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Werewolf (1996)



While not completely without merit, Werewolf suffers from a full complement of problems typical of direct-to-video releases. Unfortunately, these aren't all budget-related; some of the flaws are simply inexplicable.

Werewolf begins with an unlikely team of archaeologists on an unlikely dig in Arizona finding an unlikely werewolf skeleton -- completely intact. Obviously this isn't the movie to watch if you dislike implausibilities.

But, since I don't think implausibilities are inherent flaws with films themselves, I can easily overlook that fact. In light of this, the beginning of Werewolf is actually one of the highlights. The setting is stylistic -- the werewolf skeleton plays nicely off the stark whiteness of the hills, for instance. Even a completely absurd fistfight that the diggers get into works adequately (although if they landed the punches any further from each other, they would have been in different states). (By the way, I call them "diggers" rather than archaeologists since they are basically hired hands -- there are only a few "real" archaeologists in this film.)

One of the diggers cuts himself on the skeleton, and expanding the werewolf folklore a bit, director and writer Tony Zarindast (along with writer Brad Hornbacher) adds this as another transmission method for "werewolfism." The bitten character is taken to a hospital for stitches. He's released, but by the time he returns to the dig site, he's in worse health than ever and heads back to the hospital where he finally transforms. From this point, things move along fairly predictably.

The plot remains what I would call "serviceable" -- in other words, it's adequate if not particularly enchanting or thrilling. Kind of what you might expect a computer to spit out if you fed it the scripts of all the other werewolf movies plus a few "X-Files" plots and said, "Okay, shake and bake." But the real problem here is the plethora of bizarre flaws.

One of them, at least, is pleasant if a bit silly. That is that all of the female characters are gorgeous models. Their acting isn't especially notable and they sure don't look like you'd expect archaeologists and writers (?) to look, but they are a treat to look at.

Another problem is the non-existent pacing. It's difficult to believe that there was an editor on this film. Obviously the werewolf transformations are going to be difficult to pull off given this film's budget, but there's absolutely no excuse to cut to long shots of the full moon every few seconds in order to enable your makeup men do their job. Cheesy fades from make-up shot to makeup shot would have been preferable. Or, even better yet, simply cut to alternate camera angles. We know the moon is supposed to be full. It's a werewolf flick. Showing the actor's face, then five seconds of moon, then the actor's face with more makeup, then five more seconds of moon, then on and on doesn't help make this a good film. Also, in the makeup department, Werewolf has an almost total lack of gore. Some horror films can pull that off. This one can't.

The next serious flaw is the score. Werewolf has one of the most irritating scores I've heard yet. Keith Bilderbeck tries to uses Wagnerian leitmotifs for certain types of action. The principle effect this has is that it makes you anticipate the motifs before they occur. "Uh-oh . . . someone's lycanthropizing. Here comes that irritating slow trill again." That sort of thing.

And lastly, and I suppose this is related to the non-editing of Peter Taylor, there are a number of truly bizarre, incongruous, extended shots. For instance, inexplicably in the middle of a really long, boring billiards scene, Zarindast calls for a slow, slow pan across a western mural. Bilderbeck accompanies with silly themes for the characters. For instance, here comes the cowboy so let's play something that sounds like "Happy Trails." These shots didn't have anything to do with the film. They didn't fit. They were just stupid.

This film is really only for horror fans who simply must see every werewolf film in existence. They'll find it mildly amusing, but equally annoying at the same time. Anyone else who thinks they might be interested should try to wait for a cable showing.


Where to begin with this

Where to begin with this totally inept movie? Well,I first saw this on MST3K and it was the perfect movie for them to do.Why? It had nothing to do with the movie being low budget,which it was,but for the fact of so many flaws.I'm not talking about a few flaws,which some movies can get away with.Not in the case for this one.Let me see,Yuri's hair kept changing in each scene and no one said anything about it..The exterior of the hospital doesn't match the interior..The lead "actress" Natalie couldn't act to save her life.Not really a flaw per se,but still..The earbones on the skeleton..When the security guard(played by the director)turns into a werewolf,he's driving a car and keeps going by the same gas station at least 3 times,then all of a sudden,out of nowhere,he crashes into oil barrels..How come Paul never says what his book is about?? Why does it take so long for Paul to turn into a werewolf??Then we see him crawling on the ground and chasing some girl who ran out of the jeep that her boyfriend was in and nibbling on her neck..Paul slowly turns into a werewolf at the pool hall,where Natalie and Yuri are playing a game and no one notices..I know there are a few more,but that's all I can think of at the moment..A fun movie not to be taken seriously.Not a horror classic by any means..I've watched the movie by itself and it does go by slow.Thanks,but I'll stick with the MST3K version instead..Thanks! I'm outta here....