Last week, I took aim at one of my favorite sub-genres in horror and counted down the top 10 coolest looking cinematic werewolves. I was pleasantly surprised by the over-enthusiastic response via social media and the fact that so many people hold the lycanthrope so near and dear to their hearts as well!
It’s funny – the inspiration for the piece came to me in part because I had just revisited Eric Red’s excellent 1996 feature BAD MOON (out July 19th on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory), and intended to incorporate it in my original list, but it was a tough call, and at the last minute I had to go with DOG SOLDIERS instead. But what the hell? Why not celebrate our 6 runners-up for this week?!
Now, as I stated last time, but will reiterate here, I’m not talking about the best werewolf movies. Or the best transformations. I’m specifically singling out the actual design and look of the beast. In fact, for this entry, there’s one title I haven’t even seen (yet), but during my research, I stumbled upon photos and screengrabs and hence felt the need to include it here. So let’s have a look and howl at the moon.
BAD MOON (1996)
Eric Red’s 1996 werewolf feature BAD MOON, starring Mariel Hemingway and Michael Pare as a pair of siblings, was based upon the book THOR by Wayne Smith, which told the story completely from the perspective of the family dog! The narrative shifts for the movie version, primarily to Pare’s Uncle Ted, as he’s attacked by a werewolf in the opening of the feature and inflicted with the dreaded curse. We get to see him in full wolf mode as the movie progresses and the design is provided by none other than FX legend Steve Johnson! It’s a realistic animatronic head fixed on top of a very large actor, who just happens to be a former Jason Voorhees, Ken Kirzinger! When he’s in the shadows and shown in flash bits, he looks his horrific best! And the movie itself is a pretty solid werewolf tale. For those that recall the awful CGI transformation, fret not – in Eric Red’s “director’s cut” on the Blu-Ray release, the transformation is truncated and edited in a way that makes it play much better than in the theatrical.
WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935)
It all began here with the 1935 feature film WEREWOLF OF LONDON, directed by Stuart Walker and starring Henry Hull as Dr. Glendon, a botanist in search of a rare plant in Tibet! While on his journey, he’s attacked and bitten by a wolf, and upon his return to the States, and at the full moon, he changes into a werewolf! This is the first major mainstream Hollywood movie to feature the werewolf as it’s monster! Legendary FX artist Jack Pierce designed the werewolf make-ups for Hull, but a mere 6 years later, he’d perfect this design with THE WOLF MAN!
TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
Well, I guess this is a minor spoiler if you haven’t seen Michael Dougherty’s excellent Halloween anthology film TRICK ‘R TREAT. But considering there’s multiple monsters appearing through the various segments, all taking place on Halloween night, you should expect to see some werewolves in there! And actually, if you haven’t seen TRICK ‘R TREAT in the decade since it’s come out, you deserve to have it spoiled. One segment follows Anna Paquin’s Laurie as she’s roaming the Halloween parade with her girlfriend’s looking for her “first.” Naturally, by “first,” we assume she’s ready to “become a woman,” but the big reveal is she’s ready to become a werewolf and claim her first proper victim! It’s one of the coolest sections of the flick, but more importantly, an entire party of female werewolves together never looked better!
Here’s one I haven’t seen yet, but while doing my research online for werewolf movies, I kept stumbling upon some screengrabs from writer/director David Hayter’s 2014 movie WOLVES. In it, a high school football played named Clayton (Lucas Till) suddenly develops a little lycanthropy problem! With blood on his hands, he becomes a drifter, but eventually stumbles upon not only a town full of werewolves, but members of his own bloodline. Considering that there are multiple werewovles in this one feature, and from what little I’ve seen from the trailer, it definitely looks like the FX crew at the very least delivered in some cool, modernized, unique designs, including the one above!
BAD MOON RISING (Short Film 2010)
Here’s another one I had discovered simply by investigating werewolf movies on the Internet. I stumbled upon the website of FX artist Steven Boyle and found his killer designs for a short film titled BAD MOON RISING, from director Scott Hamilton. Thankfully, I was also able to find the short film where the above (and header) image came from via You Tube and Vimeo. It’s a cool little short where an interrogation suddenly goes very, very wrong. There’s also a pitch reel using footage from other films to showcase what an intended full length feature would look like, but the actual shirt film is where its at! Definitely have a look at it and kudos to Boyle for such an awesome looking werewolf design!
TEEN WOLF (1985)
I’m not even joking when I publicly profess my love for the late, great Rod Daniel’s 1985 cult comedy coming-of-age classic TEEN WOLF, about a boy and his father just trying to figure things out. That boy, Scott Howard, happens to be played by Michael J. Fox! He’s a good hearted dorky kid that hangs out with his childhood girl friend Boof (Susan Ursitti), is in love with the most popular girl in school who happens to be in the drama club, plays basketball terribly and has a eccentric party animal of a best friend named Stiles. When he suddenly realizes that he’s inherited the werewolf gene from his parents, he considers his affliction a curse. Until he realizes it also brings him great powers and enables him to make their local basketball team winners. But as his father says, “with great power comes an even greater responsibility.” No seriously, that’s actual dialogue, which isn’t surprising since famed comic book writer Jeph Loeb is co-writer on the script! Anyways, it’s not scary, but it is a great kid friendly werewolf movie with a good moral message. And Scott looks awesome as the wolf!