Sunday, 31 May 2009

No. 144 : Werewolf the Devil’s Hound

When you undertake a worthy quest like watching over 100 movies that start with a ‘W’ you inevitably see a lot of wolf and wolf-men based pictures. The standard of these vary considerably and quite often the pass/fail tightrope is judged by the creature effects and the deviations from the standard template.

This film is by no means a masterpiece but at least it attempted to do something a teensy bit different with a tired old genre. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its flaws but, as with a lot of cheapo horror flicks, the restrained budget can be half the fun.

The film opens “in the near future” - why, I have no idea as it looks exactly like today. The opening scene is in ‘Germany’, although I suspect it’s the director’s back yard, and three men with night vision goggles are on a hunt. A familiar lupine howl is heard before one gets a really sore throat from a beast that looks a lot like Chewbacca’s albino cousin. Another man manages to tranquillise it and stick it in a big box reminiscent of the one in that ‘Creepshow’ film. I doubt this was a homage though but simply the box they had. After making a vague comment in fractured English about transformations he sends the box off to an unspecified destination.

Meanwhile in the States a man is awaiting a delivery of some big boxes of fireworks for his pyrotechnics business. When too many appear he thinks he’s getting a good deal but that extra box looks a bit familiar! Predictably the beast is soon on the loose and bites the hand of Kevin who thinks it’s his neighbours dog. Obviously he has never done a ‘W’ movie quest as the wolfie symptoms of acute senses and a feeling of invigoration completely fail to warn him of the wolf man curse that now flows through his veins. Elsewhere the hungry beast is racking up the victims with a lazy fire officer and a lady the first snacks.

The middle third of the film is a bit slow as our man slowly realises that he is becoming a werewolf which causing obvious ructions with his wife, especially when he hooks up with the werewolf, who is a foxy chick in her day clothes. It is worth sticking with the film though as the last half hour is totally nuts with all sorts of weirdness going on. I liked the werewolf fighting the robots which the company had in stock and when the Germans appear for the finale any sense of realism goes out the window. Things pan out as you’d expect, if you expected aliens and explosions.

The actors were uniformly awful and I’d be surprised if there was one trained thespian among their number. Especially bad was the nerdy intern who at least offered one laugh when he arrived with some Sellotape to help secure the door which was being attacked by wolfie. The lead did a poor job of conveying his angst and surprise at being a werewolf, as was his dad who didn’t seem fazed in the slightest.

Although this film seems to have a budget in the hundreds rather than the thousands I did quite enjoy it, especially its quirky touches like an impromptu animation to explain a small plot point. I also liked some of the direction which made the most or rather the least from the wolf suit (that looked more like a yeti than a wolf man) - disguising it by only showing it during gun shot flashes was a decent way of not ruining the illusion.

Sometimes the director goes a bit far, with the arty shots coming thick and fast like he’s running through his film school idiot’s guide on speed. The film enjoys a meagre score of 3/10 on IMDb and that seems harsh when you consider some of the crap that gets a mighty 4/10. I’d say half marks for a good honest effort which doesn’t take itself too seriously would be fair. The film does end with an ominous ‘The End?’ - let’s leave it there chaps even our low limits can be tested!

Best Bit : Nerd loses his head
‘W’ Rating 13/23

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