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This is a sometimes slow-moving, sometimes cheap-looking but always a what- the-HELL-am-I-watching?! kind of a film. Dean Stockwell, who seems to have walked onto the set of "The Wolfman" at films beginning, gets a silver headed walking stick, encounters some weird gypsy types and becomes cursed with lycanthropy. Part werewolf film, part Watergate satire, Stockwell looks pretty cool with his full wolf make-up on and shows a talent for physical comedy as well. The scene where he gets his hand stuck in a bowling ball, whilst the clueless President fails to notice, is hysterical. This really isn't meant to be a thrilling chiller, but the scene with a girl trapped by the werewolf inside of an overturned phone booth is rather tense and well done. Yes, it's cheap, the acting isn't that great (outside of Stockwell's performance) the sets are lousy and everything screams 70S!!! in all of its tacky hideousness (the flowered wallpaper in the heroine's bedroom is by far the scariest thing about this film) but it's not a total loss. Its a sharp, clever and sometimes very black comedy with some nice make-up effects. It's worth seeing for Stockwell's manic performance alone.
I don't know specifically whether "The Werewolf of Washington" was
intended as a political satire, but it sure comes across as such. It
probably helped that the movie was released around the time of
Watergate (and at one point, we even get a glimpse of that very
The opening voice-over monologue begins with something like "How could it happen here?", before White House press secretary Jack Whittier (Dean Stockwell) explains his predicament. I believe that Upton Sinclair wrote a book called "It Can Happen Here", about the possibility of fascism coming to America. Anyway, after Jack has an affair with the president's daughter, the prez sends him to Hungary - ah, a jab at the Cold War - where he gets bitten by a wolf. When someone warns Jack about the pentagram, he thinks that the person says Pentagon (what aren't those warmongers behind?).
When he arrives back in the states, the president is angry about how the media reports negatively on the current state of affairs, especially since it makes the nation's youth protest things so much; the prez's solution: martial law! If that isn't a rip at the Nixon administration, then I don't know what is! But sure enough, Jack starts seeing the pentagram in people's palms, and...well, you know what happens once there's a full moon.
So even if it was intended as a straightforward horror flick, this certainly elicits a sense of political satire. With comments about the Black Panthers and other stuff, it's just the sort of thing that we need nowadays. I totally recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Voting for this one is tough, it's either a one star or a 10 star! I
picked it up the other night as an impulse buy when getting gas...there
at the counter for $9.99 was a 10 movie, 3DVD crap compilation called
"Werewolves, Vampires and Zombies." This was the movie that sold me on
the package...ow had I not heard of this one? Technically, it's awful.
Sound and visual quality are very spotty, as is usually the case with
these cheap compilations. Heck, spotty implies there may be some good
moments, so let me change that assessment to horrible. Continuity is an
afterthought, camera shots attempt to be arty, from shots up through
the bottom of a toilet bowl to dizzying handhelds.
Perhaps the biggest plot issue is the appearance of the mysterious and diminutive Dr. Kiss, performing his Frankensteinian experiments in the White House basement. He seems to be some sort of power behind the throne, but we never discover more than that. Everything about the good doctor, from the deference of the president, his experiments, to his disappearing with a peculiar sunglassed man into the same stall of a bathroom, makes no sense whatsoever. It really seems like one day on the set someone said "hey look, we got a midget! Write him into the story!" Sure, it makes no sense, but after the movie you and your fellow viewers will be laughing and wondering wtf it was all about.
The political humor has it's moments, lots of hippie hating and attempts by the administration to control the hated and feared media (the pres holds an unscheduled press conference to announce an agreement with the Chinese, he and his handlers hope it will deflect attention from his declaring martial law in D.C. to take care of the problems of the murders and the damned hippies).
There are an abundance of laugh-out-loud moments, whether intentional or not, but more than anything else the greatest thing of this movie is its ability at the end to leave you with an overwhelming feeling of "what the heck was that?"
I had a lot of fun watching this completely offbeat film. This is
obviously a spoof of horror flicks and a good natured, tongue in cheek
comment on American politics during the Nixon era. The editing is
horrible, the lighting even worse, and there is no escaping this movie
is early seventies to the max. In the end though, all of this only
seems to add to this little movies charms which are considerable.
I think the writing is excellent, the idea of a werewolf among the Washington elite is pretty darn original. At times it seems almost like a skit from an early classic Saturday night live show. Very much so actually. There are some very funny moments like the bowling scene which made me laugh out loud. My eleven year old daughter laughed also which is good. The scene with the girl in the phone booth is also hilarious, and the bit with the Chinese diplomat on the plane cracked me up again.
Dean Stockwell is terrific in this movie, he delivers a very edgy performance that amazingly has you laughing at one scene and feeling very sorry for him at other times. His increasing anxiety and frustration over becoming a werewolf actually made me squirm a bit and almost made me stop watching the movie!!!! But then came the bowling scene and you realize its all for laughs. He gets great support from others in the cast especially the actors playing the president and the attorney general(Biff Mcquire and Clifton James), they are both a ton of fun.
I think i have a cool bit of trivia for you. Dean's dad Harry Stockwell makes a cameo appearance in the scene where the president briefs the joint chiefs of staff. Another hilarious scene. In the Harry Stockwell section of IMDb that isn't mentioned, i think it should be. Overall, the Werewolf of Washington is a c movie that delivers and a verl cool comment on a memorable time in American history. I liked it a lot!!!!
As you can probably guess from the title alone, "Werewolf of
Washington" is basically a direct take on "The Wolf Man" story, shaped
into a kind of political satire.
We join press secretary Jack Whittier on assignment in Hungary, where his girlfriend buys him a silver cane with a wolf's head handle. When his car breaks down he encounters some strange gypsies, and is attacked by a wolf which he beats to death with his cane. After the wolf is dead it changes back into human form, but the police don't even arrest him for murder. Jack is convinced that there is some kind of a government cover-up going on, but a gypsy woman tells him that he has become a werewolf, cursed with the sign of the pentagram ("Oh, so the pentagon's involved?"). He then returns to Washington, and finds that a series of people he meets are murdered in animal-like attacks ...
This movie does have a lot of very funny and memorable moments. The "phone booth" attack and most of the scenes with the president (particularly the bowling alley sequence) rank particularly highly, and this is certainly a film you won't forget in a hurry. It's one of the most original werewolf movies I've seen in a long time. The acting is surprisingly good considering how incompetent some aspects of the film appear to be, and that's where a lot of the comedy comes from. Dean Stockwell gives an excellent, nervous performance reminiscent of Lon Chaney Jr, and Biff McGuire as the president is just great.
However, it isn't all good news ... it was directed by Milton Moses Ginsberg, who seems primarily to have worked as an editor but has directed several obscure movies (his first movie "Coming Apart" actually appears quite popular critically). The film-making isn't terrible, but it's not really of professional quality -- in some scenes you can even catch that elusive shadow of the cameraman. Considering it was made by an editor, the movie is slow-moving and doesn't flow as well as it should, and some of the cuts just don't work at all. The dialogue is pretty clunky most of the time, although there are some clever plays on words. It's a political satire made at a time when it was fashionable to attack the administration, so of course there's plenty of topical humour going on.
Yes, it's silly and it's cheap and it's pretty incompetent, but it's also a lot of fun. I'm even tempted to give it a higher rating, but I might not live that down. Just see it if you want some quick laughs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dean Stockwell gives a deliciously droll and wired portrayal of Jack Whittier, a hotshot presidential press assistant who gets bitten by a werewolf while on assignment in Budapest, Hungary. Whittier comes back to the United States and begins terrorizing the nation's capitol, turning into a werewolf whenever there's a full moon and bumping off various folks in the immediate area. Writer/director Milton Moses Ginsberg concocts one hell of a strangely engaging and amusing eccentric blend of tacky horror and broad political satire, rather clumsily mixing the disparate elements together into a pretty messy, yet still funny and enjoyable synthesis. Technically, the film is very slipshod, with rough, grainy photography, ragged editing, generic spooky music and the laughably shoddy werewolf make-up leaving something to be desired, but still adding substantially to the picture's singularly screwy charm. Fortunately, the game cast come through with delightfully ripe performances: Biff McGuire as the smarmy Nixonesque president, Clifton James as an oily, huffy attorney general, Thayer David as a ramrod police inspector, June House as the president's desirable hottie daughter, Michael Dunn as quirky mad scientist Dr. Kiss, and James Tolkan as a shady fed in sunglasses are a total blast to watch. Best-ever scene: the werewolf attacks a screaming woman trapped in an overturned phone booth. An authentically offbeat curio.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I swear, it's getting to the point where if I see that one of the DVDs I've rented or bought is from the company known as Alpha Video, I'm tempted to return it unwatched. Lousy 16mm print sources, fuzzy images and very problematic sound have been the hallmarks of just about every DVD I've seen from this outfit. Case in point: "The Werewolf of Washington" (1973), a strange political satire/horror hybrid that fails dismally on both fronts and is rendered almost unwatchable by Alpha Video's crummy-looking DVD. In this one, Dean Stockwell goes to Budapest as a reporter, is bitten by a werewolf, and later becomes the assistant press secretary to the American president. Only prob: He's now a werewolf himself! Unfortunately, this cool-sounding plot is undone by a ridiculous script, lame acting (Stockwell excepted; he's excellent) and extremely poor editing/continuity. The sound, lighting and sets are all fairly amateurish, and Milton Moses Ginsberg's direction alternates between flashy (wait'll you see that shot taken from below water level in a toilet!) to downright inept. The initial appearance of the werewolf is ludicrous and bound to inspire more laffs than shudders, although it must be conceded that later transformations are handled well and that the monster does look pretty scary (although Stockwell's effete drug dealer in 1986's "Blue Velvet" was even scarier). But Stockwell turns into the monster five nights in a row in this picture; do we EVER get full moons five nights in a row?!?!?!?! Anyway, the film does boast two neat scenes--an attack on a woman in a tipped-over phone booth and a transformation aboard the Prez' helicopter--and I suppose does demonstrate that we COULD be stuck with worse monsters in D.C. than the ones we have now. Hard to believe, I know!
Dean Stockwell plays a White House Press secretary on assignment in Hungary when he finds himself bitten by a wolfman(werewolf - whichever you prefer)and then is asked to leave quite quickly with no investigation from the Hungarian police for the crime of murder that Stockwell claims to have performed on his assailant. Whew! Anyway, Stockwell returns to Washington and soon sees those nasty little signs that something is going horribly wrong. You know those signs - heavy hair growing on your hands, seeing a five-sided star on the hands of women with whom he will soon have a killer relationship with, and not remembering large chunks of evenings when the moon is full. The story for this film is surprisingly faithful to that of the original The Wolfman in terms of story but lacks that film's sophistication and budget. This is a cheaply-made film, a poorly directed film, an incredibly drearily written film, and, finally, acted with no real sense of purpose. The final product, though for sure going for some intended laughs at times, ends of being rather funny in spite of its ineptitude. There are some stand out scenes for this perverse pleasure of watching a cinematic car wreck. How about the phone booth scene - a real hoot and oh so terrifying! Watching the president of the United States in a cheap looking bowling alley or in a bathroom with a page or something. In fact any scenes with Biff McGuire as the president are gold. He appears so incompetent and yet conveys some realism to that role in a certain way - scary. Dean Stockwell can get worked up real good too in his scenes and the transformation scenes, when we finally get to see them, are bad. Bad. Bad. And what about the lilliputian Michael Dunn as Dr. Kiss? What was all that about? Just bizarre and ludicrous. The Werewolf of Washington is a bad picture on so many levels but is also highly enjoyable if you are a fan of le bad cinema - as I am - especially of the best decade for le bad cinema - the 1970s. You couldn't make this stuff up if you sat down right now and tried. Believe me. To even further enhance your viewing pleasure, check out the version with bosomy seductress Elvira chiming in periodically. She can be quite clever and amusing and always abreast of what is going on in the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cheesy, cheap and poorly acted. Yes - all that is absolutely true. And
if you want to look at this as a horror movie you'd also have to admit
that it isn't particularly scary, although the scene with the werewolf
attacking the woman in the telephone booth is a bit unnerving. Having
said that, you have to avoid the temptation to look at this as a horror
movie and understand it for what it is - made in 1973, it's a fun and
relatively light-hearted spoof of the Nixon administration. It begins
with the president's new press aide Jack Whittier (get it - Nixon
attended Whittier College) being bitten by a werewolf in Hungary.
Returning to the U.S. he naturally begins to wreak havoc in Washington,
D.C. Not much is missed here. Whittier has an apartment at the
Watergate Hotel, there's a massive cover-up about the werewolf murders,
with the administration looking for people to pin them on, I loved the
president's "let me make this perfectly clear," the Pentagon is
consistently being confused with the pentagram (the sign of evil) and
even Kissinger gets skewered in a funny performance by little person
Michael Dunn as Dr. Kiss, who befriends the werewolf during an
encounter and ends up being sniffed and licked by him as if the beast
were the family pet. Whether it was intentional or not, Jane House as
the president's daughter struck me as a bit of a poke at Julie Nixon
Eisenhower. House's Marion eventually kills the werewolf; Julie was one
of her father's staunchest and most public defenders as she tried to
slay the Watergate beast.
There's a couple of truly hilarious scenes here, especially the bowling ball scene at the White House, and Jack's transformation on the helicopter in front of the horrified Chinese leader while the president remains totally oblivious (and actually all things considered, while the transformation scenes were done in a very 1930's manner, the end result of the makeup was pretty good.) The only member of the cast I've ever heard of is Dean Stockwell as Whittier - not surprising given that the acting was pretty lousy - but take this for what it's supposed to be: not a good horror movie, but a funny political satire.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Veteran actor Dean Stockwell has grown up from that little MGM child
star to a fairly handsome man, but most of that is hidden behind a
costume that looks like something out of a cheap production of "Alice
in Wonderland". This cheaply made horror film is cast with mostly New
York theater and soap actors who take the script seriously as if it was
Shakespeare, but it's really rather amateurish at times and often
The story surrounds a reporter who ends up being bitten by a werewolf while in Hungary and the effects it has when he returns to Washington D.C. Several prominent citizens are viciously attacked and mutilated, and eventually, the President himself (Biff McGuire) becomes a target.
One of the scarier scenes occurs when Stanton attacks a black man on steps of the Lincoln memorial as Hus girlfriend screams inside a phone booth absurdly placed at the foot of the stairs. He then pushes the booth over and tries to attack her, no glass having been shattered. A chatty society matron is attacked while stumbling home drunk from a function, while a female reporter gets it too while trying to get into a closed gas station. This isn't terrible, but it's far from successful in its attempts to become a retelling of the classic horror tale.
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