The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time!

The Three Greatest Werewolf Films of All Time all came out the same year, 1981. Talk about the zeitgeist in action.

The films are:

 

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THE HOWLING (1981) – Don’t hold the awful sequels against this original, the original is justifiably lauded for a reason.  Like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, this was a movie made by kids, who believed there were still worlds to conquer. A talented young Joe Dante as director, a brilliant young John Sayles as Screenwriter, a gifted 19 year old Rob Boteen, coming off of assisting Rick Baker, creating one of the greatest special effect, transformation sequences in the history of film… and in front the camera a legendary cast of character and veteran actors, led by Dee Wallace’s brilliant performance; all come together to create one of the most beloved and brilliant films of its kind, or any kind.

 

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AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) – No one remembers or continually goes back to the ‘serious’ A-films of 1981, but this little thought of and hard fought and continually enjoyable B-picture, by a young maverick director John Landis and young makeup/special effects artist Rick Baker, remains now almost 40years later, the stuff that careers and legends are made of. An academy award for its makeup effects, it is forever the standard by which all such films are judged.

 

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WOLFEN (1981) – Is the oft overlooked 3rd film , that makes up the holy trinity of great werewolf films released in 1981. it lacks the transformation and special effects that immortalize THE HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and perhaps that accounts for its under the radar status.

Also it is not a showy, flashy horror film, it is something a lot darker and more dire. WOLFEN is a slow, brooding, unnerving, and genuinely frightening study and indictment, not so much of monsters… as of men. It is a brilliant film, the first and only dramatic feature film by director Michael Wadleigh, whose only other credits included documentaries. With a director that was nearly 40, this was (unlike HOWLING and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON) not a film done by talented, optimistic kids; instead there is a more mature, pensive, jaundiced eye at work here.

While a disappointment in the box office, largely because it was a more thoughtful film than the advertising promised, this film is a masterpiece. It ended Wadleigh’s career before it had a chance to grow, and that is a shame. This first film leaves us to only wonder, what subsequent dramatic films from him, could have been.

WOLFEN has so many strengths. Albert Finney delivers one of his great performances, buoyed by other talented actors… Gregory Hines, Edward Olmos, the script is captivating, the James Horner score haunting, and it is a truly frightening film, in ways that has nothing to do with what you see. Of the three great Werewolf films, it is the one that I think has the most to say. It is just a phenomenal, unjustly forgotten film. And if you do pick up the film via Bluray or streaming, I also STRONGLY urge you to pick up the Whitley Strieber audio-book performed by the late, great Roddy McDowall. That is equally a masterpiece.

 

Well hope you found that little look at the three greatest Werewolf films, enjoyable and informative. If you did, please subscribe, and patronize the links below. Your purchases help earn a few needed pennies for this blog, to keep the proverbial doors open. Much appreciated!

 

Till next time… be well!

WOLFEN Blu-Ray

I hope one of the Blu-Ray labels finally releases a worthy, feature filled director’s commentary. This movie deserves it.

WOLFEN Audio Book performed by Roddy McDowell

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON

THE HOWLING

and

Stuck at home Item of the Day!

Youtube and Pandemic Video of the Day, France, Revolutionary War and Captain America?

 

There are a couple things and a couple places that historically enrage me.

You will find injustice and stupidity everywhere, but some places seem to have more than their fair share. Some places where the rule of law and government, is put in the hands of the most venal, and these miscarriages of not just justice, but of humanity continue to proliferate and occur.

The MOVE Bombing in Philadelphia comes to mind, the LA riots, sentencing mentally disabled children as adults in Florida and locking them up with Adults.

Ah Florida.

You bring to mind a quote from Henry the Vth.

And when I think of Henry the Vth, it is not the play I read that comes to mind, or the many film adaptations, it is a very specific film and performance. It is Branagh’s HENRY THE V. And there is this scene where he has just seen the bodies of the children that France killed in a sneak attack. He says, he seethes, “I was not angry till I came to France!”

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Often I have heard news dealing with Florida, and it rises in me that self same rage, and I think… “I was not angry till I heard of Florida!”

And again I am sure there are great parts to Florida, great people in Florida, however it seems rightly or wrongly, they are overshadowed by the… mad.

Though it could be argued that… considering who some people voted for in the last presidential election, that all of America is mad.

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Perhaps one of the greatest warriors America has ever produced, perhaps he was right.

Perhaps he was right when he switched sides.

I’m talking about Benedict Arnold.

History only remembers him as traitor.

They forget that he was the one everyone looked to, Washington, Jefferson, Banneker all of them. He was the Captain America of his day.  Winning battle after battle, until at some point he saw a dichotomy between a colony seeking its Freedom from England, while ever more earnest about creating its wealth through a system of petty tyrannies, fiefdoms, slavery and impoverishment.

Ah Arnold, they have roughly used you.

Perhaps he was right.

An 1880 Bio of Benedict Arnold, By A Sympathetic Relative

 

All that to say, that video… riled me.

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Now a bit more on that Henry the Vth quote:

“I was not angry till I came to France!”

That line has always stuck with me. What was said, and how he said it, and the enormity of the villainy to prompt such words.

However I don’t want people to confuse me  being moved by that line, with any problems with France.

I like France, I went through it when I was younger, on a trip from Germany to London than back down through France to Spain.

Map of Central Europe (General Map / Region of the World)

While some American media has this totally undeserved derision toward France, the truth of the matter is… there would not be an America without France. The 100 year war between France and England, actually being just a small part of a 1000 year rivalry between those Super-Powers of that age, and the battle ground of America, what we called the Revolutionary War, was simply, for those Super Powers, their Vietnam.

Britain was fighting too many wars on too many fronts, battles with Spain, and France and on their own shores, and now a treasonous colony to deal with, that was being supported by their enemies. It was too much.

America likes to think we beat Britain, that is not the case. No, more than Vietnam beat America. In both cases battles on too many fronts, at home and abroad, required that the super power relinquish their expansionist wars, to concentrate on maintaining the nation proper.

So yeah, while Henry the Vth rightfully raged against France at the Battle of Agincourt, for myself, and for I think any American who has studied even basic history, and appreciates (for all its horrendous flaws) the dream of America, well you have to thank France for there even being a nation called America. Much as Vietnam has China to thank for them not being annexed by the United States.

So historically a fan of France, though these days they are dealing, like much of Europe and the World, with the rise of a new form of colonialism and fascism, under the guise of big business supplanting the rights of the individual.

 

Woah, man. That post went all over the place.  🙂

Somewhere in all that rambling there is probably a point. Me, I’ll leave it there. With this last refrain…

  • Travel when you can.
  • Defend each other and yourselves when you must.
  • Find and spread joy where you may.

These are my only laws.

Oh, and deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.

In the words of Tennessee Williams and Blance Dubois. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.

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Be well all.

And here endeth the rant. 🙂

 

-HT

 

Deal of the Day!

One of The Greatest YouTube Channels of 2018 : MINDSMASH

If you live  long enough and well enough, well enough to no  longer need to feed ego, or be praised for humility… if you lived that long you know greatness when you see it. And conversely you know folly when you see it.

I have lived that long, and that badly and well, that I know folly when I see it, and I know greatness. The fool will confuse the one for the other, so you get people who call witchhunts justice, and rogues  presidential. But thankfully we are blessed with some who are not fools, who know greatness when they see it… The host of the brilliant Youtube channel MINDSMASH.

With appreciation  the host dissects the great fighters and great fighting styles of our age, but does it with a romantic eye, and a poets hesrt.

Listen/watch his latest episode and you two will see, why it is in my humble opinion, a must not miss you tube channel:

 

 
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC87Lj67s_Ht40lvGhtF9iHA

How do you wrap up 2016?! TV and Streaming BARBARIANS RISING


2016 was a FANTASTIC year for TV.

Netflix and streaming options such as Amazon Prime and Hulu has effectively changed how the world consumes and watches tv.

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Tonight I discovered History Channel’s BARBARIANS RISING, which tells the tale of one of the greatest warriors in the history of the world, Hannibal Barca, and his insane dream, obsession, vision, to conquer the unconquerable Rome.

I have my issues with the HISTORY CHANNEL, I think their VIKINGS TV show, that paints a friendly, proto-feminist, misunderstood anti-hero view of the Vikings, is irresponsible and misguided film-making at its worst.

I don’t expect a documentary, and even in a documentary, much of what we know, must be colored, romanticized, dramatized. The truth of over 2000 years ago like the truth of yesterday, will never be exactly seen by any two people, exactly the same.

But that said while the telling is fluid, blatantly changing the morality of what is known is not. That is simple mendacity.

It’s white-washing of history, that is beyond romanticism to bald-face lying. Like making the ancient Egyptians white. :).

Here’s the thing the Vikings, in their approach to nonvikings, were proto-Nazis, Nazis in their purest form. They were what Nazis dreamed of being. They believed in rape, and pillage, and death, and wholesale slaughter of their enemies. They were in battle, drug addled butchers and thieves and rapists, who put to the sword any land they could reach. War and Pillaging, was not an end, it was a practice, it was a purpose, it was a past time, it was the reason to wake up and the reason to go to bed. As it was for many of the ancient people. Blood, unfortunately, is under most of our ancestors nails.

They did monstrous things, but they also did admirable things. But art, to be honest, must not dismiss the one, to elevate the other. And that’s what the show VIKINGS does, it glorifies that which has no glory in it, and ignores that, which should not be ignored. And to do this is analagous to havaing a show called Nazis, and to portray them as heroic, with no look into the programs of genocide, and the Nazi Work and Death camps.

I’m not saying don’t have a show about Vikings, but tell the truth, don’t make saints out of sinners, and if you find your characters are too reprehensible when you do that, then maybe that’s telling you something.

So I have my issues with HISTORY CHANNEL.

But those issues do not extend to BARBARIANS RISING. Which quite frankly is my last great television discovery of 2016!

 

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The first episode, RESISTANCE, simply must see television.

“I swear by the Deathless Gods that I shall not rest till the heart of Rome bleeds dry on the sword of Carthage.” –Hannibal Barca, Son of Carthage, One of the Greatest Generals in the History of the World

 

This is one I have to own the Blu-Ray of! It’s not a show you want to have disappear off of streaming.

Get your copy here:

 

 

Barbarians Rising [Blu-ray]

Amazon DEALS OF THE DAY! Best Soundtrack of 2016!?!

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone – Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie THE HATEFUL EIGHT, I saw just this previous December in its extended road show version. I saw it at a sumptuous venue, surrounded by real cinephiles, and quite liked the movie. I thought it had flaws, because while not a prude by any measure, I did think Quentin went a bit heavy on the profanity button.

Sometimes excess is not verisimilitude, being true to the framework of your film, sometimes it is just excess, and gets in the way of your film.

At some point it becomes like a kid who has just learned to curse, and says it all the time as if there is a maturity in that, when just the opposite is the truth. Over use of profanity is the mark of a juvenile aesthetic. I thought the movie was great, I loved the process and loved the ending and loved the visuals, the only detraction was… that juvenile aesthetic of Tarantino’s.

So it’s a movie I really liked, and want to call a great movie, but a great movie should also be re-watchable, and I’m uncertain how many times I would want to re-watch this. Portions of it sure. But to sit down and rewatch the whole thing? Revisit it, like I do with THE SEARCHERS or TOMBSTONE  or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST… Not so much. That’s where the juvenile aesthetic works against a film, and works against Tarantino. These slight misgivings aside, It is still a solid B+ of a movie.

However one thing that I was not not conflicted on was Ennio Morricone’s score. Upon hearing this in the theater, I new I loved it and wanted to purchase the soundtrack when available. And I’m not a soundtrack guy, I buy sporadically, and seldom consider buying the score while watching a movie. So that tells you what type of impression this score made on me.

Today I received the Third Man Records stunning 2 LP Pressing of THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Wow! This may just be the collectible of the year!

It takes me back to the thrill I got of getting Records or Laser Discs, back in the day. That larger than life, elaborate and beautiful album cover, filled with extras, such as a booklet with liner notes, posters, photographs.

For around $30 while supplies last , it is a steal!

Morricone purportedly came out of retirement to do this score for Tarantino, and I’m glad he did, because he creates a score for the ages, to stand up to his decades of stunning, influential, and cinema shaping…. scores.

Now while the music is excellent, the pressing is also slightly hampered by Tarantino’s decision to add dialogue to the album. I would have preferred this album without Tarantino’s additions of dialog, and let this just be the music. However the dialogue tracks are easily skipped on CD. Not so easily skipped on the LP,  but the 2 album LP, is a collector’s dream, sporting a beautiful fold out gate fold cover,, and enough extras to make it worth any purchasers time to own both the CD and the LP.

Pick up both at the links below while in stock:

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight CD

 

CDs worth owning in the age of Itunes! 15 Favorite obscure CDs!


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ALAN MOORE : THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS -A fantastic CD, oral dissection and tour of London of the Id. Alan Moore is analogous to Shakespeare in that like Shakespeare he is one of the greatest writers of a castigated medium (Shakespeare worked in the, during his life, little respected medium of plays, mass entertainment for the mobs; and Moore works in the medium of comic books/graphic novels), and arguably is not fully understood or appreciated out of that medium in his lifetime. His spoken word CDs are some of the most amazing and compelling, combining his love of topics but strange and obscure, married to his voice, which is one of the greatest and most haunting voices of our age. Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

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DEATH : FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE – Rock/Proto-Punk – Turned on to this CD by the wonderful documentary A BAND CALLED DEATH. A great documentary and a great CD. For the Whole World to See

ABRAHAM BURTON QUARTET : CAUSE AND EFFECT – Was turned onto this CD by Amiri Baraka when I met him a few years back and bought his excellent hardcover book DIGGING THE AFRO AMERICAN SOUL OF CLASSICAL AMERICAN MUSIC. Cause and EffectDigging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

CHE : NOT LIKE THEM – Caught this artist live performance years ago, and got this CD direct from him. It still remains one of the best CDs I own. An amazing performer who brings together Neo-soul, R&B, Rock, and some genres not invented yet, in a fun, head bobbing package.

TAALAM ACEY : BLUES RESURGENCE – Another artist I caught live, and got this CD direct from him. One of the greatest spoken word CDs. Blues Resurgence

MARK GROSS : RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX – I heard him play his title track in a dive bar, somewhere on the edge of the world, and purchased. A great purchase as it is one of the best Jazz Cds I’ve ever heard. Riddle of the Sphinx

AWADAGIN PRATT : A LONG WAY FROM NORMAL- My gold standard for classical piano CDs are the great Glenn Gould’s BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS released by CBS Records and this lesser known, but no less great, album by Awadagin Pratt. A must own. Plays Liszt/Franck/Brahms/Bach

PARIS : THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT/SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – I added these two CDs as one, because even though they are separated by decades, they are linked at the hip, by a fervor that is both mired in specific times, yet oddly time resistant. And a delivery… unequaled. The Devil Made Me Do It

TERRY CALLIER : SPEAK YOUR PEACE – Speak Your Peace

QUINCY JONES : IN COLD BLOOD – Soundtrack. Why on earth would anyone ever want the sound track to a movie? When I was young it made no sense to me. And to be truthful, for most movies and soundtracks I still feel that way. I’ve listened to a lot of not especially interesting soundtrack Records and CDs. And then one day I put on the LP to Cold Blood by Quincy Jones, a young Quincy Jones before he became the manager for the King of Pop, and settled into making pop and r&b albums. This young Quincy Jones was pushing how music could be used to elicit feelings and tell stories, and during the late 60s early 70s created some of the most experimental and haunting music ever conceived. IN COLD BLOOD remains the seminal instrumental work done not just by Quincy Jones, but by anyone. It was the first soundtrack album to open my eyes to the fact that the soundtrack can be a work of art onto itself. IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

JERRY GOLDSMITH : PLANET OF THE APES – Jerry Goldsmith has created mountains of Sound tracks, I don’t know if he has ever been more experimental or better than here. Planet Of The Apes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Also Featuring Music From Escape From The Planet Of The Apes

JIMMY WILSON : FUTURE HISTORY – Future History

DON PEYOTE : BETWEEN WORLDS – A lot of people turn up their nose at the term New Age, rightly or wrongly I don’t know. What I do know is I’m in love with binaural effects, and CDs that, using just a headphone, can recreate a 360 degree environment. BETWEEN WORLDS does that brilliantly. A great CD to read or drift off to. Between Worlds with Hemi-Sync

STEVE USCHER : LA GUITARRA TROPICAL –

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IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE : REVOLUTIONARY VOL 2 – I have oft praised this CD. It should be required listening by people who want to hear what rap can be like… when it is about more than self grandizement and debasement.

Well hope you enjoyed that list of essential obscure CDs. Now I’m sure most of you in this age of Itunes have ditched your walkman, so how, you ask, do you play these cds? Well thankfully there are nice, compact, cost effective devices that allow you to take not only your cds but your dvds and other media with you when on the move. Here’s a link to one:

Sylvania Portable DVD Player SDVD7027-C, 7-Inch, Swivel Screen, Black

Enjoy!


GREATEST SHORT FILMS OF ALL TIME : THE LAST TEN (2011) by Director David Higgs

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THE LAST TEN- I love short films for the same reason I love short stories, at their best they can deliver a pure moment, unhampered by filler or setup or dressing or fluff, and therefore a memorable moment to the core of us, in a way which only the most masterful feature films can equal.

Dickens was by far the more lauded author of his day, but it is the short fiction of his contemporaries Doyle and the American Poe which remains the mainstay of our cultural obsession to this day. And it is because of their short fiction’s power to completely live in us and be remembered by us, in their entirety; and the very nature of this construction is one of icon-ism rather than specif-ism.

Therefore the characters are ever very personal and close and fleshed out by us; are as part of their brevity ever ruminations on us. Indeed, even Dickens, who while the writer of many long form works, made his livelihood in the serialized market, and arguably his most beloved work, is his short form A CHRISTMAS CAROL, more novelette than novel.

When done well, a short film in a minute or two minutes or five minutes, or in this case under 14 minutes, can present a beginning, middle, and ending that almost all live completely on this razor edge of climax, and satisfy you before your attention wanes.

David Higgs’ THE LAST TEN is short film done as well as it can be done. A premise Hitchcock would have adored, a locked off camera, a single location, and creeping dread. I went into the film knowing nothing about it, as i suggest to you, and was blown away. Writer/Director/Producer David Higgs along with Cinematographer Nicole Heiniger in under 14 minutes creates one of my favorite short films with a haunting final shot.

You can view it courtesy of the Roku channel VIMEO. We all know short fiction is oft seen as a stepping stone to feature film, but the truth is they are two distinct animals. Clive Barker’s short fiction is miles ahead of his long form fiction. If THE LAST TEN is anything to go by, David Higgs is a fantastic short film maker, and I for one would love to see more films by him. At least enough that he could put out a DVD or Blu-Ray complete with special features and monetize some of his excellent work.

Last word on THE LAST TEN? HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. A+.

 

Pick up the following books if you enjoyed this post and are a fan of what it covers:

Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems
– There are tons of Edgar Allen Poe collections, but only a few sport illustrations by the great Gustave Dore and only one is this affordable. Get the hardcover version while you can.

Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations / Hard Times / Oliver Twist / A Christmas Carol / Bleak House / A Tale of Two Cities)
-six of his works in this exclusive and sumptuous boxed set of lavish, clothbound editions, designed by Penguin’s own award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith. Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.