One from the to watch pile…
Film: Unfortunately for werewolf movies, something happened in 1981 that spoilt it for every one before, and every one after. The definitive werewolf film, the one that every werewolf film from then on would be judged, and it’s a film you may have heard of…
An American Werewolf in London.
Practical effects that were nothing short of magical, a likeable cast and a clever, funny script with all sorts of odd characters and bad dreams make American Werewolf an unbeatable opponent, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing lots of werewolf films as they are my second favourite supernatural creature, (my first are flesh golems like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation) and if I were to pick a creature to become, it would definitely be one of them… I mean, I like meat and my back is already hairy enough!
This is one of those times that I have decided to give another werewolf film a go: director Paul Hyett previously directed The Seasoning House, and is also known for his make-up work on films like The Descent and Doomsday. In an interesting twist, the film is written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, both mainly know for work on children’s shows like Danger Mouse and Thomas the Tank Engine.
Interesting credentials for writers of a werewolf movie!
Joe (Ed Spleers), is a loveable loser/ train conductor forced to do overtime by his new jerk boss on a night time run it something awful happens, well, even more awful than having the job of being a train conductor on a train full of jerks.
The train stops suddenly from hitting a deer on the tracks and when the train driver (Sean Pertwee) goes to investigate, he disappears.
So it’s left to Joe, to assist a hostile group of train passengers, to safety, but it’s hard to lead them to any sort of sanctuary when they are being pursued by something in the woods… Something horrible and dangerous…
Ok, my introduction and the name of the film suggest the issue these people have: it’s werewolves.
The film is shot quite well, even occasionally having a Hammer look to it, and all the action scenes are tense and violent, and once the creature is revealed, it’s got this weirdly cool manitou vibe to it. My best attempt to describe it would be a mid transformation David from American Werewolf and Rawhead Rex.
There is one major problem with this film though, and it’s a core element of effective horror movies.
It’s hard to have any sort of emotional investment in a bunch of jerks, and a milksop leading man, and even though I appreciated their performances, I just didn’t give a stuff if any of them died or not… In actual fact, I wanted them all TO die as quick as possible! Even after the usual section of potential victims revealing their vulnerabilities and secrets to each other, I just didn’t care enough about them for their deaths to even matter in the slightest.
The packaging of the film also does an unforgivable sin: I second bills a cast member whose name has some cache, even though they are barely in the film for ten minutes.
The film isn’t bad, not by any means, it just doesn’t stand out, unfortunately, as I pointed out, due to the fact there is already the perfect werewolf movie made. It does have some good elements, but I couldn’t get past the fact that the characters were all such horrible people.
Format: The reviewed copy of Howl is the Australian region B bluray release and is presented in a crisp and clear 2.40:1 image with a DTS Master HD 5.1. Unfortunately this does reveal some of the CGI to be a little subpar.
Extras: The disc opens with a few trailers: October Gale, How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town, Electric Slide and Glassland. If that’s not enough extras for you than.. Well, tough, because that’s all there is!
WISIA: Watch either American Werewolf in London or The Howling again, would be my suggestion!
I saw a really good Swedish werewolf movie the other week called WHEN ANIMALS DREAM.
It’s very clearly trying to be the LET THE RIGHT ONE IN of werewolf films, and while it’s nowhere near that level of greatness it’s still a really good movie. In fact, it’s almost like a grim, Nordic GINGER SNAPS.
I know it was released locally on DVD but I saw it on SBS On Demand, but it’s no longer there.
I have that on my To Watch Pile, review coming soon!
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