Saturday, October 02, 2010

Halloween Countdown: THE WOLFMAN (2010)

Last year I had so much fun watching a couple of scary movies a week in preparation for Halloween that I wanted to do it again.

And so it begins...

I'm starting off with the most recent version of THE WOLFMAN, with Benecio del Toro and Emily Blunt. (Don't worry--the choices will get quirkier and uckier and far more bottom-of-the-basement quality as I go along.)

I was eager to see this one way back when it had a panel at Comic-Con. Unfortunately, it didn't come out for a while--it was shelved, only to be released this year to little fanfare. I thought it looked like a good companion piece to BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA, a flick that I adore for its operatic overkill and gothic vampire swooniness. I thought THE WOLFMAN would have some similarities: Anthony Hopkins, for one. Crumbling estates, mausoleums, and mist-in-the-woods eeriness for another.

But THE WOLFMAN is somehow not quite as engaging as DRACULA, although it has its moments. For you horror freaks out there (I'm including myself, too), there's plenty of ick and slash. There's even a fantastic sequence with the wolfman running around London that had me grinning with wicked joy. I love me some Victorian London grossness--my ongoing fascination with Jack the Ripper supports that claim.

The best thing about this movie for me was the wolfman design. Forgive me, but I'm not in to werewolves who change in to...well, wolves. Not my thing. I like the messed-up man/wolf creature that emerges by the light of a full moon, a mutant, a real monster who seems pissed off that he got the short end of the pretty stick. And what we get here is a turbo version of the Lon Chaney wolfman. Seriously--this creature does some damage to gypsies and unfortunates who inadvisedly wander through the woods with lanterns eeking out a bit of light while they murmur, "Who's there?" just after a twig snaps behind them.

What was extra special to me about THE WOLFMAN is that Benecio del Toro actually looks a lot like the Frankenstein monster when he's in human form. I defy you to tell me I'm wrong after you get a gander at him with those burned-out eyes and a terrible mop of stringy hair covering that forehead. So Frankensteiny. Oh, and if you're looking for some prime Anthony Hopkins scenery chewing--tah-dah! Right here, my friends. He's just as weird as he was in DRACULA, with all those ticks, blank stares, and, in this case, riveting apple chomping. It's like he wandered over from DRACULA with the craziest parts of Van Helsing still intact. Gotta love the kind of crazy that only Hopkins can bring.

Overall, I'd say this works as a pre-Halloween flick. Great creepy atmosphere. Lots o'blood and carnage. Classic monster mash.

Stay tuned for more movies as we meander through October on our way to the big day!

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