From Chelsea/VBC: This is the third in a series of spook-tacular posts leading up to Halloween. I’ve invited a few friends to fill us in on their favorite monsters. Today author Allison Pang talks about her love of werewolf movies. If you haven’t already, you should check out her Abby Sinclair novels. Love them. First book is A Brush of Darkness.
Although I don’t consider myself a horror fan, for some reason, I’m awfully fond of werewolf movies. (Sort of odd that I haven’t really written about any, with the small exception of Brandon, and he’s more of a tertiary character, at this point.)
Honestly, nothing defines B-movie awesomeness for me like the werewolf movies of the early ’80s. Before werewolves became sexy alphas a la Twilight, most lycanthrope movies were firmly planted into the horror genre…with occasional forays into parody. (Budgets were low and gore was high and nothing hurt.)
Going to the video store and looking at all the super creepy VHS covers was always one of those things that left me vaguely uncomfortable. (Although, I was in second grade, so I’ll cut myself some slack.) My mother would never think of renting the slasher flicks anyway – most of them were rated R at the time. Probably for the best since my imagination was vivid enough I would routinely give myself nightmares based on scary stories alone.
But eventually I did catch some of those movies either on TV or at a friend’s house and the three that stick out most are:
No. 1 THE HOWLING
This one never actually scared me, but I was fascinated with the concept of The Colony and the serial killer vibe, and the special effects of the werewolves in particular. These weren’t just people in wolf masks but they had this half-man/half-wolf thing going on that was fairly creepy and there was something so interesting about watching a society of beast people fight over trying to fit in with humans vs eating them. And of course, Dee Wallace starred in the movie – she was *the* actress for so many of these B movie horror flicks (Cujo, The Hills Have Eyes, Alligator II, Critters, etc.)
I never did see any of the other Howling movies – except for The Howling III, which I somehow managed to convince my mother to take me to. It was truly dreadful, and I will NEVER forget watching that little hairy baby thing the marsupial werewolf (WTF) gives birth to as it crawls into her pouch.
No. 2 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
An American Werewolf in London came out at the same time as The Howling. (Hollywood always seems to have to compete with itself, it seems.) This movie was more of a black comedy in some ways – it definitely poked fun at itself, but it also had some of the best special effects going – the same guy who did them for The Howling in fact…*and* he won an Oscar for the work. Which maybe goes against the possibility of it being a B-Grade movie?
On the other hand, there was a pretty racy sexy scene, and smut is usually indicative of crap movies, right?
Anyway – I recite lines from this movie even today “A naked American man stole my balloons.” for no particular reason and there’s a nice little shout out to it in my upcoming book, A Trace of Moonlight.
Also, if you’ve never seen a John Landis film – always be on the lookout for his Easter egg “See You Next Wednesday” reference. There’s one in every movie he does – in this case it’s the name of the movie playing in the porn theater toward the end.
No. 3 SILVER BULLET
Another mystery werewolf flick in that we have to find out who the werewolf is that’s terrorizing the town. This one was doubly good because we had children protagonists, one of whom is wheelchair bound. This is awesome on several levels, simply because you don’t see enough physically handicapped main characters often, but as a kid watching it, I *totally* got the frustration of having the grown ups not listen. Made it that much more creepy once we DO find out who the werewolf is.
Again, some fun one-liner’s floating about. This movie was actually based off the Stephen King novella – I read an illustrated version of it in high school. There’s definitely a bit more depth involved with the book, as there usually is, but the pictures were fairly chilling as well.
Honorable mention? I’ve got at least one, simply based off the movie artwork – specifically The Company of Wolves. It’s less horror and more mythology (there’s some good stuff here about coming of age and sexuality and that sort of thing happening behind the scenes, as opposed to just straight gore and violence), but the transformation from man to wolf is just fascinating…and nasty.
(Yes, the wolf emerges from inside the man – it’s a pretty cool allegory, really.)
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got – plenty of other good B-grade horror flicks out there worth mentioning (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, anyone?) but for me it’s all about the wolves.