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.

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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!

An American Werewolf in Paris; or Reports of My Lycanthropy Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

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Hello and Hallo-welcome to another Sequel Sunday, where we take a second look at second (and third) films! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they pack their bags and brush up on their handy foreign phrases (‘êtes-vous un loup-garou?’ for instance).

Today’s film offering: An American Werewolf in Paris

Andy: Good Lord, there was a lot of crappy movies in the late nineties. We’re probably the only generation that can add the phrase “Thank God” to the end of “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

An American Werewolf in London was a fantastic example of something lots of movies try and very few are completely successful at – it was a loving pastiche of its genre, as well as being a very effective member of it. Paris is … less successful. It’s a lot less witty, has fewer likeable characters and a more incoherent plot. It also has literally no connection to the previous film other than the title.

Still, we musn’t be mean to the little darling, I mean, London is one of the greatest werewolf movies ever made, and we didn’t give Alien 3 as much schtick for not being Alien.

Lilly: Actually I liked Alien 3 more than Alien…

Andy: I, uh, well. We’re all entitled to our opinions, I guess.

So, An American Werewolf in Paris concerns three teenage lads on a trip to Paris who discover a secret party for wolfmeat young go getters like them and are respectively devoured, captured by an evil – coven? pack?

Lilly: Pack. They’re like dogs or, hey, wolves, so pack. Or gaggle, because hilarious. Gaggle of werewolves!

Andy: …Pack of werewolves who seem to think that eugenics is a fun and useful idea in modern society and bitten but rescued by the beautiful but mysterious Serafine, herself a werewolf but not associated with the werewolves who are also Nazis.

Lilly: Yeah, #notallwerewolves.

Paris is not a film about the torturous adjusting to the monster inside so much as a ‘Yes, they are also Nazi-like, keep up!’ action thriller type film. There is little subtlety, and what actual exploration there is of the lycanthropy of this film is thrown into maybe five minutes of movie science-ing (which, for those of you just tuning in, I hate). The film seems more concerned with really making the point that not all werewolves are dangerous if they take precautions and take their medication–man, so many metaphors there. So many. Can we have a reboot of werewolf films as a thing? We can all apologize for 2010’s The Wolfman and just embrace all the things being a werewolf can symbolize. Come on!

The two main problems with Paris were that, as Andy mentioned, I didn’t really like anyone involved and the film didn’t really grab me. I mean, for starters, screw you, Andy (from the film, main character was called Andy, to be clear), maybe she doesn’t want your help, that poor sad French woman, but that is her business. What she chooses to do with her body is her business! Even in a film where the once a month her body turns on her schtick is in play! Second of all, the guys were going around, illegally jumping off buildings for fun, and that just rubs me the wrong way. Then there was the throw backs to London like the dead bothering the living after being killed by a werewolf that only served to remind me of a better film. Then there was the fact that it felt like a made for tv movie with the low quality it had, but a tv movie made for a channel that showed breasts.

Andy: Yeah, it’s just not very good.

Lilly: There you have it, ladies and gents. Our first non-go, watch enjoy of the year! Don’t bother. Just. Watch another werewolf film. Go watch Ginger Snaps or Teen Wolf. Or, actually, watch An American Werewolf in London because that is an enjoyable, interesting film to enjoy!