A New Moon For Werewolves

Jacob werewolf by BlaskCiemnosci

Now that the second in the Twilight Saga is worming its way into theaters today, it’s pretty obvious by not only the title (New Moon), but also the TV commercials (every other second) that this particular bit is chock-full of werewolves. Look, I have never, nor do I currently have any desire to actually read these Emo-Pseudo-Shitty Love Story-Vampire novels… ever, but my wife has, and so have hundreds of other weird people the world over, and according to the masses, the stories are pretty good. If by good, of course, you mean patently and maddeningly ridiculous.

Other than a vague idea of what’s going on from word of mouth and accidentally stumbling on news articles, I really am clueless to what any of these bound-bird cage liners are even about. I get there’s a girl who falls for a vampire all emo-like with lots of towering emotion and possible wrist-slitting, and at some point this vampire douchebag fights a fuckin’ werewolf, and then other, meaningless, pantie-wetting shit happens, the end. Look, I also don’t care. The point is: werewolves. Werewolves are generally -generally- cool and have become nearly as big a part of horror movie lore as vampires and zombies. So, here’s a rundown of some of the more impressive Lycanthropes over the years.

1941

The Wolfman
Lon Cheney, Jr. and Claude Raines

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Poor Lon Cheney, Jr. All he wanted was to love a woman. In a non-emo way, I might add. But instead, with the help of a wolf head-topped staff, he fends off a werewolf and is bitten for his services. Whammo! Werewolf all up in this business! No thanks to a gypsy fortune teller warning him of his impending doom as a newly-formed wolfman, Cheney lurks through the moors attempting to prove he is no monster. Well, until his own dad bashes his damn brains in! Way to go, pops! But, all in all, it’s still Cheney, Jr.’s amazing makeup that really sells his performance. One of the first werewolves and still a mainstay in the genre.

1957

I Was A Teenage Werewolf
Michael Landon, Whit Bissell

The Highway to Heaven guy is a pissed off young adult with definite problems communicating with virtually everyone. So, like any smart, angry, rebellious… sane person would do, he seeks hypnotherapy from some whack-job mad scientist. But, rather than actually, you know, fix the kid, he instead somehow regresses him even further to the point of becoming a werewolf. Look, I never said any of these made sense. So now, Landon, aware that he’s got a lot more hair than he used to, seeks the same damn doctor again! Yup, more werewolf. After a fight thanks to some loud noises, the werewolf kills the doctor and is subsequently shot by the police. See, cops in film have no other recourse but to fill you full of lead. The end. Damn good -mostly- flick.

1971

Werewolves on Wheels
Stephen Oliver, D.J. Anderson

Where would you think would be the most safe, secure, non-werewolf-having place around? No, not Burger King… a Church! Well, this band of roving bikers thinks so, too. Yeah, well, they’re wrong. The church folk don’t take too kindly to sinister bikers and feed them all poisoned swag. Well, after the gang passes out, the people put a curse on the lead guy’s squeeze. Well, she wakes up and nibbles on her man, and now we have TWO WEREWOLVES! Ahhh! Eventually, every night when the bikers stop to sleep, the werewolves kill some folk. Soon they head back to the church after successfully dispatching the werewolves only to see themselves in the cultist procession! AAAhhhh! Spooky.

1981

The Howling
Dee Wallace-Stone, Patric Macnee

One of the first werewolf films that relied very heavily on the transformation sequence that didn’t include shadowy wipes and hiding one’s face. Joe Dante took the ball and ran with it here, focusing on werewolf sex, vicious bi-pedal beasts stalking women, and a terrifying serial-killer-turn-wolfman. There is a rather meandering plot here, but the real pleasure is watching, for several gritty minutes, as Eddie (Robert Picardo) morphs with tuned exuberance, into a werewolf. This is one of the first of the ‘Modern’ werewolf stories. It also spawned six frigin sequels, so you can get a whole day’s worth of Howling goodness.

1981

An American Werewolf In London
David Naughton, Griffin Dunne

Meanwhile, as Dante was making his epic, John Landis was honing his craft creating what some argue is the better werewolf movie. Though it’s my favorite of the two, it’s all a matter of taste. This one focuses on two students hiking the Yorkshire Moors and their encounter with a wolf-like creature who bites David (Naughton) and kills Jack (Dunne). David is found by the locals and taken to the hospital where he does recover but begins having lucid nightmares about ugly German monsters. Eventually, back in his cabin, the full moon makes its appearance and David succumbs to the most brutal, visceral transformation scene in cinematic history (and eventually begins talking to the ever-rotting corpse of his best friend). In fact, it even still stands as the most perfect achievement all others bow to. He contorts, twists, cracks, bends, and otherwise rebuilds as the werewolf all to the tune of a rockin’ soundtrack. See, it’s also painfully funny. This is a werewolf movie. No: THE werewolf movie.

1985

Teen Wolf
Michael J. Fox, Jerry Levine

This flick is a whole different take on the genre, and that’s what makes it so cool. Fox is a regular teen (basically his exact same roll from Back to the Future only without a DeLorean), who wants nothing more than to actually be good at something besides starring in every other movie in the 80’s. While at a party, he begins to notice some weird goings on with his body… up to and including pubes. He rushes home, locks himself in his room, and turns into a werewolf! Ah, but all is well. His dad is one, too! It runs in the family, see, and everything is going to be super great from now on! Suddenly he’s a better basketball player, king of the school, and a hit with the ladies and no one’s bats an eye! Yeah, ya gotta love the 80’s!

1987

The Monster Squad
Andre Gower, Robby Kiger

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this really fun and funny take on the Universal Movie Monster legends returning to reality. There’s a Van Helsing diary, an amulet, a bunch of funny battles, and a ‘Scary German Guy’ all over this flick… look, if you haven’t seen it, you were never a child. But, the big point of this is that the werewolf doesn’t want to be a part of Dracula’s nefarious plans as a human, but has no choice as a creature. And, finally, we get this classic line after a kid boots the lycan in the crotch: “Wolfman’s got NARDS!”

1994

Wolf
Jack Nicholson, James Spader

This movie revolves solely around biting. Jeez, it’s like an orgy of biting, only without super fay vampires around to muck it up. Jack get’s nipped by a wolf. His job is falling apart as his own protege has usurped his position -in the field as well as on his wife (zing)- and things are looking grim. But now, suddenly, with a new found strength and power, Jack reclaims his throne as well as a new chick (Michelle Pfeiffer). Ah, but all isn’t peaches and herb as Jack bites Spader (somehow) and he, too, becomes all wolfy. Then it just kinda gets convoluted. Still a good flick, though.

2000

Ginger Snaps
Emily Perkins, Katherine Isabelle

This is one of those very poorly veiled attempts to mask adolescence and ‘bodily changes’ as an allegory for horror. Which, I suppose, isn’t too far from the truth. Here we find a backdrop of a Beast hunting the neighborhood killing pets while two sisters -about as ‘outsider’ as they come- plotting tricks on their wicked schoolmates. One sister is bitten just as she receives her first period, and is dragged away by the Beast. Soon after, she begins to transform into a hideous werewolf. Comparing creatures to the effects of advancing womanhood is pretty damn genius. And true, too!

2002

Dog Soldiers
Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd

If you haven’t made time to see Dog Soldiers, I sternly suggest you get on the friggin ball. This is one of those werewolf movies that kind of isn’t. First of all, the werewolves look far more similar to giant dogs and they are bipedal and abhorrent. Yeah, they really are scary and bring with them that heavy air of freakiness which plays out through the entire film. There is a lilting breeze of humor, which is a nice coating on the pounding intensity. This is an excellent movie with big guns, slobbering, giant-headed monsters, and everyone either becoming a wolf or getting eaten by one. Awesome.

2004

Van Helsing
Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale

As far as Stephen Sommers-directed, guilty pleasure popcorn movies go, this one is brilliant. But if you’re looking for anything much more than that (well, aside from nekkid vamp boobies and a hot Beckinsale), you’re watching the wrong DVD. Jackman plays Van Helsing whose soul purpose is, as we all know from past Vampire/werewolf stories, to kill Dracula. And, so, with that in mind, that’s more or less what happens here. The only thing is, well… Van Helsing’s also a werewolf. Yeah, there’s your stretch. That and the simple fact that his transformations are, without a doubt, some of the silliest in recorded film history. Basically he just un-skins himself with a pile of sloughed ‘him’ all over the floor. And when he regresses, it’s the same only with a big-ass shed pile of wolfen fur all over the furniture. Not cool. Other than that, a decent flick. Kate Beckinsale!

2004

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban
Gary Oldman, David Thewlis

I’m not going through this one. Like Twilight, everyone and their emo sister has read this book and seen the movie. What I will say is that Thewlis’ Professor Lupin (what? Lupin a werewolf? Is Professor Felin a damn cat, too? Stupid name…) looks more like a hairless greyhound as a werewolf than any other I’ve seen before. It’s almost gross just to look at him. Even Oldman’s Black looks more like a dog than Lupin looks like either! Not a werewolf movie per se, but the fight scene is pretty epic, however ugly. And yes I know there is no Professor Felin, so shut it.

2009

New Moon
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattison

Ok, so what I’ve gathered since the opening diatribe is there’s some chick named Bella and some vampire douche named Edward and I guess they’re in love or some vapid, pointless bull shit. In this movie there’s also a werewolf dude named Jacob who’s also a whiny loser douchebag. Ok, moving on. So I see these ads where the kid transforms into a werewolf in mid leap and I have to laugh like an idiot. It just sucks so badly. This does not happen, ever, anywhere. Sorry to burst your ‘Twilight Love’ bubble, but you get a red card for being a shit head. It takes time to change into a werewolf (I’m looking at you, Van Helsing) and it’s painful and prodding and nasty! This shit isn’t just a quick jump and then BAM! Werewolf! So sad. Anyway, enjoy your stupid movie. I’ll keep my stupid movie and we can all be friends. Emo friends, but still friends.