Ginger Snaps; or Andy Gets in Touch with His Feminine Side

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Furry Friday (our last!), where we check what moon phase we are on while checking out a new film! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who will rip your lungs out, Jim–actually, enough. Hallowfest does not condone ripping out Jim’s lungs, but we do think you should check out Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London.

Today’s Film Offering: Ginger Snaps

Andy: Um, I haven’t actually watched Ginger Snaps yet.

Lilly: WHAT! Go and do that right now!

Andy: But the second season of Stranger Things has just been added to…

Lilly: Right. Now.

81OpkT54z9L._SL1500_.jpgAndy (Some time later): So, you can already tell I was going to have a chip on my shoulder with this movie. Firstly, it’s between me and the new season of the best TV of last year. Secondly, I love me some Dog Soldiers. Add in an awkward teenage girl coming of age story in which lycanthropy acts as both a metaphor for menstruation and some kind of super-syphilis, aaand I’m going to make a break for it.

Lilly: Some people apparently can’t relate to being a hormonal teenage girl who gets her period while also turning into a werewolf. Lucky them!

Andy: Still, this movie is very, very solid. The two leads – Ginger, an older sister who’s about two steps away from the WASP-y bitch she hates at school, and her extremely introverted younger sister, Brigette, are an engaging pair to spend 110 minutes with. They start the movie by having a very teenage outlook on life and death: they angst, they idolize gore, and they make a suicide pact in a way that suggests neither are suicidal, but things change when a werewolf decides to take some chunks out of Ginger’s shoulder.

Lilly: Having been an angsty teenage girl at one point, I would like to get in here early on that oh my gosh, are these two realistically written. Nothing is worse when you have a supernatural element in a film that feels more grounded and well researched than the humans that are in it, let me tell you, but Ginger Snaps avoids that. It’s almost as if the writer was a woman…Oh wait, she is, and she is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is also a writer for Orphan Black, so clearly she knows what she is doing and you should check out her work. Karen Walton.

Andy: Anyway, this movie is essentially about the sisters’ relationship as Ginger first becomes more confident and outgoing, and then starts tearing up the neighbourhood. And the neighbours. Brigitte meanwhile is forced to abandon the crutch of her sister, and deal with the problem increasingly alone. Her relationship with Sam, a local drug dealer, is fascinating. You genuinely think that this is the first friendship she’s developed independently of her sister.

Lilly: Fun side note: Sam is portrayed by Kris Lemche, who is in another Hallowfest favourite, The Frankenstein Theory. It was nice to see him being sarcastic and charming and peddling drugs to teens. Well. At least the first two bits were nice.

Plus, not only do you get the werewolf goring action, you also get the exploration of what it is like to lose a friend to puberty–and lycanthropy. It is terrifying, watching someone you care about start to lash out, act differently, and grow hair out of suspicious wounds, and this film captures it perfectly. Definitely a better use of a girl’s period than Carrie.

Also, I love love love the mother in this. Well, and all the female relationships, really. Even the character that is framed as a bully at one point makes a point of telling Brigette her views/insecurities about Sam, and how he uses virgins. She warns this girl she has been bullying all film not to let him get away with it because everyone else has, and you have a moment of ‘oh shit, film, you got me’ because Ginger isn’t the only one changing because of the beast of the Bailey Downs, everyone is. Like poor Chris. Less said about him the better–but actually wait, how great it is that his showing of the infection has him breaking out in zits? Come on, film. You had me at hello.

Andy: Ginger Snaps veers a very fun, fine line between campy and serious, never fully committing to either. I love the fact that a werewolf here can be killed by, well, anything, as one is creamed by a truck and there’s no hint of recovery. Difficult to reassemble a 30 yard bloody smear, I guess. It has its funny moments, a standout being the girls’ utterly useless and cringingly embarrassing parents, including Mom’s, uh, creative solution to the problems they find themselves in. But the story is played mostly straight, and that’s fine and dandy with me. Plus, while I imagine a 15 year old goth kid would find this deeply moving, the over-the-top emo nonsense (violin music!) was absolutely hilarious. Maybe I just don’t get it because I’m an adult and a sell out and GET OUT OF MY ROOM, GOD.

So then, a recommend from me. I liked it, maybe you will too.

Lilly: And obviously I recommend it, especially if you are an over the top goth kid like I was when I saw it. So go, watch, enjoy!


An American Werewolf in London; or We Cannot Warn You Enough About Not Walking on the Moors During a Full Moon

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Furry Friday, where the wolves are weres! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who have been seen drinking pina coladas at Trader Vic’s, and their hair was perfect.

Today’s Film Offering: An American Werewolf in London

71-G6SEAAuL._SY445_Lilly: Not to be confused with An American Werewolf in Paris (reviewed last year!), An American Werewolf in London is–

Andy: Actually good?

Lilly: Yeah, basically. But we get ahead of ourselves!

David and Jack, two Americans (spoiler! Not, it is in the title) are backpacking through the sexy, popular destination for all young folks–Britain! And, as it tends to happen on backpacking trips, the pair are attacked by a large wolf, leaving David brutalized, sent off to hospital in London, and Jack dead. And a ghost. But he isn’t the only one who is now a supernatural creature…gasp! (Spoiler! Not, it is in the title.)

Andy: Let’s just say he’s now allergic to silver and Kevin KcKidd.

Lilly: More than just a coming-of-mange (get it?!) story, the film explores David’s struggle with survivor’s guilt (the fire of which is fanned by the pesky poltergeist his buddy has become) and his growing fear of what he’s become.

The first thing that comes to mind with this wereclassic is the effects and makeup. Not only do you get the bone-crunchingly awful transformation scene, but also Jack’s steady decay.

Andy: It’s a surprisingly brisk film, with an awful lot of plot packed into 90 minutes or so, but never feels rushed. Also, the transformation scene is at once the most painful-looking yet most awesomely executed well, ever. It’s amazing and sidles this one riiight up to Dog Soldiers in my “Favourite Werewolf Movie List”. It’s very, very good.

Huh, I just realised they’re both set in the UK. I guess when it comes to werewolves, I’m surprisingly provincial.

Lilly: That, and as they are both semi-comedies, you get the UK style humour which is more your bag.

Andy: The only criticism I have, and it really is a mild one, is that the movie sometimes has a confusion of tone. David’s story is horrific and tragic, but it is occasionally treated with an unwarranted lightness. Playing “Blue Moon” while he transforms is a stroke of genius, but having every other song on the soundtrack have “moon” in the title feels like a joke stretched too thin.

Lilly: Meanwhile, I love that, because sometimes, you just want a film to constantly nudge you with a bit of ‘eh, eh?’ humour.

My main criticism is why on Earth would Alex, the lovely nurse, take this man into her home, having him be a murder suspect of Jack’s? It seemed to be really, really suspicious to me, to the point where I was thinking maybe she’s a werewolf, too, so that makes sense! Spoiler, no, it doesn’t.

One last note on this film, which we clearly recommend: the mythology of the werewolves of An American Werewolf in London is so much more clear than other films we’ve watched (see: Dog Soldiers) and I dig that. The idea that Jack was doomed to walk the Earth until the werewolf that killed him and those of his bloodline were dead was a nice little bit of werewolf mythos. I like seeing different takes on this classic horror creature, much like you get with vampires, but some films don’t really flesh it all out. This film was certainly not guilty of that.

So, that’s a thumbs up from us! Go, watch, and enjoy! Meanwhile, if you have any werewolf films you want to suggest, or any films of any type to have us check out, let us know! We’re on twitter @hallowoctobfilm and on facebook!

Dog Soldiers; or the Kobayashi Marooooo

Hello and Hallo-Welcome to another Furry Friday, where we review a film that features at least a little lycanthrophy! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who, if you hear them howling at your kitchen door, you better not let ‘em in!

Today’s film offering: Dog Soldiers

Andy: I really feel like more people should know Neil Marshall. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ve seen his work; he directed both the spectacular Blackwater in Season 2 and The Watchers on the Wall in Season 4. But we’re going a bit farther back than that, to the heady days of 2002 and his feature film debut Dog Soldiers.

51WAC7SFK9L.jpgA squad of soldiers on maneuvers in Scotland (say THAT five times fast) come across the remains of their ‘adversary’, special forces who had been on the other side of the exercise. What could take them out in such a hurry? And against such monsters, what chance do they stand? And what’s that howling in the woods?

Werewolves? There! Wolves!

Lilly: There film reviewers!

Andy: And Young Frankenstein joke achieved! Anyway. Lilly is sick today, so this is a slightly shorter one aaand that was her only contribution.

What we have here is both an excellent example and slyly funny subversion of the classic “house under siege” setup made famous by Night of the Living Dead, Assault on Precinct 13 and Patrick Troughton era Doctor Who, and does make you wonder what would have happened if instead of Ben and Barbara, we had a professional team of soldiers armed to the teeth. Will they make a better account of themselves? Not really, seeing as the werewolves here are pretty much invincible, but damn it, they’ll give it a go.

It helps that we have such a likeable bunch of potential dog food in the characters. Four really stand out; Liam Cunningham has great fun playing the only survivor of the first attack and all around complete bastard, Ryan; Kevin McKidd broods with a quiet control he may not really feel as leader Cooper; Sean Pertwee’s sheer charisma carries the early movie before it kicks off; and Darren Morfitt, the most obscure, plays Spoon – one of my favourite characters in a movie, well, ever. He has by far the most quotable lines in the movie.

The effects are somewhat limited – we never see a full transformation – but the wolves themselves are gorgeous, all arms and legs and fur and teeth, seven feet of awful.

Ultimately though, it’s very difficult to do this movie justice in a written review. The dialogue cracks like a Guy Ritchie movie, and every set piece comes together really nicely. I love it. It’s definitely a recommend from me: this may be my favorite werewolf movie.

And remember folks, if Little Red Riding Hood turns up with a bazooka and a bad attitude, you know what to do.

The Howling; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Moon

Hello and Hallo-welcome to the first of our Furry Fridays, where we look at films that feature lycanthropy of all shapes and sizes! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, one of which is a hairy handed gent who ran amuck in Kent while the other has lately been overheard in Mayfair.

Today’s Film Offering: The Howling

220px-The_Howling_(1981_film)_posterLilly: Having a distinct lack of werewolf films in our repertoire, this year we’ve decided to dedicate a day to them! The films chosen to look at aren’t necessarily the best of the bunch by any means, but rather a random selection we picked out, only one of which we’d both seen.

Our first jump into the hairy pool of werepups was The Howling, a film chosen primarily because we both remembered seeing the cover for it in our local video rental places and yet never picking it up to watch.

Andy: It’s a pretty distinctive cover. And we’ve since learned that this franchise has approximately ninety million sequels, so there must be something in it, right? RIGHT?

Anyway, the plot follows a young lady being contacted by a serial killer, who refuses to speak to anyone but her. The story starts in medias res, as the latest HORRIBLY planned sting operation gets underway, and she ends up alone, in a dirty movie booth, with the killer. Who may or may not be a werewolf and is definitely played by Robert Picardo, the holographic doctor from Star Trek Voyager.

In fact, the entire cast is made up of “Hey it’s that guy!” faces, from the legendary John Steed from The Avengers (no, not that one, the BBC one that starred Emma Peel in a catsuit), the dude from the Twisted Sister videos, and even gosh-darn Slim Pickens, best known for riding the bomb in Dr. Strangelove.

Anyway, our heroine gets sent to a retreat to help her recover from the trauma of the bungling-cop/porn/werewolf trifecta, but instead finds herself menaced in the misty woods by howling creatures (geddit?) and everyone’s increasingly bizarre knitwear.

Lilly: Seriously, these sweaters combined horror and Dr.Huxtable-couture long before Bill Cosby–the most evil of sweater wearing creeps–did. One woman was even wearing a sweater on top of a sweater, and both were hideous! And the one person not wearing sweaters is Marsha, a sexwolf who is sexy in her sexy leather dress (sexsexsex). I would say it was a spoiler that she was a werewolf, but it isn’t, she is literally the most wolflike of all the people we come across, and that is counting fully transformed werewolves. She treats the newcomers with the disdain of an alpha predator meeting the latest weak links to the pack, and goes about her business, sniffing up the new male to see if he is worth her time. Which, gurl, he is not, but you do you, Marsha.

Andy: And if our lengthy detour into TV actors and sweaters didn’t tip you off, we didn’t really get this one. The supposedly good werewolf effects look like the demon offspring of a muppet and a dustbunny, the acting and plot are really badly paced and fall flat. It’s really only saved by two moments: the first, a cool effect involving a severed hand, and the second, an absolutely hilarious moment involving a filing cabinet and a teleporting werewolf.

Lilly: Though I did love how hard this film tried to get me to guess everyone was a werewolf once the unhappy couple left the city. It slaps you in the face over and over with hints. They love meat–GET IT? They love hunting–GET IT? They transform into wolves whenever they please–GET IT? It was like the whole film was that part in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Snape is trying to get the students to guess Lupin is a werewolf by studying how werewolves are spotted but less engaging. The acting was definitely not up to par, and if I don’t hear another what-I-assume-they-assume-werewolves-howling-sounds-like noise ever again, that’ll be too soon.

Andy: Man, though, I’m not sure we can recommend this one.

Lilly: Which means you know it is either awful or actually good and we have no taste. It’s hard to tell. If you enjoy watching werewolf transformations that take longer than all the Sailor Scouts combined to transform (Moon Power Make-up-style glitter dance transformations might have changed my mind on this one, actually) and sex scenes that involve a lot of teeth baring, then hey, give this one a go. If you have other things to do with your time, such as knitting an actually attractive sweater or listening to a podcast by some charming horror reviewers that will come out later this month, then maybe do that instead.

Not a great start for our Furry Fridays, readers, but we have high hopes for next week–what are some of your favourite films featuring furry fiends? Let us know on twitter, or find us on facebook!