Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shane's Favourite Werewolves of Cinema

I love werewolves, and I know you do too. How could you not? However, I find for the most part that films about werewolves don't really live up to their potential. Every time I watch a werewolf movie I find myself being disappointed on some level. Whether it's poor design, cheap effects, a stupid plot, bad acting, unlikeable characters, etc. Especially in the last decade, it's been nothing but letdowns. I wasn't impressed with Brotherhood of the Wolf or Ginger Snaps. Cursed was entertaining at the time, but impossibly stupid. And I couldn't stand the cg werewolves in films like Van Helsing or the two Underworld flicks. Even Lupin's werewolf from Harry Potter looked like it suffered from bulimia.

So here is my list of my favourite werewolves. Let me be clear - this is not a list of my favourite werewolf movies, or what I consider to be the best werewolf movies. I honestly don't think I could make a list of five great werewolf movies as easily as say "the best vampire movies" or "the best zombie movies". Instead I'm simply picking 5 werewolves that stick out in my mind as being cool, or especially frightening, or violent, or simply having kick ass special effects. Also, spoilers ahoy!

5. Bad Moon (1996)
Why is this werewolf cool? Because he's a complete dick and most of the time he's fighting a family's dog, named Thor. They really should have named this movie "Werewolf vs. Dog", cause that's really what it is. At one point the werewolf punches a dude's guts open, yet he never seems to be able to defeat a German Shepherd.

The uncle (who is the werewolf) spends most of his time trying to get rid of Thor to keep his secret under wraps. At one point, when his scheme results in Thor being dragged off to the pound, we see him wander over to Thor's doghouse and smugly take a piss on it. What the f**k? This guys spends his days trying to outsmart a dog as a human, and his nights battling the dog as a werewolf.

A terrible movie, but an entertaining werewolf that is violent and scary enough for my books. The transformation scene, however, is weak for employing some shitty computer effects.

4. The Howling (1981)
A movie that is really atmospheric and dark, I was really impressed the first time we get a good look at one of the werewolves (pictured). This thing is freaking huge and imposing. Plus, it attacks this woman in a tiny room, so it seems all the bigger. It's genuinely frightening, and makes me want to panic.

The transformation of the werewolf is impressive as hell, and you can really see that a ton of work went into it. My only gripe is that it seems to take ages to fully transform, and Dee Wallace just sits there instead of trying to escape. Just run, lady! Also, I didn't like was how all the people who were werewolves in the film seemed to enjoy being werewolves and wanted to change more people to their side. Leave that sort of stuff to vampires, I like my wolfman as a tortured, cursed, "Run while you still can!!" type.

3. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Looks like '81 was a good year for werewolves. Yeah, so, how can I not include this movie? First time I saw it, I was thought it was good, but I didn't understand what the big deal was. Now that years have gone by, and I've seen many a werewolf movie, I've come back to watch it again and it's more obvious now. If this were the top 5 werewolf movies, this would take the top spot, hands down.

Anyway, since the whole movie is about the character, David, dealing with his impending fate of transforming into an inhuman monster, the movie allows you feel his fear and dread. Suspense builds, but your compassion for him also grows. When we finally reach the transformation scene (thank you, Rick Baker) it looks incredibly intense and painful.

Although, I'm more a fan of a bipedal design, this werewolf is insane. It's scary, vicious, and gets to wreak havoc in the streets. Heads get bitten clean off, people are mauled, cars pile up and people are run over and crushed. That's exactly how a werewolf in a city should play out.

2. Waxwork (1988)

This is an obscure movie, but it was one of my favorites from when I was a kid. And the main reason I liked it was for the werewolf. Although the werewolf only has a short scene, it scared the piss out of me. I remember watching it back when I was way too young to be watching something like that, and barely being able to avoid hiding my face in fear.

I know you're thinking, "What? You were scared of that? It looks like a cat had sex with an ewok!" Yes, I admit it looks weird and unconventional, but you can't deny it's complete creepiness. Looking back, the movie is cheesy as hell, but I still love that werewolf. He puts on a show.

Before transforming, the werewolf is played by John Rhys-Davies. That's right, Gimli as a werewolf. After changing, he bites a guy, and chews up another guys face. Then he tears him in half! And not top half/bottom half. I mean, he tears some poor bastard in half. Lengthwise! Like he was a newspaper! That's blows my mind, it's so cool. Even though the werewolf scene is sadly cut short, he makes one more appearance at the end of the film to sneak up behind a guy in a wheelchair and pull his head off. Man!

1. Monster Squad (1987)
Another favorite movie from my childhood, which is also not solely about werewolves. If you don't know this cult classic, it's about a group of children who love all things monster related and end up battling a bunch of them to save the world. But why should the werewolf stand out among the likes of the mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and swamp thing?

Well, first of all, I love the way it looks. It's like a perfect mixture of classic Hollywood wolfman meeting modern makeup effects. This werewolf was created by the late, great Stan Winston, so show some respect, fool! And the transformation scenes are top notch. At one point the wolfman, played by Carl Thibault, is in a phone booth trying desperately to warn the police when he changes. The transformation is short, convincing, and scary. No need to have him writhing for ten minutes like other movies. Watch it for yourself and try to tell me it isn't brilliantly to the point.

We all know that a silver bullet kills a werewolf, but this movie pushes it to the extreme. That means NOTHING else can possibly kill it. The werewolf get shoved out a window and blown up midair with TNT, and still comes back to beat up on some cops! That's extreme! Plus, this werewolf gave us the hilarious "Wolfman's got nards!" scene. What's funnier than a werewolf getting kicked in the balls by a fat kid? Nothing.

This werewolf is my favorite for being surprising dark and frightening in what is essentially a family film. When human he's desperately trying to protect those around him, and fight the inevitable, but completely loses himself to the animal inside. He is the center of some entertaining and gruesome scenes, but proves that a werewolf doesn't have to leave a huge body count in his wake to be interesting.


Cole D'Arc said...

i never saw Bad Moon but is sure is retarded. the world really needs an actually good werewolf movie. maybe i'll try to write one. Maybe Werewolf By Night.
anyway, these probably are the best choices. i really do enjoy The Howling. i can't really remember Silver Bullet or if the werewolf in that was any good.

Sam said...

I enjoyed Dog Soldiers.

Shane said...

I've never seen Dog Soldiers, but I'm interested now. I shall track down this werewolf gold.

Sam said...

There are lots and lots of werewolves fighting the British army in the woods. There are clearly guys with big wolf headpieces, but I appreciate the simplicity.

Cole D'Arc said...

ive been meaning to see Dog Soldiers. but so far i am not a fan of the guy's work. doomsday was goddamn awful and The Descent was average at best.

Shane said...

Hey, c'mon. The Descent was better than many of today's horror films. I was entertained, and freaked out, which is more than I can say about Rob Zombie and any of his films.

Sam said...

Ha... nards.