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In the short term, the YTC podcast can currently be found at http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk/blogs/youtotalcult/
The blog below was under an older name of Hollyweird. I have kept the numbering the same so that I could keep track of my posts, but this is where it all begin back in the heyday of 2012…
Werewolves- let’s be honest now- are crap. As monsters go they are not so much the dogs bollocks as the cats hernia. The criteria for becoming a werewolf is essentially just to having a bad day. Anyone can become one, you just need to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even then, your powers are limited to once a month or so. Being an unlucky bugger who is powerless most of the time certainly lacks the drama associated with many other ‘monsters’. For instance, Mr Hyde or the Invisible Man have tragic elements of self-creation. Frankenstein’s Monster struggles against humanity as it develops its own conscience, and is a victim of the world that created it. The Creature From The Black Lagoon is just defending his lifestyle against encroaching humans (NB: The Creature’s victims are idiots. Who would go swimming in a black lagoon???).
In fact the closest horror-archtype to a Werewolf is their distant cousin, the Vampire. Although the criteria for becoming a Vampire is somewhat akin to becoming a Werewolf, ie a being a victim of circumstance, I am reluctant to count vampires as rubbish for two reasons. Firstly, because Vampires normally seem to be enjoy having been changed into creatures of the night, and secondly because they are presented as being pretty darn sexy.
Yet, Werewolves are probably my favourite monster for the above reasons. See, I just love underdogs….. (….Sorry….)……. I really do.
All of which brings us to this entries film. See, for a famous movie monster- nay a creature famous the world over that is celebrated as different Were-creatures in different cultures across all ages if man- just, why are there so few, decent Werewolf movies??? Given my love of the hairy fellas, I’ve seen a fair few over the years. And it always comes down to the same four stand outs;
– The original Universal Studios Wolfman. This is still possibly the most definitive version of a Werewolf committed to screen. But aside from some good performances and nostalgic love, sadly it is pretty dated and dull.
–An American Werewolf In London. The immortal benchmark, a sublime comedy-horror.
–Dog Soldiers. Coming out of nowhere to establish itself as a low-budget, top notch action-comedy.
–Ginger Snaps. Interesting twist on female-werewolves.
Trick ‘R Treat is a fantastic(al) anthology featuring Werewolves, but Sam is the star of that film. Jack Nicholson’s vehicle Wolf is solid, if a bit po-faced and flabby (mainly the film, but also Jack). The Howling is OK it just never reaches the levels of the above films. But by far, the most underrated to my mind is Silver Bullet. This is by no means a great film, but it is, whether intentional or not, good fun. Being ‘fun’ seems to be the key aspect shared by the successful Werewolf films, but completely missed by most failures.
Silver Bullet began life as a Stephen King short story, ‘The Cycle of the Werewolf’. King also wrote the screenplay here so naturally it’s a small town in Maine that is beset by a murderous evil. Soon neighbours turn on one another… yadda, yadda… long story short, only one person thinks a Werewolf may be at large. Not just any person mind you, but a kid. Not just any kid mind you, but a kid in a wheelchair. Not just any wheelchair mind you, but a motorbike-infused one. Oh, and these wheels of steel are called The Silver Bullet. So the set up is an 80’s heartthrob as disabled boy, in a Nitro-powered wheelchair named after a deadly item vs a Werewolf.
So then, which great child actor could pull off this thrill-seeking, disabled good guy persona??? Why Corey Haim, naturally.
Haim plays his role earnestly, which actually adds a strange camp value to the film. It’s fair enough that he would do so, after all his part has to be sympathetic yet heroic. But if he is playing his role a bit too straight, luckily there are the more experienced cast members on hand, and they sure are a scenery chewing bunch of character actors!
Get a load of this; Corey’s alcoholic, kind hearted uncle, who helps mod the wheelchair, is played by Gary Busey. Ed the Mechanic from Twin Peaks is a one-eyed priest. Lawrence ’Reservoir Dogs’ Tierny is the local bar owner. John Locke from Lost plays a sheriff and was then young enough to have hair! This film sure would be a lot harder to watch if it wasn’t for these guys supplying the air of the film with a mix of menace, mystery and absurdity.
Much like the scenery chompers listed above, Silver Bullet’s soundtrack is overblown. Luckily, the comedic effect of all this makes the film all the more engaging. Scoring to full 80’s rock effect is Jay ‘Manic Cop’ Chattaway, who manages to help the ‘scary’ scenes come across more as spoof scenes. [For Copywrite reasons I cannot embed or link to any videos here. but the curious amongst you caould search something like ‘Silver Bullet Wheelchair Chase’ into a video search engine].
The film is clearly a lot of fun, even if you’re laughing at it rather than with it. Though in some ways, the thing about Silver Bullet is how much more interesting it could have been. At one stage it was being directed by a personal favourite auteur of mine, Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep’s Don Coscarelli. Sadly Don left the project over concerns about the wolf costume.
Even more intriguing, the film was originally supposed to feature cinema’s first talking Werewolf. The producers bottled it, so that was scrapped. Sigh.
Still, when all is said and done, and the wolf-battle is lost and won, Silver Bullet is a breezy watch. Given the output of awful werewolf films- and I’m damn sure looking at you Cursed– I’d happily take lightweight fun ‘wolf flicks over more ponderous ones.
Next time will be Anime-time. Hai.
Thanks for reading,
At least Werewolves are finally getting some respect via Cabin In The Woods. (*** SPOILER ALERT***) After the debacle of shape-shifting Twilight crap, I was really pleased to note that the last creature standing, not counting an elder god, was a Werewolf. So the end of humanity is brought down via a fuzzball. Yeah!!!!