Of all the classic monsters, I've always been particularly fond of Werewolves. While Young Marvin was still scared shitless of anything resembling supernatural, I always had an affinity for these beasts. Perhaps it was because of my love of animals, particularly dogs, but they just didn't seem as evil as vampires and ghosts.
Right now I'm 10 episodes deep into True Blood Season 3 (I don't get cable, so I've got to wait until the DVDs come out). It's a decent season, but something just doesn't sit right with me about their portrayal of my number one monsters. I think the problem is that they are just white trash dudes who turn into ordinary-looking wolves. The werewolf, as I prefer it, should be halfway between a man and a wolf. While Alan Ball and company give some reason or other for using real wolves for their werewolves, I can't help but suspect the real factor was money. It simply would have cost too much to use CGI, or better yet, some gnarly practical werewolf effects. But the fact is, they're just not very scary.
The sad truth is, True Blood's werewolves would get their asses handed to them by the Goddamned Twilight werewolves. Sure they're fluffy, but at least they're huge.
|Wouldja look at that fluffy bastard?|
So as a remedy for this, I've compiled this list of my top ten werewolves from all of filmdom. Keep in mind, this isn't a list of the absolute best werewolf movies, but rather the top ten werewolf designs from film.
#10 - Ginger Snaps
Van Helsing has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. It's over-acted, terribly convoluted, and little more than an excuse for an epic bout of werewolf vs vampire fisticuffs. But I'm addicted to it. It helps that it is one of the few horror movies I can share with my young sons, and their enthusiasm is contagious. But regardless of the relative merits of the film, I've always dug their pumped-up, gigantic, werewolves on steroids. You'd have the be Van Helsing himself to take down one of these things.
And still they'd manage to bite you. Yep, that's the legendary Van Helsing himself transformed into a lycanthrope and fixin' to kick some Drac-ass-ula. Scream Drac-ass-ula, Scream!
For my money, the Howling is the most terrifying werewolf movie ever, with some of the all-time best werewolves. They have always reminded me of the Big Bad Wolf, with their tall, pointed ears. These bastards tower above their victims, and Joe Dante films them with a master's sense of space, making you aware of their power and menace like no other. And yes, Dave Allen's stop-motion homage to Ray Harryhausen leaves something to be desired, but by and large, the visual effects are top-notch (for its time). All I know is that when I have nightmares of werewolves, this is what they look like. Well, except for the Dee Wallace Pomeranian werewolf at the end. But Hell, she was supposed to be sympathetic rather than menacing.
What do you mean WTF? Yeah the Anthony Hopkins werewolf is number one. Just look at him. He's both a scary-ass werewolf and Hannibal Lecter rolled into one. What I love is how this design pays homage to Jack Pierce's Wolfman, improves upon it, and is still recognizable as Anthony Hopkins. People accuse Sir Hopkins of phoning in his performance, but they're obviously brain-damaged. I've never seen him have so much damned fun with a role.
Whatever the film's shortcomings (and admittedly, there are many), it gave me everything I wanted to see. Spooky atmosphere, menacing monsters, and an epic showdown between Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. Add to that the stunning Emily Blunt and the always riveting Hugo Weaving, and what's not to love. I will say that if you caught this in the theater, you need to see the director's cut, if only for the scene where Anthony Hopkins eats an apple. Seriously. He eats an apple and stares at Emily Blunt without ever responding to her questions, and its the best scene of the film. You'll also see Max von Sydow pass the torch, er, wolf's head cane, to the new generation. The one drawback of the director's cut is that you have to suffer through del Toro's portrayal of Hamlet. I love Benicio, but somehow he can't pull off playing an actor. Embarrassing.
But he makes an excellent werewolf, and he earned my respect by making this movie happen through the sheer force of his love for the original. How can you hate on a Universal Monsters fan?
Also, did I mention the gore? I wasn't expecting this movie to be in the least bit gory, but when the werewolf starts tearing shit up at the gypsy camp, the blood flows freely. Your great-grandfather's wolfman this is not.
Oh shit, did I just dis Jack? While I've always dug his werewolf movie, it's just a tad understated for my taste. It's good - I like it, and it would definitely make my top twelve, but I'm just not blown away by its werewolf design. Hate me if you will.