Sunday, 23 September 2012

5 Movies That Will Have You Howling at the Moon

Werewolves are making a comeback!  Recently, with the successful characters on TruBlood and Twilight, the werewolf seems to be gaining some ground back in the horror world.  Unlike these new characters, who enjoy their shape shifting ability, werewolves of the past felt as though they were cursed and they were unable to control their transformations.  Most folklore and filmlore, believe that the victim of a bite of a werewolf would change them on a full moon into a snarly uncontrollable animal, hell bent on feeding on human flesh!  The only way to stop these creatures of the damned was with silver, and preferably a silver bullet.  Nowadays, we have a kinder gentler werewolf, that is in really good shape, can help you with your construction job and have found other werewolves to live with in pacts.  I think I may prefer the lone wolf.

Here are 5 Movies That Will Have You Howling at the Moon:

Ginger Snaps (2000) - Ginger and Bridgitte Fitzgerald aren't your typical teen sisters.  The enjoy the macabre, like to create death scenes and then take pictures of them.  Although, this seems pretty cool, their peers at school find it disturbing and think their weird.  Their neighbourhood has been plagued with dog deaths, apparently people's pets have been murder by a wild animal.  One night, the Fitzgerald sisters are coming home through the park and Ginger is attack by the beast!  Brigitte fights the beast off of her sister and is chased across the street dragging Ginger.  They makes it across and the monster gets hit by a van, driven by the local drug dealer, Sam.  Scared and confused, the girls run for home and Sam can't believe what he hit.  When the girls arrive home, Ginger finds that her wounds have already begun healing and Brigette finds a picture that she accidentally took of the beast.  The next morning, everything is hunky dory except Ginger is being really crabby but it might be because she is having her first period or it's because she is in pain because she got attack by a monster last night.  Doesn't matter, they need to get to school where Sam talks to Bridgette about the thing that hit his truck the other night.  They both think it was a werewolf, and Brigette lets Sam thinks it was her that was bitten.  As time goes by, Ginger transforms into a hottie a school, a bitch to her sister and starts growing a tail.  Can Bridgitte and Sam find a way to stop Ginger from turning into a werewolf and more important does Ginger want to change back?  Great Canadian horror movie!  John Fawcett & Karen Walton put together a genuinely scary movie with some wonderful dark humour.  The special effect on the werewolf are fantastic and there are some great kill scenes in the film.  Spawned 2 sequels, but I love the original, so check it out if you get a chance!

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957) - Tony Rivers has got some anger issues.  He has a bad temper and seems to fight a lot in school.  After another fight at the school, Detective Donovon suggests that he sees a psychiatrist to help him with with his anger problem.  Tony says, "no way man, I ain't seeing no headshrinker" and heads off home.  We learn that Tony recently lost his mom and he and his dad are still having trouble with that. However, his dad thinks Tony just doesn't fit in and doesn't like rules other people make.  Thanks dad. That night, Tony and "the gang" get together in an abandon house for a party.  They have a food, non alcoholic drinks, dancing and they play practical jokes on each other.  Everything is good until somebody plays a prank on Tony and he  loses his temper!  He beats up his friend while his other friends watch in horror.  That night Tony decides to see a psychiatrist.  Dr. Brandon uses hypnotherapy on Tony but while Tony is under Dr. Brandon injects him with scopolamine.  It's a drug that will revert Tony to his most primal instincts that Dr. Brandon has been tinkering with in his spare time.  After some time, Tony is doing better but after a party and during a full moon, a friend of Tony's is attacked in the woods by an animal.  The police, as usual are baffled but Pepe, the Romanian janitor at the police station suggests it could be a werewolf!  Oh Pepe, you're crazy!  That day, Tony is asked into the Principal's office and after some glowing remarks from the principal, Tony wanders into the gym, where Theresa is working on her gymnastic routine.  I don't know if it was the routine or the unbelievably loud school bell, but Tony goes feral, changes into a werewolf and kills Theresa.  He escapes but everyone knows his secret and an all points bulletin has been put out on him.  What can Tony do to save his mangy hide?  This was the first film to have a teenager change into a monster and producer Samual Z. Arkoff got a lot of flack for being exploitative.  Michael Landon (Highway to Heaven, Little House on the Prairie) is excellent as Tony, the 1950's rebel with his collared shirt and wanting to get into college.  The 50's were different.  The story is fun and has that b-movie charm that that time era brings.  Innocence of youth and small town community.  It's pretty tame by today's standards but it's still fun to watch and the effects on the werewolf are fairly decent.

The Werewolf of Washington (1973) -Dean Stockwell plays Jack Whittier, a newspaper reporter who happens to be having a romantic tryst with the President of the United States of America's daughter, Marion.  So they send him to Hungary, where it just so happens that he's been there before and has a wife, Giselle waiting for him.  He probably told her he was out getting milk, but apparently she can't get a visa to move out of the country.  Anyway, Jack gets bitten by a werewolf while having car trouble and the monster attacks Giselle.  He ends up killing the wolf with a silver cane with a wolf's head on it, how original.  Jack heads back to America and now sees people die, when his hand turns into a red pentagram.  During the full moons, he kills the people he saw on his hand but lucky it's during the early seventies, so the police believe it's evil hippies causing all the violence.  Damn hippies! Anyway, Jack needs to find a way to stop himself from turning into a werewolf, so he can be with Marion and be the best reporter ever.  This is suppose to be a horror/comedy with biting political commentary about the Nixon administration.  I may not be old enough to get it or it's just not funny, so we'll skip that element of the movie.  This film really plods on and on and the violence is far and few.  I found it free on youtube, so if your brave, have 30 minutes to spare and desperate, try it.

The Wolfman - After the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns to his home in Wales.  He falls in love with Gwen Conliffe, who works at an antiques shop and to show his love for her, he buys a cane with a silver wolfs head.  She tells him about the werewolf mythology, they laugh, as if that could ever happen.  It's not foreshadowing, it's fiveshadowing. That night, he tries to rescue a local village girl and Gwen's friend, Jenny Williams from being attack by an animal.  Larry is bitten by the animal  but he is able to kill it with the silver cane. ;)  He stops by the gypsy camp and finds out from Maleva, the old gypsy lady,  that the animal was actually her son and he was a werewolf.  She tells him that when the moon is full, he too will become a werewolf.  During the next full moon, Larry transforms and attacks people from village. When he wakes up, he has only brief memories of the night before.  The villagers gather up a posse and go hunting for the creature.  Larry needs to find a cure and fast!  Great cast, Lon Chaney Jr, Claude Rains and Bela Luigosi as the gypsy wolfman.  Great special effects for the time and director George Waggner tells a fantastic story.  This was actually the second wolf man movie done by Universal, the first being the unsuccessful, at the time, Werewolf of London.  Classic film and a must see for anyone who enjoys old school horror.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) - David and Jack are American college students back packing through England.  One evening, during a full moon they stop into a charming pub called "The Slaughtered Lamb" to warm up and have something to eat.  When they walk in, the pub becomes very quiet and soon find that the patrons don't like strangers.  Jack notices a bloody pentagram on the wall and asks them about it.  He is told to "Beware the moon, lads" and that is the perfect cue for them to leave.As the leave, they are told to stay on the road and away from the moors.  They leave, it starts to rain and unknowing to them drift off the road and into the moors, that's when they hear the howl of an animal.  The patrons at the pub hear it as well and the bar maid begs the people in the pub to go get the boys, but they refuse.  Meanwhile, Jack and David are frightened and head back towards the pub, but realize they're lost.  They can hear the animal circling them with its' howls and Jack trips and falls down.  David laughs and goes to help him up but that's when the monster attacks Jack and starts devouring him.  David runs away at first but gets his shit together and comes back to help Jack, but is too late.  The monster lunges and begins tearing at David, when the some people from the pub shoot the beast dead.  David scared and confused glances to see the monster, it looks like a man and David passes out.  He wakes up in a London Hospital with a pretty nurse attending him and he is told that he has been out of it for the last three weeks.  He is told that Jack is dead and he needs to stay in the hospital for a few more days for tests than he can be released.  During the next couple days, he has some horrible nightmares about murdering his family and running through the forest but he does get closer with his pretty nurse lady friend, Alex Price.  He, also receives an interesting visit from his dead friend Jack, who tells David to kill himself because he is a werewolf and that Jack cannot leave the limbo state of the dead until the bloodline of the werewolf has been destroyed.  David thinks it was just another crazy dream and leaves with Alex to stay at her flat... and make some sweet sweet love.  The next day, Alex has to go to work and leaves David in the flat alone.  He's good until the full moon rises that evening and he changes into a werewolf!  Surprised, I hope not, it's in the title.  Anywhoo, David goes on a rampage killing six people and wakes up naked at the zoo, I know that feeling!  He rushes home and learns about the murders, totally freaks out and runs away from Alex and anyone else trying to help him.  Can David find a way to fight the curse with only a few hours til night fall?  One of my favourite films from director John Landis.  It's a good story, it's bloody and it has some humour in it as well.  The death toll is huge and most of it isn't even the monster killing people but just seeing it in Piccadilly Circus that causes a huge car pile up, that has a ton of wonderful gruesome deaths.  Rick Baker won an Academy Award for the make up effects in the werewolf transformation, which is still amazing to watch today.  Fantastic Film and a most see!

After watching these films, I miss the empathic character that is the wolf man.  The person, who cannot control his fate, must stay hidden in the shadows and chain himself to the wall in light of the full moon. However, things do change and I'm sure the "new" werewolves, who have trained themselves to stay in control of their powers will have to lose control and go wild at some point.  All animals do, just ask Siegfried and Roy.

1 comment:

  1. Another great list of very cool movies. I haven't seen Werewolf of Washington yet. Another fave of mine is Dante's The Howling. Thanks again for a great post! - Vic