost if everyone knew what Scott was.  I was able to go with it and still enjoy the cartoon.

Howard Family

The show aired from 1986 to 1987.  This encompassed two seasons, 13 episodes in the first, 8 episodes in the second.  The reason there are only 8 episodes in season 2 is due to a cartoon voice actor”s strike in late 1986 that halted production during the second season.  There was technically a third season aired, but it consisted entirely of re-runs.

Two VHS collections were released in the US. The first was titled Wolf of My Dreams and the second was All-American Werewolf (see below).
Teen Wolf VHS Vol 1 Teen Wolf VHS Vol 2
In the UK there was a 3 volume set of Teen Wolf episodes with funky artwork showing Scott transforming into the wolf across the three covers.
Teen Wolf cartoon UK VHS
In Australia, they actually released the entire series on DVD which makes me jealous and pissed off at the same time because the set is in the PAL format. However, I do have a DVD player that is region free and theoretically converts from PAL, but I don’t want to buy this set and then they release American versions very soon afterward.  Plus, I haven’t technically tested my DVD player’s ability to convert from PAL to NTSC so I don’t know how well it works.  The picture may look like crap.  So I’m stuck staring at this DVD box art and seething with unchecked nerd rage and envy at the “Land Down Under”.
Teen Wolf cartoon Aus DVD

So, like I said, I wait. And watch the crappy conversions of Teen Wolf episodes you can find on YouTube. Yay.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2010: Fangface (1978)

Posted in cartoons, monsters, pop culture, TV shows, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2010 by Paxton

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Today is Day 15 of AWESOME-tober-fest 2010. I am in the midst of werewolf TV show week. The shows I discussed earlier this week were very short lived and I never watched any of them. However today’s and tomorrow’s entries were two of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. They both involved the misadventures of cartoon werewolves. Today, I’m looking at the cartoon, Fangface.

Fangface Fangface and the gang

Fangface aired from 1978 to 1979. The format for Fangface was very similar to Scooby-Doo, which is not surprising since the show was produced by Ruby-Spears Productions who also produced Scooby’s adventures.  A group of teens, Biff, Kim, Puggsy and Fangs (Sherman Fangsworth) drive around in their “Wolf Mobile” solving crimes.  The hook is that Fangs is a werewolf.  Here is the intro to the cartoon that spells out the story.

Per the narrator:

“Every 400 years, a baby werewolf is born into the Fangsworth family, and so when the moon shined on little Sherman Fangsworth, he changed into Fangface, a werewolf! Only the sun can change him back to normal. And so little Fangs grew up and teamed up with three daring teenagers: Kim, Biff and Puggsy, and together they find danger, excitement and adventure! Who can save the day? Who can wrong the rights and right the wrongs? None other than Fangface!”

The first season ran for 16 episodes. The great Frank Welker (Fred from Scooby-Doo and Megatron from Transformers) would voice Fangs and Fangface.  While the show’s format was a copy of Scooby-Doo, it had a lot of it’s own fun, but goofy, character touches.  Fangs would change into Fangface not only when he saw the moon, but even a picture of the moon would trigger the transformation.  Likewise, either the real sun or a picture of the sun would change him back.  Also, neither Fangface nor Fangs were aware of each other.  When Fangface would show up he’d just start going crazy and kicking ass without wondering where the hell he was.  Whenever he would transform back, Fangs would be disoriented and wonder where he was and what happened.  Fangface also loved to try to eat Puggsy.  Whenever food was mentioned, he would swallow Puggsy and not let him go until Kim would tickle his foot to relax him.  This group just had lots of fun, quirky adventures.

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