You’re in Good company when you’re amongst Wolves

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Here we have another nearly forgotten gem, burned into my memory from my days of exploring the VHS aisles. Long before I would be allowed to rent such a film, I was fascinated by the incredible image on the cover. Was this person turning into a Werewolf? Or was a wolf literally trying to escape from within? How did it get there? I didn’t pick up on metaphors very easily as a young lad, it seems…I didn’t even make the Little Red Riding Hood connection that was staring me right in the face. Young me must have had ADD. Since it’s gone so long untreated, i think it’s only proper to give me all the drugs for it now. I’ll catch up.

 

Everyone knows the cutesy version of fairytales, Red Riding Hood, the Big Bad Wolf, etc… and most of us have heard the bloody original versions which seemed to be told to scare children out of harms way. Boil away everything but the subtext of Grimms tales and the message is mostly “Kids, don’t do dumb shit, or associate with sketchy people, because you will get raped and die, MAYBE in that order.” Despite this we tend to hold these tales in a special place in our mind. They are instantly familiar, yet so often forgotten. This film is a perfect example of those qualities.  Equal parts anthology film, graphic fantastical retelling, fever dream, and erotic nightmare. The film unfolds within a dream where the characters tell various stories, which in turn unfold for the audience, all for the dreamer to wake to see her dream come to life. It’s a bit strange, and not the most easily accessible, but well worth the ride.

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Angela Lansbury plays “Granny”, who knits the Red Riding Hood, and tells the majority of the tales, and she is just a fucking joy to watch. Anytime she is on screen I can’t help but hum the “Murder She Wrote” theme to myself. Also a joy are the FX work and transformation sequences. Clearly the filmmakers paid careful attention to folklore when dreaming up the visuals. Unibrows and salves, and such abound! The telling of these classic fables through the mesh of human sexuality is somewhat jarring yet oddly fitting. So much imagery in the film doesn’t make sense and is totally wrong, such as Pythons and Reptiles chilling in a French Forrest, but they work within the dreamlike-fairy tale atmosphere

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Released several years after the trifecta of Wolfen, An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, I totally understand how this film went a bit under the radar. For Horror fans young and old, The Company of Wolves should be considered Must-See cinema, but is best viewed with an open mind. Lacking in Gore and Gratuitous Nudity, as well as the usual cheap thrills, the film more than makes up for it by positively dripping with Nightmarish atmosphere.

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Well Hot Damn! It feels good to be back! It’s been nearly a full year, but I promise I’m coming back with a new bag of tricks! Well, actually none of this shit is new…just stuff I haven’t used before.

This year’s #31DaysOfHorror will take a look at the works of two of the Masters: John Carpenter and Rob Zombie. Various entries will examine their films, and I’ll be taking a look at their recent “Feud”…and believe me…I have some fucking Venom to unleash on you fuckers.

 

You can also look forward to seeing original video content being included in a select few posts, as well as special guests. Welcome back, and enjoy the ride!

#31DaysOfHorror : Oct 14

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1981 was a pretty awesome year for fans of Werewolf films. Both The Howling and An American Werewolf in London saw their release, making use of groundbreaking special effects that still hold up to this day. Both films managed to take old legends and stories, and bring them into the 20th century, and still stand as two of the best werewolf films ever made. In addition to these 2 classics, Wolfen was also released. Based on a novel by Whitley Strieber, the film is not about Werewolves as such, but evokes many of the same fears, while conveying a unique message.

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I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible, because I think EVERYONE should see this film, so please bear with me. The plot follows New York cop Dewey Wilson investigating the suspicious murder of a wealthy land developer. Strange hairs are found at the scene what experts determine are the hairs of a wolf, but not any of the 50 know subspecies. Whomever or whatever is doing the killing seems to have a humans cunning with an animals savagery. Dewey finds himself desperately seeking answers, even considering the possibility of shapeshifters after talking to a group of Native Americans.

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If you’ve ever seen a full grown Timber Wolf angry, you know how terrifying it is. This film delivers some fantastic shots of truly beautiful creatures in ways seldom seen outside of Animal Planet. The film also offers an interesting look at trying to stay connected to the natural world while still within a suffocating concrete metropolis. Wolfen is most certainly NOT a Werewolf film, but still has that familiar feel to it. It examines the relationship between man and beast in a way that Horror films rarely see, while still giving us the tension and dread we so crave.

” In arrogance man knows nothing of what exists. There exists on this earth such as we dare not imagine; life as certain as our death, life that will prey on us as surely as we prey on this earth.”

“Wer” has this film been all my life?

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When i was very young, probably in the first grade, I came across a book examining the history and folklore surrounding Werewolves. For the life of me I cannot remember the title, but this was my first exposure to the Legends and Superstitions surrounding Werewolves, making them more than just Movie Monsters to me. Here were different superstitions from all around Europe, “Historical” accounts of some rumored to be Werewolves, like Peter Stubbe, a chapter on how to become a Werewolf, even going so far as to describe an elaborate ceremony to conjure evil spirits with whom to beg to be made a Werewolf(Wait, what? Seems a little heavy for a children s book), and also Chapters describing diseases that might explain some of the Werewolf hysteria, such as St. Anthony’s Fire, and Porphyria. Ever since then, I have always believed that even though the Movies may not have gotten it right, that Werewolves really do exist.

WER is a much needed shot of adrenaline to the Werewolf film genre. It’s greatest trick is keeping the wolf element to a minimum and focusing on the madness within men.  The film opens as Found Footage, showing an American family camping in the French Countryside, soon they are attacked and brutally slaughtered by a savage creature, leaving only one survivor barely clinging to life.  We snap back to traditional film style and learn that due to a bizarre description given by the surviving woman, what was originally considered an animal attack is now being investigated as a Homicide. Through exposition, we learn that a very large and strange looking man who lives in the vicinity of the camp has been arrested under suspicion of the crimes. And here we meet Talan Gwynek.

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I won’t spoil what happens next, as you really should check this out for yourself, but what i CAN tell you is that a good portion of the film plays out like a crime drama. We see the defense team for Talan trying to prove he could not have commited these crimes by proving that he suffers from Porphyria, and also examining how this couples with the Lunar Effect. When things finally do get savage, we see a decidedly non-lupine Werewolf on a rampage.

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Throughout history there have been numerous accounts of Werewolves and similar creatures  from all over the world. These stories are drastically far removed from the Werewolves we have seen in films. It’s nice to see a film finally bridge the gap in a way that makes it easy to suspend disbelief…well, except for that whole “Fall-10-stories-and-be-fine” part…

Lust and Lycanthropes

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Please take two minutes to watch the trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j01dPdN5Fbs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Now there should be no doubt about what the movie is, and for the most part, exactly what happens in it. This film is 100% exploitation from start to finish. I don’t think more than 5 mins go by without a violent act or sex act is shown in graphic sleazy detail. 
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The film opens with a young couple camping somewhere in Mexico, when they are attacked by one of the worst looking Werewolves I have ever fucking seen. It seriously has red LED lights for eyes. Luckily, they are able to make use of a bottle of Vodka with real silver flakes in it, a flaming log, and a terrible CGI cliff to kill the werewolf…but not before Sarah is bitten and Jack is killed.

Sarah is taken to a sleazy jail in Campuna, with no trial or even a formal arrest. Her pleas to speak to the American Embassy are rebuffed by Rita, a perverted Latina Dominatrix who is the right hand man of the Warden, Juan. Both use the girls in the prison to run seedy porn sites, prostitution ventures, and other exploitative endeavors. It is here that the nudity quota skyrockets, and we are treated to porn music that accompanies the “Lesbi-rotic” scenes.

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The acting is terrible! All too often, the actresses have zero change in their facial expressions, whether they are getting groped, or torn to bloody shreds. Even worse, they deliver atrocious dialogue as if they are reading the line for the very first time. “You’ve got the Devil n you so I’ll kill Satan’s mistress”. Not kidding. Someone actually says that. The film is embarrassingly bad from start to finish, and even has the nerve to rip off An American Werewolf In London ( you’ll know it when you see it). As much as this movie fails on virtually every level possible, I still love it for it’s over the top sex and violence. I rank this film firmly in the same category as Troll 2, Sharknado, and a host of other shitty gems, as films that are so bad they are good…and the badder they get…the BETTER they get!

Yes, I know “badder” isn’t a real word, but it made a better closing line. Fuck you.

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 21

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Oct 21st: The Howling(1981): http://youtu.be/A31Nzr6ih9U

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Yes, I’m fully aware that this is the 3rd entry I’ve reviewed from this franchise, but it still stands as one of my all time favorite films. The story follows Karen White(Dee Wallace), a news reporter who is being stalked by a serial killer named Eddie. She offers to help police find him by agreeing to meet with Eddie. He lures her to a seedy part of town and into a peep show both, where he shows her a video of a woman being raped, but will not let her look at him. Eddie expresses and obsessive desire for Karen, and it is implied that he intends to rape and kill her. Just as he tells her to turn around and look at him, Karen screams, allerting nearby police who shoot and (seemingly) kill Eddie. Karen is traumatized by the ordeal and cannot return to work, so at the advice of her psychiatrist, she and her Husband take a trip to “The Colony”, a secluded community that the Doctor sends patients to recover. Upon arrival, we meet a whole assortment of characters, including the simple yet rugged TC, as well as his sister, leather clad nymphomaniac Marsha Quist.  Amid thse settings, Karen attempts to come to grips with her ordeal, but becomes weary of the Howling she hears in the woods at night…as well as the advances of Marsha towards her husband Bill.

In the meantime, Karen’s friends and friends from the newsroom are investigating just who “Eddie” is, and through their digging, they learn that his body has vanished from the morgue, that he may have some connection to The Colony…and that he may be a werewolf!

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Joe Dante makes sure to keep the tongue firmly in cheek for this film. The tone is self-aware and satirical, but still manages to give weight to the frightful elements. Hidden treats for genre fans include cameos by Forrey Ackerman (grand Poobah behind Famous Monster of Filmland), and Roger Corman, and the script positively bursts with subtle Werewolf film references.  The effects are the real star of the show though. Originally the effects were to be handled by Rick Baker, however he chose to pass in favor of working on An American Werewolf In London, so in stepped Rob Bottin.

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It’s ironic that both films would feature groundbreaking transformation sequences that were shown extensively on camera. The Howling stands out further by it’s use of stop-motion animation as well as a full on cartoon sequence in it’s depiction of the shaggy beasts. as corny as it sounds, it works. I will never get tired of this movie. While it’s legacy may have been tarnished with shit sequels, take a minute to consider there are 8 films in the Howling franchise. That is more than Childs Play, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, Leprechaun…ok, maybe using Leprechaun was a poor choice. To end things on a high note, here’s a naked pic of Marsha Quist 😉

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#31DayOfHorror: Oct 7-9

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Oct 7th: Silver Bullet(1985): http://youtu.be/WQ24mMwi9Mk

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Y’know how the movie is never as good as the book? Well that goes double for movies based on books written by Stephen King. King’s Novella “Cycle Of The Werewolf” is a year long arc, broken up into chapters based around the lunar cycle, and telling the story of a Werewolf hunting in a small town, only to be found out, and ultimately stopped by a young brother and sister. Where  “Cycle” really shone was in allowing King to do what he does best by crafting a haunting and engaging atmosphere, one in which we cannot help but look forward to what horror lurk on the next page. Helping this along were the incredible illustrations of Bernie Wrightson, who King had also collaborated with on Creepshow.

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Now as far as 80’s werewolf films go, Silver Bullet is far from the worst, but when compared to the Holy Trinity of 1981 (The Howling, Wolfen, an An American Werewolf In London), it pales in comparison. Having said that, it’s not without it’s charm. It stars Corey Haim as the wheelchair-bound Marty, Gary Busey as the Cool-as-shit Uncle Red, and Everett McGill as Reverend Lowe, later revealed to be the werewolf. The story depicted in the film is greatly compressed, taking place within a single summer, rather than a full year, and sees Busey turn in a fantastic performance, the highlight of which is him unleashing the “Full-crazy-face” when he finally sees the werewolf. 

Oct 8th: The Fog(1980): http://youtu.be/nOZwnivtLbc

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This was the first film made by Carpenter after his massive success in Halloween. While it was not nearly as big a hit, it still works as a good old fashioned ghost story. 100 years ago, 6 men conspired to sink a ship full of Lepers and loot the wreckage. The sea-side town of Antonio Bay was founded with the ill-gotten gold, and on the centennial anniversary of the town, a mysterious glowing fog rolls in from sea, carrying with it the vengeful spirits. Carpenter’s films are often known for their simple yet iconic synth scores, and this may be his finest yet. A truly creepy dirge that captures the feeling of the film perfectly. In 2005, a remake of The Fog was released…and the less said about that the better. Carpenter’s Fog still stands up as am eerie, moody film, drenched in atmospheric horror. This should be required viewing for young-uns who need a horror film education.

 

Oct 9th: Sleepaway Camp(1983): http://youtu.be/5pjjuFT6QF4

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Where to begin? This gender-bending camping gem is responsible for one of the strangest twist endings in film history and packs more than its fair share of odd sexual plot points. The film opens to see a Father and his two young children enjoying a summer day on the lake, when a freak accident sees a speedboat crash into them. 8 years later, and we learn the lone survivor Angela now lives with her cousin Ricky and her very odd aunt. As Ricky and Angela are leaving for camp, it is established that Angela isn’t very talkative, and her Aunt speaks like a Stepford wife who says literally everything that comes to her mind. Upon arriving at the camp, it’s teen politics as usual, with Ricky being somewhat popular and keeping a watchful eye out for shy Angela, who proves an easy target for the other kids. Kids are assholes. Soon after the camp opens and the campers arrive, it becomes clear that a murderer is at work, and it seems like Ricky might be the culprit…but the eventual reveal (never has that term been more appropriate) will be something NOBODY will see coming.

Because it’s the 80s, there are an awful lot of campers and counselors alike wearing hilariously short shorts, and feathered hair. It also spawned two hilariously bad sequels. After the big reveal…ah fuck it, Angela is actually a boy, we get a more clear picture of the mental state of the Aunt. At first she just seems odd and quirky, but when we learn that she views the taking in of her orphaned nephew as an opportunity to have the little girl she always wanted, it becomes very clear she is a deeply disturbed woman. It is also revealed that before the accident, Angela and her Brother walked in on their father in the throws of a homosexual relationship, the significance of which isn’t really addressed, but we are left to assume has left Angela traumatized. And because the sexuality on this film wasn’t deviant enough, the first victim is a Pedophile working in the mess hall, who attempts to take advantage of Angela before she is saved by Ricky. I confess that i don’t know exactly what the writers were trying to say by incorporate all these elements, but I will say that anytime i meet a cute girl, part of me wonders if she has a dick.