Combining great performances, a compelling story, outstanding direction cinematography and editing, and a stellar soundtrack, and some of the best Werewolf makeup and transformations and you have just a home-run of a film. Jason Momoa is such a galvanizing physical presence and is perfect here in his role of crazed Alpha dog.
This one I saw for free courtesy of HULU, it is an easy MUST OWN. Grade: A-.
Lawrence Talbot: Are you expecting a war?
Singh: A Sikh is a warrior of God. He must always arm himself against evil.
Sir John Talbot: You’ve done terrible things, Lawrence. Terrible Things.
I own very few Blu-Rays, I find on a whole it to be only a marginal quality difference to DVD, and all other things being equal, I’m unwilling to shell out more for a Blu-Ray
The exceptions being a movie deserving of the extensive and elaborate special features and dissection/discussion that a Blu-Ray can bring to bear.
I find the WOLFMAN to be one such film. Unlike many I was a huge fan of the film in the theaters, and I’m happy to say the Blu-Ray experience, with the Director’s Cut, only solidifies my enjoyment and praise for this film.
I won’t get into specifics of the film except to say the additional 15 or so minutes of the Unrated Director’s cut helps to make more cohesive and strong a film that did suffer from unevenness and feeling rushed. Particularly Benicio Del Toro’s unfairly maligned portrayal, is expanded and fleshed out, as well as his relationship with his father played by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Lawrence Talbot: Why did she do it?
Sir John Talbot: She struggled with life, as we all do. She lost.
The only minor qualm in the Unrated version is, it is less subtle in terms of the villain, for this reason it may be more prudent to see the theatrical version first, then graduate to the Unrated version.
But that minor issue aside, in every other way the Unrated version makes more compelling an already very good film. I’d go so far to say the Unrated version makes it a great film, particularly if you take into account the wealth of extra features.
Now picture wise, the WOLFMAN Blu-Ray is a negligible improvement over DVD, owing much to how it was shot, it’s a muddy, subdued, grainy type of film that does not play to the strengths of Blu-RAy.
But the extra features, interviews with Rick Baker, etc., and some nifty new interactive features makes this well written, beautifully filmed, wonderfully directed, masterfully edited (really effective jump scares, that no matter how many times I see the film… stay scary. That takes talent!) and well performed Horror/Monster film… a fun addition to anyone’s library.
Grade: Recommended! B+.
Continuing my list of 15 favorite DVD commentaries, here are selections 6-10.
Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW commentary is up next. Tim Burton is a ‘hit and miss’ director for me, while always an amazing visual stylist, his more humor laced films such as DARK SHADOWS I don’t like. There’s a natural tendency to black humor in the direction of Tim Burton, but it works better when he doesn’t play to this tendency, because then it comes out forced as in DARK SHADOWS. However when the humor is not the goal, but just a side effect of the situations or the truth of the characters, when it doesn’t supplant or overshadow the drama or action or horror… then it works.
That’s what is so special about his films, such as SLEEPY HOLLOW and to a lesser extent the first BATMAN, that dark Gothic atmosphere, that tone, stays paramount, and indeed is heightened by brief moments of levity.
Heightened by a deadpan delivery, not there for laughs, but because that is the truth or the absurdity of that character in that moment. The scenes should work when played and taken straight, and shouldn’t be there expecting a laugh (which is the surest way not to get one), however if the humor works, comes across for some, that’s just an added bonus.
A great commentary by Tim Burton touches on all of this. Burton discusses working with Christoper Lee and Landau and of course Depp, the power of Spanish horses, his sheep fetish, working on sets (which Burton is a master of), discussing Depp’s amazing ability to faint like a girl. 🙂 Just a fun, informative commentary that lets you see first and foremost Burton as film fan and connoisseur.
Sweeney Todd / Sleepy Hollow (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]
INSIDE MAN- Spike Lee’s career took a heavy hit with the atrocious film, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, one of the few movies so awful I walked out on (to be fair the camera work was great, just the story and dialogue and pacing was garbage). However prior to that, he was firing on all cylinders with the film INSIDE MAN. Not just one of Spike Lee’s best films, but one of the best heist/thriller films you’ll come across. And it’s adorned with a FANTASTIC commentary by Spike Lee that shows him as the ultimate New Yorker. Just great, high energy stories about Lee shooting in a city he clearly loves. Perhaps the only other filmmaker who is as much a cheerleader and champion for New York as Spike Lee would be Martin Scorsese. A wonderful commentary.
Inside Man (Widescreen Edition)
THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN- It’s rare when you can point to a film and say. “yep this is the film that ended his career”. You can do that with this film, and the directing career of Stephen Norrington. Most people hate this film for largely not being Alan Moore’s comic, and the changes made.
Well it is definitely changed. But that’s the nature of Adaptations, what works on the page does not necessarily work on the stage/screen. And slavish devotion to the source material, ala SIN CITY is no guarantee of quality (I hated SIN CITY). If you want the source material, go read the source material, that hasn’t been changed.
For the rest of us, we are sharp enough to get the fact that the film has to meet the needs of a far greater range of people and interests, and becomes by definition a different thing. Now whether that different thing is good or bad is the question.
In the case of Stephen Norrington’s THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN I enjoy this film a lot. And I appreciate it more every single time I see it. It takes the framework of Moore’s story, and builds something that moves at a brisk, exciting pace to fill close to 2 hours (110 minutes), something that Moore’s original, was not designed to do. Moore’s work is designed for the page, and works best there.
But to adapt it to the screen, it has to become something else. And I think Norrington and crew create a something else… that is one of the best love letters to the age of the pulp hero and two-fisted action that you will find, outside of an Indiana Jones film. And I love that it goes for practical effects, and tries different things, instead of just CGI. So yep I proudly own the DVD for this film, and routinely take it for a spin.
And I also routinely listen to the commentary, which is great. By all reports Norrington had a bumpy time with his first success BLADE, coming to loggerheads (a fancy old time expression, meaning to bring something to a boil. A loggerhead back in the day being a long heated piece of iron with a bulbous head used to heat liquids. And yes, that is your word for the day :)) with individuals, that almost there ended his directing career before it began.
Here in LEAGUE, in his fourth film, he ticks off (forget Alan Moore, forget the fans)… he ticks off the star of the film, the legendary Sean Connery! And all of that, is included in the commentary. How are you going to talk about throwing down with Sean Connery?!! So it is an amazing bit of commentary for this 2003 film, and seemingly signals a promising director’s swan song from the business.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Widescreen Edition)
THE HOWLING- Everyone knows this is one of the greatest Werewolf movies ever, but what you might not know is it’s also one of the most enjoyable, fun commentaries. With Joe Dante, Dee Wallace Stone and her husband Chris Stone (boyfriend during the filming of the movie, I’m such a romantic that I dig things like that, plus I generally adore Dee Wallace, she is just so completely invested and open and awesome in this film), and Robert Picardo, all just having a ball.
And to that fact, there are guest stars/cameos galore (Ackerman, Sayles, Corman, Caradine, Slim Pickens, etc) in this film, and this commentary becomes everything a great commentary should be. Easily should make anyone’s best of list!
The Howling (Special Edition)
Join me in the next installment as we cover the final five favorite commentaries #11-15 (Here’s part 1 if you missed it)! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries! If you like this post, take the time to give a ‘like’ and also take the time to purchase using the links provided.
That one two punch of support is what keeps this blog going. And it also helps me decide what future segments to concentrate on, the posts that get the most likes, and generate the most purchases, are more than likely topics that have an audience, so I’ll revisit them.
So yeah, your feedback in those two ways… just a way cool thing for you to take time to do! Keep it up! Thanks!:)!
As far as why… Well I’ve been meaning to put up a couple strips for a while. And have been trying to network, collaborate with a couple of artists, but I’ll let you in on a secret, artists aren’t really the most reliable bunch for collaborating or networking with… at least the ones I’ve been dealing with.
So rather than wait on people to grow up, I decided to just ‘what the heck’ it, and just go ahead and create and post something that would make me laugh.
Hence this very brief, very juvenile ‘cut and paste’ cartoon courtesy of one of the free cartoon generators out there, The art is crude, but the insane story and words and madness is all me. Hope you enjoyed it. If you do, leave a comment and some likes!
It’s a work in progress experiment, that will improve if you guys will stick in there with me. Thanks!! 🙂
I like big WereWolf movies and I cannot lie!
That sounded much better as a rap song, 🙂 Anyhow, I do happen to have a fondness for Werewolf movies.
And this being the age of torture porn, and slasher flicks, and zombie movies (none of which I like)… good werewolf flicks are not that prevalent. Unlike many I did quite enjoy Joe Johnstone’s recent WOLF-MAN.
Unfortunately, at this rate it means one good werewolf movie every decade or so (sorry TWILIGHT and UNDERWORLD, not really interested).
Well for those who have seen all the classic wolf flicks (AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, HOWLING, WOLFEN) and are seeking something to tide them over try these obsure, little seen flicks available on Archive.org. While not exactly good, stick with em, they rise above their flaws :):
WEREWOLF IN A GIRL’S DORMITORY- A zero budget film, sprinkled with sizeable amounts of bad acting. That said there is one actor who gives a compelling performance, some interesting mad scientist elements, and some interesting makeup. Worth a look. Grade: Has its moments. View it here.
WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON- Dean Stockwell who spent his early career playing annoying, conflicted characters is true to type in this zero budget horror flick. Comes off as more the rushes of a film, rather than a finished film. At times laughably bad film. Horror drama as political farce. The Werewolf meets Dr. Strangelove. I know this is one movie Dean Stockwell wishes did not exist. The telephone booth scene being so ludicrous it’s laughable.
I cannot decide if this flick is going for brainless or brilliant, at times both. The licking the midget scene at the feet of Frankenstein was just too bloody much for me!! Add to that a cage-match on the White house lawn?!?
What possessed Stockwell to think this film was a good career choice is beyond me. And is it me or does that President remind you of Bush? A bad movie, that should be at least fast forwarded through. : ). ”Get back people! He may be the President but he’s still a Human Being!”
I have never hated the beginning of a movie more, written it off, and been captivated by the last hour! I wrote most of this review before reaching the end of THE WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON. It really turns on a dime, and becomes a film that laughs at itself, and at you. That’s not quite right. It’s not comedy so much as satire, and by the end, very effective satire. Give it a look, I think it may grow on you.
Grade: It may take an effort, but if you can make it through the incomprehensible and pitiable first 40 minutes, the third act, may just salvage it for you as it did for me. I’ll go so far as to say that by the end of the film, I was quite entertained. View it here.
WEREWOLF WOMAN- Softcore exploitation flick, it actually transcends its meager budget, and suspect direction, to have some heart, and some care, and some tragedy. It’s more than you think. There’s a sinister thread to it, a broken morality, a fragmented picture of… abuse begetting abuse. Grade: This movie surprisingly transcends its limitations. And it has stayed with me long after seeing it. Which is more than I can say for most films today. Of the three, it’s the one I wouldn’t mind having a nice DVD version of (Well this and WEREWOLF OF WASHINGTON). Your mileage may vary. View it on Archive.org and decide for yourself
[Quick Update: WEREWOLF WOMAN has been removed, like too many movies, from Archive.org. There is a Shriek Video DVD available here, but most reviews state that the Shriek DVD is sub-par, and recommends rather searching out a DVD offered by a Japanese label.]
That said, they are not exactly horrible. And they have their particular charms. 🙂
INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS- What to say about this movie… it’s like a porno movie without the porn. 🙂 It’s harmless enough, brain-dead fun, and who is not a fan of uncomfortable 70s acting, and bare bosoms. And hey… it’s free. 🙂
CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE- Despite its shortcomings, it’s an okay flick. Plus I’m always an easy audience for mad scientist and swamp movies. Also I like how it plays out the local population/voodoo storyline. And compared to other Buchanan films this one at 70 minutes moves relatively briskly… and more or less keeps you watching till the end. So nothing to jump up and down about, but satisfying enough. And this flick is yet another one you can view at Archive.org for the price of a click. 🙂
COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE- This is more watchable than most of Paul Nashy’s films. Nice bit of atmosphere and an intriguing if absurd story makes for good viewing. Well that and the women. Four pretty gorgeous lasses in various states of undress give suitably nice bosom heaving performances.
Infact the biggest drawback of the film is Paul Naschy himself who defines wooden, he makes a worse Vampire than he does a Wolfman. And the ending is so nonsensical that the entire last half of the movie is this incredibly moronic running voice over to try and make sense of the senselessness you’re seeing.
All those faults acknowledged it sports at times nice photography, a couple decent slow-mo and special effects scenes, and generally is not a bad way to while away 80 minutes or so.
But man that is really one incompetant performance by Naschy as Dracula. And a pretty lame death scene.
But actually there’s an intriguing germ of a script here, and if remade with decent actors, direction, and better dialog could actually be a good film.
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