Archive for werewolves

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Posted in Genres, horror, monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, werewolf with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by Paxton

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Today I’m journeying back to the heady days of October 2010 when I covered werewolves for Halloween. My intention that year was to actually watch and review Hammer’s 1961 werewolf film, Curse of the Werewolf. It was supposed to go right there during that last week after I covered Universal’s Wolf Man movies. However, plans got away from me and I was not able to cover it that year.

Now, I have that chance back. Plus, I haven’t had a Hammer movie review on AWESOME-tober-fest since 2013’s review of The Plague of the Zombies. So, let’s do this.

Curse of the Werewolf poster

Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf starred Oliver Reed and Catherine Feller.  It was the only werewolf movie Hammer ever made.  It’s very gothic and tragic, lots of sexual subtext and, kind of all over the place.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Hammer Films card COTW card
Title cards for this movie. Not quite as cool as the Horror of Dracula cards.

Marques and wife
This is the Marques Siniestro and his new bride. In this opening scene the movie goes out of its way to show you how mean and cruel this Marques can be.  Even his wife is looking at him like, “You’re such an asshole.”

Chef 01 Chef 02
The chef brings out some roasted goose for the newlyweds.  The Marquesa says she doesn’t like goose, so the Marques actually gets up out of his chair, yells at the chef for not knowing the Marquesa doesn’t like goose and throws the entire tray of goose on the floor. Then while the chef cleans up the mess the Marques pushes the chef down into the mess.
ASS. HOLE.

Beggar 01 Beggar 02
After the chef debacle, a lowly beggar comes to the Marques’ table to beg for food and drink.  The Marques offers him a handful of gold to be the Marquesa’s pet.  Then, he completely humiliates the beggar by making him dance in front of everyone for some food and wine.  Then the beggar is sent to the dungeons anyway.

Marques leering
Here’s the Marques leering at his wife before sending the beggar to the dungeons. He just informed her it’s time for them to “retire”. Ugh, shivers went up my spine the way he said it.  She’s clearly re-thinking her life choices at this point.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2012: Finishing up The Astounding Wolf-Man

Posted in comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, werewolf, werewolves, Wolf Man with tags , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2012 by Paxton

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Since this final week of AWESOME-tober-fest is a short week, I’m straying from the movie maniac theme and doing updates to previous Halloween reviews. Yesterday I reviewed the final book in The Strain trilogy which I had previously reviewed the first two books last year.  Today, I’m going to talk about the comic series The Astounding Wolf-Man.

The Astounding Wolf-Man

Two years ago for AWESOME-tober-fest 2010, I reviewed the first 18 issues of the comic that were collected in Volumes 1-3 of the trade paperbacks.  The final fourth volume collecting issues 19-25 had yet to be released.  However, I acquired the final collection earlier this year and read the concluding story.

The last and concluding story arc was called Legacy.  It’s a five-parter that takes place in issues #21-25. So much happens in this concluding story.  Seriously, it’s packed with a lot of action.  We see the main character reunited with his daughter, we see the end game of the Elder Wolf’s plans and we see the final confrontation between Wolf-Man and Zachariah (which is awesome, btw).

astoundingwolf-man21astoundingwolf-man22astoundingwolf-man23

In short, I loved this series. So many great characters written so well. Kirkman really does a great job with so many characters to juggle.  It was actually this series that led me to Kirkman and had me checking out his other work like Invincible, The Walking Dead and Marvel Zombies.  But that’s only half of the whole. Jason Howard’s amazingly dynamic art really sells it. I love the dynamics of Howard’s action and how he designs the look and feel of the universe. Plus, his 2 page action spreads are breathtaking. It really adds a lot of character to the story.

Speaking of characters, several of them are standouts. Gary Hampton/Astounding Wolf-Man is great. Zecariah the vampire is also a great villain. The Elder Wolf is BAD ASS. And in this final run of issues, we really see some good character work with Mecha-Maid. I really enjoyed her character and I want to see more of her.  You can see her in the second comic cover above.  Btw, that scene on the cover never happens.  But it’s a great cover, nonetheless.

Anyway, like I said, I want to see more of these Astounding Wolf-Man characters. I think he and Mecha Maid may pop up from time to time in Kirkman’s Invincible, but I want to see more.  This series was just too much fun not to continue.  However, like I said, as of today, issue #25 was the final issue.


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

Still waiting for the f**king Teen Wolf cartoon on DVD

Posted in cartoons, monsters, TV shows, werewolf, werewolves with tags , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by Paxton

Teen Wolf cartoon
So, I’ve talked many times on this blog about my love for the cartoon adventures of Teen Wolf and my desire for a North American release of the complete series (It was already released in Australia).  Well, I was writing my On the Shelves column this week for Strange Kid’s Club and two very obscure cartoons popped up as having complete season sets being released.  The two cartoon series are Captain Power (1987) and Skeleton Warriors (1994).

Teen Wolf Australian DVD set

Don’t get me wrong, both of these series are pretty good.  Skeleton Warriors is actually a pretty awesome concept, but the cartoon itself is, like I said, rather obscure.  What’s next?  Mummies Alive?  King Arthur and the Knights of Justice?  Oh yeah, BOTH of those cartoons already have DVD releases (here and here).  What the hell is the hold up for the release of Teen Wolf cartoon episodes?  They wouldn’t have to do much more than remaster the Australian set into NTSC format.  I don’t really care about extras.  Why hasn’t this been done?  As I’ve seen the parade of odd 80s-90s cartoons get their releases on DVD I become more and more baffled.  The Herculoids get a complete series release?  The f**king Herculoids?  Frankenstein Jr?  Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor?!  Seriously?  The Teen Wolf cartoon was based on a popular movie.  There’s a fairly decent TV show on MTV right this very f**king moment also based on said movie.  How much more current or relevant can you get?!

At this point, I have to assume there’s a rights issue. Maybe the fact that MTV is airing the TV show is also causing the rights to the cartoon to be up in the air or on hold.  But that’s not my problem.  I want the show.  I’m tired of watching shi**y, grainy episodes on YouTube like I used to watch porn movies on old pay cable stations.  I want these bitches on DVD and I want them NOW.

I mean, The Mighty Hercules was released on DVD.  THE MIGHTY GODDAM HERCULES.

Hollywood, your ancestors are WEEPING!

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.

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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