It's an original enough movie but certainly not the best werewolf movie I have ever seen.

Well, this movie isn't doing an awful lot wrong but at the same time it still gives you the feeling it could have been a whole lot better. Perhaps the movie was too much focused on doing something new with werewolves and tried to be original with its concept, only to forget about its actual story.

There were some things I was really liking about the movie its story though. Thing I for instance really liked about it was how it slowly transformed from a normal and very typical serial killer type of horror/thriller into a more classic monster movie type of horror. I don't think I'm spoiling much by saying that at some point werewolves start to show up in this movie. After all, just look at the movie its cover and read its title...spoils everything from the get go. I definitely would have preferred not knowing at all what this movie was all about. This would have enhanced the movie its tension, mystery and horror significantly!

It was obvious to me that director Joe Dante must have really liked the werewolf movies from the '40's (perhaps that's also why John Carradine is in it?) and also used it as an inspiration for this movie. There are numerous references to it throughout and it tries to mimic some of its atmosphere, story beats and characters, which shouldn't be a big surprise, seeing how between the '40's and 1981, when this movie got done, not an awful lot of big or popular werewolf movies got made, so he didn't have much else to go by. As a matter of fact, it wasn't until this movie that the sub genre started to become popular again and more werewolf movies started to emerge, not long after this movie became an unexpected hit.

Thing I didn't like that much about its story was how it felt a little bit underdeveloped at times. The movie seemed to have plenty of ideas in it, that too often, don't amount to anything. Some potentially interesting side-plots were going absolutely nowhere and also got abandoned after a short while. I for instance would have loved the movie to focus some more on the Patrick Macnee character, who seemed like a pretty interesting one but hardly got used in the movie.

It's a flat out horror and monster movie but the movie at the same time still attempts to give the movie a sense of realism. At times it got in the way of the movie its horror and it just wasn't always working for me. I certainly liked the movie best when it was going all out with its horror and werewolf moments! This not in the least was due to the werewolves' impressive looks. The effects and makeup used in this movie, done by Rob Bottin and Rick Baker, looked absolutely fantastic. The transformation scenes were pretty impressive as well, especially when considering this is an '80's movie, that only had a very small budget to spend.

It's not entirely without humor but for most part this is a very 'serious' and straightforward, dark, horror movie by Joe Dante. A bit surprising perhaps, since he's better known for doing lighter type of movies. Even his other horror movies are much lighter ones, such as the original 1978 "Piranha" and the two much loved Gremlins movies. So know what to expect- or more importantly, not to except from this movie!

I liked watching this movie, mostly because it was an original and effective one within its genre but it's certainly not as great as it potentially could have been!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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