Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wolfman (1979)

After his father dies, Colin Glasgow returns to his family home.  He is unaware that there is a family curse and his relatives have generously decided that he shall be the next to inherit it.  The relatives have altered his fathers will and conspired with the family attorney to make sure Colin stays at the home through the full moon.  Surprisingly, they didn't alter the inheritance and Colin receives his rightful inheritance.

Colin's grandmother is kept locked in the attic, which doesn't seem to phase him at all.  She seems fine to talk to - other than the assertion that the Reverend killed his father with a silver dagger because dad was a werewolf.   She also tells him the sign of a werewolf is a man with an index finger longer than his other fingers.

After some bad werewolf dreams, Colin sneaks off to the cemetery to dig up his father and finds the dreaded long index finger.  As he's climbing out of the grave, he's attacked by a wolf. The next thing he knows, he's in bed and it's the next morning. Surprisingly his clothing is intact, although his body is covered with thick fur.

As he checks himself for wounds, the actor looks relieved which was confusing until I discovered what I thought was a werewolf transformation was just the actors excessive body hair. Yikes!  Perhaps it would have been better for the actor to play this scene wearing a shirt to avoid confusing the viewer.

But the relief is short lived since when the moon is full, Colin changes into a chubby, almost cuddly, werewolf.  There's an unintentionally funny scene where a couple hears something outside their cabin and then a little werewolf face darts quickly into view, before darting back.  It looks like what kids do when they're pretending to be undercover.

This is a run of the mill, independent werewolf film.  Not much happens and acting leaves a lot to be desired.  Colin keeps things consistent by displaying no emotion or facial expressions throughout the film.  He's a cross between Lee Majors and a middle aged Elvis.  And I'm not sure if it's the Southern lilt to the peoples voices, but I kept hearing the butler call him Mr. Kotter.... until later I realized he was actually calling him Mr. Colin.

One of the bigger issues with the movie is that there's no consistency to the time period.  Based on the costumes and Colin's transportation, which is a surrey with the fringe on top, I thought the time period was the 1800s.  But then they go to a pub where records are playing on a victrola, and there is  a bully that looks like he'd be right at place in Newsies.  Later on there are a 1970s era stocking hat, jean jackets, modern styled coats, and I swear I thought I glimpsed a windbreaker.  The movie sometimes uses candles and lanterns, but other scenes have lights and there's a bare light bulb hanging in the shed.  And they have a telephone style which didn't come into use until the 1900s.

The change from man to werewolf is primitive even by 1950s standards.  Still photos are used to show the change, but they only use around five so it's pretty jarring.  Sunlight causes this werewolf fall over like a tree, which is pretty hilarious.  There's also a scene where he frees himself from chains and attacks the butler, who is walking unnaturally slow towards a wall, rather than exiting through the door where he might escape the oncoming wolf attack.

The most interesting thing about this movie is that Earl Owensby, who had no acting experience, decided he was going to make movies.  Owensby is quoted as saying, "Movies had always been a hobby. I actually woke up one morning and said 'I think I'll make a movie - I wonder how you do that?' " Nothing remarkable yet for indie movie makers, but Owensby was a successful business man. He set up his own studio in North Carolina with the belief that you didn't need to be in Hollywood to have a successful studio. He made a number of B-movies there in the 1970s and 80s.

Based on the clothing, it seemed they were in the 1800s....
...but then I saw this Peter Fonda looking guy with
the modern glasses, 70s collar, and 70s clothing

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