Your source for retro horror movie and book reviews

Posts tagged “werewolf

Book Featurette: Blood Moon Big Top

bloodmoonbigtop

When Kendrick the drifter joins a circus and becomes Marbles the Clown, he discovers the art of transformation; an escape from the woes of his everyday life. An unfortunate encounter with a feral child in the woods, as the Full Moon prepares to meet the approaching dawn, sets off a gradual transformation beyond anything Marbles could imagine. His deterioration over the following two weeks leads to his apparent death and the circus moves on. Waking up in the morgue a few days later, the slow transformation of Marbles the Clown begins. In a desperate bid to catch up with the circus as it travels from town to town, city to city, Marbles embarks on a two-week journey of nightmare carnage and unconquerable insanity, finally reaching his destination in time for the real and terrifying transformation to take hold.

Blood Moon Big Top, according to reviewers:

“…a fast-paced, engaging werewolf novella recounting the story of Marbles the Clown, a loner who finally finds a place for himself performing in a family circus. One of the fascinations of the book is the emphasis on the transformation itself and the sensations that Marbles undergoes. It is not at all a smooth ride, involving both physical suffering and psychological trauma. Marbles tries to resist the increasingly compelling drive to hunt, kill and eat human victims, even trying to limit his diet to creatures of the forest. Slowly his resistance is overwhelmed as he evolves from a human afflicted with lycanthropic urges to a soulless ravening beast. Another intriguing element is the care and attention provided to him by the members of his circus family. Marbles himself was a loner before he joined the circus and he stuck to himself, but he still gained the friendship and allegiance of the circus fraternity. Even in the depths of his transformation into a werewolf, there are touching scenes of support and camaraderie. The one human instinct that remains with Marbles is his desire to rejoin the circus that left him behind during the depths of his illness. And that, in fact, is where the book’s tumultuous climax occurs – inside the Big Top. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Moon Big Top is a rip-roaring page-turner, but it also finds time to explore the human side of the horrific transformation from a man into a beast. The writing is rich and lush, with just the right amount of description to establish atmosphere. Toneye Eyenot possesses strong narrative storytelling skills, which are very much in evidence in this classic werewolf tale. Highly recommended!”

“What a bloody good read, I received this book for an honest review. And I gotta say Toneye does not disappoint, it had everything , clowns, werewolves , murder , and cannibalism, I recommend to all fan’s of modern horror”

“Eyenot weaves a brutal lycanthropic tale about a man who becomes a beast. The mingling of clown horror with some truly epic werewolf savagery makes this a unique horror read. I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. This writer is one of my favorites.”

“Most people are terrified of clowns, and werewolves is old legends. This was a very interesting twist on the 2 combined.”

You can purchase YOUR copy of Blood Moon Big Top…………..

buynow

toneyepic

Toneye Eyenot hails from The Blue Mountains in Australia. Although writing horrible tales for the better part of 25 years, 2014 has seen his first published work in REJECTED For Content – Splattergore, through J. Ellington Ashton Press, an anthology showcasing alongside many other esteemed authors of the bloodsoaked word. BLOOD MOON BIG TOP is his latest release (Oct. 7, 2016) from J. Ellington Ashton Press. A werewolf/clown Horror novella. His first extended story, in the form of a Dark Fantasy/Horror novella, THE SCARLETT CURSE is book one in the Sacred Blade Of Profanity series, released through J. Ellington Ashton Press and available now in print and on Kindle. Book II in the series- JOSHUA’S FOLLY has also just been released through JEA Mar.13, 2016. Book III in the Sacred Blade Of Profanity series is currently being conjured. With more anthology appearances in both, REJECTED FOR CONTENT 2-Aberrant Menagerie and REJECTED FOR CONTENT 3-Vicious Vengeance, also Doorway To Death, Jeapers Creepers and Lost Gods And Forgotten Cities, and more in Cellar Door III – Animals/Hell II – Citizens by James Ward Kirk Fiction, as well as The Grays by James Ward Kirk fiction and more anthologies awaiting publication. Eyenot is also the editor for a werewolf themed anthology-FULL MOON SLAUGHTER.

Visit Toneye at his website: http://toneyeeyenot.weebly.com/

Connect with Toneye on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Toneye-Eyenot-Dark-Author-Musician-1128293857187537/

 

Advertisements

Fright Fest: The Howling (1981)

 

thehowlingposter

First things first, The Howling is my favorite werewolf movie. It’s creepy, it’s sometimes bizarre, it’s sexy, and it’s violent. From the tension-filled opening with Karen White and Eddie Quist to the burning –down-the-house attempt to destroy the fine people of The Colony, and the final change before a live televised audience, The Howling brings it. Released back in 1981, The Howling is based on the novel of the same name by Gary Brandner released in 1977 (the year I was born).

“We should never try to deny the best, the animal within us…”

While there are plenty of similarities between the novel and the film, the final screenplay turned in for the movie decided to take the film adaptation in its own direction. The book starts out with the main character getting raped in her apartment and features a similar “cabin in the woods” setting for her and her husband to go to recover and heal. The husband is also pursued and seduced by the local shopkeep/temptress. For the adaptation, screenwriter, John Sayles, a psychology major in college, decided to lean heavily on the psychological angle. In the book,  the town, Drago, just so happens to be a town filled with werewolves, whereas the screenplay has it all set up by the doctor (Dr. Waggner). Sayles did something I believe all good writers do when treading familiar ground—borrow what you like and make up the rest!  For werewolf folklore, he chose to go with silver bullets and fire to kill his beasts, as well as a bite to pass the curse along but threw out the full moon cycle of the werewolf. Instead, he chose to go shapeshifter with the creatures being able to shift at will, day or night.

“You can’t be afraid of dreams…Turn around, Karen…”

From the psychological standpoint, we get to see Dee Wallace deliver an excellent performance as Karen White. After being attacked by and catching a glimpse of Eddie in his werewolf form, she is sent to The Colony, a “place to recharge her batteries” and run by Dr. George Waggner. The Colony is a place where everyone is known to howl at the moon. It’s there that Karen and her husband, Bill, meet Marsha Quist and a number of others.  Karen battles her nightmares of Eddie, reliving the moments with her stalker in her dreams and during her sessions with Dr. Waggner at The Colony.

howling2

Her husband, Bill, tries to wait for her to let him touch her again without reliving her attack. Marsha sees her opportunity and sets her sights on him. It doesn’t take long for her “animal magnetism” to lure Bill in. One bite and Bill is all hers. This leads to one hell of a sex scene in the woods between the two.  I mentioned the sexy thing in my introduction, right? Well, that is definitely brought on by Elisabeth Brooks in her role as Marsha, aka Marsha the Man-Eater. Her wild mane, perfect body, and relentless sex appeal speak to the beast in us all.

“Whoever is bitten by a werewolf and lives becomes a werewolf himself.”

The true highlights of the film are the spectacular transformations. Watching the werewolves come to life without the help of today’s special effects crutch (CGI) is a fantastic thing to behold.  After killing off Karen’s friend, Eddie comes face-to-face with the object of his desire and we bear witness to the change of all changes as Eddie goes from man to beast before the screen. Watching his eyes alone is amazing. Add that to the work and hours it must have taken to get the snout just right, that’s the good stuff. I can’t imagine how amazing this must have been to see for the first time in 1981.  Those of us who were spoiled by the effects of the ‘90’s and the 2000’s have earned a new appreciation for moments in the film like Eddie’s transformation.  I think of movies like John Carpenter’s The Thing, And John Landi’s American Werewolf in London (which was also released in 1981), and even Michael Jacksons’s “Thiller” video (also directed by Landis), or even Jeff Goldblum’s wicked evolution from man-to-fly in The Fly. It must have been a thousand times better for actors to stand in front of a tangible creation rather than whatever stand-ins they use today for the CGI monsters.

“You can’t tame what’s meant to be wild…”

The Howling, along with Silver Bullet, forged an unforgettable bond in my mind between me and the werewolf. For older folks, it was probably The Wolf Man (1941) with Lon Chaney, for younger kids maybe it’s something like Dog Soldiers (2002) or the Underworld films (hopefully not Twilight!). In the eighties, my older brother shared these films with me and it was for this reason I dedicated my werewolf novel, Blood, and Rain, to him.

howling3

It should also be mentioned that director, Joe Dante, was at the helm of a number of great films that followed, namely, The ‘Burbs (1989) with Tom Hanks, and Gremlins (1984). While both The ‘Burbs and Gremlins contain plenty of humor to go along with the horror, The Howling, for the most part, maintained its dark edge. Although, if you look close enough, you can find spots of Dante’s appreciation for humor between the lines of the film, as well. Next time you watch it, keep your eyes on the televisions in any given scene.

To this day, The Howling remains my favorite werewolf film. The dark, sleazy, psychological aspects in the opening remind me of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1971). It maintains that psychological thriller tone (presented magnificently by screenwriter Sayles) throughout which makes the horror that much deeper. You combine the writing with the special effects, the visual beasts, great direction, and a superb cast of actors and you get the equivalent to a great novel—a full, well-rounded story and presentation.

howling4

Final note: Gary Brandner’s novel, The Howling, is also terrific. In fact, film sequel, The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (1988), is a more faithful adaptation of the original novel. It is easily my second favorite of the movies that followed in the series.  For werewolf flicks that I also love, check out American Werewolf in London, Silver Bullet, Wolf (1994), The Wolfman (2010), and Wolfen (1981).  You can go ahead and add Teen Wolf (1985), as well.

Whatever your horror flavor, I hope you’ll make some time for one or more of these excellent films this Halloween season.

Aaarrrrroooooooo!

glenn

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness. He is the author of Blood and Rain, The Haunted Halls, Chasing Ghosts, Boom Town, Abram’s Bridge, Things We Fear, and the collections, Out if Range, Slush, and Where Nightmares Begin. You can get your paws on Glenn’s work on Amazon.

And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below where you will not only receive updates on articles  and new book releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.

freebookposter

 


Fright Fest: The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

curseofthewerewolf1961poster

We were introduced to the beast in the form of the original The Wolf Man. Lon Chaney Jr. captured our attention at the age of five. We were intrigued by this seemingly average man who by a stroke of bad luck is cursed to become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. After watching the stop-motion magic of his transformation there was no going back, we became lifelong werewolf fans. This article, however, is a tribute to another beast that reached out through our television screen to grip our hearts. We don’t hold back on this one, we absolutely love The Curse of the werewolf starring Oliver Reed. It has become a staple of our horror viewing, especially around Halloween. We sat back to enjoy it again with a few drinks, so here it is, our completely biased review and a rundown of a classic werewolf flick.

It’s a hammer horror classic, which should indicate that it’s going to be super amazing. It begins by opening on a view of beastly eyes as credits roll over them, tears fall from them signifying the torment in the monster’s heart. The story is set in Spain, telling the tale of a beggar in times long ago, over two hundred years ago in fact. The wanderer comes upon a village and is not well received. The beggar is refused food and drink and is sent to the castle to see if the Marques was in a charitable mood…of course, he’s not, that powdered wig wearing asshole!

The Beggar is humiliated before everyone at the Marque’s wedding feast. The Marque’s new bride isn’t impressed by his dickery as her new husband proceeds to get the poor homeless guy drunk and make him sing and act the fool for food. The beggar says some offhanded comments and is then thrown in the dungeon and time passes.

curseofwerewolf1

The only people who look after the poor bastard is the jailor and his daughter, who grows up to be a total babe. She fends off the Marques who tries to get touchy feely by biting the old turd but gets thrown in the dungeon. They force her into the same cell with the old beggar who by this time is animalistic from years of being on lock down. The ungrateful old shit-ass repays her years of feeding him by forcing himself on her. At this point we don’t feel sorry for him, it doesn’t matter how he was treated by the Marques it’s no excuse for attacking the poor girl. So when he dies right after violating her it actually makes us cheer on the grim reaper. She is then forced to “Apologize” to the Marques. He thinks it’s his lucky day until she stabs him to death! YEEESSSSSS!!

She flees into the night and lives in the forest until the narrator, Don Alfredo, finds her and takes her home so he and his housekeeper, Teresa, can care for her. They discover she’s pregnant and that she can’t speak. The baby is born on Christmas day; many who follow the mythology of werewolves will tell you that is a bad omen. The poor young woman dies soon after giving birth, leaving the child in the care of Don Alfredo and his housekeeper. When they try to baptize the baby, the bath of holy water gets all crazy…some serious foreshadowing as to the child’s future.

curseofwerewolf2

It flashes forward to a slaughtered goat, its throat was torn open. Young Leon has grown into a boy, who gets squeamish at the sight of blood and oddly doesn’t seem hungry though his adoptive aunt tries to coax him into eating. That night the watchman, Pepe, waits beneath a full moon hoping to kill the wolves or wolf that has been plaguing the village. A howl makes him jumpy and he shoots at something. The audience finds out that mysteriously the boy has been seriously injured. His aunt and uncle care for him and discover he was shot which seems impossible since they never saw the boy leave his bedroom the night before. They both know then that there is something strange about the boy. His uncle doesn’t want to believe he could be a werewolf so he questions the boy who swears he was in bed and had a bad dream. He tells his uncle he’s had many bad dreams after going hunting with Pepe and seeing a poor squirrel get shot. Leon admits to Alfredo he picked the dead animal up and kissed it, he could taste its blood and after that, he dreams of being a wolf and drinking blood. Alfredo is desperate and seeks advice from a holy man. The priest tells Leon’s uncle that sometimes people are possessed by evil at birth and that the boy may be a werewolf. The priest says they need to love the boy, their love could keep the beast at bay while he’s young and when he is older once he falls in love with a young woman that her love could save his soul if she truly loved him in return.

curseofthewerewolf4

Pepe and many of the town folk are freaked out over what seems to be more than an ordinary wolf killing their livestock after a drunkard rambles on about how evil is afoot. Leon’s uncle puts iron bars on the boy’s bedroom window to keep him from killing and getting killed himself as well. Pepe makes a silver bullet and waits for the beast once more. He sits beneath the light of the moon and watches over his flock and kills a dog that he suspected in the first place. Young Leon tries to break through the bars on his window in a scene most might find creepy or cheesy but to us, the kid looks cute with his little wolf fangs bared. His uncle and aunt calm him and he goes back to sleep. Flash forward now to many years later. This is when Oliver Reed first appears in the movie, just before the forty-nine-minute mark. Their love seemed to cure him of his lycanthropy and now as a young man, Leon is ready to go out into the world. Oliver Reed is dashing as usual as he makes his way begin work at a vineyard.

Of course, poor Leon falls in love with a girl who’s wealthy father already has her betrothed to a stuck up douche bag. Leon asks his love, Christina, to run away and marry him but she says she can’t because her father would catch them and send Leon away forever.

Leon is talked into partying one night, why not, its payday. The place is a rowdy bordello, raucous and full of drinking and beautiful women…but it’s also a full moon and he’s in a terrible mood because Christina refused to run away with him. He begins to feel sick and goes outside for fresh air, a lady follows him and tries to talk him into banging but the beast he unleashes is one she didn’t expect even being a hooker. Unfortunately, she’s not the only causality of Leon’s wolf out, he also murders his friend and coworker that took him to party and that’s fucked up. Leon is soon after accused of the murders and is put in jail. He begs to be executed, not wanting to go on letting the beast take control but is denied. He gets all twitchy and sweaty and you know things are gonna get ugly again. He wolfs out, becoming in our opinions, one of the coolest looking werewolves ever to rampage across the silver screen. He then escapes running amok, causing a panic. Don Alfredo is forced to shoot his adopted child with a bullet made from a silver crucifix that was blessed by the archbishop.

curseofthewerewolf5

The Curse of the Werewolf was released in 1961; its story was based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. It was the first big role for Oliver Reed. The cast in this Hammer film production is a fine group of actors, including Yvonne Romaine and Catherine Feller, as well as Clifford Evans a Don Alfredo Corledo. The werewolf makeup was spectacular and looked very real, a true art form especially when practiced in those times when they were still pioneering makeup and special effects techniques. The Curse of the Werewolf was also adapted into a fifteen-page comic strip for the January 1978 issue of The house of hammer, that’s something we’d like to get our paws on.

From the moment that sweat began to bead on Oliver Reed’s brow and he got all twitchy and had that paranoid look in his eyes, you knew shit was about to get crazy. In our minds Oliver Reed was the perfect man to play the role of a werewolf, he was ruggedly handsome with a dangerous air about him yet seemed to guard a passionate side that would attract any woman, a true big bad wolf. Fangirling and wolf crushing aside, we are confident that anyone who hasn’t seen this will definitely enjoy it. It is a classic and holds the same quality of old school horror as any of the other Hammer films and truly stands the test of time.

 

sistersofslaughter

Sisters of Slaughter are no strangers to Machine Mean, having reviewed for us She Wolf of London (1946) during our Universal Monsters in Review series. Michelle Garza, one-half of the writing team based out of Arizona, and her sister, Melissa Lason, have been dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors at Fireside Press. Since a young age, they have enjoyed crafting tales of the dark and macabre. Their work has been included in anthologies such as WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside press and soon to be published REJECTED FOR CONTENT 3 by JEA. To be included in FRESH MEAT 2015 is an incredible honor for the sisters. Their debut novel, Mayan Blue, released with Sinister Grin Press. You can keep track of the Sisters of Slaughter’s budding writing career by following them on Twitter and Facebook. You can read their review of She Wolf here.

And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOKimage below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.

freebookposter


Fright Fest: Wer (2013)

 

werposter

Straight from the outset, you just know this movie is gonna be good. Opening with a victim in the hospital, recalling the encounter her family endured, it skips to a harrowing and savage ‘found footage’ scene of her husband being slaughtered and her son being eaten alive. The incident takes place in Lyon, France, and the police arrest a suspect in the killing. A stooping giant of a man named Talan Gwynek is taken into custody and is represented by Defense Attorney Kate Moore and her partners, Eric and Gavin.

Here’s a quick synopsis from the always impressive IMDb:

“A defense attorney begins to suspect that there might be more to her client, who is charged with the murders of a vacationing family than meets the eye.”

There are not many werewolf movies which explore the condition known as porphyria, an affliction with some symptoms similar to lycanthropy – Excessive hair on the head and body, receding gums which give the appearance of larger teeth or even fangs, violent outbursts. Other, more debilitating symptoms such as joint pain, muscle weakness, nerve damage and even seizures correspond with Talan’s condition, placing doubt on whether he’d even be physically capable of committing this crime. Talan agrees to undergo tests.

wer2

The tests prove disastrous to their case. It’s my favourite scene in the whole movie. Talan escapes and the hunt is on.

Brian Scott O’Connor, who plays the role of Talan Gwynek is a riveting actor. His sheer size looks menacing, but his demeanour seems so passive and gentle, which just adds to his imposing presence on the screen. In the beginning, you’ll think, yeah, he did it. At several points in the film, though, they convincingly present a strong case in favour of Talan, and you really grow to like the bloke; like and pity him. Solid performances from all the actors, brilliant film work, and an intriguing and well thought out plotline, this really struck a chord in my werewolf heart. The transformation scenes and the beast which emerges are ingeniously kept within the realms of possibility, while at the same time, gets your blood racing and the adrenaline flowing. Nothing as spectacular as say, the iconic transformation scene from the classic, American Werewolf In London, or a lot of these more recent movies which engulf their effects in CGI, but there is something more realistic, more organic in the way it is portrayed.

wer3

Out of the several dozen werewolf movies eye own, Wer is among my favourite top five werewolf movies of all time (that’s counting the Ginger Snaps trilogy as one movie haha). Released in 2013, it is one of the freshest takes on the werewolf theme and stands out amongst the many werewolf movies that have been coming out in recent years. There are two definite camps in the debate over whether or not werewolves, vampires, zombies etc. have been done to death. Wer is one werewolf movie which will appeal to both sides of that debate. It’ll satisfy the avid werewolf aficionado as well as the ones who think they’ve seen about as much of werewolves as they care to handle. That’s five howls from me! Aaaarrrrooooooooooooooooooyeah!

 

toneyepic

Toneye Eyenot writes tales of horror and dark fantasy which have appeared in numerous anthologies over the past two years. He is the author of a clown/werewolf novella titled BLOOD MOON BIG TOP just released with JEA Press, plus the ongoing SACRED BLADE OF PROFANITY series with two books, THE SCARLETT CURSE and JOSHUA’S FOLLY, published through J. Ellington Ashton Press and a third currently in the works. He is the editor of the soon to be unleashed FULL MOON SLAUGHTER werewolf anthology, also with JEA. Toneye lurks in the Blue Mountains in NSW Australia, with the myriad voices who tear the horrors from his mind and splatter them onto the page. You can most easily connect with Toneye through his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Toneye-Eyenot-Dark-Author-Musician-1128293857187537/?ref=bookmarks Or website – http://toneyeeyenot.weebly.com/ Find his books here – https://www.amazon.com/Toneye-Eyenot/e/B00NVVMHVA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473283520&sr=1-2-ent

 


Universal Monsters in Review: She-Wolf of London (1946)

shewolf

I sooooo wanted this movie to be amazing. And maybe it was and I just didn’t get it. I loved the concept, the idea of a woman werewolf, almost akin to 1942’s Cat People, in which by a curse, the person may transform into a large cat in the heat of passion. Movies like Cat People and The Curse of the Cat People and The Leopard Man (1943) are basically about suppressed sexuality and the notion of the time that if you explore such things you’ll be “transformed” by your passions to these lustful violent creatures. Maybe I had expected something like that with She-Wolf of London (aka THE CURSE OF THE ALLENBYS) because what is a werewolf story other than the idea of uncontrollable emotions coming out of us like wild things. I will give director Jean Yarbrough some credit in how he somewhat kept the “Greek tragedy” aspect in werewolf lore. Everything else seemed to fall flat. Painfully so. Even the very superb acting of June Lockhart, Don Porter, and Sara Haden could not salvage the film. There was too much expectation, and not enough fulfillment. But, these are just my own ramblings. Lets see what our honored guest has to say regarding She-Wolf of London. 

THE FOGGIEST FOG THAT EVER FOGGED

By: Michelle Garza

As a little girl my mom would always watch the black and white Universal classics with me and my sister, it was my introduction to horror. Being a child of the desert (I was born and raised in Arizona) I was always fascinated by the scenes, though they were created in a studio, of foggy locations. She-wolf of London did not disappoint in that aspect. It was some of the foggiest fog that ever fogged. There was only one time that I had ever seen fog like that in real life and it was created by a fog machine at a death metal show.

The tale takes place in London at the turn of the century. It follows the story of a young woman named Phyllis Allenby, she is set to wed a wealthy lawyer by the name of Barry but as a murder starts killing and mutilating innocent people not far from her inherited estate it brings to light the rumors of a family curse…one involving lycanthropy. She believes that the curse has caught up to her. Phyllis tries to call off her engagement, keeps to herself and only talks about her worries to her aunt Martha at first. The aunt is a shady hag to begin with who treats her house woman, Hannah, like a total bitch and won’t let her daughter Carol have a boyfriend if he’s not rolling in the dough. “Aunt” Martha secretly admits to her daughter that she is not really Phyllis’s aunt and if the young woman marries Barry Martha and Carol could lose their home in the Allenby estate. All the while Phyllis spirals into madness truly believing she is the beast when her Aunt’s dogs try to attack her and howl all night long it only points to her worst fear being true. She keeps a lantern outside of her window to ward away evil as told by an old Scottish wives’ tale, yet she keeps awakening to find her clothes muddy and her hands bloody. The thoughts of herself becoming a beast and ripping people apart eats away at her.

shewolf2

Let’s talk about some things that might make a person laugh, those silly horror movie moments that in my opinion can add to the awesomeness of older flicks…the giggle factor. I am a lover of horror in all degrees from the super serious, scare the crap out of you, to the super cheesy b movies, to the classics that in their time were closer to the first mentioned, it was on these foundations that we built the majesty of the horror genre. For instance, she finds her shoes covered in mud, the shoes are super girly with heels, it made me laugh. If I was going out to eat people, I certainly would choose different footwear…yet I suppose the beast isn’t particularly worried about fashion or comfort when its howling to bust out and since it was the turn of the century that was the proper attire of a young woman no matter if a bloodthirsty beast dwelled within her. There are the typical investigators, one that thinks the killer is either an animal or deranged person while the second believes it to be a female werewolf, he meets a tragic end in his quest to prove the nonbeliever wrong. Carol, the supposed cousin, is in love with a man of lower station and so sneaks out during the night to tryst with him…leaving the audience thinking that she could be the she-wolf herself. It builds an old timey sense of suspicion, though later the ending doesn’t really come as a shock. What may come as a shock is you NEVER see a werewolf in this flick!!!!

Barry finally gets Phyllis to admit her worries, she confesses that she has terrible nightmares of pagan rites being performed and becoming a wolf. He won’t accept that his woman is refusing to get hitched because of some story about a family curse. He sits outside of her house one night to try to discover if she actually is a werewolf. He sees a woman draped in a cloak, her face is concealed. He follows her and loses her in the foggiest fog that ever fogged. A man cries out as he is attacked by a veiled woman, she escapes, he claims it was some psycho woman that growled like an animal, moments later Carol approaches the victim that happens to be her boyfriend and claims she was out to meet with her love in secret…even though there is a murderer on the loose.

shewolf3

This part struck a chord within my werewolf loving heart and I recalled the book the were-wolf by Clemence Housman, it tells the story of White Fell, a beautiful stranger that comes between two brothers, she was tall and fair…and happened to be a werewolf. I’m not insinuating that Universal copied the story, I’m just noting that they are parallel. She was cloaked and stunning much like our She-wolf of London, spreading terror throughout a community, killing children and inciting strife between loved ones. A tale as old as time…beauty concealing the beast.

The figure is shown a few times during the movie, actually in the goriest scene of the film the veiled She-wolf stalks a member of Scotland yard, Latham, the only guy that believes in werewolves, and slashes his throat open. Though it is black and white you can see that his neck is bloodied. He tries to scream for the constable but it is too late, it must have been shocking for a film in nineteen forty-six. Movies like these opened doors for women characters, they could be more than just matronly or wholesome, they could be alluring, they could be deadly…they could be real. I love to see that in the older movies.

shewolf4

Each time Phyllis hears the news about innocent people being murdered, then finds her clothes soiled the next morning she really believes that she is a monster, a ravening beast hidden beneath the layers of lace and silk. At last she confides in Carol and begs her to get the police because she wants someone to stop her from murdering people. While Carol is out of the house Martha comes to bring Phyllis a glass of warm milk, something she does nightly. By this point most people will already connect the dots and it is no shock to find out that her aunt has been going out at night and pretending to be a she-wolf. She had been drugging Phyllis (que old-school watery effect to the film that symbolizes being whacked out of your mind) and committing heinous crimes in hopes that Phyllis would be blamed because of the family curse and the poor girl basically tells her fiancé and her cousin that she is the monster in her hysteria. Martha then pulls a knife saying she would kill Phyllis and claim that she ended her own life.

Here’s where people should remember a few very important lessons that were probably already taught to them at some point in their life by either a parent or through their own foolish error…

Lesson number one: ALWAYS BE KIND TO THE STAFF. (This includes housekeepers, cooks, gardeners etc.) I was a custodian for fourteen years and believe me when I say the vengeance they can reap is quite dirty. Martha learns this the harsh way when she finds out that standing outside of the door while she confesses her crimes and then tells Phyllis she is going to kill her is the house woman, Hannah, the same woman that Martha treated like a walking turd. Hannah pushes the door open and Martha discovers that she is a witness to her confession. The old house woman tells her she has been watching Martha’s odd behavior and now threatens to fetch the police. Martha chases after Hannah, wielding a knife. They run down a sweeping staircase in the luxurious Allenby estate and Martha trips.

shewolf6

Lesson number two: NEVER RUN WITH SHARP OBJECTS. Martha falls on her own knife; it is driven into her gut as she tumbles down the steps of the house that she coveted so much she would kill to get to keep living there. She dies as the housekeeper opens the door, revealing the police and Barry who just arrived with Carol so that Phyllis can confess that she was the killer. Hannah tells them that Martha is the she-wolf. The ending comes as Barry rushes to his woman’s side, she is drugged and frightened but he assures her that Martha will never kill anyone ever again.

Although I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see a she-wolf going through some awesome stop motion wolfing, I still enjoyed watching it. It was more about the psychological horror of a young woman believing that she was losing herself, becoming something so terrible that she just couldn’t continue with her life it happened to be true. I think at some point most people deal with that on some level and that, my friends, is why we need horror. Whether it scares you, grosses you out or makes you giggle, it forces you to see those dark things that lurk in the real world and you become stronger for facing them.

michelle Garza 2

Michelle Garza, one half of the writing team based out of Arizona. Her sister, Melissa Lason, and Ms. Garza have been dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors at Fireside Press. Since a young age they have enjoyed crafting tales of the dark and macabre. Their work has been included in anthologies such as WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside press and soon to be published REJECTED FOR CONTENT 3 by JEA. To be included in FRESH MEAT 2015 is an incredible honor for the sisters. Later this year, their debut novel, Mayan Blue, releases with Sinister Grin Press. You can keep track of Michelle budding writing career by following her on Twitter and Facebook.


Late Phases: in review

Late Phases

Have you seen Late Phases? Finally! A new werewolf movie to keep my strange fascination were the lycanthrope myth sated, or for at least the time being. Hopefully maybe soon we’ll see some quality Mummy movies grace the silver screen…doubtful at that one. But we can always hope. Its no secret, I’ve got a special place in my heart for the classic Universal Monsters. I’m not at the age to have grown up watching the films. I found them in my adult years, and its probably better that I did. I don’t think most of the kids in my late phased (pun intended) Gen-X generation would have appreciated the classics…not as much as an adult would. Maybe I’m wrong, I’m sure there are a few out there that could, but overall, it is my opinion that the classics are appreciated more by a more mature audience. My appreciation stems from my studies in history thru film. Looking back at society thru the looking glass of cinema is a fascinating way of deciphering prevalent thoughts and themes and attitudes of the day in which the movie was made. The original Universal classics, as such, can be both an entertaining as hell movie and a look into the concerns of the past. Werewolf movies are one of my favorite forms of metaphor. Much how I gravitate toward Romero-esk zombie tales, likewise, I gravitate toward the tradition of werewolf created by Curt Siodmak. Curt wrote the original Universal tale, The Wolf Man (1941) and portrayed the bipedal beast as more of a Greek tragedy, where the monster is also the victim, having no control over his inner demon, per say. Late Phases seems to keep to this tradition whilst also moving the mythos a step farther.

Quick fire synopsis:

Ambrose McKinley; a fiercely independent, yet blind Vietnam War veteran and his seeing eye dog are moved into a retirement community at the edge of a forest. Willful and adamant that he can live on his own, he and his son Will are clearly not on the best of terms. He meets three neighbor women; Gloria, Anna and Victoria, who; while at first admiring Ambrose, are quickly put off by his rough attitude toward them. He meets his neighbor Delores, who shares the duplex with him. That night, during a full moon, something breaks into Delores’ kitchen and brutally slashes her to death. Ambrose hears the commotion and is also attacked by a massive werewolf. His dog comes to his defense as Ambrose struggles to find his gun, he manages to deter the creature, but his dog is mortally wounded. The next day, the police find him cradling his dog, and despite the destruction and his claims of the attack, it is shrugged off as a home invasion. With no one to believe his tale, Ambrose quickly works at preparing for the next full moon and soon discovers the threat is not from outside, but rather from inside this seemingly quiet retiree community.

The Meaning of it All…

late phases 2

And there you go. Plenty of symbolism to keep even the most jaded film graduate student satisfied, while also giving us horror nerds another allegorical tale to place on the shelf of werewolf lore. Ambrose verses the werewolf is an obvious story about how old bones can find purpose and keeps to the Curt Siodmak tradition…with one step farther. The monster here, while struggling at first, in the end accepts his plight and goes about turning other would-be victims into beasts themselves. Religion and faith find their way into the story too, as the priest, Father Roger is summed and cast way and ultimately killed (oops, SPOILERS!). There is also a redemption story between Ambrose and his son, Will. The movie has plenty of heart and even some humor to balance the drama and terror. But is it entertaining?

Where’s the Popcorn…?

late phases 3

Late Phases was very entertaining. There are certainly some bumps in the road. While the use of practical effects should be applauded, there were a few moments where the effects came across as silly. And I’m mostly talking about the werewolf costume. The transformation scenes are respectable, though does not overshadow Rick Baker’s fantastic work in An American Werewolf in London. I’d say, the transformation effects here were more close to Rob Bottin’s work in The Howling. Other then the effects, the pace was steady. There was an absence of exposition, which I found refreshing. Ambrose, played by Nick Damici, was fantastic. I love seeing crusty veteran movies, especially in horror flicks as it is something I tend to gravitate toward in my own writings. If you haven’t seen Late Phases yet, it’s still on Netflix. Make it a night. Pop some popcorn and enjoy a rather fury tale of a blind Vietnam veteran verses the monotony of retirement.

My Review: 3.5/5 


NEW BOOK COVER REVEALS (DWELLING & EMERGING)

Fresh off the press, I’m very excited to share with you the cover reveals for both books in my new Subdue Series, Dwelling and Emerging. These novels have been penned from the heart, not to sound so literary. But its true. Each character has been weaved and sown from my experiences and those that I’ve served with, compelled with research and good ole fashion storytelling. I’ve included below an full book cover image and synopsis. Thank you all for the support while these books have been in production and for your continued support as we release them out in the world.

Dwelling (Subdue Book 1)

Dwelling_jacket

Synopsis:

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away…

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse…

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield…

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

Emerging (Subdue Book 2)

Emerging FULL

 

Synopsis:

Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion…

A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness…or feed it?

Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown…

Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.

Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.

The dark past of Maggie’s home awakens in the present…

Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky’s ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.

As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…

Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all—before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham.

Dwelling releases on Dec 8th. Available for presale now on Amazon here.

Emerging releases on Dec 15th. Available for presale now on Amazon here.


Wer[e]wolfs in France: a horror movie review

If you’ve been watching some of my social media feeds, you may have noticed my recent bent, complaint, what have you, regarding a general lack of good werewolf movies. Its a serious issue. Well, serious enough to make a geek for werewolf lore to pout and stomp about on Twitter and Facebook. I mean, what’s really out there? Anything good? But then again, the bar for werewolf movies is a precarious one, for sure. Like most monster movies, or at least the classic monsters, most walk a thin line between greatness and cheesy. And because I know you’re dying to know, here are some of my favorites, including but not limited to: The Wolfman (1941), for obvious reasons as the godfather of all traditional werewolf movies and one I use as a bar for all others, Frankenstein meets The Wolfman (1943), simply because its basically a sequel for The Wolfman, Silver Bullet (1985), for its small town charm and of course Gary Busey cameo, Ginger Snaps I & II (2000, 2004 respectively), which were odd twist on the womanhood coming of age trope, but entertaining nevertheless, Cursed (2004), say what you will about Christina Ricci but I thought the practical effects and mood and throwback to classic monster movies was great, Wolf (1994), cause come on! who doesn’t enjoy a good Jack Nicholson flick? And of course, the greatest of the great, An American Werewolf in London (1981) which boosts some of the best transformation scenes in horror history!

wer movie poster

With the above information, you can kind of gleam how I judge or  expect from a werewolf movie. Last night, because most of my shows are now on summer break, I was on the prowl for a good horror movie, one that I had not yet watched, something new, and something (hopefully) good. While trolling some online, I stumbled upon a new werewolf movie, one with a synopsis and trailer that were potent enough to actually catch my interest. Wer, released in 2014 bringing the werewolf mythology to the steady-cam genre. The filming is actually quite bizarre, or perhaps I watch too many old flicks and am out of touch, but the steady-cam in Wer was a strange mix of found footage and a handheld following the cast, giving an off beat “you’re part of the movie” vibe. Before I continue, let you toss you the synopsis!

Synopsis:

Wer is set in France, and we begin with an American family camping near woods at night, and while filming with the obligatory hand-held camera, the family are brutally attacked by something unknown, but the camera fails to catch anything worthwhile. The husband and small child are slaughtered but the mother survives, and gives a statement to police telling them it was like a man with big hands that attacked them. It just so happens that an extremely tall and hairy man, Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O’Connor), lives near where the attack took place, and because he closely fits the description is immediately arrested for the gruesome murders.

Talan refuses to speak to anyone until his newly appointed American lawyer, Kate Moore (A.J. Cook), turns up at the police station. Talan has a strange body and mouth guard to protect the police from his bite, but Kate insists the police remove his cuffs and the gag. The cop in charge, Detective Pistor (played by Sebastian Roché, who bares an uncanny resemblance to Chef Gordon Ramsay) gives her only 5-minutes with the suspect. Talan talks very briefly and when the police rush in to put him back in his restraints, Kate’s co-worker, Gavin Flemyng (Simon Quarterman) is scratched on the arm by Talan. Eventually Talan is on the loose with predictable results – Nav Qateel, Influx Magazine.

For starters, let me tell you a bit of the film that I actually liked. One, the musical was chilling and original. The score is probably what saved Wer when the special effects had failed to capture the moment. The mood, through the majority of the film,  is haunting. Especially at the beginning when the Porter family is brutally attacked and during the chase to find poor Talan Gwynek. And to boot, Wer was something new, exploring new avenues to bring audiences back to the classic monster tale. The casting was good, though I prefer no names in my horror movies. You may recognize the protagonist, Kate Moore, played by the ever serious A.J. Cook (think Criminal Minds).

But there were some setbacks

The dialogue and character motivations are gruelingly opaque. There were a few moments when I felt tossed from “being in the movie” to cringing as the characters stumbled through the script. The screenwriting needed some major cleaning up. The beginning was great, it was toward the middle and ending when you were able to notice some ugly un-buffered moments and painful improv. The motivations were also not very clear. There was some mystery, I guess, with Gwynek’s family and their land, but it wasn’t polished enough to make any sense. And think this is were some horror flicks trip up. They make the story and plot overly complicated by adding all these minor conflicts that actually don’t even matter. The biggest conflict is the werewolf “sickness.” And that should have been the only conflict, aside from perhaps some character conflict and love interests. Just saying, you don’t need some government conspiracy story in the midst of a werewolf conspiracy story, especially if you’re screenwriting isn’t polished, it’ll just get confusing. I’m not an expert, but if you want my opinion, focus on the monster and flesh the characters out more. Don’t worry about all this “other stuff,” it’ll just be distracting.

Let me say something regarding practical effects. It is a sad but true state of affairs that because of budget restraints, a film must sacrifice some practical effects for CGI. However, budget restraints should not be an excuse for cheap and sloppy effects. There were some really good practical effect moments in Wer, but they were too often overshadowed by the cheap use of CGI, and not even good CGI. The muzzle fire and blood splatter was some of the worst, even more than The Walking Dead’s muzzle fire and blood splatter effects. If you don’t have the budget, cut back. Or find someone good who is willing to work for cheap. Cut back on something in the budget, for heavens sake! You’re making a horror movie for crying out loud! The practical effects ought to be your top priority!! This is why you should also cast talented no names who are looking to earn their bones in the movie biz.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5