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Added by Michael S on 2 Feb 2014 11:45
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Aesthetix' 365 Nights of Horror: Feb/2014 (closed)

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This Month's Focus:

Werewolves




*EDIT* Sadly, this month was something of a failure, regarding my intentions. Work, winter weather, car troubles and life-in-general demanded more of my time and watching movies took a back seat. Hopefully, next month...

As I got a bit off-track last month, I intend to put more effort into defining this month's agenda. February's a short one so I thought I'd go with Werewolves, in general (instead of simply The Howling series) and a few other unnaturals 'red in tooth and claw' just to round things out, since I don't think there are enough lycanthrope films at my disposal to fill out even a short month.

I've already got ahead of myself in watching The Wolf Man, The Howling and Howling II last month, so I'll finish the series here and go from there.

Here's hoping it's a Howling good time!
People who added this item 125 Average listal rating (88 ratings) 4.4 IMDB Rating 0
2/21
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Synopsis: Bats, the result of a government experiment gone wrong, have suddenly become intelligent, vicious, and omnivorous, and are attacking people near Gallup, Texas. Bat specialist Sheila Casper and her assistant Jimmy are brought in but can they stop the bats before the military comes in and, in their ignorance, makes things worse?


One of the often overlooked gems of the late-90's; this action/horror by no means deserves the low rating that it has both here and at IMDB. While it's no Casablanca (or Dracula for that matter), it is quite a lot of fun.

Lou Diamond Phillips has made a career out of starring in B-movies and TV series but that's not such a bad thing. He's got a way about him onscreen that brings the level of the project up a few notches. Young Guns, Disorganized Crime and The First Power all benefited from his presence and were all pretty cool films to start with.

He's joined here by the ever-so-sexy Dina Meyer and Leon (playing a flippant assistant who tosses off one-liners like Elvis used to do with $100 bills), as well as Carlos Jacott and Bob Gunton - neither of whom are household names but have very recognizable faces.

And, of course, the bats. ;D

There's no ground-breaking material to be found here and they've even got a proverbial mad scientist to blame for the trouble but, damn, it's loads of fun!
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People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 5.9
The Werewolf (1956)
2/20


Synopsis: Two scientists come across an auto accident, and find an unconscious man in the wreck. They take him back to their lab and inject him with a serum they have been working with. Unfortunately, the serum has the effect of turning the man into a murderous werewolf.


A very traditional, science-fiction take on the age-old legend of the werewolf. Released in '56, this film has the same feel as so many other sci-fi flicks of the '50's; yet, unlike so many that were churned out in that decade, this tale is quite good. Perhaps it's the werewolf aspect of it or maybe it's just that it's well-written, acted and directed.

This also, whether intentional or not, is an homage to the classic Chaney Jr. vehicle, The Wolf Man. Duncan Marsh finds himself a victim twice-over as the has the misfortune of crashing his car in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up at the not-so-tender mercies of two, rather unscrupulous scientists who infect him with lycanthropy.

Because of the accident he has temporary amnesia, as well and when he wanders into a nearby town...well, things start to happen. Steven Ritch plays the hapless victim and does just as fine a job as Lon Chaney Jr. did a decade before. I very much enjoyed this one.
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People who added this item 2089 Average listal rating (1311 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
2/17-18


Synopsis: In a dystopian near-future, Japanese students from a random class are chosen annually to compete in a winner-take-all battle to the death; brought about, apparently, by the rebellious nature of the youth in conflict with society.


So this is where Hunger Games stole it's mojo from. It's not bad but may seem quirky to regular viewers of American cinema for the differences in mannerism and dialogue. Asian cinema has always struck me funny with regards to dialogue.

While this was entertaining, there is nothing truly groundbreaking or sense-shattering to be found here. The staged conflicts and special effects are nothing to write home about and are on par with what was done in American cinema 30-40 years ago. No one's acting will blow you away either, though none of it is terrible.

It's more of a curiosity than anything and makes me wonder, now, what The Hunger Games might have been with the benefit of an R-rating. Also, this isn't really a horror movie but it's been tagged by some as 'horror' and I really needed another entry here. ;)

Note: it was a treat to see Chiaki Kuriyama again, even if in a minor role. Her role as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill was my favorite character in the movie and her fight scene w/ Uma Thurman was easily the best scene of the movie, too.
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2/9


Synopsis: Based on actual accounts of werewolf sightings in Walworth County, Wisconsin, The Beast of Bray Road follows a local sheriff who is finally forced to accept that a string of horrifying deaths is linked to a predator which possesses DNA of both man and wolf.


While there are a few decent scenes here, it's mostly garbage with a cast of people who, it seems, never took the first acting class.
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2/8
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Synopsis: A British Squad is sent on a training mission in the Highlands of Scotland against Special Operations squad. Ignoring the childish "campfire" stories heard about the area, they continue with their mission and come across the bloody remains of the Special Ops Squad, and a fierce howling is pitching the night sky...


"There is no Spoon."

Quite possibly the best werewolf movie ever made! Gods know I needed it, too; after the last one. I really do love this movie.

This is the most perfect blend of realism and fantasy that I've seen in any movie. The dialogue and characterization are spot-on with what I believe would happen if this came off for real. It's also a great example of the melding of genres as they blend horror, action, war, drama, suspense and even a splash of comedy and it is cinematic perfection.

Neill Marshall secured his place in the annals of horror history here. If for some unknown reason you have not yet seen this, get off your ass and watch it. This is must-see stuff.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 3.3 IMDB Rating 3
2/8

Synopsis: High in the Appalachian Mountains and under a full moon, a timeless evil rises. An awakened predator whose savagery and ferocity are matched only by its insatiable appetite. Consumed by its legendary bloodlust, the creature begins the hunt for its oldest and most dangerous prey: Man.


It's shite, mates; pure and simple. Want to know why I gave it 2/10 stars instead of 1? Because a few of the actors actually seemed to be giving it their all...and their incompetence was hilarious.

Skip it and find something interesting to do like count blades of grass.
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People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 4.8 IMDB Rating 0
2/7


Synopsis: After several locals are viciously murdered, a Louisiana sheriff starts to suspect he may be dealing with a werewolf.


I came across this 70's gem on Netflix and was intrigued by the cast. Seriously, how do you turn away from a werewolf movie starring the likes of David Janssen, Barbara Rush, Bradford Dilman and Geoffrey Lewis?

Of course, I'd never heard of this one but I soon came to realize that it was a made-for-TV movie; the dead giveaway was when a scene faded to black and the words Insert Commercial Here appeared. ;D

Janssen plays a small town sheriff in a southern Louisiana town (a movie made in my neck of the woods, as the saying goes!) and when a young girl turns up dead on the bayou things quickly go from bad to worse. At first wild dogs are blamed but an autopsy reveals evidence of foul play. The mystery deepens when the girl's brother, sequestered in a jail cell, and the deputy guarding him are both killed. Impossibly, the cell door is ripped from it's moorings.

This, I found out later, was one of ABC's Movie of the Week presentations and it's a fairly good one. The werewolf makeup is atrocious but most of the tale deals with the police investigation and the various residents as suspense is built, leaving the 'big reveal' until near the end. I've only given this a rating of 6/10 stars but it's still the best werewolf movie that I've seen this month!
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2/5


Synopsis: A monstrous creature terrorizes a 19th Century European village by moonlight and a young man struggles to protect his loved ones from an unspeakable scourge as bounty hunters, thrillseekers and charlatans descend upon his home all seeking the reward.


This may be the latest offering from Universal Studios but it's a mere shadow compared to the classic monster films that shaped the Hollywood horror landscape nearly a century ago. True, there are a number of semi-notable actors in attendance here. Stephen Rea, Nia Peeples, Ed Quinn (of Eureka fame) and Adam Croasdell all are part of the cast. Yet, outside of Rea's performance, the actors seem to never take it seriously.

The film has an interesting, if overused, premise and the special effects are noteworthy but it all comes off as something akin to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys , Xena or the other handful of TV shows that sprang up around the same time and were so popular with kids. There's place and time, setting and atmosphere; then it's filled in with people who 'act' like someone you would meet today...not 200 years ago.

Still, it's better than the majority ofThe Howling series, which I just watched.
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2/4


Synopsis: A drifter arrives in a small dying town, taking a job renovating the church and is soon followed by a traveling freakshow. Both have their secrets that all-too-soon have people dying to discover.


It's the age-old rivalry of werewolf vs vampire that owes homage to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Universal Pictures first offering to combine two of it's stalwart monster characters into one film. The Wolf Man didn't actually face Dracula until the next picture, House of Frankenstein, but that's where it all began.

Here we also have a traveling carnival ala The Freaks thrown in for good measure.

While the plot itself isn't bad and the acting is even better than it was in H5, the execution leaves something to be desired. Bruce Payne, Carol Lynley and Antonio Fargas give a much-needed acting facelift to the series but there's only so much that can be done here.

The werewolf's makeup actually made me laugh, as did the way the actor portraying him ... well, acted - at least, once he'd 'turned'. The vampire's look, on the other hand, was pretty cool; though it was more demonic than vampiric.

The final assessment here is that it's worth a watch, if you're not expecting too much.
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People who added this item 28 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 4.5
2/3


Synopsis: When a group of people from different walks of life converge in a Hungarian castle situated in Budapest which has been sealed for 500 years, they bring with them a werewolf which slowly begins to cut their numbers down.


This marks a step up for the franchise. In fact, it's a classic...that they ripped off for the plot - Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. Yet I've seen this in numerous horror and thriller movies over the years.

A number of people are invited to a remote location and, one by one, are killed off leaving the viewer guessing who the killer is. In this case, of course, it's a werewolf yet we rarely see the beast and then only in passing or fleetingly. Budget constraints or an attempt for a more suspenseful movie? I know which way I'm leaning...

The acting's a bit better than the last few installments but still not as good as the first. There's also a few gratuitous nude scenes; extremely short ones but they're there. It was the 80's after all.

My final assessment? Not bad but not all that good either. The best thing about this is the ripped off storyline and you can find much better examples elsewhere. If they'd actually had a budget, hired better actors and spent a bit more on sets - who knows, they could have had a pretty good horror flick here.
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2/2
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Synopsis: Author Marie Adams begins experiencing bizarre visions which leave her in hysterics. At her doctor's urging, her husband takes her to a small town in the hills outside LA for R&R but peace and quiet are not on the agenda.


Bloody awful and without any of the laughs which were present in the third installment of this cheesy franchise. It's also a ripoff of the first film but without the adequate acting cast. People might recognize Michael T Weiss of The Pretender semi-fame.

They must have operated on a shoestring budget with this one because it has the worst FX I've ever seen in a movie. The melting-man shapeshift sequence is ludicrous, too and that's probably where they spent the most money. The one bright spot in the whole film is the sexy shopkeeper played by Lamya Derval.

While one might watch the third, just for laughs, there are none to be had here and no scares either. Skip it, folks - it bites!
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2/1
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Synopsis: A strange race of human-like marsupials appear suddenly in Australia, and a sociologist who studies these creatures falls in love with a female one. Is this a dangerous combination?


I remember seeing this when it came out and how weird of a concept that marsupial werewolves were; needless to say, I still do. The Howling series, what I've seen of it, isn't that good; in fact, most of the films are bad. This one has quite a bit of humor though I don't think it was intended.

The 80's weren't a great decade for horror. It was the era of music videos, VHS and affordable movie tickets and, as a result, droves of teens went to the theaters or gathered together at someone's house to watch a stack of rented tapes. Horror and action were the booming genres and moviemakers churned them out like crazy because, they knew, that no matter how bad they were - they'd make money.

This is a truly awful movie and it has the feel of a bad music video, too but it has some good laughs. A Russian ballerina, recently defected to the States, changing onstage during a dance. A clip from a movie (within the movie) of a guy changing into a werewolf and attacking a nurse. The whole marsupial bit.

It's hilariously awful.
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The second installment of my new personal project for 2014. This will be a movie journal strictly focusing on the horror genre, one of my favorites, which I've strayed away from in the later years of my life. It's a rediscovery of sorts and I'll be revisiting some old favorites and movies that memory has not served me well with; yet interspersed throughout will also be many movies that I've never seen.

I'll be breaking this down in monthly installments, which I'll then collect in one list-of-lists, and each month I'll also focus on one series, franchise or sub-genre. I'll also take a closer look at the classics of the genre and a number of silent era films that I've never seen, as well as certain directors offerings whose names have become synonymous with horror.

Suggestions welcome...

Ratings breakdown
★★★★★- 1
★★★★☆-
★★★★-
★★★☆- 3
★★★- 2
★★☆- 1
★★- 1
★☆- 2
★- 2
☆-

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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at Mar 4 14:16
It's sad that the werewolf, my favorite horror archetype of them all, has been so mistreated on film. There are maybe only about 15 decent werewolf movies in the entire subgenre.
Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at Mar 4 17:42
@Larry: I've noticed that myself. Vamps, zombies, ghosts and more get much more attention. Lycanthropes (especially werewolves) are my favorite, as well and I would love to see more movies made of them - especially really good ones. I'd also love to see more attention given to other species and not just the wolf.

I had much more planned for this month but my available time was taken up by so many things happening. I haven't even started the new month's journal either as I'm getting over stomach flu right now.

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