The Good, The Bad and The Terrible ; Werewolves
Welcome to the The Good, The Bad and The Terrible in this feature we will take a well known horror movie trope and look at the films that excelled and did something wonderful with the concept, those that well, didn’t and those that monumentally cocked it up..Today’s topic is Werewolves
Ginger Snaps (2000)
This fantastic Canadian gem brought a twisted feminine touch to the Werewolf genre. Werewolves have been traditionally linked to the inherent brute ferocity of masculinity but Ginger Snaps threw out that rule book and instead created a cheeky connection between a girl dealing with ‘The Curse’ of beginning her menstrual cycle and the lupine transformation. Also worth noting is that director John Fawcett insisted that all werewolf effects for the film be created practically with make up and prosthetics, good call!
Dog Soliders (2002)
Before he put a group of girls in a cave with terrifying crawlers Neil Marshall put a group of men up a mountain with terrifying Werewolves. This visceral, raw and bloody approach to the werewolf genre, was effortlessly exciting and terrifying. Again the decision to forgo CGI in favor of make up, puppetry and in this case ; stilts, kept this werewolf film grounded in dirty, gritty reality.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Rick Baker and his special effects team created what is considered to be one of the most iconic Werewolf transformation scenes and a landmark for practical special effects. The film deservedly won an Oscar for Best Make Up. Credit should also go to actor David Naughton for very bravely (and nakedly) portraying one of the most terrifying scenes of body horror. (Heads up – a remake is in the works *sigh*)
The Howling (1981)
Another brilliantly executed Werewolf film that has ties with An American Werewolf in London. Special effects make up artist Rick Baker verbally agreed to work for John Landis on ‘Werewolf In London’ and during the film’s eight year development stage, he developed the techniques that would lead to him winning the very first Oscar for best make up. But he apparently became restless with the wait for Landis to acquire studio backing and began work on The Howling taking his techniques with him. When Landis got his backing he was horrified to find that his special effects artist had forsaken him for a different Werewolf film. I’m guessing there was door slamming and Landis may have thrown something. Baker quickly left The Howling in the hands of his protege Rob Bottin. Though not quite as visceral or errie as ‘Werewolf In London’, The Howling brought scares and suspense and helped to define the Werewolf genre. Fun game ; try and spot all the wolf references that have been hidden throughout the film, a visible copy of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl is one.
Teen Wolf (1985)
Micheal J. Fox is a partying, basketball playing Werewolf, do I need to say more, I think not!
The film divided critics and viewers but sadly the box office spoke quite clearly with a bad return. Many positive reviews seemed to have been satisfied simply by the presence of Jack Nicholson on top form but on a whole the film just didn’t come together wobbling between erotic horror and thought piece, it was clearly meant as a highbrow take on the Werewolf myth and its connotations but it failed to hit the mark.
The Wolfman (2010)
What was a wonderful idea ; returning to the roots of the werewolf myth, was felled by poor execution and a total lack of suspense. The film also wasn’t helped by its overuse of CGI which hammered the nail into the coffin of a film that was already fatally boring.
Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson discovered that unless it has the word ‘Scream’ in it their collaborations are a bad idea . This abomination of a film gets bad and then it gets worse and then it gets so unbelievably God awful that you begin to wonder if Wes Craven actually has a secret identical twin who made A Nightmare On Elm Street and then you lose your will to live right about when the curse of becoming a werewolf is equated to an STI… The entire film was actually rewritten and reshot because of a very poor test reaction to..well, all of it. That this awful turd is considered to be the improvement is down right terrifying. And don’t spread this around but Rick Baker yes that Rick Baker the Oscar winning Werewolf makeup pioneer actually worked on this film…I really don’t know.. maybe they all did a bunch of drugs..
An American Werewolf In Paris (1997)
Mistakes don’t come much bigger than this one, John Landis actually wrote a script for the sequel to his masterpiece and it was rejected(?!) in favor of a more MTV generation friendly (read ; stupid) script. And so we were subjected to a silly mess that couldn’t take itself seriously enough to be a horror film and was not funny or clever enough to be a comedy horror.
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Catherine Hardwicke decided to put a Twilight teen romance spin on the classic fairytale and test how many blood on snow visual references an audience can stand (red cloak flowing over snow, red cloak spread on snow,red cloak and snow, snow and A RED CLOAK, holy jumping monkeys we get it!!!) The film had equally beautiful Amanda Seyfried and Max Irons going for it but in the end they simply added to the film’s downfall ; it was just too damn pretty and manicured (Shiloh Frenandez and his beautiful mug didn’t help much either. And in the end the actual wolf of the piece was overshadowed by Amanda Seyfried pouting the shit out of EVERY scene (though bless her, I fear she was directed to do so).
Van Helsing (2004)
A monumental flop that Hugh Jackman doesn’t deserve to have on his C.V, this woeful movie was guilty of many crimes against film. But it’s greatest sin of all was its creation of ridiculous, laughably bad CGI werewolves. Dear.God..what were they thinking!?
Blood and Chocolate (2007)
More insipid and boring than Twilight (which is really saying something) this boring, limp supernatural romance takes the werewolf genre for a half hearted walk around the block with the help of some very cheap looking CGI.
What do you think? Let me Know in the comments!