31 Days of Horror – October 29th – “The Wolfman”

Sticking with my Peacock picks I dove back in to night with the Anthony Hopkins, Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt flick from 2010. Right off the bat what I will say about this is though it’s a period piece similar to “The Woman in Black” that I’m not overtly fond of, I did enjoy this movie overall more so than “The People Under the Stairs”. And this movie is rated lower on IMDb than my former reviewed film. So that just goes to show you that the entire experience is completely up to you. Ratings and scores and all of that can help guide you to a film but ultimately even the most profound shared experience isn’t necessarily formulaic success. I think that’s something to really keep in mind when you’re watching any movie but I will also go so far as to say keep that in mind with horror especially. Scary is just as objective as funny in my book. What I think is terrifying might not register on your scale. But what keeps you up at night might be just a blip on my radar. Even some of the biggest names in the realm of horror might not do it for you but something off the beaten path becomes an overnight favorite. So as I’m nearing the end of this journey I would say make sure you allow yourself to stay true to that. Take chances on things you might not normally have watched. Enjoy what you can. None of the movies on my list through this month have truly been THAT bad. I might have complained in the moment. I might have really not enjoyed some films. But even going back to the ones I counted as stinkers, just a few weeks later I’m already looking at them in a different light. There are 4 movies in the House franchise and even though I really did not care for the first one on initial viewing, I’m curious if I go back and rewatch while adding the subsequent sequels to the watch list with the right frame of mind this time if I don’t have more fun with it than my previous run. Who knows. All I’ll say is just allow yourself to be open to that experience.

The Wolfman IMDb

In selecting this film I sort of came to a conclusion of sorts I believe. I think at one point in my life if you had asked me what my classic movie monster would be I might have said Frankenstein just because. Not that I love the old Boris Karloff rendition with any sincerity. I think that character might have just sort of been a default pick. But as I was mulling this one over, I came to a new conclusion that the Wolfman really is my favorite Universal movie monster. Had I not watched “Werewolves Within” maybe a month or two ago, I’d probably have fired that one up tonight. It had been on my shelf for a while and out of the blue I just fired it up. I had been on a Sam Richardson kick and that one jumped out at me since he’s in a lead role. I quite enjoyed it. It’s a really nice little horror comedy that is well worth watching. But since that one was off the list since I’ve now previously seen it, The Wolfman jumped out off the Peacock list as a potential substitute. Over the summer I finally got around to seeing the cult classic, Ginger Snaps. It was ok but there’s a lot of underground hype for that trilogy and it just didn’t jump off the screen all that much at me. I invested in the Arrow Video 4K of An American Werewolf in London earlier in the year as well. That’s probably the Gold Standard when it comes to werewolf movies. Again, it’s off limits. So the thing is, there’s not a TON of werewolf movies out there. It didn’t seem like people LOVED this movie and admittedly I wouldn’t consider myself a Benicio Del Toro fan but I’ve gotta say that this movie was really enjoyable.

I remember this movie coming up back in the day but as I said before, period pieces rarely draw me in and without a real determined fortitude for all things werewolf, I could easily see why this movie would come and go and not be on my radar. Really and truly, If I had to pick one thing that I really enjoyed the most about this movie is that they didn’t skimp on the werewolf time. The story does meander a bit but it’s all pretty decent back story building up to when Del Toro eventually befalls the lycanthropy curse himself. That’s fancy talk for werewolfin’. He gets a pretty heinous bite in a confrontation with the initial werewolf which had a lot more lurking and minimal reveals. That was a nice touch. The scene was plenty violent and filled with fright and adventure. And then Del Toro takes one for the team. With it, his curse is sealed. On the following full moon he transforms. But what I appreciate is they really let you in here. They pull back that curtain and show you the transformation. They let you behold the Wolfman in all his glory and he goes on a rampage. It’s gruesome and bloody and he doesn’t hold back. The townspeople try to stave off his attack but the Wolfman is just ruthless and viciously tears through so many people. I also really enjoyed that they didn’t try to turn him into just a man sized wolf either. They brought a humanness to his wolf nature and a wolfness to his human nature. It was a perfect hybrid of both world beholden in all it’s glory on the big screen.

it’s found in the plot that Hopkins is also a werewolf. But it’s not like the Teen Wolf reveal where it’s this family secret that brings father and son together in a fun way. if anything it further drives them apart because Del Toro realizes that Hopkins, in his wolf form, murdered his mother. So the curse of the werewolf only causes further division between the two men. Hopkins has found a personal remedy which includes locking himself up in a cage below the earth strong enough to contain him during his lunar outbreaks. This has allowed him to continue his life as a wealthy sociality in the community for so many years. Being that Del Toro is new to the gig, he is found the morning after his rampage and brought to an asylum. There they poke and prod and do all manner of “scientific” analysis and scoff at his claims of bring a werewolf. So what do they plan? A big to do in this lecture hall on another night with a full moon. So what happens? Well despite their rather pronounced scoffing, he does turn back into a werewolf and starts killing people again. It just goes to show that scoffing is best done at one’s own peril so should you choose to scoff, do so knowingly. But the Wolfman makes a rather public escape and rampages about a far more urban area due to his capture and detainment in the asylum. He’s seen by many and is captured in drawings on the front page of the newspaper. Things are really getting pretty tumultuous for our canine friend here.

Ultimately we have one final hurrah. Emily Blunt who is the widow of Del Toro’s brother has a fondness for him now but also has to deal with the fact that Del Toro is a werewolf. That’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow. She goes to the gypsies to try and find a way to cure him but in the end, silver bullets are the only cure and that’s just to put him down and free him from the misery. Meanwhile, in the midst of all this cat and mouse game, Hugo Weaving had joined the cast and was on the hunt for this wolfman. He largely proves to simply be a notable member of the cast. It does feel like he’s slightly underutilized in this film but it just is what it is in the end. Del Toro is pissed at his dad and his dad is pretty much a crazy man at this point. He’s been living with his werewolf secret for decades at this point and it’s taken it’s toll on him mentally. You can very much see this on screen in the way Hopkins enjoys contorting his face in this perpetually devilish grin. The moon once again rises and we get our final confrontation betwixt the wolves and it’s quite the spectacle. The action is savage but captured well. I feel like they did a fair mix of practical and CGI effects as everything looks pretty decent throughout. There’s moments here and there where it suffers maybe slightly from the lack of realism that we’ve become spoiled by in this day and age of computer graphics but in the end I was quite satisfied with this final showdown. Ultimately Del Toro bests his father as he throws his body into the raging fireplace and Hopkins is severely burned up while we see his body return to human form and then burns up. Del Toro makes a dash after Blunt until she is caught between the ensuing Wolfman and a raging river. She tries to reason with the beast, pleading for some measure of his humanity to shine through and prevent her from having to spare him in the end. But ultimately she must put him out of his misery. She fires a bullet and his curse is lifted and he expires. I think they wanted it to be a more emotional conclusion to the story than it ended up being but it still worked in my opinion.

I had a lot of fun with this movie. It’s not great. But I did think it was a good werewolf movie. Clearly I’ve noted that there are better movies. And I know there are other Wolfman movies that I didn’t mention and others that I haven’t seen. I’m curious to add more werewolf movies to my filmography I’ve watched and potentially more to the collection should the films warrant it. I think I’m happy that I’ve identified this Universal Monster avatar of mine. Having never really stopped to identify a favorite I think I just sort of limited myself on direction to go when it comes to this subgenre within the world of horror. I do know because the special effects are usually rather trying with werewolf movies that not a lot of them are necessarily going to be winners. Even Wes Craven’s entry into the Wolfman world of “Cursed” was not without a number of flaws. I rewatched that one a few months back and actually removed it from my Amazon cart after viewing just because seeing it stream scratched that itch just enough to not need it in the collection at this time. So I’ll do some more digging. Maybe I’ll cultivate my own werewolf list by next Halloween, who knows. But as far as this one goes, I feel confident with a 5.5/10. Most of that goes to the action sequences where Wolfman was on a rampage and the phenomenal job they did capturing that. I really appreciated that once the monster was revealed that they leaned into it and really let us see how demonstrably savage he could be. It was a lot of fun and made the movie what it was for me. So give this one a watch if you’re looking for a new Wolfman movie as this one did the trick for me. I think you’ll have fun with it too. With that I’ll leave you kids until our next rendezvous. I’ll catch you on the flip side.

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