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October Horror Day 4

Horror Journal

Tonight it’s the turn of the wolves and there really couldn’t be a more obvious double bill than these 80s classics. They are different stories but both have a modern perspective on the the old legends

An American Werewolf in London

This film is a modern update on the old Wolf Man story with generous doses of John Landis’s sense of humour and love of music. Two American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) are attacked by a werewolf while hiking through the countryside of northern England. Jack is killed and David is badly injured. While David recovers in a hospital in London he is plagued by graphically violent dreams. Then he gets a visit from Jack who tell him that he is now a werewolf while Jack is an undead spirit cursed to walk the Earth until the werewolf bloodline is severed when David dies. David convinces himself that he’s still just dreaming

When David gets discharged he goes to stay with Alex (Jenny Agutter) the nurse who took care of him in hospital and is now interested in taking care of him some more. Jack tries to warn him again but it no use and when the full moon comes out Jack is painfully transformed in an enormous savage wolf which slaughters its way across London. Everything comes to violent and tragic end in an alley off Piccadilly Circus.

This film is very well-known for the special effects work by Rick Baker especially during the transformation scene but what brings me back to this film is the characters, the humour and the way John Landis goes out of his way to stick as many moon songs into the soundtrack, using three different version of the song Blue Moon.

The Howling

Joe Dante and John Landis were both working on their werewolf films at the same and I read that Landis stole Dante’s special effects artist Rick Baker so they got Rob Bottin and I think that his work would have been hailed as the best werewolf effects ever if the other film didn’t exist but at least it got Dante and Bottin the Gremlins gig.

Karen White (Dee Wallace) is a news anchor at a large TV station who agrees to help the police catch a killer, Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). Something goes wrong and Karen finds herself alone in a porn booth with Eddie who seems to be transforming. A couple of police arrive looking for Karen and Eddie gets shot apparently dead.

Karen is traumatised by her experience so her psychiatrist Dr Gorge Waggner (Patrick Macnee) sends her to a retreat he runs in the country called the Colony. It turns out that the Colony is really a pack of werewolves that Waggner is trying to civilize, with little success.

The werewolves in this film are very different from the one in American werewolf. They are more anthropomorphic, walking on two legs, and they don’t have an amnesiac split personality but have the same consciousness when in human or werewolf form. They also look terrifying.

The humour in this film is present but not as upfront as in American werewolf. I really liked Dick Miller’s occult shop keeper character and there’s a few werewolf film references in a few of the characters names, It’s a good film with plenty of creepy moments though I will say that the wookie at the end is still more comical than scary

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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Film

 

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Review: The Wolf Man

October Horror Month

Next in the Universal Classic Monsters box set is not the earliest werewolf film but it’s the one that people have at least seen and it set the template for many future werewolf films by establishing some of the rules for how the monsters come to be and how they are killed.

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) has been in the United States for 18 years and has come home to Talbot Castle to reconcile with his father Sir John Talbot (Claude Rains) after his older brother, also called John, was killed in hunting accident. As the first born son John was due to inherit his father’s estate and had been brought helping to run the estate. Larry has been away learning practical skills and while likes fixing thing like his father’s telescope he’s not very interested in using it to look at the stars. He does find a very practical use for the telescope when he sees and attractive young woman getting ready in the a flat above an antique shop

Larry heads into town and goes to the antique shop and meets Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers) working her father’s shop. His first move is creep her out by mentioning earrings that he saw through the telescope but he pretends to be psychic rather telling her where he saw the earrings He quickly drops that and instead say he wants to buy a walking stick. He selects a stick with an ornate silver handle in the shape of a wolf and a pentacle. He asks what that symbolise and Gwen mentions that everyone knows about werewolves and recites a poem that is apparently famous

Even a man who is pure in heart,
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms,
And the autumn moon shines bright.

Gwen says the pentacle is the mark of the werewolf and werewolves see the mark on the right hand of its next victim. Larry buys the cane and Asks Gwen when she finishes work and Gwen says she will not be meeting him. They see gypsy caravans arriving and Gwen mention that they come every year and there are fortune tellers. Larry says he fancies having his fortune read and tells Gwen that he will meet her later at eight but Gwen says no, she won’t be meeting him.

When later arrives Gwen waits expectantly for Larry. Larry shows up like he said he would and Gwen denies waiting for him. Larry asks if they are going to see the fortune teller. That’s when Gwen’s friend Jenny comes out of the shop. She wants to see a fortune teller too and is coming with them. On the way to the gypsy camp Jenny sees a patch of flowers growing and Jenny picks a bunch before saying that the flowers are wolfbane and she recites the werewolf poem. They get to the fortune teller and Jenny wants to go in first. While they wait Larry and Gwen go for short walk and talk in the woods and Larry confesses he saw her in the telescope but he realise how creepy that is and promises not to do it again. Gwen tells Larry she’s engaged and will be getting married soon but Larry still thinks he’s got a chance

Bela the fortune teller (Bela Lugosi) deals out cards to read Jenny’s fortune but he is disturbed by what he sees in the cards. Bela says he wants to read her palm and when she turns her hand over he sees a pentacle on Jenny palm. He notices the flowers Jenny is carrying and he abruptly ends the reading and sends her away leaving her worried about what he may have seen and isn’t telling her. Jenny runs of scared by Bela’s tone and she gets attacked and killed by a wolf. Larry sees the wolf and attacks it with his cane and he gets bitten. He beats it to death with the silver-handled cane and ends up badly injured and Gwen gets help from an old gypsy woman Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) to take Larry home in her cart.

The local chief constable Captain Montford (Ralph Bellamy) is in Talbot Castle drinking with Sir John when Gwen comes in with Larry and tells them about what happened. One of the local comes in and tells them that Jenny has been found murdered and Montford goes out to investigate what happened with a reporter and Dr Lloyd (Warren William) and just as Larry said Jenny’s body looks like it was attacked a large wild animal. But instead of finding the animal Larry said he killed they find the battered body of Bela the fortune teller and next to it Larry’s cane.

Next morning Montford and Dr Lloyd and come to see Larry. Dr Lloyd wants to treat his wound and Montford tells him that Bela was found dead. Larry’s bite also seems to have healed. Larry can sense their doubts and says he is sure he killed a wolf not a man. Dr Lloyd suggests they let Larry get some rest and Montford can ask his question when he’s better and they leave Larry’s room. Sir John comes up with a plausible sounding story about what happened. Montford still wants an explanation for a wound that healed overnight

Larry goes the village and sees Bela’s body being taken into the church and follows it inside. Bela’s mother Maleva comes to see him and the local priest is not happy with respecting her pagan beliefs and customs but he leaves her to it. Larry Talbot creeps into the chapel and stays in background watching Maleva as she recites a eulogy over Bela’s body.

The way you walked was thorny,
Through no fault of you own,
But as the rain enters the soil,
The river enters the sea,
So tears go to a predestined end.
Your suffering is over Bela my son.
Now you will find peace.

After she leaves Larry goes to the coffin and weeps over the body of Bela

In the antique shop Gwen sits down in a back room. Jenny’s mother comes in with a few other severe old women and demands to see Gwen to ask why she left Jenny alone with the gypsy. The mother says it was because she too busy with Larry and they are practically calling her a tart for seeing other men. Gwen hears all this in the other room and is upset at their callous bitterness. Conliffe orders them to get out. Larry enters the shop and the women all run off. Larry apologises to Mr Conliffe for getting Gwen involved in this. He was thankful Gwen didn’t hear them but she clearly did.  Gwen’s fiancée Frank Andrews (Patric Knowles) comes in to see them and his dog won’t stop barking at Larry so he takes it out. Larry introduces himself to Andrews then leaves in hurry.

That evening Frank takes Gwen to the gypsy fair which is full of lively music and dancing. This is the gypsy funeral the priest was so upset about. They see Larry and Frank want go to talk to him to prove that’s he’s not jealous. Larry tells them he’s going home and Frank suggests they try the shooting range. Sir John watches with Montford and is pleased to see Larry is pretty good but when a wolf target appears Larry feels strange and can’t hit it.

Larry sees Maleva she wants to ta to him in her tent. He tells her that he was sure he killed an animal and not Bela. Maleva tells him he did kill an animal and that the animal was Bela. Bela was a werewolf and because he bit Larry he’s one now. She gives him a charm that may protect him and stop the change He leaves feeling a bit freaked out. Maleva passes the word around the gypsies about the werewolf and they all start packing up right away.

Larry runs into Gwen who is on her own after quarrelling with Frank He shows her the charm and tells her what Maleva said about him being a werewolf and gives her the charm. Larry notices the gypsies packing up and Gwen says she has to go too and runs off. Larry asks a gypsy why they are going and is told it because there’s a werewolf in the camp. Larry gets a montage of dream images of Maleva, Bela, Jenny, Gwen pentacles and the wolf.

Larry goes home and he sees changes starting, hair growing and he sits down in a chair to look at his feet growing hairier and he changes in to a werewolf or least his feet do. The werewolf goes into the woods and he attack and kills the gravedigger. There‘s the sound of a wolf howling and several villagers including Montford and Dr Lloyd go to the church yard to investigate and find the body grave-digger with wolf tracks around it

Next morning there are wolf prints that lead to Talbot Castle in through a window and up to Larry lying in bed. Larry wakes up confused and sees the wolf prints and cleans them up until he sees Montford in the grounds following the trail so he hides out of sight.

Next day Larry asks his father what happened and Sir John tells him about the gravedigger being killed by a wolf and finally Sir John addresses the problem that there are no native wolves in England by saying it may have escaped from zoo or a circus. Larry asks him about the werewolf legend a Sir John says that folklore from all over the world has something about men who become beasts. Sir John states that it’s a form of schizophrenia and dismisses the idea of physically changing into a wolf

They got to church but Larry doesn’t stay to face the stares of the villagers and slips out the back while they sing the first hymn. At Talbot Castle Sir John is discussing what to do about the wolf with Montford, Dr Lloyd and Frank. Larry says it was a werewolf and Montford laughs at him. Dr Lloyd thinks it may be a type of madness like Sir John had said. Larry asks if the madness can be cured. Lloyd says yes but Montford just says lock ‘em up. Dr Lloyd is very concerned about Larry’s sanity an suggests to John sending him away

Andrews and Montford supervise laying traps in the woods to catch the wolf. That night the werewolf gets caught in a trap. The hunting party is close behind him with sniffer dogs. Maleva finds him first and she says those words from Bela’s eulogy which returns Larry to human form. The Dogs are coming and so he runs off and two of the hunting party stop him until they see its Larry they tell Montford

Larry goes to see Gwen and tosses pebbles at her window to wake her up. Larry tells her he to leave and she wants to go with him but he tells she can’t. He has to go alone. Suddenly he sees pentacle on Gwen’s hand a realising that means she’s the werewolf’s next victim’ and he runs off. Larry tells his father he was bitten by Bela the werewolf and now he’s one too. They hear dogs and Larry say they hunting him. Sir John thinks this is all crazy talk. Larry mentions the gypsy woman and Sir John thinks he has the source of the problem. Sir John ties Larry to a chair to try to convince him he isn’t a werewolf, and since Larry is a werewolf that will go as well as you’d expect. Larry urges Sir John to take Larry’s walking stick with him when he leaves to join the hunt for the wolf.

Sir John joins the others at a hunting stand then wander off into woods where he meets Maleva who he blames her for filling Larry’s head with werewolf nonsense. She notes with approval that he’s carrying the walking stick. He hears shooting and he run back to the platform

Gwen appears looking for Larry and Maleva urges her to come with her but she runs off looking for Larry. The werewolf attacks Gwen and Sir John drives it off with the stick and they struggle but Sir John manages to beat of the beast and keeps striking it until it dies. Maleva arrive and say the spell/eulogy over the werewolf and Sir John watches astonished as the werewolf changes back into Larry. The others arrive and Frank goes to check on Gwen who is fine while Montford makes up a logical sounding story to explain everything.

This is the original tragic werewolf tale if you don’t count the versions of the story that take the form of Jekyll and Hyde story. There is more a relaxed naturalistic performance from the actors compared to the earlier horror films which shows the way the industry was developing away from its roots in theatre into its own style. I was surprised to realise on re-watching it that the full moon seems to play no part in this story. Lon Chaney Jr. is excellent as Larry Talbot and liked the way they developed the relationship between his character and that of his father. By today’s standards the film probably seems tame since there’s no gore but it does have an excellent look especially during the night-time scenes.

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Dog Soldiers

October Horror Month

When I first saw this werewolf film I had never heard of it or its director Neil Marshall but I loved it right away. I love the characters, the locations, the gallows humour, the fantastic werewolf design and I want a Spoony.

A couple are camping in the woods in the Scottish Highlands and they are celebrating the guy getting a promotion. She’s bought him a present, a solid silver letter opener. It’s a strange present but the guy seems pleased and they kiss and go into their tent, probably to have sex. They get interrupted by someone slowly opening their tent. Then a pair of monstrous hands grabs the woman and there’s a short tug of war with guy trying to pull her into the tent while whatever it outside pulls her legs. She screams as she is ripped in half and she dies. Whatever killed her then comes into the tent after the guy and we see him trying to reach the letter opener but he fails and we hear him die.

At the same time in the Welsh countryside we see a soldier Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd) trying to evade soldiers dressed in black and he takes down several of them before being caught by Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham). Ryan congratulates him on evading capture for so long. This was a test to see if Cooper can get admitted into Ryan’s special forces squad and Ryan is impressed but tells Copper that they key to avoiding getting caught is to remove your enemy’s ability to track you and tells Cooper to kill the tracker dog. Cooper refuses, even when Ryan tells him it’s an order. Ryan calls him useless if he can’t even kill a dog but Cooper says he won’t kill that dog for no good reason. Ryan fails him and shoots the dog himself. Cooper is outraged but manages to get a punch in, wiping the smug superior expression off Ryan’s face

Some time later a squad of soldiers get dropped off in highlands of Scotland for a training mission led by Sergeant Harry G.Wells (Sean Pertwee) and the rest are Private Cooper, Private ‘Spoon’ Witherspoon (Darren Morfitt) who is scrappy little smartarse, Private Joe Kirkley (Chris Robson) who is constantly whining and resents missing a football, Private Terry Millburn (Leslie Simpson) and Corporal Bruce Campbell (Thomas Lockyer). Wells and Cooper discuss the layout on a map and make plans. They are up against Special Forces and Wells wants them to go in hard and brutal

They walk for a few miles they stop for rest and a smoke. Cooper mentions the deaths of the two campers in that area only a few weeks ago but they don’t take the story seriously. They walk on a few more miles and they all whistle a tune called Tom Hark that seems to be popular on the football terraces but with various lyrics. As they walk they are being watched by Captain Ryan through a pair of binoculars who says to one of his men. “Contact the camp tell them the flock is heading for the fold.”

When it gets dark they stop next to a cliff and settle in with a fire. Joe whines about their processed food and is still in a bad mood because he’s missing the football and the others wind him up about it, especially Spoon. Cooper asks them about what scares them and Bruce gives a really pretentious answer about the state of the human condition. Spoon says he’s scared of castration which gets a general murmur of agreement. Joe is scared of the football match ending in penalty shoot-out and Terry is scared of watching a penalty shoot-out with Joe. Cooper says he’s scared of spiders, women and then adds spider-women.

They all believe that Wells won’t be scared of anything but he tells them a creepy story of a friend who got tattoo of a laughing devil and when he got blown up the only part of him that wasn’t damaged was the bit of him with the tattoo. This story makes everybody go quiet so Spoon starts telling a joke. He doesn’t get to finish it because a dead cow drops out of the air with a thud and a splash of blood that covers Terry who freaks and shoots at it while Spoon rolls about laughing and Joe reminds Terry that he’s firing blanks. They examine the cow and Cooper thinks it looks like it was attacked by an animal. Wells decides that there’s nothing they can do about it in the dark and arranges a watch schedule and tells the rest to get some sleep

Ryan sees something moving around in the dark and whatever it is it attacks him. In the morning Wells and the squad have a look around and find the place the where the cow went over the cliff. There is a trail of blood so the cow seems to have walked some distance from where it got it attacked. Wells is curious about what happened to it and so, ignoring Joe’s complaints, they follow the blood. When they get to the place the cow was attacked they figure something bad happened to it. In the air they see a signal flare.

They head towards the location the flare came from and find guns, ammunition, nets and tranquilizer darts but no sign of the men, except for a pile of guts that Terry steps in. Things have turned serious so Wells orders all of them to drop their fake guns and get armed for real. Ryan pops up from behind some boxes of equipment and he’s been torn open. Wells orders them to put a field dressing on him and they try to get him to tell them what happened but he keeps raving about how there should only have been one. Their radio was sabotaged by Ryan and the Special Forces radio has been wrecked

They get organised and move through the woods while catching glimpses of massive hairy beasts with big teeth and claws chasing after them. Bruce is guarding their rear and he sees something coming but his gun isn’t working so he runs through plantation of young fir trees with something coming after him. He isn’t looking where he’s going and he impales himself on a broken branch that goes right through and out his back and while he’s hanging there dying a werewolf attacks him. Wells comes to look for him and the werewolf comes for him but he shoots at it and manages to get away and he finds Bruce’s body. The werewolf catches up and rips his guts open. Wells is just lying there with his guts hanging out and he probably thinks he’s going to die but Cooper arrives, shoots at the werewolf and forces his guts back into his body and patches him up.

With werewolves on their tails and two seriously injured men they really need to get to safety. Spoon gets to a road and he sees a jeep coming so he leaps down the hill and dives on to the road right in front of the oncoming vehicle which stops just before hitting him. The driver is a young woman Megan (Emma Cleasby) who tells them all to get in the jeep. Megan had been out looking for them because she heard gunfire the previous night.

Megan tries to drive off but they are stuck in the mud and the jeep gets attacked by a werewolf. The werewolf rips through the roof and tries to grab them but Spoon puts a knife through its arm and Megan finally manages to get the jeep moving. Cooper say they need to get to a shelter and Megan tells them that the only people nearby are a family who have a cottage a few miles away.

When they reach the cottage there is no sign of the family and the cottage seems to be empty. Cooper enters first and there’s a pot of food on a lit gas stove, suggesting that the inhabitants haven’t been gone long. They go inside and Cooper sends Spoon to check out upstairs who says “Little pigs little pigs we’ve come to nick your video,” as he heads up the stairs. Cooper hears a noise and finds a dog shut in a cupboard. They get Wells and Ryan out of the jeep and Cooper notices that Ryan no longer seems to as injured as he was.

Joe spots the pot of hot food on the stove and helps himself telling the others that it tastes like pork. It probably isn’t pork but Cooper approves of them getting some food and tells them all to help themselves. Spoon puts a dressing out on Wells and Cooper asks Megan where nearest town is. She tells them Fort William is about 4 hours drive so they should get going right away.

Cooper and Spoon go to check outside and find out the engine of the jeep has been shredded and the werewolves are prowling around in the tree-line  They shoot at them and get back inside and the jeep blows up from a stray bullet hitting the fuel leaking out from the jeep. A werewolf tries to get in the door and there a bit of running around and shouting. To add to the chaos the dog starts biting at Wells’ bloody bandage and of course Ryan wants to kill the dog. Suddenly Terry pukes on Ryan’s head and it all goes quiet. Ryan starts having a go at Terry but Joe gets right in his face and Ryan backs off and goes upstairs to clean himself

Cooper checks if Terry is okay and Terry jokes that he fancies a kebab. Cooper gets him to boil some pots of water and while he’s doing that he makes them all tea. They work on securing the windows and doors. Spoon compares the situation to Rourke’s Drift (as seen in the classic film Zulu) and Joe is pissed because Spoon seems to be enjoying himself too much and of course he thinks it’s bone which is apparently not at all good. Megan tells Cooper about what they are up against and explains that they are part wolf part human or in other words they’re werewolves but he’s sceptical. Megan and Cooper take Wells upstairs and Joe, Terry and Spoon hunt for weapons. Joe finds an axe, Spoon finds a sword and Terry can only find an electric knife.

Cooper and Megan put Wells in a bed and give him a lot of booze to drink so he soon completely plastered. They use superglue to put him back together. Wells is getting far too drunk but the pain is getting terrible and he demands that Cooper knocks him out and it just takes two punches. Now they can get fix his wound with a lot less trouble. Cooper asks Megan about the werewolves and she tells him she’s a zoologist and she came here chasing rumours about them and she was just as sceptical as Cooper but she knows they are real now and she promises that Cooper will know it to before the night ends

Cooper and Megan come downstairs. Spoon is really enjoying himself playing with the sword but when Cooper comes back down he takes the sword and not the frying pan Spoon offers him. Megan tells them about werewolves and Spoon is totally happy with that explanation but Joe is sceptical like Cooper. Cooper tells Megan who everyone is but doesn’t introduce Ryan until Megan asks. Cooper doesn’t know why Ryan is there and why he seems to be a lot better so he demands Ryan show them his wound. Ryan objects to that and pulls his gun which Megan smacks out of his hand. While Joe holds Ryan down Cooper peels off the dressing to look and he sees that the wound has healed up nicely.

They tie up Ryan and discuss torturing him for more information but suddenly the lights go out. The werewolves have cut the power and are going to attack so everyone goes to the windows and gets ready. The werewolves try to get in the doors or the window and the squaddies throw everything they’ve got at them: guns, fire, hot water and even just smacking them with pots. Joe gets grabbed by one and Cooper chops its arm off with the sword. He hears one upstairs where Wells is sleeping. Cooper fights it off with the sword and finally Wells wakes up and joins in shooting at it and chasing it away

Downstairs things have gotten quieter and Terry sneers at the werewolves and calls them pussies and just then gets grabbed through the window by a werewolf. When Cooper comes down he gets told they took Terry. He wants to go get him but Ryan says he knows Terry is dead. Megan talks about what lives in the shadows. Ryan is sneering at them again and Megan tells Cooper that she’s already met Ryan and she was hired to advise his group about the werewolves.

The plan is to hold out until dawn but the are getting low in ammo and the guns might hurt the werewolves but they don’t kill them. Megan tells them about a Landrover kept in the barn and if they can hotwire it they might be able to get away. Joe volunteers and they decide to get Spoon to be a decoy to give Joe the chance to get to the Landrover. Spoon gets outside shouts and waves flare and taunts the werewolves and when they start coming at him Spoon runs back to cottage with a werewolf on his tail

Joe gets to the Landrover and in the light from the headlights he sees a werewolf eating Terry and it throws Terry’s head at him. Joe gets the Landrover started and backs out of barn but he realises a werewolf is sitting behind him and he gets slaughtered. The others find Joe’s body when they open the door of the car

Megan plays Clair de Lune on the piano while everyone sits depressed. Wells is up and about again and feeling fine. Cooper checks out the Landrover and realises the car is knackered. Cooper wants to know what Ryan is really up to.  Ryan explains that Special Weapon Division wanted a werewolf but it went wrong when there was more than one. Well’s squad was expendable bait for the werewolf and Ryan chose Cooper’s squad out of petty spite. Ryan then turns into a werewolf. Wells picks up something to use a weapon but it’s just a stick so he throws it at Ryan and says fetch. Cooper grabs the sword and shoves it through Ryan’s chest and Spoon shoots him so Ryan jumps out of the window.

Cooper figures that since they are mostly human the werewolves are the family who live at the cottage so they aren’t going anywhere. Megan tells them that the werewolves will be hiding out in the barn. They decide to use the Landrover and a large of bottle of propane to kill or hurt as many werewolves as they can by sending the car into the barn and blowing it up. Cooper asks Wells how he is and he feels fine and knows what that means. He’s turning into a werewolf but doesn’t know when but Wells is going to fight to the death against the werewolves. Cooper starts the Landrover and Spoon cuts the fuel line so it leaves a trail of fuel as it goes to the barn. Spoon can’t get a match to light so Wells throws a petrol bomb at it and the barn goes KABLOOOEY FWUMP.

Then Megan apologizes and tells them that there’s no hope of getting out. There were no werewolves in the barn. She doesn’t have a house in the next valley and the only reason she’s not in the family photos is that she took the photos. And lastly she let the werewolves in because she is one and then she starts changing. Wells shoots her in the head and then he and Cooper get upstairs, while Spoon heads for the kitchen. Spoon runs out of ammo pretty quickly but still dares the werewolves to come on

Upstairs Wells hides in the toilet (khazi) but he has a werewolf trying to break the door in. Cooper breaks a sink and smashes his way through the wall into the toilet next to Wells then breaks through another wall into a bedroom.

In the kitchen Spoon really goes totally mental on a werewolf, punching it, battering it with a frying pan and stabbing the hell out of it but a second werewolf grabs him and his last line is “I hope I give you the shits you fucking wimp,” then the two werewolves tear Spoon apart and eat him.

Upstairs the werewolves are getting into the bedroom so Cooper and Wells get into a wardrobe whose floor is littered with old human bones. Wells shoots a hole right through the floor and they get down into the kitchen. Wells finds a pile of gore with his watch in it that he gave to Spoon earlier and when Cooper asks where Spoon is Wells replies, ”There is no Spoon.”

They find a trapdoor down to the cellar and Wells makes Cooper and the dog go down there while Wells stays behind to take care of the werewolves He cuts the gas pipe to the stove and gas soon fills the kitchen. Wells can feel the werewolf change is coming but manages to hold on until the werewolves break into the kitchen and he ignites the gas KABOOMBOOOMBOOM

Cooper and the dog survive in the cellar but it turns out that Ryan is in the cellar too, hiding among the dead bodies of his Special Forces squad. Ryan and Cooper fight and Ryan gets Cooper pinned and he forces the sword that is still penetrating his body into Cooper’s mouth but the dog jumps him. Cooper spots the silver letter opener and stabs it into Ryan’s chest and then finishes him with a bullet into the brain.

As I said before I just love this film. It has great characters and I really believed their banter even when it was about werewolves. The stand out character for me is definitely Spoon, he’s just so funny and totally crazy but the whole cast are brilliant, natural and funny. I know it’s possible to find plot holes and weaknesses but when I watch it usually I’m usually enjoying myself too much to notice them.

Rating 9.5/10

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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Howling

October Horror Month

It’s about time I reviewed a werewolf film and since I’ve already reviewed American Werewolf in London it’s now it’s the turn of the other werewolf film that came out around the same time. We were really lucky back then because good werewolf films are not very common. CGI transformations really don’t yet have the same visceral effect as the best in physical effects. While American Werewolf took a more traditional werewolf story where the werewolf condition is a curse that falls on a normal guy and ends in tragedy this film gives us a more sympathetic look at werewolves with a more complex life who don’t necessarily believe themselves to be cursed.

Karen White (Dee Wallace Stone) is a TV news anchor with a very worrying fan, a serial killer called Eddie (Robert Picardo) who has gotten in touch with her. He wants to meet with her and she agrees to help the police to catch him. They have her wired up and she’s giving them a running commentary. Her producer Chris Halloran (Dennis Dugan) is following the action and is ready to cut their studio programme to go live to Karen. She goes to a phone booth and waits and eventually Eddie calls her. She heads to the red light district and the police lose the signal so they send a squad car to look for her. Karen goes into a seedy porn shop and into the film booths at the back. Eddie has put a smiley face sticker on the door of one booth and Karen goes inside. Eddie is there and he makes Karen sit down while he stands behind her and puts the film on. While Karen sits uncomfortably with the porn film playing in front of her she hears Eddie’s voice change and he tells her to turn and look at him. When she does she screams and a cop rushes in and shoots Eddie several times killing him. Karen is in shock afterwards and can’t remember what happened.

Chris and his assistant and lover Terry Fisher (Belinda Balaski) have done some digging around and have found Eddie’s apartment. The set-up is pure serial killer, the walls decorated with newspaper clippings of reports of his murders and a lot of pencil sketches of people with a bestial look. They also find a landscape drawing of coastal scenery. They take the drawings and show them to psychiatrist Dr George Waggner (Patrick Macnee) who has advised the police on the case.

Dr Waggner also tries to help Karen with her amnesia. Since the night Eddie was killed she has had flashbacks and nightmares. When she tried to return to work she froze on air and they had to cut to a pre-recorded editorial from the studio boss Fred Francis (Kevin McCarthy). Waggner wants Karen to go to his retreat up north called The Colony where she can relax and he hopes he can help her.

Karen and her husband Bill Neill (Christopher Stone) arrive at the colony as they are having barbecue on the beach. The other residents are very mixed bunch like suicidal old-timer Erle Kenton (John Carradine), the chatty Donna and the leather clad nymphomaniac Marsha Quist (Elisabeth Brooks). When she meets Bill he says he’s looking for his wife and Marsha just asks him why.

Karen does not sleep very well, getting disturbed by howling noises in the woods. She sure she hears someone prowling around and calls the police. Next day she’s more relaxed and the local sheriff Sam Newfield (Slim Pickens) tells her that it must be coyotes. Later the men all gather for a hunting party to see if they can find anything and Bill goes with them.

Back in the city Chris and Terry got to the morgue to see if there’s anything strange about Eddie’s body but it has gone missing. They go to an occult bookstore run by Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) who gives them books that talk about werewolves. He mentions a couple of key points that set up some of the rules they are using in this world. Werewolves can change any time they want to and they cannot be killed except by a silver bullet or fire otherwise they will heal and come back to life.

At the hunt Bill kills a rabbit. Marsha’s brother TC tells him to take his kill to Marsha and she will cook it for him. Marsha puts the rabbit away and she jumps Bill kissing him but he pushes her away and leaves. One the way back to his cabin He gets attacked by a werewolf and gets bitten on the arm. Waggner treats Bill at the clinic but Karen is upset and just wants to leave, Waggner tells her that could be dangerous with the bite. Karen calls Terry, who is in bed with Chris watching The Wolf Man, she and tells her about the bite. With thoughts of werewolves in her mind Terry says she’ll head straight up and Chris will follow later.

Terry arrives and has brought meat for lunch and apologises for forgetting Bill is a vegetarian but Bill is happily scoffing down the meat anyway. In bed that night Karen is in the mood to make love but Bill says he’s still too drugged-up and tired. While Karen sleeps Bill goes to Marsha and they make love by a large fire in the woods and turn into cartoon werewolves.

Next day Terry wanders around and she gets to cliff looking out over the sea. The scene looks familiar and she pulls Eddie Quist’s landscape drawing out and it is clearly a drawing of this same scene. She goes through the woods and she hears a voice calling to her. She follows the voice to a shack covered in animal skins and with bones hanging on strings. Inside she finds drawings just like the ones in Eddie’s apartment in the city. Then a werewolf comes into the shack and attacks her but she manages to get away by getting into the tight space under the shack. A werewolf tries to grab her but she cuts its hand off. She sees the hand turn into a human hand.

Terry manages to get out and runs back the Colony’s main building and goes into the clinic where she finds a phone. She calls Chris and tells him about everything that’s happened and especially discovering that Eddie Quist had lived here. Chris gets Terry to check the filing cabinet in the office and she finds three Quists, Marsha, TC and Eddie. Just as she goes to lift out Eddie’s file a werewolf hand reaches over and grabs it. Terry tries to get away but the werewolf seizes her and kills her. The werewolf look in this film is fantastic and looks very scary. This look seems to what inspired the look of the werewolves in the excellent British film Dog Soldiers.

Chris hears the attack and he goes to Walter Paisley shop and buys a load of silver bullets then he races up to the Colony as fast as the traffic will allow. Back at the Colony Bill finally goes back to their cabin but Karen knows he’s been with Marsha and screams at him. He slaps her and angry at him she leaves.

Karen goes to the clinic to look for Waggner and finds Terry’s body. She turns to make phone call but he phone is dead. There’s a covered body on the trolley where Terry’s body was a minute ago. It’s Eddie hiding under the sheet and he wants to carry on with showing Karen what he was going to show her before he got shot. We get a long icky transformation scene involving ingenious use of bladders and puppets and the scene may show it’s age now but it’s still pretty good. Once he’s fully transformed and about to attack Karen she throws a bottle of acid on him and gets away.

Karen tries to get in her car but two of the Colonists grab her and take her to a barn which is full of Colonists. They also have Terry’s body laid out. They are very angry with Karen’s presence and want her killed. The only problem is that her fame means authorities will definitely look into it. Waggner comes into the barn and she goes to him, hoping for help but he reluctantly pushes her away.

It turns out that they are all werewolves and had been trying Waggner’s plan to avoid coming into conflict with humans but too many of them are too wild to hide their nature. Bringing Karen there was big mistake and they also think trying to supress their true nature was a mistake. Then Chris arrives and he threatens them with his gun and they laugh at him. TC walks towards him transforming as he goes and boasts about how useless guns are. Chris shoots him and TC is shocked that he’s been fatally wounded. The other werewolves don’t know what happened but Chris mentions he has silver bullets. Another werewolf takes his chance and gets killed for it. Then Waggner comes for him to force Chris to kill him and he thanks him as he dies

Chris grabs Karen and forces the werewolves right inside the barn then shuts them in. He splashes petrol around the barn and sets it on fire. I’m not sure how many of them die but plenty of them manage to break out and surround Chris’s car as they try to get away. They think they’re free and clear and are relieved to spot Sherriff Sam but he’s a werewolf too and shoots at them. He wrecks their car but Chris kills him and they take his car with several werewolves catching up to them. One breaks through the window and scratches Karen but Chris kills it and when it turns human it turns out it was Bill.

Karen wants to warn everyone about the werewolves so she and Chris go back to work. Karen gives a speech on air warning people secret society living among them. Fred Francis thinks she going crazy again and is about to pull the plug on her but Chris stops him. Karen transforms but she’s not a really a wolf but more like a Yorkshire terrier. Then Chris takes his gun and shoots her and Fred orders them to cut the feed from the studio.

This is an excellent film that was thrown together on a limited budget. It has really great performances from the main cast but especially Dee Wallace Stone. The film has a sense of humour and there is something inherently funny about a bunch of werewolves in group therapy. I like that the film took a different approach with its werewolves instead of going for the familiar tragic curse story. I know it has sequels but they were forgettable

Rating 9.0/10

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Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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