werewolves need love, too
[Note: Yet another shameless copy-paste job from a site I used to have. I like this article too much to let it disappear into the ether.]
Werewolves. They’re awesome. Despite not having quite the publicity team as vampires in the realm of modern horror, werewolves hold their own and definitely have factions of hardcore fans who fully support them. Despite being Team Vampire (sorry for those that aren’t, and also sorry for using the tired “Team (Whatever)” phrase), I do have a soft spot for werewolves, and not because they’ve chosen to tenderize me for future consumption. Something about the absolute primal nature of the wolves speaks to me in a way that it probably speaks to most people who adore them; whereas vampires are structured, sometimes even rigid in their mannerisms and all the rules that go along with them, werewolves basically do what they want, when they want. They’re as close as a human can get to uncivilized without completely losing themselves. They’ve got, essentially, three different drives–eating, sleeping, and mating. And really, when it comes down to it, isn’t that what drives all of us?
In Hollywood, werewolves began as simply men with some patchy fur glued on, hopping around bipedally and occasionally growling at people and howling at the moon. Lon Chaney is, of course, the quintessential old-school werewolf. Who doesn’t think of his face when you hear something about werewolves? Universal Studios created their fair share of movie monsters, and their werewolf was the go-to form for quite some time. Truthfully, though, the whole time lapse transformation was lacking. And therefore, something better had to be done.
Enter An American Werewolf in London. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this movie. If marriage to a bit of celluloid were possible and not the least bit creepy, I would marry it. And attempt to mate with it. It would fail miserably, but I would hope that it would result in tiny person-movies that transformed during their special time of the month. That definitely crossed a weird line, so allow me to move on.
An American Werewolf in London pretty much single-handedly changed the game for werewolf standards. There was no time lapse transformation. There was no gluing bits of a carpet on some dude’s face and pretending he’s the scariest thing on earth. There was a full, unadulterated, semi-risque transformation, and we watched every painful second of it. You could literally feel his bones breaking and stretching, and it was amazing. The final product is one of the best werewolves, if not the best, in cinematic history.
Over the years, the ratio of vampire to werewolf movies has to be something like 11,000,000,000:1, and sadly, the few werewolf flicks to be made tend not to be anywhere near the level of satisfying as I would like. Jack Nicholson as a wolfman? Boring. Let’s not even talk about Cursed.
Actually, let’s talk about Cursed.
What the hell was that, anyway? I mean seriously? And the werewolf flips people off? I’m not even sure I can enjoy this on a purely camp level, and that hurts my feelings as I love Christina Ricci and Joshua Jackson was my teenage fantasy boyfriend. Don’t watch Cursed. You’ll hate it.
In a similar vein, Hollywood for some reason felt the need to make a sequel to London by bringing the action to Paris and having a girl–a GIRL!–werewolf. The result? Something that, if given an option between watching again and eating my own tongue, I would sooner eat my tongue. The CGI is atrocious and the acting is sub par. I was even disappointed with Bush for providing the “theme.” Unfortunately, werewolf CGI hasn’t felt the need to attempt to improve in the years to follow (See: Cursed‘s teddy bear…rabbit…thing).
So what would it take to make a successful werewolf flick? A lesson from back in the day. Puppeteering and makeup are not your enemy. Yes, we’re living in a technological age, but really, take a look at what’s been put out as far as CGI wolves. It doesn’t look quite as natural or beastly and instead reads like someone’s video game accidentally invaded a movie, and it’s a bad game at that. By taking that extra step and actually having a werewolf model you can touch, you’re almost guaranteed to have somewhat of a success. Look at The Howling. Sure, the wolf kind of had bunny ears, but you’d probably wet your chinos if that thing came after you with its walking upright and basically screwing with your head just because it’s funny. And, more recently, Ginger Snaps. The wolf apparently had a case of mange, given that there was hardly any hair, and its face looked a bit like a rat, but they put out the effort and it paid off. See? Not that hard. With the upcoming Benicio del Toro movie The Wolfman, it’ll be interesting to see what the genre has in store. Maybe it won’t disappoint, given that Rick Baker (RICK BAKER! Watch my fangirl glee.) is on the makeup team.
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Now, upright versus quadrupedal wolves, that’s a whole other article. (For the record–Team Quad.)