Ten Of The Best Werewolf Movies For Halloween

This is for those of you looking for some really good, or just silly, and not too scary, werewolf movies to watch on Halloween night.

  1. Dog Soldiers (2002)

A group of soldiers, on a training exercise, are attacked by werewolves. They hunker down in an isolated house, with a mysterious young woman, in an effort to survive the night.

This movie is definitely the movie to watch if you are into werewolf movies. It has a …And Then There Were None type of plot, which makes it very suspenseful. The characters are brave and likable, and there’s real chemistry among the actors. This is a movie that relies more on action than atmosphere. I lauded this movie in an earlier post.

2. American Werewolf in London (1981)

This is one of the classic 80’s werewolf Horror Comedies. An American tourist, named David, is attacked by a werewolf, after being warned to stay off the moors. He survives, and after a visit from his dead friend, begins to suspect that he may be a werewolf. The lovely Jenny Agutter is a nurse who falls in love/lust with the tragic lead.

This isn’t my top favorite, but it is worth multiple viewings. There’s just enough comedy in it to alleviate the tension, but there are some truly horrible moments as well, and once again, there’s the typical tragic ending.

3. Howl (2015)

A train car full of people get terrorized by a pack of wolves, after their train car gets stuck in a wooded area. I watched this movie a few times, and I’m still unsure if the accident was deliberately caused by the wolves, or if it really was just an accident that they took advantage of, but I suspect the first. At any rate, the passengers are trapped on the train, and have to fight the traitors, panicked scoundrels, and possible infected, on the train, as well as the predators outside the train. This is a very suspenseful film, but it is one of those movies where you want to throw some hands at all the characters at some point, or just root for the werewolves.

4. The Howling (1981)

After she gets attacked by a stalker, a TV anchorwoman (played by Dee Wallace) goes out to the country, at the behest of her therapist, but she doesn’t know, until its too late, that its village full of werewolves. This movie is another classic from the 80’s, having been released within a few months of American Werewolf. I saw The Howling first, at about fourteen or so, and it was always my campy favorite. I heard a lot about American Werewolf, but didn’t see it until many years later, and I can definitely see why everyone preferred it. The Howling is more of an acquired taste, but if you enjoyed Evil Dead II, this movie is a slightly more sedate version featuring werewolves.

5. Wer (2013)

I talked about this movie before, becasue this is genuinely a good film, although I felt the ending was rather abrupt and it felt unfinished. It could have used another fifteen to thirty minutes to round out the plot. It clocks in at about ninety minutes, and has something of a slow start, but once it gets going, it doesn’t stop. In it, an American defense attorney is called to France to defend a man accused of butchering an American family in the French countryside. She finds that the case is not as cut and dried as it seems, because the man may actually be a werewolf. The production values are pretty good, there’s some amount of gore, and a side story dealing with unrequited love from one of her co-workers.

6. Ginger Snaps (2000)

I talked about the historical sequel to this film, in which two sisters must come to grips with the fact that one of them has become a werewolf, after being bitten by a strange animal, in the woods of their small town. The movie is more about the relationship between the two sisters, who have always held a fascination with death, and are known as the town weirdos. The major themes deal with the transition from adolescence to womanhood, making this movie marginally more intelligent than some other films.

7. Underworld (2003)

This is more of an action movie than a Horror movie but it gets on the list becasue …werewolves! The lore is interesting, and sometimes a little inconsistent, but this is worth the watch, just to see Kate Beckinsale running around in some cool, tight, black leather. he plot involves a constant war between vampires and werewolves. When Selene falls in love with a young man coveted by both sides in the fight, she has to choose a side. There’s a lot close calls, window falls, hand to hand fighting, and naturally, shooting.

8. The Company of Wolves (1984)

This is one of the more artsy werewolf films from the 80s, with the themes of Little Red Riding Hood, and womanhood, vs adolescence. Its a series of fairy tale like stories told by a grandmother to her granddaughter, in an effort to warn her about men who might take advantage of her, so there is no linear plot, but there is a through line of men being compared to wolves, and contains some interesting imagery of people turning into wolves. It was created by the same director of Interview with A Vampire, Neil Jordan.

9. Full Eclipse (1993)

This movie is utterly ridiculous, but its still one of my 90’s favorites, I do not care how bad it is. It was made in ’93, but its full of every silly 80’s cop trope, a person can think of, including, but not limited to jumping over a car, during a foot chase, while shooting two guns, a bad boy cop, his blond love interest, and a special force of cops created to take back the streets from the criminals. I don’t remember nan’ thing about any of the criminals in this movie, because the focus is all on the group of cops, who decided that becoming werewolves, to fight crime, was a good idea. I think this is free on Youtube.

10. What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

While the movie is definitely about four vampires in a “flatting” situation in Wellington, there are werewolves in this movie, and are some of the funniest werewolves ever put in a movie. They almost steal the movie, and I would love it if they had a movie of their own.

During the adventures had by the vampires in the film, their human friend Stu, gets bitten, becomes a werewolf, and through the actions of his best mate (himself a vampire), becomes the catalyst for peace between the two long-feuding groups.

These are some of the nicest werewolves (lame comebacks aside) ever filmed. They disavow swearing, and chain themselves up in the woods, during the full moon, to prevent bringing harm to humans. I know some people were not impressed by this movie, but you have to watch it just to see the four vampires interacting with the other monsters, who live in Wellington.

10 Historical Horror Movies For Halloween

I really enjoyed making this list, as I’ve seen nearly all of these, and the rest are on my radar. I tried not to choose conventional movies, that everyone has already talked about, like Dracula, and The Wolfman, which are kind of a given really, or the kind of movies which featured the usual take on vampires and werewolves, although there is a tiny bit of that on this list. I also tried to add a few international movies that have maybe gotten a bit of attention on this blog. If you’re looking for a little novelty for Halloween viewing check these out.

Ravenous (1999)

After surviving a military ambush, Lt. John Boyd, discovers that he’s developed a taste for human flesh. When he gets sent to an isolated outpost, as punishment for the cowardice that saved his life, he encounters another cannibal who has fully given in to his proclivities, and tries to talk Boyd into doing so as well. This movie was directed by the late Antonia Bird, and stars Guy Pierce. Its a humorous movie, with tiny moments of camp, in the form of occasional asides from one of the characters, or the music during certain scenes, but mostly the plot and characters take themselves seriously. There are elements of the real life Donner Party incident, and strong references to overcoming addiction.

Ginger Snaps II: The Beginning (2004)

This is a sequel to the modern version of the first movie simply called Ginger Snaps. In the first movie, a young woman gets bitten by a strange creature in the woods, that was attracted to her because she was having her first period. There’s a little less of that here, but the movie does have a lot to say about the plight of women during this particular time period. There are the occasional moments of humor, but the movie isn’t particularly campy, and there is the obligatory Indigenous character ,who knows more than he’s telling, but who, of course, dies first.

After finding two sisters in the woods, being attacked by wolves, the men from an isolated outpost start giving in to paranoia and cabin fever, as they start getting picked off by a mysterious creature, that has followed them from the sister’s rescue site.

The Witch (2015)

This is a rather famous film as it won a slew of minor awards. It’s also one of my favorites. Its more dread inducing than terrifying, but if you saw Midsommar ,and Hereditary, than this is the movie you need to watch this Halloween. After her family is accused of witchcraft, a young woman encounters strange and terrifying events around her family’s isolated house. The atmosphere is perfect, but is a bit of a slow burn. The terror carefully creeps up on you, so you may want watch this with the lights on.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

I talked about this movie in an earlier post. This kind of a werewolf movie without a werewolf. This is an odd mishmash of historical fiction, martial arts, and political mystery, based on the French story of the Beast of Gevaudin, a werewolf adjacent creature that killed several people, in the French countryside, during the 17th century. This is a horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies, or don’t want to get too scared, but its not for kids. There is some amount of gore and sexual activity.

Mark Dacascos stars as an Indigenous man with the skills of Bruce Lee, and the movie highlights these skills in several beautifully spectacular, but completely unnecessary, fight scenes. Conveniently, he barely has any dialogue. A lot of the film is taken up with political arguments, a little bit of romance, and the mystery of finding The Beast, before it kills again.

The Head Hunter (2018)

This movie was a little confusing for me, because its not a linear transgression from moment to moment. There is some backing and forthing, and the lead character doesn’t make the plot clear from the beginning, because he’s pretty much all alone. There’s no one to explain things to. This is not a fast movie, but if you wait a minute its worth it.The movie, is dark, grim, and fairly gruesome, but if you like that sort of thing, then check it out. Its about a Viking who hunts people, but also the alien looking creature that killed his family. This movie is available on Amazon Prime.

Lizzie (2018)

This a revisionist retelling of the story of Lizzie Borden, who murdered her parents with an ax, in the 19th century. There have been a couple of these in the past ten years, but this one is more artistic, and intimates that Lizzie killed her family because they disapproved of her relationship with a young woman, who moved into their home. I didn’t care too much for the revision, ( only because I prefer a simpler version of the story), but the acting is first class, and its a lovely looking film, that’s well worth the watch, just for those two things. This is available for viewing on Amazon Prime’s Shudder app.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

This is one of Guillermo Del Toro’s early films, which, unless you are a real Del Toro enthusiast, you probably haven’t seen, since this movie, like Cronos, was made before his emigration to Hollywood. It contains most of the usual Del Toro imagery, and themes, and is very similar in feel and story to Pan’s Labyrinth, with children telling each other ghost stories, while trying to protect themselves from a malevolent adult, against the backdrop of war.

Overlord (2018)

This is an unusual zombie story set during WWII. What captured my attention is the lead character is a Black man, who is ostensibly the hero of this film. After they crash their plane in a village in German territory, he and his fellow soldiers stumble across German experiments in resurrection, using some kind of black goo, that bubbles out of the ground. When his companions become infected, he has to try to destroy them, the experiments, and escape the castle where they took place. This is available on Amazon Prime.

Deadlands (2014)

This isn’t actually a movie, its a series that is loosely based on a movie of the same title. A young Maori man who fights zombie- like creatures in the real world, but at some point, must go into the afterlife to discover why the dead are rising, find the source of the evil, and save his people. This is an interesting peek into ancient Maori history, the cinematography is stunning, and this is the first type of zombie movie I’ve ever seen like this. There have been some interesting genre movies and series coming out of New Zealand, since Peter Jackson filmed Lord of the Rings there, some twenty years ago. This series is available on Amazon Prime.

Monstrum (2020)

I talked about this movie in an earlier post as well. Set in ancient Korea, its about a ruler who is given a pet creature, that grows to an enormous size. At some point he loses control over it, and sets it free to roam, and attack the citizens in an effort to keep them under control. A group of brave soldiers and clerics band together to destroy the beast.

Like Train to Busan, this is a very exhilarating action horror mashup. The monster is mysterious and terrifying, the action scenes are very suspenseful, and no one is too important to be spared. This movie is airing on Amazon Prime.

Halloween Horrors Directed By Women

XX (2017) Anthology

I recently watched this anthology of horror shorts, directed by women, on Netflix and found it very effective. Not particularly frightening, but moving nonetheless. I not only enjoyed the stories themselves, but there were some interstitial moments between the episodes that I found pretty creepy, and which also tell a kind of story. Of the four stories, three of them deal with the idea of motherhood as a harrowing and anxious experience.

One of the middle stories, and the most frightening, is The Box,  about a woman whose family slowly starves themselves to death after the son peeks into the box of a stranger on a bus ride. I think I read this as a short story somewhere because it felt familiar. Its a very effective and emotional scare, as the mother is helpless to save her family, who are determined to destroy themselves. One of the other stories chronicles the adventures of a mother whose husband dies in a giant panda suit just before his daughter’s birthday party called, appropriately enough, The Birthday Party. It’s the funniest of the stories, but I was exasperated by it because it didn’t fit the gray mood of the rest of the anthology.

Dont’ Fall is the most straightforward horror story with no message to it. A group of people go camping and run afoul of an ancient cannibalistic evil. Her Only Living Son is a favorite of mine. Its like a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, if she had run away from  all the people trying to manipulate her, and tried to  raise her son not to be the AntiChrist. It’s interesting that the two most effective stories are about mothers trying to save their children from the aftermath of bad choices.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was a little dubious about watching it, at first. Women directors in the Horror genre are very rare, but this turned out to be pretty good. The types of stories  were  female-centric in a way that men’s stories just aren’t, and that was refreshing.

This movie is available on Netflix.

Ravenous (1999) Antonia Bird

I reviewed this movie some time back, and advised people to listen to the DVD commentary, because it’s very informative. I’ve since learned that Antonia Bird died from cancer in 2013. Her films include a few others I’ve watched: Priest, Safe, and Mad Love.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/geeking-out-about-ravenous-1999/

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) Ana Lily Amirpour

This is a nice little nugget of a film available on Netflix, which I have not finished watching yet, because I was interrupted. (I was about thirty minutes away from the end, which is probably when all the best stuff happens.) This is a remarkable story about an unnamed and  beautiful Iranian vampire, who spends her nights trying to resist her hunger, in the presence of an innocent young man named Arash. The movie isn’t frightening, so much as it is melancholy, although The Woman, as I call her, does manage to cause plenty of death.

Image result for movie girl walks home alone gifs

Jennifer’s Body (2009) Karyn Kusama

Despite people hating this movie, I actually enjoyed it , and thought it was pretty funny. This was my first introduction to Megan Fox ,and based on her performance here, I wish her career had continued. I wasn’t sure what to expect actually. I think I expected the director (who, at the time,  I did not know was a woman) to simply use the plot as an excuse to have Megan Fox be naked and/or sexy. I thought the trailer a little misleading. But the movie turned out to be a lot deeper, as it was about the friendship between these two very different characters, and how people change and grow apart as they get older. The movie was also written by a woman, Diablo Cody, which explains some of its humor.

Anita, played by Amanda Seyfried is friends with a bitchy cheerleader named Jennifer. Now I should have paid closer attention because I was unclear if Jennifer had been turned into a vampire, or if Jennifer actually died and was replaced by some creature. At any rate, its up to Anita to try to stop her, because, obviously, Jennifer is evil. It was hard not to like Jennifer though, because she’s actually funny, and some of the best dialogue in the movie is between her and Anita during their knockdown fight at the end.

Image result for movie jennifers body gifs

Raw (2016) Julia Decournau

I have yet to watch this film, but I really  liked the trailer, and so its on my Halloween list. It heavily reminds me of a cross between the movies  Thelma and Jennifer’s Body.

Its interesting to me that so many horror films directed by women seem to involve the concept of eating and the  forbidden and blood.   The anthology XX had an episode about people denying food, A Girl Walks Home Alone is about a vampire, and this one is about a young vegetarian developing a taste for raw meat after a horrible campus initiation. Ravenous and Jennifer’s Body are about cannibalism. At some point someone is going to have to analyse why that is.

Pet Semetary (1989) Mary Lambert

This is the one movie on this list I’m not a big fan of, but a heckuva lot of people really really love it, so I’m recommending it for viewing. I thought the movie was kind of ridiculous, and some of the acting was simply terrible. On the other hand, Fred Gwynne, who played Herman Munster on the sitcom, was great, and I liked Denise Crosby, who was really likable here. I was creeped out by the family cat, but I  laughed at part of the ending, when this tiny munchkin went on a murder spree. I don’t hate this movie ,but I don’t have happy thoughts about it either, although I did enjoy the Stephen King book it was based on.

Image result for movie pet sematary gifs

Near Dark (1987) Kathryn Bigelow

I gave a review of this movie earlier in my blogging career. This was directed by the great Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar for her movie The  Hurt Locker, and gave us such great characters as the Aliens version of Ellen Ripley, and the Terminator 2 version of Sarah Connor.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/near-dark-1987/

Image result for movie near dark gifs

Carrie (2013) Kimberly Peirce

I did a review of this one where I compared Kimberly’s version to the one directed by DePalma, charting the difference between when a man makes a female- centered film vs. when a woman does it. Basically, there seems lot more meaningful interaction between the women in a female directed movie. At some point I’m going to revise this review to add some new thoughts.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/carrie-vs-carrie/

Related image

Honorable Mentions (Not Directed By Women)

These five movies were not directed by women, but the women characters are not just in the center of the plot, they are the plot. Any one of these movies would be great for a female themed marathon on Halloween night, along with longstanding favorites, like Alien, and Halloween.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

This is one of my favorite werewolf movies, right up there with the newer movie, Wer. Here, two teen Goth sisters, Bridgette, and Ginger, the local high school weirdos of a small suburban town,  discover that Ginger has developed lycanthropy, after being bitten by a wild animal, while on their way to play a prank on another girl. There is a parallel here between the disease and sexual maturity, as Ginger has just had her first period, which is why the animal attacked her. Ginger Snaps considerably deepened the discourse around the subject of feminine transformation, rage, and sisterly love,  and upped the werewolf game.

Thelma

This is a repost of a mini-review I did  in May of this year.

Related image

I’d been looking forward to seeing this for some time, and it did not disappoint. Now, when I first heard the description of it, I had not yet seen the trailer, and I was expecting something like Carrie, but quieter. Then I saw the trailer, and found that it’s something wholly different from Carrie. This movie isn’t about vengeance, it’s about desire, and what happens to a person when that desire is repressed.

For one thing, this is a much quieter, and more subtle movie than Carrie. It’s so low-key, that the supernatural aspects of the story kind of sneak up on you. They sneak up on you because they’re  loosely covered by several other issues that you will find compelling enough to be distracting.

The film is based in Norway, and the lead character, Thelma, starts to experience epileptic seizures, except it’s not seizures. Her doctor says they are psychosomatic, and stem from emotional suppression. At the same time, she meets a young woman who comes to her rescue, after she has a seizure in the college’s public reading room, while that room’s giant picture window is battered by a flock of birds. Every time she resists her feelings for Anja, or tries to suppress her powers, she has a seizure.

Thelma and the young woman, Anja, start to get closer, but Thelma comes from a quietly strict Christian background, and she becomes very conflicted about her relationship with Anja, which starts to take a romantic turn. It turns out that Thelma isn’t necessarily conflicted because of the Christianity, but because she has the power to make things happen to people, when she strongly wants it. The Christian beliefs her parents espouse are what was used to keep her powers in check.

Related image

When Thelma was a child, she became jealous of her baby brother, and wished him away several times. The last time she does it is emotionally devastating to her mother and father, but this isn’t something you find out until the middle of the film, and only in flashbacks, and explains why her parents treat her in the quietly aloof manner that they do.

As Thelma becomes overwhelmed about her relationship with Anja, (she keeps having sexual nightmares involving snakes, and dreams about drowning, which is classic symbolism of someone being overwhelmed by a subject), she wishes Anja away too, and it’s a testament to the low-key horror of the movie, that even at the end, you’re not entirely certain that what is happening is real. Did she bring Anja back? Is Anja even real? And then there’s the further question, brought up by her father, about whether or not Anja truly loves Thelma, or did she make Anja love her because she wants her to love her.

It’s not a straight horror movie, with jump scares, and frightening moments. The most frightening moment in the movie is when Anja disappears, and Thelma kills her father. But mostly it’s those nagging questions,that stay with you, as you start to realize Thelma is far more dangerous than you may at first have believed. Her mother and father were in a car accident a few years before she went to college, and though it’s not explicitly stated, you wonder if it was Thelma who caused it.

Related image

After Anja disappears, Thelma leaves college to go back home, where her family welcomes her, but her father decides that she can’t leave. She takes control of her abilities, takes a horrific revenge on her father, and walks out of the house. She goes back to school, where she is greeted by a newly returned Anja, who passionately kisses her.  Her mother is disabled, and uses a wheelchair after the accident, but by the end of the film, Thelma has given her the ability to walk again.

Like several other movies I’ve seen in the past few years (It Follows, Annihilation, A Quiet Place), the horror comes not so much from what happens in the movie, but from its mood. The wintry landscape of Norway, and the remote location of Thelma’s home, is very effective. On the other hand, I can’t say that the movie was enjoyable, either. It’s too haunting for that, and I am still disturbed by the questions that arose, and the answers I came up with.

For those of you on the LGBTQ spectrum this movie is safe enough to watch There is a brief moment when you think there’s a Kill Your Gays Trope, but by the end of the movie, that has passed. Its a movie about overcoming repression, and acceptance of the self.

Thelma is available on Hulu.

It Follows

I’ve done two reviews for this movie. One is an examination of the meaning of the monster, and the other focusing on the female -centric symbolism embedded in the film.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=it+follows

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/it-follows-2014-more-thought

Added Bonus:

28 BLACK WOMEN HORROR FILMMAKERS:

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2018/02/28-black-women-horror-filmmakers-meosha.html

Wer (2013)

I’m horribly behind in my Halloween reviews. (But not my movie watching. I can do that. Its one of my skillz.) But here’s one of my recommendations for movie watching this Halloween.

Image result for wer movie

I only saw this movie about a year ago, and its a straight Horror movie. Its not a satire, or played for laughs, and its not bad. In fact its one of the more underrated werewolf movies floating around out there. No, its not as good as Dog Soldiers but it is better than the bigger budgeted Wolfman.

I don’t know any of the people involved in this movie. The director, William Brent Bell, is someone I’ve never heard of. The actors, A. J. Cooke, and Brian Scott O’Connor are  unknown to me. I liked the acting here. The actors approach this with the reserve and calm the plot deserves, although I could’ve done without some of the soap drama in the middle, as I felt that was unnecessary. It’s kept to a minimum so I wasn’t too irritated.

Image result for wer movie

A family on a camping trip, in Lyon France, is mauled  by some unknown creature. The mother is the only one to survive the attack, and it looks very harrowing onscreen. Not quite as gory as expected, which is to the good, as sometimes gory can be distracting. Talyn, played by Brian O’Connor, is caught almost immediately afterwards and accused of killing the family.

Kate (A.J. Cooke) is called in as Talyn’s defense attorney ,along with her assistant Eric, and a specialist in animal attacks, Gavin. Gavin and Kate have some kind of romantic history, that Eric objects to, as Gavin begins showing interest in Kate during this case. Eric himself has some unnamed scandal in his past involving the misuse of information, and fleeing the US, and he and Gavin butt heads over all of this. Kate who is still in some grief over the death of her father only has her eyes on this case and helping Talyn.

We follow Kate’s investigation of Talyn’s case,which at first appears to be a setup by the government to try to steal his family’s land, but Talyn  throws a monkey-wrench into Kate’s plans by actually being a werewolf. at one of their meetings Talyn attempts to grab Kate by the hand, and Gavin gets scratched on the arm.Guess what happens!

Image result for wer movie

 

Talyn is given a physical exam to determine if he has a form of porphyria, which is a kind of cutaneous blood disorder that results in Talyn’s  unique appearance. He looks like a werewolf before he becomes a werewolf. He is extremely tall, his face is covered in hair, he moves and talks slowly, and has unnaturally long fingernails, all symptoms of his disease, according to Eric.

During his physical exam, Talyn goes berserk and kills the entire hospital team, and then escapes into the city of Lyon, and the woods surrounding the city. At the same time Gavin is undergoing some changes of his own, and eventually he and Talyn go head to head, with Kate in the middle of it, as Gavin attempts to defend her from the rampaging Talyn.

Kate is at the center of all this, as she first endears herself to Talyn, by commiserating with him over the recent death of his father. She’s also the center of Eric, and Gavin’s focus as they fight over her attention, but at no point is one given the impression that she is nothing more than a sexy floor lamp.

For one thing, she’s not played for sexy. She makes decisions and has character. She’s not merely a damsel in distress, as she does have backbone. For most of the movie she appears to be fully in charge, standing up for Talyn against a system, and the detective, that has pronounced him guilty, based solely on his looks. You can tell she’s good at her job and takes it very seriously. Although she does  appear strangely unperturbed that her client is actually a werewolf.

Image result for wer movie

 

I kept waiting for the twist in this movie, like maybe everything was a dream, or a government plot that created Talyn, but none of those things occur. The plot remains pretty straightforward in that there isn’t much of one. Most of the movie reads like  ” A Day in the Life of Kate, the  French Defense Attorney”, and I rather liked that.

I actually liked Gavin , but I thought Eric was a dick. The detective in charge is played by, Sebastian Roche, someone Supernatural fans will recognize.He is kind of a jerk too, but he’s not wrong about Talyn. This doesn’t benefit him much because he is involved in government corruption to steal Talyn’s family’s land, so he goes to jail. But none of these subplots are the focus of the movie. They’re introduced and then settled, and the movie moves on. So, if you’re looking for some kind of in-depth crime investigation, like the movie Crimson Rivers, you’re out of luck. his movie isn’t about that.

Image result for wer movie

Its worth watching for Halloween, also  nice and streamlined, clocking in at a brisk 90 minutes, and its suitable for teenagers to watch. There’s a little gore but its not overdone. Its got a lot of action, including some werewolf on werewolf fighting towards the end, which looks pretty graphic, but again, its not overdone.

Its well worth looking at.

Check it out. Its on DVD.

Geeking Out About : Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog Soldiers is rarely shown on cable and it’s not on Netflix. (It’s on Amazon but you have to pay for it.) Ironically enough, you can watch it on Youtube for free. Go figure!

This is one of the few, (well-made), occult military movies out there. There are other movies, in the same vein, but I think I can say, with a certain amount of confidence, that when measured against Dog Soldiers, they all suck and I am unanimous in this belief.

I love werewolf movies but this movie isn’t so much about werewolves as it is the soldiers. Its a siege film, where you basically have “ten little indians in the woods”. Instead of a final girl, you get a final guy.

image

You are alerted to just what type of film you will be dealing and with and what type of werewolves, right at the opening of the film, when we watch a couple of campers get eaten. I liked this couple, in just the handful of minutes they were introduced, and mistakenly thought they’d play a larger role in the movie. The two of them are dispatched with little ceremony. One of the most chilling moments is watching as one of the werewolves slowly unzips their tent, while it is quite obvious to them, what they’re hearing outside of it, is a dog. The film begins as it means to go on. Characters you think are going to be heroic or play larger roles, die, and the werewolves keep engaging in disturbingly human activities.

Next, there’s a dog that’s killed, purely to showcase the villainy of the villain, Captain Ryan. I dislike animals coming to harm in movies, and I usually skip this scene.The movie also sets up our hero, Private Cooper, who when given the order to kill the dog, by Captain Ryan, refuses. This is to let us know what a fine upstanding man he is compared to Captain Ryan. So basically, the dog is sacrificed to outline what type of characters we’re dealing with and even though the movie is full of gore, I have a hard time watching that particular scene.

image

Captain Ryan, because he’s got a major hard-on for Cooper, chooses Cooper’s squad to bait the werewolves, on the pretense that they are just having training exercises, (in the same woods, where the couple had been killed.) To that end, they are all given fake ammunition, while unbeknownst to them, the other training group, led by Captain Ryan, is given live ammunition.

They soon have to trade up for the real stuff,  when they come across the dismembered bodies of the other soldiers, and an injured Captain Ryan. The soldiers were so overwhelmed by the attack, they never even got a chance to fire any of their weapons.

And its extremely fortunate that they find all this dead, but heavily armed, meat because not long afterward, Cooper’s squad is attacked, as well. About half the members are killed and Sgt. Wells, played by one of my favorite actors, Sean Pertwee, (now playing Alfred on Gotham), is injured and infected.The rest of them are rescued by a young journalist, named Megan, who takes them to a seemingly abandoned farmhouse. (Before the movie is over, ask yourself why the house is empty.)

DOG-SOLDIERS-house-front-e1434966067580

There proceeds a long siege encounter with the werewolves, which look more wolf-man than wolf,(they are about 7 to 8 feet tall and very powerful looking creatures), attacking the house and trying to get inside, with the soldiers repelling the monsters and trying to come up with tactics to get out of the woods.

The werewolves are not mindless animals. They are sort of like people, and reasonably intelligent and come up with counter-tactics of their own against the soldiers. We’re not given any particular psychology about them. But they do have a very specific reason for wanting to get back in the house (and I believe this is Megan’s fault.) What they think or feel, beyond that, is  unimportant and the creators of the film are not interested in making them sympathetic creatures. Once the film is over you may understand their motives, but they are monsters, pure and simple. Think of this movie as a recreation of one of the best scenes in Aliens.

image

While all of this is going on, the unit  gets info-dumped by Megan, who has a surprise of her own, and they try to glean information from an uncooperative Captain Ryan, who is also infected and becomes a werewolf, that they then have some trouble putting down. Its a great scene, all done with practical effects.

But the real draw of this movie, is the companionship of the soldiers. If you listen to the DVD commentary, the actors discuss how they got into their various roles, and what it was like pretending to be British soldiers, for the weeks prior to the shooting of the film. And their hard work pays off on screen. The film is very effective in getting you to like these characters, in just the first twenty minutes, before the shit goes down. They all have great chemistry together. You can tell that these men are friends, who have served together for a very long time, so unlike a lot of movies, where one roots for the monsters because the victims are so unlikable, its heartbreaking to watch these guys get killed. The music during their death scenes, really help to sell the tragedy of it. And while their deaths are very brutal, they do give as well as they get. They are, all of them,  every bit as bad as they think they are.

Most especially Sgt. Wells. The most enjoyable character, he gets some of the best lines, while  doing nothing more than writhing around on a bed, in excruciating pain.This is how good an actor Pertwee is. He and Private Cooper have great chemistry together. It becomes obvious that the two care deeply for each other, from long acquaintance, and that Cooper thinks of Wells as a father figure.

One of the reasons there are no good, frightening, monster movies about vampires and werewolves being made today is that filmmakers are too caught up in the idea of making the monsters sympathetic or likable. I don’t mind such movies, as they have their place, but movies like that are also not scary.

There’s only one woman in the film, but general male dickishness is kept to a minimum, and after a couple of awkward moments, Megan is treated with, more or less, the same level of respect as the other soldiers. After all, she did save their lives. It would have been very easy to make the character bitchy or a damsel, or for her to act like she was in a different movie, but the writers manage to avoid doing that. She’s no one’s love interest. She’s sassy and doesn’t allow herself to be bullied by any of the men in the film. At no point does she come across as helpless, the soldiers begin to accept her a s a member of their team, and this is why her betrayal of them, later in the movie, evokes a feeling of sadness, rather than anger.There’s a sad backstory in there, that makes it difficult to hate her.

images (4)

The special effects are occasionally dodgy, (the werewolves look like men in suits, and of course they are, but that’s not a huge concern) but  are never cheap and there’s no CGI. If there was, it was invisible, the way it’s meant to be.There’s also  plenty of gore and shooting.

The current spate of  werewolf movies: Battledogs, Skinwalkers, Wolves, aren’t in the same league as this movie and suffer from a lot of the problems that this movie manages to deftly avoid.

You could do far worse than spending an evening watching Sean Pertwee cussing and  shooting at giant werewolves.