Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Wolf

**Due to Technical Difficulties, This Review Lacks Screenshots**


Starring: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Plummer, and James Spader

Directed by: Mike Nichols

Written by: Jim Harrison and Wesley Strick

Awards: 1995 ASCAP Award for Top Box Office Films from the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, 1995 Saturn Award for Best Writing from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films

Production Company: Columbia Pictures

Release Date: June 17, 1994

Admittedly, the opening to Wolf doesn't start you off with confidence. Jack Nicholson, as Will Randall, drives through a dark night. A large wold appears in the road in front of him and Randall hits it. Without much explanation, Randall gets out and tries to move the beast who, naturally, bites Randall and runs off seemingly uninjured. The encounter with the curse sharing wolf is given little explanation, ie. Why does Randall get out and mess with the body?

Also, the opening's effects are unconvincing. The night outside Randall's car window screams green screen...

But give the movie a chance...because it's a pretty unique werewolf film.

Randall, a timid book editor, notices some changes as his senses are heightened and he's feeling more aggressive. SOme of his daylight wolf antics are to be seen and treasured, especially him marking his territory.

In these scenes, we're shown a more ancient view of werewolfism which wasn't a literal tranformation into wolf, but taking on the nature of the wolf. This sort of werewolfism can be seen in the ancient Berserkers of the Norse and more recently with Native American traditions with their totems. Not to besmirch any culture, ancient or otherwise, for this form of werewolf is not inherantly evil. As Dr. Vijay Alezais says in the movie, "The demon wolf is not evil, unless the man he has bitten is evil."

But we also see a more Lon Chaney Jr.-esque Wolf Man at night. Granted the effects aren't that impressive, but they do what they are required to do and we get some cool werewolf carnage.

If movies like I was a Teenage Werewolf and Teen Wolf & Teen Wolf Too drew analogies between the bodies change during puberty and the lycanthropic change into a werewolf, then Wolf can be seen as an analogy for the social and physical changes inherant in a mid-life crisis. Randall's change occurs in the midst of such troubles as losing his job to his young protege, failing eyes, a cheating wife, and implied heart disease. Throw in the attractive younger daughter of Randall's boss and you have the makings of a full blown mid-life crisis.

Wolf stands apart from most werewolf horror films I have seen so far in that werewolves aren't portrayed as beasts out to slaughter humans, nor is the sympathetic werewolf lead character completely fearful of what he's becoming. A large part of the film shows Randall relishing in his newfound confidence. He does briefly experience fear about his nocturnal activities, but the ending...let's just say it's a happy one.

Michelle Pfeiffer does a nice job as the enigmatic Laura Alden, daughter of Raymond Alden, Randall's boss, played wonderfully by Christopher Plummer. James Spader returns to typecast as the sleezy protege who wrecks havoc on Randall's life.

Related Videos

The Terror

We all know about Jack Nichlson in The Shining [Blu-ray] and The Witches of Eastwick, but one of his earliest roles was in Roger Corman's The Terror opposite Boris Karloff. A young officer in Napoleon's army pursues a mysterious woman to the castle of an elderly Baron.

The Witches of Eastwick

Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer had worked together in The Witches of Eastwick. Three single women in a picturesque village have their wishes granted - at a cost - when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives.

Jack's Back

James Spader starred in Jack's Back. A serial killer in Los Angeles celebrates Jack the Ripper's 100th birthday by committing similar murders.

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Cape Fear

Wesley Strick co-wrote Wolf as well as Cape Fear. A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a 14 year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

1 comment:

kelloggs said...

This is a truly great werewolf movie, one of my and my fiance's favorites. It's up there with "American Werewolf in London" and "Ginger Snaps," but in many ways better. I like how you pointed out the similarities between his transformation and a mid-life crisis. Great review! I've finally got a new one posted if you wanna check it out.