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So what do you do when you want to complete a trilogy but the two main
characters in your franchise aren't really around any more? You take
them both back to the nineteenth century of course! We join the
Fitzgerald sisters travelling through the harsh Canadian wilderness
following a shipwreck. They come upon an old Indian woman who warns
them that something terrible might happen, and then Brigette is rescued
from a wolf trap by a hunter who takes them to a nearby fort. There is
something very strange about the occupants of the almost-deserted fort,
and they seem to live in constant fear of something outside ... and
what are those bloody claw marks on the front gate? Soon the sisters
discover what's going on, and find that their own fate, their own
legacy, is somehow connected with those creatures out in the woods ...
As you can probably imagine, the atmosphere here is just terrific. A group of unique characters living together in this fort, besieged by a pack of werewolves, in a world that feels like hell has just frozen over and grown some trees. There is, of course, tension within the fort as well as outside it. Nobody trusts the deadly Indian hunter, a half-crazed preacher is ready to sacrifice everyone to save them from hell, a cruel officer seems set on making Ginger's life a misery and even the good-hearted commander harbours a dark secret in the bowels of the fort. The cast plays these parts extremely well, and there are a lot of great supporting actors here, the most memorable being Nathaniel Arcand, JR Bourne and Hugh Dillon. Also Brendan Fletcher, who played Jeremy in Unleashed, returns here as a different character.
Historically, it's not the most accurate film, but in the context of the trilogy it doesn't matter. Some of the language they use, often for comic effect, is certainly very modern day, and some other liberties have been taken for dramatic reasons. It's the same basic plot as Unleashed, with a group of people stalked by a werewolf while one of them turns into a werewolf themselves. Except here, they are in fact besieged by a whole pack of werewolves, which means more werewolves than we've ever seen before in the previous movies (essentially there was only one in each). The final scenes of this movie will blow your mind.
In many ways, this is my favourite in the trilogy, and it is certainly a welcome addition to the Ginger Snaps saga. If you like the previous movies, then definitely check this one out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So just to recap the events of the original "Ginger Snaps"
(SPOILERS!!!), Ginger and Brigette are sisters ... Ginger is bitten by
a werewolf ... Ginger begins to turn into a werewolf ... Brigette
infects herself with Ginger's blood ... Brigette kills Ginger.
We rejoin Brigette after an undisclosed period of time. She's living in a cheap motel room in a city somewhere, shooting up on wolfsbane and keeping a chart of how long it takes for self-inflicted wounds to heal -- hoping against hope that she might never become a werewolf. Occasionally she is visited by the ghost of her dead sister, who haunts and taunts her throughout the movie (you can't have a Ginger Snaps movie without a Ginger, right?). One night she manages to overdose on wolfsbane, and she gets picked up and taken to an outreach centre where she is kept caged like an animal and deprived of the drug ... but what they don't know is that she's being hunted by another deadly werewolf, who has a strong desire to mate with her.
Ginger Snaps : Unleashed is even darker than the original, both in the metaphorical and in the literal sense of the word. It's also a lot weirder ... so if, like me, you're a big fan of weird, odds are you'll probably lap this up like a bloodthirsty wolf. There are plenty of great twists and turns in the plot, and the casting is really amazing. Eric Johnson and the young Tatiana Maslany both deliver superb performances in the two main supporting roles. In most respects, many agree that this sequel is in fact better than the first movie ... but they're both so great, I don't even feel the need to compare them.
I was a bit concerned about the fact that this wasn't written by the same team as the first movie (in fact screenwriter Megan Martin seems to have no other credits to her name), but it is actually an interesting twist on the original, written by someone who clearly understood what Ginger Snaps was all about. There are two main formulaic werewolf plots ... the first involves our hero changing into a werewolf, which will eventually lead either to finding a cure or to their death (as in the first movie), and the second is about a group of characters being stalked by a werewolf, and for an added twist perhaps the werewolf is one of them. This film incorporates both of these formulas into an excellent, engaging horror story.
Ginger Snaps is probably the first great werewolf movie to have a worthy sequel, and if that wasn't enough they had to go and do it again a third time. If you haven't seen this whole trilogy yet, you definitely should.
It's certainly true that lately we've been bombarded with many
big-budget Hollywood adaptations of comic book movies, and that many of
them have been bad. The problem wasn't necessarily with the movies
themselves, but with their lack of originality. They all go for the
same dark, Gothic Batman-esquire style, which, appealing as it may be,
frankly just gets a little boring. We've been waiting a long time for
someone to bring us something truly original in this genre ... and here
"Sin City" tells three different stories, all of which take place on the same night, and all of which are connected by at least one character and common themes. It's dark and it's bloody and, to be honest, a bit silly, but all in all it's a great work of fantasy. The actors relish both in their character's originality and in Frank Miller's gritty, ingenious dialogue. Plain and simple, this movie is a mini-masterpiece.
Very good performances all around from stars Clive Owen, Bruce Willis and Elijah Wood (an unusual role for Elijah, but he pulls it off extremely well). The standout performance, however, comes from Mickey Rourke as "Marv". He's probably the least well-known of all the main cast members, but this may well change after this. All of the supporting roles are filled out extremely well also ... Benicio Del Toro, Nick Stahl and Rutger Hauer in particular give memorable, if short, turns as their various characters.
After seeing Sin City you're left with the impression that you've just watched a computer generated animation rather than a movie, such is the visual feel of it. It is truly a direct translation of the comic book, and something which has never been done before. The only comparison I can come up with is a computer game -- "Max Payne", which itself is done in the style of a comic book, and like Sin City it mixes film noir with a Gothic horror style. This is, without a doubt, the finest comic book movie I have ever seen.
This movie deserves to be a hit. It deserves to have sequels. Anything else, would be a travesty. An injustice. A sin.
The first werewolf movie ever filmed is a long-lost silent film from
1913, 18 minutes in length, unfortunately destroyed by a fire in 1924.
It was the only film which examines the old Indian legends of people
turned into wolves through magic power for purposes of vengeance, who
can assume human form at will.
A Navajo woman named Kee-On-Ee believes she has been abandoned by her husband, who has actually been killed, and so she becomes a witch. Her daughter, Watuma, is taught to hate all white men and seeks vengeance by attacking the invading whites in wolf form, until she encounters a friar and his cross. She returns from death 100 years later to kill the sweetheart of the reincarnation of the man who shot her lover. A real wolf was used in the transformation sequence, involving simple camera dissolves.
Directed by Henry MacRae, who directed over a hundred films prior to 1930, mostly exotic adventure shorts, and produced early classics such as the Flash Gordon series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Already seen all of Universal's "Wolf Man" movies? Want something more?
Well, here's a little piece of werewolf movie history you probably
never even knew about.
It's really more of a romance story than a werewolf story, but it's definitely the werewolf aspect that makes it interesting. Two logging companies are rivals with one another, and Dick Bannister, played by George Chesebro, is the head of one of them. When the other company starts shooting and wounding his men, he telephones the city and sends his boss and a surgeon. It just so happens that his boss is a young woman, played by Marguerite Clayton, and she is engaged to a surgeon. Bannister instantly falls in love with her when she arrives.
Later, the rival logging company begins to build a dam across a vital river. When Bannister confronts them, they attack him and leave him for dead ... but he is saved by the surgeon and taken to a nearby cabin. The owner of the cabin refuses to give his blood for a transfusion to save Bannister, as they have previously argued about him selling alcohol to the loggers, but suggests that he can use the blood of his she-wolf instead. He does, and Bannister lives.
But when word gets out that he has wolf's blood in his veins, his superstitious employees begin to fear that he is no longer human, but some kind of man-beast. Bannister himself also begins to fear that this is the case, and his fears become deepened when the head of the rival logging company is torn apart by a pack of wolves. He starts to go slowly insane, hallucinating that he is part of a pack of phantom ghost wolves running through the woods nearby ... but when the girl returns his love, he snaps out of it and all is well. Yipee! "Wolf Blood" is the only time George Chesebro ever directed, but he has acted in over four hundred movies. Ouch! He gives a good silent performance here, and it seems fairly well-directed for it's time. The acting is pretty much what you expect from this period of film history -- melodramatic and stagey, with every movement and facial expression emphasised. It has it's dull moments, but the last ten minutes or so are particularly memorable.
While it's certainly not a classic, this is a fairly interesting and entertaining silent movie, and notable as George Chesebro's single directorial project.
Okay, a quick history lesson -- After the success of Dracula and
Frankenstein, Carl Laemmle Jr., who was head of production at Universal
Studios in the 1930s, wanted to bring another monster to the big
screen. They were planning a movie called "The Wolf Man", which would
star Boris Karloff, but that fell through so in 1935 they decided
instead to create a Frankenstein sequel ... and this little gem. He
called upon makeup legend Jack Pierce, who had already created the
Dracula and Frankenstein monsters we know and love, and who would later
go on to create Lon Chaney Jr.'s Wolf Man. Also involved was special
effects guru John P. Fulton, who also worked on most of Universal's
monster movies of the 30s and 40s. And so, at least some of the
ingredients were here that would later created a classic werewolf that
everyone would remember in the years to come.
Henry Hull gives a creditable performance here as a botanist cursed with lycanthropy, but the same cannot be said for the whole cast. I found Warner Oland's acting ability to be particularly suspect, as the villain of the story. The sets are fairly well designed and mostly believable, and the directing is competent enough. The score has it's moments, although it is a little intrusive at times.
On the whole, the movie is well written and well acted, although admittedly there are huge sections which are just plain dull, and the werewolf here isn't particularly horrific. The only truly memorable sequence is the initial transformation. Already interesting interpretations are being made of the Werewolf myth -- here they say that a man will become a wolf "between the hours of nine and ten at the full of the moon", thereby introducing the idea that wolves only change at the full moon.
Although the movie was a fair commercial success, it just didn't scream of a franchise. But six years later, that "Wolf Man" project that Universal had been interested in would eventually come into being, and the rest is history ...
A year after The Wolf Man became a huge success, Lon Chaney Jr played
the part of Frankenstein in the latest sequel "Ghost of Frankenstein".
He was excellent in the role, and from that you can clearly see where
the inspiration came from to combine the two strands and have these
characters meet each other. Incidentally, Chaney also played a vampire
later that year in "Son of Dracula", even though he was completely
unsuited to the part, but that makes him the only actor to play all
three of Universal's main monsters. Oh, and he also played the Mummy in
"The Mummy's Tomb".
Anyway, I digress ... here we have Curt Siodmak, writer of The Wolf Man, returning again as screenwriter. All of the ingredients are there for a great sequel. It opens in Larry Talbot's tomb, with two graverobbers breaking in and disturbing his resting place. The moonlight comes through the window and falls on Larry's corpse, waking him from his slumber as the wolf man. He then gets taken to a hospital where he is deemed insane due to his insistence that he's a werewolf, but promptly escapes in search of the gypsy woman from the original film. She takes him to Frankenstein's town in search of his scientific expertise, and there he encounters Frankenstein's monster encased in ice ... my memory is a little hazy, but wasn't he consumed in fire at the end of the last movie? Ah, well.
It should really have been called "The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein", because Frankenstein here is only a fairly minor character in the story. Lon Chaney Jr delivers another great performance, at least as good as that in the first film if not better. Of course, he does only have to have one mood to convey here -- desperation. Bela Lugosi, much as I love him, is a terrible Frankenstein. He's the wrong size and shape, and he clearly has no respect for the role. Thank god he doesn't appear for that long. Although having said that, it does kind of make sense that he plays the monster, as the brain of his Igor character was placed in Frankenstein's head at the end of the previous movie. Not that they have much continuity other than that.
The script certainly has it's moments, and the atmosphere of the two worlds of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein blend together fairly well, but on the whole this film just doesn't have enough interesting ideas and far too many dull moments. The set pieces are decent enough, but certainly not as striking as those in the earlier Frankenstein movies. Also, there's a fair bit of decidedly wooden acting from certain cast members, but that's to be expected from most of Universal's horror films.
This sequel is entertaining enough, but it's not half as good as it could have been. It's worth watching if you liked the original.
So here it is, the movie that sparked Hollywood's interest in
werewolves throughout the 1940's -- an interest that has been revived
again and again throughout the decades. But has it stood the test of
time, compared to other classics of it's genre? Well, the first
impression you get is that it's not exactly subtle ... Talbot arrives
back in Wales and has hardly begun to explore the town before the
locals are bombarding him with werewolf folklore and selling him a
silver walking stick with a wolf's head and a pentagram on it. This
was, of course, necessary though as the cinema audience may not be
aware of the myth surrounding the idea of a man who can transform into
a wolf. He is then bitten by a wolf and begins to transform, of course
at first he doesn't believe it's happening, but slowly he becomes
convinced. And exactly the same thing has been happening in werewolf
movies ever since -- "No, I can't be ... it's not possible ... alright,
maybe it is ... okay, so I'm a werewolf."
All around the performances are great -- Claude Rains as Talbot's father is excellent, the supporting cast are convincing, Bela Lugosi shines in his brief cameo, and above all Chaney himself has some memorably, emotionally-loaded scenes. The set pieces look fantastic, especially those misty forest scenes which have gone down in horror history. The thing that makes this a superior werewolf to anything that came before, and much of what came after for the next forty years, is not the makeup but Chaney's own animalistic performance.
In my opinion, this movie is at least on the same level as Universal's previous adaptations of Dracula and Frankenstein, and this is especially impressive considering this is the only one not based on a previous work of literature. We have Curt Siodmak to thank for the story, who wrote a brilliant original screenplay with good dialogue and sympathetic characters.
This is a movie that fans of the genre will come back to time and time again, regardless of it's age. The original and definitely among the best, "The Wolf Man" still stands proud.
It could be argued that American International Pictures revived the
werewolf in the late 50's with "I Was A Teenage Werewolf". It was
released at a time when television was becoming common in the home,
which meant that fewer people went out to the movie theatres. Those
that did were largely of a teenage audience, something that AIP clearly
understood, and the success of their movie ensured a revival of the
In this clever, self-referential sequel (of sorts), American International Studios are closing down production of horror movies in order to make more musicals, which sounds fairly true to life in what may have been happening in some studios at the time. Anyway, this means that famed makeup artist Pete Dumond, possibly based on Jack Pierce, will be out of a job because he specialises only in monsters. He isn't too happy about all this, so he decides to take revenge on the new owners of the studio by turning his "Teenage Werewolf" and "Teenage Frankenstein" actors into real monsters using a mind control makeup paste thingy. It all takes place during the filming of a "Teenage Werewolf meets the Teenage Frankenstein" movie.
This is a pretty neat idea, and the script explores it very well. There's some great cheesy dialogue, a wonderful lead performance from Robert H. Harris as the makeup artist, and from Paul Brinegar as his nervous assistant. The two 'teenage' stars, who were actually in their early twenties when this film was made, play their roles with that all-American wide-eyed innocence that actually works pretty well in parts such as this.
AIP were famed for producing their horror movies on low budgets, often less than a hundred thousand while at the time major studios generally set their budgets in the millions. This movie doesn't really look that cheap, the sets look perfectly fine especially the final set in the makeup artist's house where the big finale takes place. This also features a dramatic shift into color so that you can appreciate his mask collection even more, which is pretty neat.
"How To Make A Monster" is a very entertaining film, which I'd recommend to anyone who likes these cheesy old horror movies. You won't be disappointed.
Mystery ... intrigue ... actresses sounding like they're having an
orgasm while being attacked by a monster ... this was what good
film-making was all about in the fifties and sixties. Lycanthropus has
all of this and more.
After murders begin to occur at a reformatory school, the students and indeed some of the teachers begin to suspect (rather randomly) that a werewolf is responsible. It quickly becomes a mystery to discover who the werewolf is, with several red herrings thrown in before the real killer is revealed to the audience.
This movie is notable as being probably the first Italian werewolf movie ever made. It was released as "Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory" in the US with the usual crappy dubbing, which is always good. The over-acting on screen coupled with the vocal over-acting will mean plenty of entertainment for fans of those awful old B-movies. However, aside from a couple of key scenes, it's not quite bad enough to be good. The guy who plays the creepy janitor reminded me a lot of Peter Lorre, so his performance was quite enjoyable, but basically there's not enough content here to fill the entire ninety minutes. There are large segments which are just plain dull.
It's pretty much an average B-movie, good for collectors and genre fans.
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