Well I teased in "Week Three" that I had found a theme for this week's batch of movies, and I'm sure you were able to work out by now that it is none other than: Werewolves! Ever since I was a child and I watched 1941's The Wolf Man for the very first time I have loved werwolves more then any other silver screen monster. So for this week's films, every single one of them, mostly but more on that later, are about my favorite furry fiends! So now that we've gotten that out of the way and the the moon is full and bright lets dive right in!
Movie #18: Teen Wolf (1985)
Director: Rod Daniel
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Hampton, Susan Ursitti
Plot: A high schooler tired of being average gets a bit more then he bargained for when he finds out he is actually a werewolf.
Opinion: There is no way this ridiculous premise for a movie should work, but with Fox's considerable charm and some clever writing it somehow does. It is cliched in the extreme, as "80's" as you can possibly get, and could never be made in this day and age, but still Teen Wolf remains a fun and entertaining time waster nonetheless.
Movie #19: Bad Moon (1996)
Director: Eric Red
Starring: Mariel Hemingway, Michael Pare, Mason Gamble
Plot: After a terrible encounter with a werewolf in the jungles of South America, a man moves back home to spend time with his sister and her son, but he has brought back something more then just bad memories and the only one who seems to notice is the family dog: Thor.
Opinion: A strange mixture of trained animal film and werewolf movie, Bad Moon still manages to entertain with some fun gore effects, practical creature design and makeup, and a genuinely interesting take of the werewolf mythology. The film has a few rough spots, namely with the lack of character development for Pare and some strange tonal shifts, but its not enough to prevent me from recommending it for fans of the subset.
Movie #20: Dog Soldiers (2002)
Director: Neil Marshal
Starring: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby
Plot: A squad of soldiers on a routine training exercise in the Scottish Highlands find themselves hunted by a pack of werewolves.
Opinion: Basically a Scottish version of "Predator", but it replaces the titular alien with a pack of werwolves. Its been a few years since I last watched it, so its great to have a reminder why Dog Soldiers is one of my favorite films in the Lycanthropic sub-genre. The werewolf designs are gorgeous and original, the action is fast, frantic, and easy to follow, and the camaraderie of the squad is utterly believable and natural. If you only have time for one werewolf film this season I can not recommend this one enough.
Movie #21: Silver Bullet (1985)
Director: Daniel Attias
Starring: Corey Haim, Everett McGill, Gary Busey
Plot: A small town starts to experience horrible murders every time there is a full moon, and one local boy suspects it to be the work of a werewolf.
Opinion: Another interesting hybrid werewolf movie, but this time around it is paired with a coming of age tale. Haim is pretty great as our wheelchair bound protagonist, and Busey is pretty much perfectly cast as his eccentric Uncle who is the only adult to take his claims seriously. The film has a surprising sense of humor to offset the carnage and takes the fun approach of having the werewolf's identity be a mystery for most of the film so it gets the "who done it" angle as well. Honestly the only thing really holding this movie back from true greatness is the film's truly terrible werewolf design that ends up looking more like a man in a bear suit then anything else. Based on the Stephen King novelette Cycle of the Werewolf.
Movie #22: The Wolf Man (1941)
Director: George Wagner
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William
Plot: After his older brother dies, Lawrence Talbot returns home to his father and the village he was raised in in rural Wales. Soon though a full moon rises, a terrible murder takes place, and Larry becomes the victim of a terrible curse..
Opinion: The movie that kickstarted my love of the beast and the grand daddy of the genre! This may not have been the first werewolf film to ever grace the silver screen but it certainly is the most influential and memorable. This movie set the standard for the rules of the subgenre including but not limited to: the use of silver, the full moon, and showing the audience an astounding transformation from man to monster. Chaney Jr. performs the duel role of protagonist/antagonist perfectly and it honestly feels like he was born to play it. Top it off with Jack Pierce's timeless and iconic makeup effects and you have one of the indisputable classics of the horror genre.
Movie #23: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
Director: Roy William Neill
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Patric Knowles
Plot: Searching for a way to end his eternal torment from the curse of the werewolf, Lawrence Talbot journeys to Frankenstein's Castle to ask for his help.
Opinion: This was the very start of the "Monster Rally" pictures that Universal would start cranking out over the next few years, and a personal favorite of mine as a kid. The Wolf Man was my favorite movie monster and even though he and Frankenstein's creation don't duke it out until the final minutes, I simply loved the idea. Sad to say though that as an adult the film just doesn't quite hold up, but its easy to see why I was so enamored with it as a child.
Movie #24: The Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)
Director: Christophe Gans
Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Mark Dacascos, Jeremie Renier
Plot: After a series of brutal killings occur in rural 18th century France, the Chevalviur de Fronscac is dispatched to try and kill the beast responsible.
Opinion: This one is technically not a werewolf film but for some reason it is always lumped into the genre so I'm going with it. Based on the actual historic reign of terror of the "Beast of Gévaudan", this is an even stranger and bizarre mish mash of horror genres then the previous mentions on this list. "Brotherhood" is part horror, part martial arts, and part French Revolution period historical drama, and if you think that sounds interesting you'd be right. The film is in no way perfect but surprisingly the strange cocktail of genres work, and the absolutely gorgeous cinematography, sets, costumes, and choreography make sure you're never bored or uninterested. Honestly the only let down in the film is some badly dated CGI but even that is easy to overlook thanks to a really interesting design for "The Beast".
Well that wraps up Week four! I'd love to hear any of your opinions on the films I watched and I am always open to suggestions for what to watch next, so feel free to hit me up in the comments below. As always thank you for reading and I'll see you next week!