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Dracula has dynamite, and the Wolf Man has nards ...
5 September 2005
Aah, they don't make 'em like this anymore ...

If you're a fan of movies like "The Goonies" then this will probably sound familiar, even if you haven't seen it. A group of outcast kids get together and form a "Monster Squad", where they gather in a treehouse, talk about monsters, and generally get up to no good. So when Dracula shows up in town with a host of supernatural nasties including Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man, they are of course the ones who are best suited to battling these forces of evil and sending them back to where they belong.

This is one of those movies that was made about kids, for kids, but which isn't really suitable for kids. It's basically a bunch of little kids running around swearing and making jokes about farting (not that there's anything wrong with that), and it's just begging for cult status. The silliness of the humour offsets the inherent silliness of the storyline, which doesn't even try to make sense. The script is fairly strong, having been co-written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Last Action Hero) who at one point was the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood, and with Stan Winston doing the special effects, where can you go wrong?

"The Monster Squad" doesn't try to be anything other than a whole lotta fun, and it succeeds in that. It's short, sweet and ultimately entertaining -- it'll appeal to the twelve-year-old monster hunter in all of us.
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Gilliam does Hollywood ...
5 September 2005
Being a fan of both good old-fashioned fantasy movies and of director Terry Gilliam, I was really looking forward to this one. I was slightly put off when I heard Gilliam's complaints about the constant interference of the Brothers Weinstein, but the director does have a history of being dissatisfied with the production of projects which actually turn out pretty good in the end, so my hopes were still pretty high.

Rather than being a historical biography of the famous authors, this is a fantastic make-believe story of the possible inspirations behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm. The brothers travel around Europe working as con artists, fooling simple peasants into believing they are witch-hunters and monster slayers. However, when they are captured by a French general and sent to investigate a town which is believed to have been targeted by similar con-men, they discover that there may be some truth behind the fairy tales. The very woods surrounding the town seem to be alive, a big, bad wolf stalks through the darkness and an evil power seems to emanate from a mysterious ancient tower ...

So, Gilliam tries his hand at doing a commercial summer blockbuster. And the results are, well, interesting. Primarily he shows that he can produce some great action sequences, and there are some really great visual ideas here, many of which I'll admit are entirely thanks to top-notch CGI work. These are the moments when the director's creative magic appears to shine through, and there's enough of them to make this movie worth watching. Overall it does feel strangely derivative for a Gilliam movie, but I suppose that's to be expected when he sacrifices creative control to the studio. In the past I've heard that Gilliam simply sees himself as a "hired hand" on such projects.

However, where it fails is in the mixture of action and drama, in repeatedly placing it's characters in peril whilst also making us care about them. Unfortunately this has been a problem in a lot of these big-budget fantasy/action movies lately, including last years equivalent -- "Van Helsing". The other movie with which this shares a lot in common is Tim Burton's Gothic horror "Sleepy Hollow", which was far superior to either. The main problem with the "Brothers Grimm" is that there's little to no character development in the first hour of the movie, and then almost all of the conflict between the characters is suddenly introduced in one scene. This is what we call bad pacing. And the way the characters are written seems somewhat inconsistent (although both Damon and Ledger manage to turn in decent performances all the same), and we never really get a "feel" for their personalities.

For your average light-hearted Hollywood fantasy, this is perfectly fine. But from a director with a history of making fascinating, important works of surreal art, this is somewhat short of what you'd expect.
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Blood of the Werewolf (2001 Video)
For fans of amateur movies only ...
21 August 2005
It's like this ... you put in the DVD and the most professional-looking thing you see over the next ninety minutes is the logo of the distribution company. And at this point, you know you've just been jerked around.

People are generally trusting enough to assume that if something has been put on DVD, it's going to be of a certain level -- at least financially if not creatively. But sadly this isn't the case. Distribution companies are perfectly happy to throw together DVDs of amateur movies and ship them right out into the stores to await the unsuspecting buyer who is drawn in by the well-designed DVD cover. The weight behind this particular project is most likely independent horror movie pioneer Kevin J Lindenmuth, whose name may be known amongst genre fans since he's responsible for various other low-budget werewolf movies -- "Rage of the Werewolf", "Werewolf Tales" and so on.

"Blood of the Werewolf" is made up of three short independent werewolf stories with no real connection other than the fact that they deal with hereditary shapeshifters. The first segment, "Blood Reunion", pretty much sets the tone for the whole thing ... a man returns to his home town to look up a girl who had a crush on, only to find that her domineering grandmother refuses to let her have relationships with men, and for reasons which are somehow related to a dark family secret. This instalment is poorly directed, poorly directed, and basically nothing superior to what you could throw together yourself with a few friends and a home video camera.

The second story, "Old Blood", is probably the strongest out of the three and is directed by Lindenmuth himself. It tells the story of a lesbian couple, one of whom is a shapeshifter and the other wishes to be given this power. Her wish is granted, but she doesn't become the creature that she envisioned. This short movie shows that Lindemuth has more talent and experience than the other filmmakers who worked on this project, but still not enough to raise it above the level of an amateur movie.

And finally we have "Manbeast", in which some army guy runs through the woods while being chased by two other fellas. They wish to kill him as he has been bitten by the beast and is believed to be dangerous, but all might not be as it seems. This one has an interesting concept, but it's stretched out to be far too long, and if you don't guess what the "twist" is in the first ten minutes then you probably ain't too bright. This pretty much sums up the problem with this whole DVD ... a few good ideas just aren't enough to justify spending money on something like this. After all, would you pay for a picture you could have painted yourself?
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Great documentary on the "Wolf Man" movies
16 August 2005
Ever wondered how long it took to apply Lon Chaney Jr's "Wolf Man" makeup? Or what metaphor Curt Siodmak had in mind while writing the screenplay? How about the original premise for the unproduced 1930's "Wolf Man" project that was to star Boris Karloff? This wonderful documentary, available on the classic Universal horror DVD sets, answers all of these questions and more. It delves into the various areas of the original movie, including the writing of the screenplay, the evolution of the project at the studio, the classic soundtrack and Jack Pierce's werewolf makeup. It then proceeds to go through the other Wolf Man projects that the studio put out, from "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" right up to "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein", also referencing the other Universal movies that strongly inspired and influenced it's production.

Our host is John Landis (writer/director of An American Werewolf in London, duh) and interviewees include Rick Baker and Curt Siodmak. All of those featured revere the movie as a classic of the horror genre, and it all seems very well researched. We are told the back stories of Lon Chaney Jr, Jack Pierce and Curt Siodmak, and all of this leads to a deeper understanding of the "Wolf Man" movies -- where they came from and what they mean. The parallels between the mythological horror of this movie and the real-life horror of Nazism never even occurred to me before Siodmak himself points it out in this documentary.

There are some documentaries that focus on werewolves which are poorly researched and executed, simply cashing in on the fascination that people have with this mythology. However, "Monster by Moonlight" is not one of them. It is a fascinating piece of work if you're even in the least bit interested in the creation and influence Universal's "Wolf Man" saga. Any serious fan of werewolf movies should definitely check this out.
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She-Wolf of London (1990–1991)
It started well ...
16 August 2005
An American student named Randi Wallace travels to England in order to study mythology under British professor Doctor Ian Matheson. Whilst ghost-hunting out on the moors, she is attacked and bitten by a savage animal. At the next full moon she turns into a werewolf, and manages to convince her new professor of her condition. Together the two of them begin to investigate various supernatural occurrences, in order to explore mythology and attempt to find a cure for Randi's curse ...

As you can see, thankfully this series shares very little in common with the dull 1940's movie She-Wolf of London from which it takes it's name. It actually seems much more inspired by John Landis' classic 1981 horror movie An American Werewolf in London, not only with it's very similar storyline but also with it's darkly humorous approach to the standard supernatural horror formula. It certainly showed great promise in some areas, but unfortunately the English financial backers for the show dropped out after four months due to some poorly-written episodes. The creators were brave enough to move the show over to Los Angeles for six more episodes and retitle it "Love and Curses", but after this the series was soon cancelled altogether.

Considering the series is titled "She-Wolf of London", few of the episodes are actually focused on lycanthropy, and some don't feature the werewolf at all. Mostly Randi and Ian just investigate various supernatural occurrences, such as ghosts and zombies and nymphomaniac sex demons ... Randi is, however, constantly on the look-out for a cure to her condition, even in the most unlikely places. In the "London" episodes, Ian's extended family provide both comic relief and serve as key characters on occasion, and the "will they, won't they" relationship between teacher and student is prominent all the time, sometimes charming and sometimes irritating. Some have argued that "She-Wolf" was heavily influenced by "The Incredible Hulk" television series, but to me it seems more likely that it was simply following after Frank Lupo's Werewolf, which was certainly influenced by that show.

Kate Hodge gives a peculiar, quirky performance as Randi, which can become a little annoying at times but for the most part she's good. She seems more interested in the comic aspects of the series rather than the horror or the drama elements. Neil Dickson, meanwhile, is a superb actor who you may or may not remember for his excellent portrayal of every schoolboy's favourite World War One pilot in Biggles : Adventures in Time. Okay, so you probably won't. But anyway, he's perfectly cast as the stuffy, charming professor (a kind of proto-"Giles" character, if you will -- this series seems a strong predecessor for "Buffy"), and as long as the script is good he is a reliable performer.

The series isn't nearly as good as it could have been, but aside from certain episodes it's certainly not as bad as some would have you believe. The redeeming quality of the series is it's odd and original mix of creepiness and corny humour. Overall it was a promising blend of horror and comedy, with some truly excellent episodes, and it's a great shame what ultimately became of it.
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Big Wolf on Campus (1999–2002)
Decent teen comedy show ...
16 August 2005
After working on "Sweet Valley High" and "Breaker High", I suppose "Werewolf High" seemed like the next logical step for writers Peter Knight and Chris Briggs ...

Tommy Dawkins (Brandon Quinn) is your typical high school jock -- popular, dumb and care-free ... that is, until he is out camping one night and is bitten by a werewolf. Thanks to his infliction he is forced to befriend nerdy goth outcast Merton J Dingle (Danny Smith), and together they work to conceal his lycanthropy and battle whatever evil forces set sights on the town of Pleasantville. As awkward as teenage years always are, Tommy finds that it is even more so when you're a werewolf -- especially since he wolfs out every time he gets close to Stacey Hanson (Rachelle Lefevre), the girl of his dreams. Later, Stacey is transfered to another school and Tommy sets his sights on the new girl, kick-boxing Buffy-wannabe Lori Baxter (Aimée Castle).

I caught a couple of episodes of this series when it was on, and it seemed like a pretty silly show that was aimed primarily at the teenybopper crowd. I was attracted to it at the time because obviously it featured werewolves and also it had strong similarities to Buffy, which I enjoyed. In the end I was put off by the silly WWF-style fight scenes, and the slapstick humour didn't really appeal to me all that much. However, when I watched the episodes back-to-back recently I began to really enjoy it. Many of the jokes are silly, but I'll admit it does manage to make me chuckle quite frequently. The constant movie references score particularly highly with me. The characters themselves are quite amusing ... Tommy really is an idiot, and Danny Smith who plays Merton J Dingle has become a kind of cult icon. Together the two of them form an interesting comic team.

It turns out there actually is an awful lot to enjoy here, especially if you happen to catch the series on a good day. At it's worst the show is like a kid's version of Buffy without the same level of atmosphere or wit (although it does seem to be conscious of this, throwing in direct references to the show). One problem is that the comic actors and guest stars often aren't particularly restrained, they're out there in full-on "I will make you laugh" mode which can come off more annoying than amusing. But hell, there are certainly worse things you could be watching.

If you're looking for an interesting, dark and brilliant werewolf series, check out Frank Lupo's Werewolf. But if you're just after an entertaining, amusing and diverting version of "Teen Wolf", then this is the best there is.
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Wolf Lake (2001–2002)
Very interesting werewolf show ...
16 August 2005
"The moon ... is it my imagination, or is it always full around here?"

Exactly how many countless "X-Files" episodes were set in a "small Pacific Northwestern town"? And wasn't it also the setting for David Lynch's "Twin Peaks"? I don't know what it is about that area of the US which makes it the perfect setting for a small town supernatural melodrama such as "Wolf Lake", but it definitely works.

The show follows Seattle detective John Kanin (Lou Diamond Phillips), who travels to Wolf Lake in search of his kidnapped girlfriend Ruby Cates (Mia Kirshner). He discovers that Ruby's parents are in fact in charge of the town, with the town mayor Willard Cates (Bruce McGill) seeming to have complete power along with his wife Vivian (Sharon Lawrence). They also have a rebellious son named Luke (Paul Wasilewski). The other important figure in the town is the Sheriff, Matthew Donner (Tim Matheson), whose daughter Sophia (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the object of Luke's affections. Wolf Lake is populated by other colourful characters, such as the mysterious Native American teacher Sherman Blackstone (Graham Greene), the villainous Tyler Creed (Scott Bairstow) and world-weary bar singer Miranda Devereaux (Kellie Waymire).

It does sound a lot like "Twin Peaks", doesn't it? Of course there was no way it was ever going to match up to the inspired weirdness of David Lynch's vision, arguably one of the best things ever to be shown on television -- but it's still very good. All of the supernatural events that take place in Wolf Lake can be explained by the fact that half of the townspeople are in fact part of a pack of werewolves who are battling for their own survival. They are ruled over by the town mayor Willard Cates, but there is a power struggle going on between Sheriff Donner, who is uncomfortable with his werewolf heritage and chooses not to transform, and Tyler Creed, who believes that their kind are superior to humans and need not be afraid of what they are. The actors playing these vital roles are invariably reliable, along with the rest of what is really a very strong ensemble cast.

Unfortunately, the series only ran for nine episodes and ended on a completely unresolved note, apparently the victim of unsatisfactory ratings. But well it lasts, what we have here is a finely crafted supernatural melodrama that ought to satisfy both "X-files" fans and werewolf fanatics. This is a fine example of cult television that was sadly axed before it's time, but still certainly worth checking out if you can get hold of a copy.
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A great way to close the Universal horror series
16 August 2005
It's interesting that Lou Costello initially was reluctant to do this movie, since it became probably the most popular and successful instalment in the Abbott & Costello catalogue. It was so popular, in fact, that many of the Abbott & Costello movies to follow were along similar lines -- they would go on to meet The Mummy, The Invisible Man and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. You can sort of see where he was coming from ... horror/comedy isn't exactly a highly respected genre, although there have been several classics in it since (Young Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London, etc).

The story starts when a couple of crates arrive in the US, to an office manned by Chick Young (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur Grey (Lou Costello). The two of them are asked to the two crates to the their destination, a house of horrors. What they don't realise is that one crate contains Dracula's coffin and the other, the Frankenstein monster. Dracula awakens and escapes with the monster, leaving the two freight handlers to deal with the insurance company over the missing goods. But it turns out they have bigger worries -- Dracula has chosen Wilbur's brain to transplant into the Frankenstein monster in order to revive him ...

Since the Universal horror franchise had stopped taking itself seriously several years previously, it made sense that the final movie should just go the whole hog and be a comedy. As a comic team Abbott and Costello were never of the same stature of, say, "Laurel and Hardy" or "The Marx Brothers", but they do have their moments -- and a lot of them are in this movie. Abbott of course plays the straight man to Costello's blundering comedian, and it works very well with this script. They are backed up by arguably the strongest cast out of any of the Universal horror movies, with Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange and Lon Chaney Jr in their finest roles. All of the monsters are played perfectly straight, with the comedy coming from Abbott and Costello themselves.

"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" is silly and zany and very, very funny. Whether or not it can be classed as part of the Universal horror series, it is as entertaining as any of them and absolutely essential viewing.
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Teen Wolf Too (1987)
16 August 2005
It's a sad truth that there are a lot of bad werewolf movies out there. But there are a few that really stand out as being among the worst of the worst ... and "Teen Wolf Too" is undoubtedly one of them.

It follows pretty much the same plot as the first movie, which was itself a recycled formula. Todd Howard (cousin of Scott from the first movie), a hard-working science student, arrives in college wanting to work towards becoming a vet. But there's one snag -- he's there under a sports scholarship, and unless he performs well in the boxing tournament his place in the college is at stake. Thankfully, he finds himself succumbing to his cousin's lycanthropic curse and becomes a popular and agile werewolf. But in the process he, of course, forgets who his real friends are.

There are numerous recurring characters from the first movie, some of whom have inexplicably moved to this college. There are Scott's high school chums, Chubby and Stiles -- Stiles is this time played by Stuart Fratkin, who also appeared in an episode of the TV show "Werewolf" the same year ("A Material Girl"). Scott's dad also makes a few appearances, as well as the Scott's coach, who is also played by a different actor this time. But of course, none of this matters ... without Michael J Fox, this movie was pretty much doomed from the start. He was pretty much the only thing that saved "Teen Wolf" from being a flop.

The dialogue is unbearable, the directing is clumsy, and the acting in places is downright appalling. Since this is basically a remake of the first movie, there's absolutely no reason to watch it. Just watch the original, and forget about this one altogether. There's hardly anything good to say about it at all. And believe it or not, it still made money. In fact it's very surprising that we didn't see a "Teen Wolf Three" the next year. Thank heavens for small blessings ...
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Teen Wolf (1985)
Entertaining teen comedy ...
16 August 2005
Let's face it, from his "Back to the Future" years, this is probably the other Michael J. Fox movie that people most remember. It was teen fodder, really -- made hip by the soundtrack, the actors, and plenty of dodgy in-jokes. Not to mention the "van surfing" scenes, which got the filmmakers into a lot of trouble with concerned parents who were worried that their idiot kids might try to imitate it.

In "Teen Wolf", Michael J Fox play an unhappy high school kid who isn't popular and plays on a terrible basketball team (already stretching believability there) who finds himself going through some rather odd changes. As it turns out, he has inherited the werewolf genes from his father and is becoming, yup, a TEEN WOLF! He is unable to hide this from his high school friends, and ends up changing in the middle of a basketball game. However, in wolf form he is a star at basketball, as well as at pretty much everything else he tries. Suddenly he is popular and well-known, but does it all come at a price? From a moral point of view, it's all very American. There's not much to separate the good guys from the bad, being self-centred isn't necessarily a bad thing, and winning actually IS everything. It separates itself from most previous werewolf movies simply because it's so lighthearted. There had been other werewolf movies that were aimed at the teen audience -- 1957's "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" being one that shares a lot in common with "Teen Wolf", the main difference being that it was primarily a horror rather than a comedy.

So how old was Michael J Fox when he played the "Teen Wolf"? Well, he was 24 of course. Nevertheless he does a good job, being the reliable actor that he is, but of course he can never really escape from his Marty McFly persona. The supporting cast are all decent, managing not to embarrass themselves despite the inherent silliness of the movie. The fact is, this could have been a lot worse -- and it surely would have been if it wasn't for the charisma of it's lead actor. But ultimately it was made as light-hearted entertainment for teenagers with nothing better to do, and that's exactly what it is.

You might also want to know that in the very last shot of this movie (right before the cheesy freeze frame), one of the extras is doing something very naughty. See if you can spot it. Go on.
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16 August 2005
Back in 1983, Michael Jackson's popularity was such that if he wanted to make a $1 million horror music video with the "American Werewolf" team and featuring the voice of Vincent Price, then that was exactly what he was going to do. And never has a music video created such a sensation, before or since ... when it was released on VHS, this 13-minute short became the world's largest selling musical of all time. But odds are you already know all about it, as whenever there's a list of the greatest music videos of all time, this one almost invariably takes the top spot.

It begins with Michael Jackson walking down a dark street with his date after their car has broken down. He explains to her that he's "not like other men" (damn right), and then the full moon appears from behind the clouds. His girlfriend stands there and screams, and screams, and then screams some more, during a lavish transformation sequence as Michael Jackson becomes a werewolf. He chases her through the forest, catches her and we ... cut to a movie theatre. Ah, all of this is just occurring in a horror movie that Michael Jackson and his date are watching.

So, we're five minutes in and still no sign of the song "Thriller". Extravagant, much? Anyway, you must know how it goes from here ... dancing, singing ... graveyard ... Vincent Price ... zombies ... "What's the Problem?" ... then end credits. End credits for a friggin' music video. "Thriller" isn't one of Michael Jackon's most memorable songs, but even by today's standards it sure is a bitch of a visual experience. If you still haven't seen it in it's entirety, then you definitely should someday soon.
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Great piece of anime.
16 August 2005
Vampire Hunter D is a "Dhampir" ("Dunpeal" in the English version), a half-human, half-vampire, who works as a bounty hunter, slaughtering the last remaining vampires. He is hired by a rich man to rescue his daughter, who has been kidnapped by a noble vampire. While hunting for this girl, he also must compete with another group of bounty hunters, siblings who travel around in a massive vampire-slaying truck, who will do anything to ensure that they take the prize. As he closes in on his prey, D begins to suspect that the girl may not have been kidnapped against her will ...

I know what you're thinking ... sounds a bit like "Blade", doesn't it? However, while it's true that Marvel first published the "Blade, Vampire Hunter" comic in 1973, and this was clearly an influence on this character, Vampire Hunter D first made it to the big screen in 1985 -- over ten years before it's predecessor got the Hollywood / Wesley Snipes treatment. And besides, this is actually a lot better.

Great visuals, lots of blood, plenty of weirdness ... what more do you want in an anime? The first thing you'll notice is how great this movie looks. Compare this with the original, and it just goes to show how new technology is best put to use in animation. There are times when you want to pause the movie simply to marvel at how great a particular frame looks. And everything, the characters, the creatures, and the world itself, is brilliantly designed. This is the main advantage of animation, that you can design pretty much anything and have it realised without concern for cost. But this on it's own does not make a good film, of course ... it's helped along by an engaging storyline and interesting characters, resulting in an eastern Gothic masterpiece. The ending inparticular is notable for an anime since it focuses strongly on the characters rather than on some crazy monster design, which is the usual approach.

There are those who would argue that this is among the greatest anime movies of all time, and it's certainly one of the very best that I've seen. It surpasses the decent 1985 original by far.
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Not much to see here ...
16 August 2005
Having seemingly ended the 'Wolf Man' franchise with the previous year's heavily flawed "House of Dracula", Universal Studios set their sights on a different kind of werewolf altogether ...

A series of horrible murders have been occurring in London, and many suspect a 'wolf woman' is to blame. Phyllis Allenby, having heard about an ancient family curse of hers, suspects that she might be responsible for the attacks after she wakes up one morning with blood on her hands. Slowly she begins to go insane as she attempts to hide her secret from those around her, confiding only in her cold, distant step-mother.

There's really not much to say about this movie. It's dull, predictable, poorly written, poorly acted, poorly directed, and it's nothing like the other Universal horror movies. But to be honest, this is really more of a drama than a horror movie, and shouldn't really be connected at all with the "Wolf Man" series. It stars a young June Lockhart, who went on to fame playing Mrs Robinson in the sci-fi TV series "Lost in Space". For many people this alone may be a reason to watch and enjoy it, but along with the rest of the cast Lockhart unfortunately doesn't show a whole lot of spark in this particular outing.

On the other hand, the movie is mercifully short. But when you're fifty minutes into the movie, just ten minutes to go, and you realise that hardly anything has actually happened, then you'd be right to be a bit concerned. There is a twist at the end, that you'll probably see coming, but it's nothing that you couldn't see done much, much better in a Hitchcock movie. Some amusement can come from the dialogue ("She's done me in!"), but aside from that it's dull, dull, dull. However, it's interesting that Universal chose to produce a 'serious' movie about werewolves once it's 'Wolf Man' franchise had almost come to an end (only "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" followed). It probably could have worked, but it didn't. And if you don't see this one, you won't miss much.
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This is "the werewolf vs the vampire woman" # 2 ...
16 August 2005
Ah, the first Daninsky movie of the eighties ... here I refer to Midnight Video's version entitled "Night of the Werewolf", which is pretty good quality but has annoying non-removable subtitles.

When a movie opens with a bunch of satanists being sentenced to gruesome deaths including buried alive, tortured, hanged, beheaded, and so forth ... you know you must be in for good, clean B-movie horror. The chief witch in question of course swears a terrible revenge (haven't we already been here in Molina's "Curse of the Devil"?), and among the condemned is the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky himself, sporting a rather stylish beard. He gets off comparatively lightly, being made to wear an iron mask and having a silver dagger driven through his heart. Centuries later, an evil witch finds a medallion in order to resurrect the ancient chief witch, and as fate would have it a couple of grave-robbers remove the dagger of Daninsky's heart at exactly the same moment. Time for a "Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman" rematch ...

Jacinto Molina opted to direct this one himself, as well as the two other Daninsky movies made in the eighties. This means he has more control over the project than ever before, and contrary to what some say, I think he's actually a very good director. Probably the best ever to direct a Daninsky movie, anyway, and obviously he can capture his own artistic vision like nobody else could. This is probably why it feels more conventional and competent than most movies in the series. The sets are great, the special effects are good for it's time and the whole movie has a fantastic atmosphere to it. There is more gratuitous nudity and gore than in most Daninsky movies, and I'm surprised it hasn't been a bigger hit with fans of the genre. There are certainly enough werewolves, witches, vampires, zombies and horrible sacrifices to keep them entertained! Maybe I'm going overboard with the praise, but if you've seen the earlier Daninsky movies, you'll know that in most ways this is pretty damn good comparatively. The dubbing is actually pretty good (although dubbing is always a crime, of course), and they've tried to make the dialogue as hip as possible. Man, I just love the eighties mentality. The soundtrack is also very cool. Okay, okay, so the storyline is pretty much the same predictable stuff all over again. And once again it has no real consistency with the previous movies. But that's why we love it! Obviously it's not an easy movie to watch, it's arguably slow and there's some particularly dark stuff going on even for a Daninsky movie. Daninsky himself is something of an anti-hero, saving maidens in distress but also allowing his wolf side to run around slaughtering innocents. The vampires are very creepy and unearthly, as Molina has always been good at knowing how to portray them.

"El Retorno del Hombre-Lobo", "The Craving", "Night of the Werewolf" ... call it what you like, this is my favourite Daninsky movie yet. It's "The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman" as it should have been, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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One of the good Daninsky movies ...
16 August 2005
On the surface, this movie uses the same basic plot as several other of Jacinto Molina's movies ... he is cursed with lycanthropy and must find a woman who loves him enough to kill him and end the curse. However, it is the setting and the back story which makes "Curse of the Devil" stand out.

Four hundred years ago, an ancestor of Daninsky executed a bunch of satanic witches who swore a rather drawn-out and unfrightening curse upon him. One day, Waldemar is out hunting a wolf and is shocked and saddened when he shoots it and discovers that it is a man. Apparently he didn't know he was hunting a werewolf (why was he using silver bullets then?), and he also didn't know that the person he killed was a descendant of the previously mentioned witches. As a result of this, the witches finally take their revenge upon him, sending one of their minions to curse him on the night of the Walpurgis ...

This yet another stand-alone movie which doesn't appear to fit in with the rest of the Waldemar Daninsky saga. However, it can be thought of as an improved remake of his first movie "Mark of the Wolfman", and it kind of works as a historical prequel to the other movies as well. It's certainly one of the more entertaining Daninsky movies ... the opening sequence is one of the funniest things I've ever seen (unintentionally, of course), but mostly due to the awful dubbing rather than anything else. Yes, awful dubbing. Awful, awful. Bleurgh. In fact, all pretty much all the problems here seem to be caused with the dubbing. I believe that in it's original language this may in fact be (shock horror) a GOOD horror film. Often these movies can feel like a bit of a chore to watch, but not this one! The period costumes and settings are realistic and cool. There's a very nice castle, for all you archaeologists out there. Most of the women once again wear those flowing sheer nightgowns which Jacinto Molina seems to love so much ... and they, of course, throw themselves at Waldemar screaming "deflower me! deflower me!" The acting seems decent all round, but you can't really tell due to the terrible, terrible dubbing. Director Carlos Aured worked with Molina on several movies, but this was the only Waldemar Daninsky movie he directed -- he did later do some uncredited work on Alice Cooper's "Leviatán". His directing is pretty good for a Daninsky movie, although the editing and placement of the scenes is a little off sometimes.

"Curse of the Devil" is one of the better Daninsky movies of the seventies, and certainly among the more entertaining. And it has a great ending, too.
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Wow, that was bad ...
16 August 2005
Seriously, I know the B-movie world is a strange place ... but have you honestly ever heard anything quite so preposterous and pointless? Here, filmmaker Jerry Warren (who later made Frankenstein Island) threw together two Mexican horror movies, "La Casa Del Terror" and "La Momia Azteca". No, really. He took two movies, and edited them together into one. He recorded his own scenes in order to combine them in some plot about a woman leading a team of archaeologists to find two ancient and evil mummies, one of whom is a mummified werewolf ... and it all makes absolutely no sense.

A bunch of scientists using mental regression hypnotise a woman and she describes a pyramid. When they take her to visit the pyramid, she has a flashback to a song-and-dance tribal ritual. And the ritual scene goes on. And it goes on. And it goes on. Just when you're beginning to wonder if Warren can't get more than THIS out of two whole movies, they finally venture inside the pyramid. And they venture. And they venture. Oh sweet Jesus, when is this movie going to start? Then they're attacked by stock footage of a mummy. Eek! And from here on, it only becomes even more of a big, stinking mess.

What is there to say about this movie? The script is unbearable. The acting is amateur (don't be surprised if you see them glancing right at the camera). The soundtrack is ludicrous and intrusive. While the production values of the original Mexican movies hold up, Warren's sets are far from convincing. The way the various scenes are edited together is often hilariously bad. There is no narrative flow whatsoever. Scenes drag on and on, while the viewer has no idea what's supposed to be happening. They say if something's worth doing it's worth doing well, but this movie was never worth doing. It's a bad idea, badly executed, and I feel sorry for the innocent cinema-goers back in 1964 who must have wondered what the hell they were being subjected to.

"Face of the Screaming Werewolf" stands among the worst movies ever made. If you want to see Lon Chaney's final big-screen performance as a werewolf, try and find the original "La Casa del Terror". And if you're looking for anything resembling quality, ignore this piece of trash. If you like bad movies, however, by all means check it out ... but keep your finger on the 'fast forward' button.
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Things take a bad turn for the count ...
16 August 2005
Okay -- the title "House of Frankenstein", was a reference to a line from the original Frankenstein movie. When they follow it up with a movie entitled "House of Dracula", which makes no real sense, you know that it's just beginning to turn into a franchise.

Without explanation, Dracula is back, and he's calling himself Baron Latos. He infiltrates the home of a Doctor Edelmann, with the claim that he is seeking a cure for his vampirism. Edelmann has a hunchback nurse who assists him (what is it with hunchback assistants in these movies?), but what Dracula is really interested in is his other, more beautiful assistant. At this point, Larry "Wolf Man" Talbot returns (again, no explanation given) and just happens to be seeking the same doctor for a cure to his lycanthropy. And then he just happens to fall into a cave in which plants can be grown to help him, which also just so happens to contain the Frankenstein monster. Dear God, when will it end ... sure, the other Universal monster sequels were silly, but this is just ridiculous.

First the good stuff. There are some great settings, and the vampire bat effects are slightly better than usual. Some of the other effects are pretty neat too. John Carradine isn't bad as Dracula once you get used to him, but still nothing like as brilliant as Lugosi was. In my opinion, Onslow Stevens plays a much better vampire in this movie, although he has exactly the opposite problem to Carradine -- all of the creepiness and none of the class. None of the performances are that great, but it's more due to the atrocious script than anything else -- the female parts are particularly badly written. But stupid as it is, it remains reasonably entertaining for the most part. The best thing about it is it's short length.

Now the bad stuff ... it's not creepy, it's poorly written and it doesn't work. I was hoping the three monsters would begin some kind of a supernatural struggle for power, but it doesn't happen. The focus is almost entirely on Dracula, who isn't particularly well portrayed. On the other hand, this is the only movie in which Dracula infects another man, but it is done via a blood transfusion rather than a bite as Universal were always uncomfortable with the possible homosexual subtext. Larry Talbot is decent as always as the Wolf Man, but he plays a comparatively small part. Once again the part of Frankenstein's monster is reduced to the anti-climatic closing moments. For God's sake, Glenn Strange was fantastic as the creature! Why not give him more screen time? It's unfortunate that the series had to end on this note (not counting the classic comedy "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein"). In the end it just fizzled in the sunlight and died, much like Dracula himself.
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Probably the silliest of the Universal horror movies ...
16 August 2005
Four Frankenstein movies, four Dracula movies, two Wolf Man movies, and still we wanted more. And, well, I guess it was about time they put all three monsters together in one movie.

It's all wonderfully silly ... an insane doctor called Gustav Niemann manages to escape from a lunatic asylum along with his hunchback assistant, and decides to continue the work of Frankenstein. By pure chance he happens to run across a travelling circus which happens to have the genuine skeleton of Count Dracula. It isn't long before he slaughters the circus folk and removes the stake from the vampire's heart, reviving him. He then makes his way to the castle of Frankenstein and in a glacial ice cavern he discovers both Frankenstein's monster and the Wolf Man frozen in ice. He thaws them and takes them back to his laboratory, promising new life for the monster and a cure for the Wolf Man. But a beautiful gypsy girl causes conflict between them ...

While the story for this one comes from Curt Siodmak, the team of director Erle C. Kenton and scriptwriter Edward T. Lowe Jr. created both the "House of Frankenstein" and the "House of Dracula" sequels. The only one of the monsters that's actually still being played by the same actor here is Lon Chaney Jr's Wolf Man. Boris Karloff appears, but not as the Frankenstein monster. Instead he plays Doctor Niemann (who amusingly gets called a 'would-be Frankenstein' in the first scene), while Glenn Strange plays the monster. But fear not -- both turn in excellent performances all the same, with Glenn Strange proving himself to be such a great choice for Frankenstein that he would return again in "House of Dracula" and "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein".

J. Carrol Naish is also noteworthy as Niemann's hunchback assistant. However, this was John Carradine's first appearance as Dracula, and he's barely even slightly creepy. He's not a patch on Bela Lugosi (although much better then some of the other actors who portrayed Dracula), and the "vampire bat" effects are as bad as ever, if not worse. Thankfully he only has a very small part anyway. And considering the movie is called "House of Frankenstein", Frankenstein doesn't have a very big part either, but what small screen time he has is particularly memorable -- the climax is one of the most thrilling out of any of the Universal monster movies. The Wolf Man is the more interesting and sympathetic character, so once again he has the most screen time.

This is an entertaining movie that throws in everything but the kitchen sink. Fans of the Universal monster movies will be suitably thrilled by it, regardless of how silly it all is.
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Chimera (I) (2003)
Entertaining and diverting short film
23 May 2005
Several soldiers are sent out to investigate loss of communication with a research outpost, in which the occupants seem to be being killed off one by one by an unseen force ...

First of all, it's worth mentioning that this movie is primarily filmed in the far, snowy reaches of Alaska. And with a location like that, half your work is already done. It doesn't matter how you film it -- it's going to look desolate and wonderful. For an independent filmmaker, it's important to find a great location like this as you can't exactly afford the most elaborate sets, and Martinez exploits this to it's full potential. Out in the snow the soldiers are hunted, stalked and slaughtered by an unseen white-haired beast, which cannot be stopped. And to top it all off, it's actually got a pretty good back-story to it.

Watching this movie you can be assured that you're not in the hands of amateurs, but of people who understand and enjoy what they are doing. The special effects obviously aren't great, but what they have is used very well. While they hardly show the monster, this means that it remains reasonably convincing, and the low-budget "gore" effects are a lot of fun as always. The cast do a pretty good job here ... the performances are mostly serious, although there is a bit of pretty dark comedy thrown in here and there, which makes the whole movie a lot more entertaining than it would be otherwise.

At 22-minutes, this is short independent film-making of a very high order. If the other instalments match up to this one, then that's definitely something for us all to look forward to.
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One of the more heavily flawed Daninsky movies
23 May 2005
"La Furia del Hombre Lobo" forms a completely stand-alone storyline which doesn't seem to fit in at all with the previous Waldemar Daninsky movies. Some have commented that this movie is supposed to take place before the events of "Werewolf Shadow", although it was released afterwards ... they may be right, I'm not sure. Anyway, in this movie Waldemar Daninsky is bitten by a yeti-like creature in Tibet (great dialogue here -- "It was a yeti. But that's impossible. I'm a scientist and these things don't exist. It was a hallucination. That's all.") and although marked with the sign of the pentagram, he is able to prevent the change into a werewolf until he discovers that his wife has been cheating on him. Changing into the beast one night, he kills both her and her lover before running out into a storm and being electrocuted. It's not long before he's resurrected by a dominatrix university professor who is conducting some kind of unfathomable experiments with mind control. He is taken to the underground cellar of a castle where the subjects of these experiments live like chained animals.

First of all -- Jacinto Molina, Paul Naschy, whatever you want to call him, he's a fine actor and cared passionately about his work. No matter how flawed these movies are, you can always rely on him for a decent performance. The rest of the cast seem good enough, but it's hard to tell when they have a half-assed voice-over dubbed over all their lines. And that was really the main problem for me ... many of the voice-over artists they used were just awful, awful, awful. Whenever I chuckled during the movie it was at the inept way that they delivered their lines (they seem to constantly refer to the hero as "Waldeman"). But unfortunately it's almost impossible to find subtitled copies of Naschy movies, although they're sometimes available in the original language without subtitles.

The directing of Jose Maria Zabalza seems sort of hit-and-miss ... there are some great visual ideas in some scenes, while others are badly constructed and poorly edited, particularly in the final scenes when it really counts. The reason for this, was that Zabalza was apparently drunk most of the time while on set. He allowed his fourteen year old nephew to rewrite Molina's dialogue, used extras without his permission, and spliced several shots from Molina's earlier movies. All of this pretty much ruined any chance this movie had of being one of Molina's best works, and it's no surprise that the two of them never worked together again.

But it's not all bad news, as there are some good ideas here. Some aspects of the storyline make an interesting psychological drama with the werewolf as a metaphor for jealousy and rage. The 'werewolf as a yeti' idea is one that returned in Molina's later work. Some pretty horrific and surreal stuff goes on down in the cellar, and there's also a very memorable sequence about half way through the film where Daninsky runs from house to house through a village, slaughtering or molesting innocents as he goes -- one scene is particularly intense, but it's actually lifted straight from Molina's first movie, "La Marca del Hombre-lobo" along with a few other shots. I actually found the movie on the whole to be very entertaining, although there are some problems with the Front Row Entertainment version, such as pretty obvious cuts (although some of it may simply be due to the director's lack of continuity). Gods knows what omissions there are -- I'll probably try to get my hands on the uncut version at some stage in the future.

This is a overall a decent piece of vintage Naschy which experienced fans might enjoy, but it could have been much better and so probably wouldn't make a great introduction.
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Edward D Wood Jr ... move over
23 May 2005
The US print of "Dracula vs Frankenstein" begins by introducing us to an alien species who intend to invade and dominate the human race. At a travelling circus, they encounter the real-life skeleton of a vampire count. Apparently all you need to do to revive this vampire is to remove a flimsy wooden stake from it's heart (I'm surprised it hadn't just fallen out already). The police detective quickly clocks on to what the aliens are trying to do, and launches an investigation. The aliens manage to resurrect Daninsky the werewolf, the mummy Tao-Tet and the monster created by Farank ... Frankstele ... oh, let's just call him Frankenstein. Anyway, the aliens begin to succumb to human emotions and Daninsky turns against them, and thankfully the monsters all turn out to be complete wusses and are easily defeated. Yay! And, of course, it's all rounded off with a nice moral to the story (that doesn't actually make a whole lot of sense in context), and a suitably apocalyptic ending.

Mini-skirts, dancing, cheesy music, flashing lights ... yes, this movie is a product of the swinging sixties alright. Although it was titled "Dracula vs Frankenstein" in the US, the vampire isn't Dracula and there's no sign of Victor Frankenstein -- and at no point do the two of them fight against each other. "The Werewolf vs the Mummy" might have been worked, but I would have gone with something like "The Werewolf vs the Monsters of Terror". Heh. Frankenstein's monster and Waldemar Daninsky are both played by Jacinto Molina, which is impressive but not as much as his multiple roles in the later movie "Howl of the Devil". The lead actor is the brilliant Michael Rennie who famously played Klaatu in "The Day the Earth Stood Still", although here looks like he's at death's door (and unfortunately, he was).

In the innocent, charming style of filmmakers such as Ed Wood, the plot here mixes horror and science fiction elements together in a way that makes absolutely no sense. The aliens are wonderfully B-movieish, with all the obligatory coloured lights and disembodied robotic voices present. In a way it's more conventional than most of the Daninsky movies, adhering to as many B-movie stereotypes as is humanly possible to cram into one film. In a sense, it's the ULTIMATE B-movie, so it should be very popular among that crowd -- it has everything they could ask for. The acting is pretty much what you'd expect and the dubbing is particularly good comparatively. The makeup for the four monsters isn't great, but certainly not the worst I've seen. The mummy inparticular has a great death scene ...

It's a very, very silly movie, but if you're a fan of bad B-movies, look no further. Aliens, vampires, zombies, werewolves ... how could they go wrong?
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The Birth of Daninsky ...
23 May 2005
So here it is, the movie that started it all. The first step in the unending saga of Waldemar Daninsky, the werewolf, that would launch Jacinto Molina's career of playing this character through the next four decades.

The English-dubbed "Frankenstein's Bloody Terror" print available from Horror Theater Video begins with an amusing explanation as to why it was given that title, even though Frankenstein's creature isn't featured. Basically the narrator tells us that Frankenstein becomes Wolfstein, or something. Anyway, it makes absolutely no sense ... the real truth is that the American studio was promised a Frankenstein movie and received this instead, but decided to release it under that title all the same. Heh. Anyway, the picture is quality is quite poor but at least it's a decent surviving print of this historical werewolf movie, and the dubbing is actually not bad.

Two gypsies take refuge in an abandoned castle, get drunk on some old wine that they find and ultimately end up doing a bit of good old-fashioned grave robbing, which includes removing a silver crucifix from the 'Wolfstein' tomb. Needless to say, they are quickly slaughtered. Kind-hearted nobleman Waldemar Daninsky joins the investigation, fascinated by the strange occurrences that surround the castle, and eventually encounters the beast responsible, who is stabbed with a silver dagger again but not before giving Waldemar a nasty bite. He tries to cure himself from his new infection, but ultimately puts the love of his life and everyone else in danger. His friend writes to a mysterious doctor who may be able to help him, but all is not as it seems ...

Yes, it's completely exploitative ... but hell, it's a lot of fun and there's kind of a well-meaning innocence to it in a way, just a bunch of Spanish folk having some fun with the classic Universal monsters that they love. You'll probably even get a few laughs from some of the cheesy horror moments. The women mostly just run around screaming "look at how exotic and busty I am!", while along with the men they endure gruesome deaths. Jacinto Molina, sporting a full bodybuilder physique, gives a decent first performance as this character (particularly during the werewolf scenes) though obviously not as good as many of his later ones. The directing isn't great, some of the lighting effects are pretty laughable, and the editing is rather sloppy -- but it does have an effective, creepy soundtrack unlike many of the later Daninsky movies.

Silly, creepy, nonsensical and fun. Along with every other Naschy movie, it's not for everyone, but if you do enjoy then you've got twelve more movies to check out. Which is nice.
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Classic, underrated werewolf movie.
23 May 2005
"Curse of the Werewolf" was Hammer Studios only feature-length werewolf film, although they did later make "Children of the Full Moon" in the 1980s, an hour-long episode of the 'Hammer House of Horror' TV series. It bears much comparison with the other classic werewolf movie of the pre-1980's, Universal's "The Wolf Man". It tends to be much less appreciated than it's younger cousin, although many regard as being a classic in it's own right.

One night in Spain, a poor beggar makes the mistake of offending a nobleman and is thrown into the dungeons for the rest of his life. While there he rapes a poor, mute servant girl who subsequently escapes into the woods. She is soon taken in by a kind couple, and when she dies giving birth to the beggar's child on Christmas day, they raise him as their own. As Leon grows older, he develops a nasty habit of changing into at wolf a night and slaughtering the local livestock. His loving parents are able to restore his humanity, but when he falls in love years later the terrible curse returns to haunt him ...

The story here is a bit slow-moving and dull in places, and it does take an awful long time to get started. Arguably the real story doesn't start until over half way through the film. It is undoubtedly creepier and more horrific than "The Wolf Man", and in that sense it shares more in common with other classics like "Dracula" and "Frankenstein". However, it's period setting does cause some problems. The sets and costumes are decent enough considering the time and budget, but the lighting and overall atmosphere aren't exactly convincing. Also, the makeup that is used to show various character's ageing isn't always all that great. The British cast of theatrical actors are for the most part very good, and although I'm not always a huge fan of Oliver Reed, he is very well-suited to this role.

Unlike Universal's "Dracula" and "Frankenstein", "The Wolf Man" was an original work that was never based on a historical novel. For this movie, however, Guy Endore's classic 1930's novel "The Werewolf of Paris" (with an obvious change of location) was adapted by Hammer producer Anthony Hinds. Hinds later wrote the script for "Legend of the Werewolf" after Hammer Studios movie production dissolved in the mid-70s, although he was always credited as John Elder. Terence Fisher was probably the most experienced and critically-acclaimed director that Hammer had to offer. An important figure in the horror revival of the late fifties and sixties, he had already helmed the production of two "Dracula" and two "Frankenstein" movies, as well as the Hammer remakes of "The Mummy" and "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and around forty other movies, mostly crime dramas.

This is a classic and often under-rated entry into the werewolf movie genre, and absolutely essential viewing for any true fan.
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Nochnoy dozor (2004)
A very good Russian horror/action movie.
19 May 2005
We begin in the fourteenth century, with an epic battle between the forces of light and the forces of dark, ending in a stalemate and an unlikely bargain. And then, in the present day, we join the forces of the "Night Watch" who guard against the dark creatures ...

I had read some negative comments on this movie before I watched it, although when I checked them out I found that most people didn't like it either because it "wasn't scary" (although it DOES have it's creepy moments, it's more of an action movie than a horror movie -- so what?) or simply because it was a low-budget foreign movie (most of the best movies are). This was, in fact, the official selection from Russia for the Oscars, but it didn't fare well unfortunately -- those idiots tend to avoid fantasy as much as possible.

Considering the budget (equivalent to $4 million), this is a really great-looking movie. Obviously it doesn't reach the epic standards of "Lord of the Rings", so the more jaded US cinema-goers may be slightly disappointed, but it's quite amazing really. Obviously it's heavily influenced by the big-budget western blockbusters, but it still retains many of it's eastern sensibilities. The special effects are used the way they should be used in a horror movie -- not to achieved realism, but to achieve a kind of disturbing UNrealism that is constantly present throughout. The movie is a little confusing in places and may demand more than one viewing to fully understand it, which is really a sign that it doesn't insult the viewer.

It feel a bit like a Russian "Underworld", but only because they have the shared influences of "The Matrix" and "Blade" on them. It features an array of supernatural creatures -- vampires, witches, a were-tiger, a were-owl, a care-bear (I mean, were-bear) ... The way the vampires are treated is interesting. Rather than having no reflection, in some scenes they're invisible EXCEPT for their reflection, which makes for an interesting sequence cinematic ally.

Two sequels are already on the way, and hopefully they'll be up to this standard.
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Werewolf: Pilot (1987)
Season 1, Episode 1
Excellent pilot episode
8 May 2005
"There's nothing worse than a nightmare, except one you can't wake up from ..." Eric Cord seems to have the perfect life. He lives with his best friend Ted, has great prospects and to top it all off he's dating Ted's younger sister. But one night when Ted tries to convince Eric that he is a werewolf responsible for gruesome murders that have occurred in the area, everything changes. Although he doesn't believe his friends story, Eric takes the gun loaded with silver bullets and waits with him until midnight. Shortly after midnight he watches in horror as his friend transforms into a beast and attacks him ... he manages to shoot the werewolf, but not before being bitten.

And now Eric is cursed with lycanthropy and charged with the murder of his friend. He knows that in order to break the curse he must kill the original werewolf, an insane sea captain named Skorzeny. But his nemesis may be stronger than he ever thought possible, and when Eric misses a court date, a fearless bounty hunter is sent after him who soon discovers his secret and vows to hunt down and destroy the beast ...

As well as setting up the story, here we are introduced to the three main recurring characters -- Eric Cord, Alamo Joe Rogan and Janos Skorzeny (who doesn't actually appear in that many episodes). It's sort of strange to have a TV series with only two characters who return on a weekly basis, but I guess it'd been done before in "The Fugitive" and "The Incredible Hulk", and this show is certainly along the same lines. It's really just a classic hunter-fugitive story -- Rogan hunts Eric while Eric hunts Skorzeny, but with a werewolf twist to it.

John J. York gives a good performance in this one, introducing us to the care-free Eric Cord who later becomes everything from a pure-hearted hero to a cold-blooded hunter. Lance LeGault also does a good job as the cool-as-Elvis bounty hunter, although obviously here he lacks the emotional depth that was developed to this character in later episodes. Chuck Connors is memorable also ... he only appears in three more episodes due to the fact that the producers could no longer afford him. A stand-in was used for the later episodes which ultimately resulted in a crippling law suit, but that's another story. The rest of the supporting cast are also very good, and it's a shame that so few of them ever returned for more appearances on the show.

In some ways, this pilot promises things which the actual series doesn't deliver. For example, Skorzeny's final transformation scene is really great, and so much better than anything we see in any of the later episodes. But I guess asking the special effects team to do that on a weekly basis is a bit much. The soundtrack is also much better than in the rest of the series, containing great songs such as "The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk 3 and "Silent Running" by Mike & The Mechanics (which contains the lyrics, "There's a gun and ammunition / Right outside the door / Use it only in emergency" ... appropriate, don't you think?).

This is really a superb pilot episode, and it's no surprise this was picked up for a season. It's just a shame it didn't go on for longer than one year.
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