Friday, April 22, 2011

Wolfmen Old & New....

I just caught up with then 2010 version of The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston, who also directed The Rocketeer. This update stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, who returns home to his father's estate after the mysterious death of his brother. When he starts looking into his brother's death, he is attacked by a mysterious creature. Soon, he realizes he is the victim of a horrible curse. Emily Blunt co-stars as Talbot's brother's fiance, and Anthony Hopkins chews the scenery like it was salt water taffy as the father (that's a good thing, he's excellent as usual). Hugo Weaving is quite effective in a supporting role as Inspector Abberline (based on a real life person who investigated the Jack the Ripper case), and Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago) has a small role as the gypsy Maleva.

While this remake has good some aspects, namely great make-up by Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, Men in Black), an appropriately retro score by Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), and excellent production design, it's a bit too gory for a mainstream horror movie. I think Del Toro is a fine actor,  but he isn't very effective in this role, and it feels a bit underwritten.

This film also had a troubled production history; it took a long time to finish, and reportedly some re-shoots were done after the film was initially completed. It's worth a look if you're a fan of the genre, but it's ultimately a missed opportunity.

You'd be much better off seeking out the original version from 1941, entitled The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney, Jr, Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya as Maleva (best movie gypsy, ever). For those of you who aren't classic movie fans, it may seem a bit dated, but it's a great movie with spooky atmosphere, a good performance by Lon Chaney, Jr.  and the classic makeup by Jack Pierce (who also created the makeup for the Boris Karloff versions of Frankenstein and The Mummy). The 2010 film is available on DVD,, and Blu-Ray: The Lon Chaney version has been released multiple times, but the most recent release is at the following link:

Other werewolf tales to check out: The Howling (1981), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Curse of the Werewolf (1961), Werewolf of London (1935)

Source for this post:
Internet Movie Database:

Movie Quote of the Day: "That's no moon, it's a space station." Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977).

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